When Topring audits a facility, we’re looking for solutions or alternatives to help our clients with three key aspects: safety – efficiency – performance.
In working with Pa-Co Lighting, our suggestions and alterations focused on efficiency.
Context of the case study
Pa-Co Lighting Inc. manufactures high-performance LED and fluorescent luminaires for the commercial, industrial, and institutional markets. Products are sold in North America.
How to save 25% on compressed air and $1,000 on your power bill
The manufacturer Pa-Co Lighting Inc. reduced its power bill by:
- Reconfiguring its air system with a closed loop Topring PPS compressed air piping system
- Eliminating the over-replacement of filters that still work
- Adding a programmable ball valve to the air tank
"At Pa-Co Lighting Inc., we manufacture high-performance luminaires for security and anti-vandalism applications and controlled environments, as well as for general commercial, industrial, and institutional use.
We use highly automated equipment, much of which works with compressed air: laser cutting systems, a punch press, automated press brakes—all CNC controlled—as well as an automated line for powder-coated electrostatic painting. Until now we had a 600 to 700- foot compressed air system consisting mainly of flexible hoses and a few rigid pipes. We had always used standard plumbing products, made of galvanized steel. Our system’s lack of upfront planning led to significant challenges. It was hard to deliver enough air to every part of the factory and to reduce air leakage (and the money it wastes!).”
Christian Rheault, VP, Operations, Pa-Co Lighting Inc
Challenges and solutions
Challenges from a lack of planning:
- Stabilize the compressed air supply
- Reduce air leaks during and after work shifts
“The problem was that our air system had been built mostly with flexible hoses and steel pipes, without much planning. It was a bit like an octopus. Over time, we noticed that the air supply was faulty in some spots. There was a significant pressure differential. We were losing a lot of air. We couldn’t decide whether to change the compressor for a bigger one or start from scratch with a new air system. With Topring’s advice, we were able to pinpoint the source of our problem and redesign our configuration instead of investing in a compressor that would burn a lot more power.” - C. Rheault
There was a significant pressure differential between the compressor and the point of use.
Use a tool with a gauge to identify the sources of pressure loss and to better target corrective actions.
Compact Pressure Tester
Professional Pressure Indicator Tester Kit
Think long term
Before beginning a project, take the time to assess and identify your long-term needs. This will prevent unpleasant surprises.
Download our white paper “Practical Guide to Planning a Compressed Air Piping System” from Topring.com to learn more about planning an air system.
The biggest challenges with an air system are:
- Supplying enough air, at the right pressure, to all points of application
- Eliminating any water or contaminants from the system
- Eliminating air leaks
The solution for a steady air supply and
1) Replace the piping with a closed, sealed loop
- Compressed air flows through several lines at a time.
- Air pressure and flow are balanced throughout the system.
- Every drop leg is supplied with air from two directions.
- The air supply is more efficient, which means smaller diameter pipes can be used (lower costs).
- This type of system is easy to modify.
- This type of system reduces pressure loss.
Pa-Co Lighting Inc. chose 100% aluminum S08 Topring PPS piping components.
“We replaced the old pipes and hoses with a closed, sealed aluminum loop across 50% of the manufacturing area. The project:
- Corrected air leaks
- Turned the system into a loop for improved air stability
- Reduced pressure loss
- Cut our power bills and increased air capacity
- Eliminated the need to invest in a more powerful compressor
As a result, we got rid of the pressure variation in the Paint Department, which is at the end of the line—a significant issue in terms of production. We also saved nearly 25% on compressed air, representing nearly $1,000 in electricity.” - C. Rheault
2) Use a programmable ball valve on the compressed air tank
A programmable ball valve was installed at the outlet of the air tank and was programmed to open and close automatically when a shift starts or ends. It eliminates unnecessary start-up of the compressor during periods of inactivity (which can be caused by air leaks). There’s no need for someone to turn the air supply on and off between shifts. The valve’s main purpose is to isolate the air system from the compressor.
Pa-Co Lighting Inc. installed a programmable ball valve.
“We have a 30 HP screw compressor. Thanks to the programmable ball valve we installed at the air tank’s outlet, we don’t have to worry about cutting off the air supply at the end of every shift. Shutdown and start-up are automatic. There’s no need to take action on our end. If there’s an air leak at night, we know we’re covered.” - C. Rheault
The benefits of isolating the compressor from the air system and adopting a leak detection program
Unlike water or oil leaks, air leaks are invisible ... but just as costly! Stay proactive. With compressed air costing close to $0.25/1000 cfm ($0.08/kWh), an average plant can save a lot just by setting up a leak detection and repair program. A programmable valve isolates the compressed air system from the compressor and reduces air loss when the system is inactive. Among other benefits, this prevents the system from unnecessarily starting up overnight when an air leak triggers a demand for air.
Conducting regular audits of your compressed air system will help you:
- Get an idea of overall air loss
- Identify critical locations where air is being lost
- Estimate what the leaks are costing you
- Take the required actions based on your priorities
Our experience with Topring
“Thanks to Topring, we were able to clearly identify our true needs and find the best solution for our company from the long-term perspective. Topring products were quick and easy to install. We created a new loop to eliminate pressure drops in the Paint Department with a new air supply and managed to even out the air supply across our compressed air system. No soldering was needed for the Topring PPS products. The airtight ring system is genuinely easy to use. I recommend Topring products because of their quality but also because they’re easy to install and the system can be expanded later on. It’s also fully modular, so we can reuse most of it if we decide to relocate our factory.” - C Rheault