22 March 2022

How Advanced Master Controllers can Reduce Energy Consumption

Ask a compressed air user what they wanted from their compressed air system just 10 years ago and they would typically have listed flow, followed by meeting a certain air quality and reliability. Over the past decade we have seen increase after increase in energy prices and it is therefore not surprising that energy efficiency is now a primary consideration and concern for both existing users and those investing in new compressed air systems. In this ‘Kerr Know How’ blog post we look at how integrating an advanced master controller, such as the innovative KAESER SIGMA Air Manager 4.0 (SAM 4.0), into a compressed air system with multiple compressors can assist customers in optimising the systems energy efficiency and we highlight the three keys ways that they help reduce energy consumption and costs. In a typical installation, multiple compressors rather than one single unit will provide the total air flow required. A compressed air system with multiple compressors may be inefficient if for example, each compressor unit is individually controlled by only its own control settings. Energy is also wasted in this scenario because:
  • system pressure will most likely be inconsistent
  • users may end up running more compressors than is necessary to meet the actual demand for compressed air at any given time
  • the compressors are likely to be operating at higher pressures than required
  • there may be excessive idling of the compressors
It is worth considering that each of the potential factors highlighted above will also have the likely knock-on effect of increased maintenance requirements and the additional associated costs that result from this.

What is a Compressor Controller?

Fundamentally there are two types of compressor controllers:
Individual Compressor Control (local intelligence) - this is the controller that is fitted to an individual compressor unit. Advanced controllers like the KAESER SIGMA Control 2 (SC2) coordinates compressed air generation and consumption and provides important maintenance information which ensures both the safe and efficient running of the compressor. They will also provide the ability to connect via, for example, Ethernet to external services that can remotely control and monitor the compressor.

Master Control (central intelligence) - this is a separate master controller and air management system that links and orchestrates the operation of all of the compressors and ancillary equipment that make up a modern compressed air system for optimum efficiency and cost effectiveness. The KAESER SIGMA AIR MANAGER 4.0 (SAM 4.0) represents the next generation of compressed air management master system and utilises adaptive 3-D Advanced Control to make air generation and treatment even more intelligent, reliable and efficient.

In basic terms, a master controller has the ability to improve the pressure stability and reliability of all the equipment within a compressed air system by turning individual compressor units on and off when required in order to meet the specific compressed air demanded at any one time. This improves specific performance and balances compressor load hours resulting in optimum maintenance scheduling. Overall, this leads to optimised energy efficiency.

Three ways that advanced master controllers reduce energy consumption

Advanced master controllers like KAESER’s SIGMA Air Manager 4.0 can manage multiple compressors of different sizes as well as select the right mix of compressors to meet the current demand for compressed air whilst at the same time reducing energy consumption in three key ways:
    1. 1 - Reducing compressor run and idling times - for every hour of operation, a typical compressor will accumulate several minutes of unnecessary run and idle time. By operating only the compressor units required to meet the current compressed air demand, advanced master controllers can save anywhere from 2% to 10 % in energy costs. At the same time, compressor starts and switching losses are reduced. Idle time in part-load conditions is also reduced as the advanced master controller will determine which compressor units have the best specific performance and therefore maximise full-load operation.
    1. 2 - Improving pressure performance - unlike previous, outdated sequencers that used cascading pressure controls with wide pressure bands; advanced master controllers are able to recognise changes in air pressure quickly and accurately and can therefore maintain tighter pressure control. Advanced master controllers also allow lower average system pressures. Along with better air pressure stability approximately 10% energy savings can be commonly achieved using this approach.
  1. 3 - Reducing artificial demand and leaks - artificial demand is created where users set the systems air pressure higher than is actually needed to compensate for issues such as pressure drops and / or potential air leaks. The result – energy is wasted. With advanced adaptive master controllers, the user can reduce the pressure while at the same time avoiding under pressurising equipment and tools. Being able to operate at a lower pressure will reduce both artificial demand and leak losses. As a rule of thumb every 0.15 bar reduction in compressor pressure will result in a 1% reduction in power consumption. For example, an operating pressure reduction from 8.5 bar to 7 bar would reduce the flow rate through a 6 mm orifice from 3.5 m³/min to 3 m³/min. This would result in almost 20% in savings! Depending on system size, even a 5% reduction in pressure would result in substantial savings.
When it comes to operating an energy efficient compressed air system, today’s sophisticated and advanced master controllers provide compressed air users unparalleled access to optimal performance and reliability – perfectly matching compressed air supply to demand for optimum energy efficiency.

Learn more

Is a master controller the right option for your compressed air system? Why not speak with one of our experienced compressed air experts today and find out.

For more information and further professional advice on the real cost of non-genuine spare parts, please contact our expert team on 0800 008 6588 - web.enquiry@kerrcompressors.co.uk

Read more about our air management systems, master controllers and compressor controllers or watch the informative KAESER video below.
Source & Credit: Many thanks to our colleagues at KAESER - Australia for kindly allowing Kerr to repurpose and share this ‘KAESER Know How Blog’ - Reference: Perry, W Camber, M – KAESER Compressors: Using master controls to improve the performance and efficiency of industrial air compressors.
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