Compressed air auditing has been around longer than you might think, offering substantial savings for businesses over the years. Today, we’re sharing a case study from 2012, showcasing how one company harnessed the power of an audit to drive significant efficiency improvements and cost reductions. Imagine the cumulative savings they’ve achieved since then!

Background

Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of home appliances, operates numerous facilities across the globe, employing nearly 70,000 people in over 60 production and technology centers. The Ottawa plant, which produces trash compactors, chest freezers, upright freezers, and refrigerators, was facing inefficiencies in its compressed air system back in 2012. Suspecting that their system could be more efficient, Whirlpool turned to Energair for a comprehensive audit.

The Challenge

Whirlpool’s Ottawa facility encountered several issues with their compressed air system:

Aging Compressors: The existing compressors were outdated, leading to increased energy consumption and operational costs.
Lack of System Monitoring: There was no effective control or monitoring in place, resulting in substantial energy waste.


The Audit Process

Energair partnered with Motion Industries to audit the compressed air system at Whirlpool’s Ottawa plant. Robert Kelly from Motion Industries described the findings: “We uncovered that multiple compressors were operating inefficiently, with some running unloaded during periods of low air demand. Pressure variations between 110 and 123 psi further highlighted the need for optimization.”

Key Findings – The audit identified several critical inefficiencies:

Inadequate Compressor Synchronization: Compressors were not synchronized, causing them to run unnecessarily during low-demand periods and leading to significant energy waste.
Pressure Instability: The system’s pressure fluctuated widely, from 110 to 123 psi, which was highly inefficient.


The Solution – To address these challenges, Energair and Motion Industries implemented a series of targeted solutions:

Comprehensive System Audit: The SCADAR auditing tool was used to conduct a detailed analysis of the compressed air system, identifying inefficiencies and areas for improvement.
Upgrading Compressors: Two new fixed-speed 160kW compressors and one 160kW Variable Speed Drive (VSD) compressor were installed to enhance system efficiency.
Intelligent Control System: The Metacentre SX management system was installed to provide intelligent control over the compressors, ensuring that air production matched demand and reducing unnecessary compressor operation.
Real-Time Monitoring: The Metacentre TX host server was set up for remote access and real-time monitoring of critical performance metrics like line pressure and compressor room temperature, enabling swift corrective actions to minimize costs.


The Results: The implementation of these solutions led to significant improvements and savings for Whirlpool:

Enhanced System Efficiency: The compressed air system’s efficiency improved from 19.57 to 15.89 kW/100 cfm.
Substantial Cost Savings: The plant achieved annual savings exceeding $50,000, with a return on investment realized within just six months.
Reduced Energy Consumption: Electricity usage associated with the compressed air system decreased by over 589,000 kWh per year.
Lower CO2 Emissions: The project resulted in a reduction of more than 919,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, supporting Whirlpool’s commitment to sustainability.
Optimized Compressor Operation: The new system allowed for strategic balancing of compressed air output with demand. The 150 hp and 100 hp Gardner Denver compressors, along with the Quincy Powersync compressor, were operated efficiently without unnecessary unloading. During lower demand periods, only one compressor was used, significantly reducing energy consumption.
Glenn Kaufman, Senior Engineer at Whirlpool, praised the initiative: “We are thrilled with the exceptional results delivered by Energair and Motion Industries. The improvements have led to immediate energy savings, enhanced system efficiency, and significant reductions in carbon emissions. These changes align perfectly with our long-term goal of operating in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.”

Conclusion: This case study from 2012 highlights the enduring benefits of comprehensive compressed air auditing. The strategic upgrades and monitoring capabilities provided by Energair have transformed the efficiency of Whirlpool’s Ottawa plant, delivering both economic and environmental advantages. Imagine the cumulative savings and positive impact since then!

If your business is interested in exploring potential energy savings through compressed air management, Energair offers a user-friendly online calculator to estimate potential savings based on your existing compressors.

Visit Energair to learn more and start your journey toward greater energy efficiency.