If you - like many businesses - are striving to reduce operational costs, perhaps TIM WOOD can help. But that's not a person; its a way of remembering the Seven Deadly Wastes you need to deal with.
In most of the Lean business principles you may already be adopting – like Lean Six Sigma, the Visual Workplace, the Five S’s and Kaizen – a key principle is to reduce waste. And the seven most common areas of waste are: Transportation, Inventory, Movement, Waiting, Over Production, Over Processing and Defects or TIMWOOD, for short.
With over 50 years’ experience across numerous industries, SMC can help you not only address TIMWOOD and reduce waste, but also add value, simply by looking at one of the easiest areas for action: compressed air.
Where’s your air going?
The first steps towards saving waste with compressed air can be made in your compressor room. Here you can identify:
- What type of compressors you have
- How they’re run and
- How compressed air is used on site.
After all, there’s little point upgrading your compressor room if all you’re doing is more efficiently feeding the compressed air inadequacies across your business.
You can support Lean principles such as Total Preventative Maintenance, by monitoring your compressed air usage and what’s going on in the compressor room, on the ring main and at machine level. Once compressed air gets out into the factory, usage monitoring is lost, which can be an issue when department budgets are set without knowing current actual performance.
Simple two-colour digital air flow monitoring sensors can be fitted in the ring main or at machine level and fit in perfectly with the Visual Workshop key principle of Lean – allowing operators to spot issues quickly, either in line or at machine level – additional digital or analogue outputs allow data to be
captured and monitored in real time by control systems.
One recent innovation; Automatic Leak Detection Systems (ALDS), fitted to machinery during the build stage can also help to drive down energy costs. These systems show in real time where a machine
is suffering from compressed air loss, so the maintenance team can decide whether a repair is needed immediately or at the next maintenance interval.
More ways to save
Something as apparently simple as air offers a surprisingly large number of different ways to save money.
For example, vacuum systems are often ignored when looking for compressed air savings. Unless you have a vacuum pump running, a vacuum generator uses compressed air to generate a vacuum using the Venturi principle. This can be inefficient and expensive, as a vacuum generator may continue to consume compressed air even after the product is gripped.
However, the latest vacuum generators shut off as soon as a vacuum is made, saving up to 90% on compressed air consumption.
Air blowing – typically used for cooling, drying, moving, orientating and rejection of a product – is another area where energy savings can easily be made. Continuous air blow through a simple tube can cost over £2k a year, but optimising air blow equipment to the application can reduce costs considerably.
As energy consumption is part of your sustainability drive you may be interested to know that there are now alternative technologies to stop pneumatic filtration products going to waste in landfill sites, or help you meet a CSR “ Zero Landfill” commitment. Although single-use bag filters are common in manufacturing, unique alternatives including “wobble plate” filtration system for fluids, with a reusable
filter element eliminate the need for bag filters, and saves on landfill.
Saving the best saving until last
For the biggest tangible saving in compressed air usage, all that’s required is to make sure you’re using the correct pressure setting for your application.
Reducing output pressure by just 1 bar can save around 7% of the electricity cost used to generate the compressed air.
However, it’s essential to carry out all necessary preparation work before turning down line pressure. If you have failed to adopt basic good practice – such as fixing known air leaks, reducing pressure drops, and optimising vacuum and blow-off systems – machines may not operate correctly with reduced pressure.
If some equipment needs higher pressure in comparison to other applications, consider a point-of-use air booster removing the need for a whole network to run at an elevated pressure.
Choose to save
When you adopt Lean principles, it’s not just the cost of buying a product that you should consider. Only around 15% of the purchase price is reflected in a product’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), so you also need to look at the cost of energy to run the equipment, as well as warranty and procurement
expenses. There are a number of online selectors that can help with this along with advice from technical specialists from ERIKS and SMC, good advice pays dividends.
SMC products that cut your energy costs
SMC’s two-colour digital air flow monitoring sensors can be fitted in the ring main or at machine level, to measure flow rates from 0.5 l/m up to 12,000 l/m. The two-colour digital display and the digital and analogue outputs allow data to be captured and monitored in real time.
Automatic Leak Detection System (ALDS) installed at the build stage helps minimise energy costs.
The highly efficient SMC ZK2 vacuum generator can save up to 90% on compressed air consumption.
To optimise air blow efficiency, an SMC KN Blow Nozzle, VMG Blow Gun or ZH Air Amplifier Unit can reduce costs considerably.
The SMC unique “wobble plate” filtration system for fluids, with a reusable filter element eliminates the need for bag filters.
If some equipment needs higher pressure in comparison to other applications, an SMC series VBA point-of-use air booster could be installed.
To make this easier, SMC has a range of product selection software tools to help you select the most cost-effective and energy-efficient products available.
Just visit www.smcpneumatics.co.uk to start choosing, start saving, and start achieving your compressed air KPIs.
Cheaper than air?
Sometimes the simplicity of compressed air is not available, and sometimes it’s seen as less cost-effective to use than other methods. For both these situations, SMC has developed an extensive range
of stepper and servo motor actuators, including linear, rotary and gripper drive models.
These simple SMC controllers for the stepper drives units even allows nontechnical staff to set-up and commission the actuator – freeing technical engineers to concentrate on more challenging issues.