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SWAGELOK NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

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Case Study: Steel Mill Compressed Gas System

by Jeff Hopkins, on 11/16/17, 9:00 AM

Swagelok tracks down leaks and helps customer save tens of thousands of dollars


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Using a combination of traditional and cutting-edge leak detection techniques and equipment, the Swagelok services team located and tagged nearly 1,000 leaks in the compressed air system.  These leaks resulted in a compressed air volume loss of approximately 1,500 SCFM that was costing the mill $200,000 per year. The data collected, along with issues and trends observed during the review, were used to develop a roadmap for system improvement.

Learn how our team can help you make these types of improvements to your compressed gas system, too >>


Background

A Chicago steel mill learned the hard way that compressed air is not free. Inefficiencies in the mill’s compressed air system made it impossible for the compressors to supply enough air to effectively operate the unit’s environmental controls. As a consequence, the mill operators were forced to rent three diesel-powered compressors, spending about $3 million a year just on rental fees and fuel.

The mill operators knew they had efficiency problems and were anxious to eliminate this extra cost. But they lacked the experience to determine where they should focus their efforts and resources to obtain a solid return on investment. They turned to Swagelok for expert advice.

The mill operators talked with a Swagelok services team from local Swagelok sales and service center about a review of their compressed air system to find and quantify system inefficiencies. Using findings from the review, Swagelok could then help develop a roadmap focused on providing the greatest performance improvements and ROI.

System Review and Correction

Using a combination of traditional and cutting-edge leak detection techniques and equipment, the Swagelok services team located and tagged nearly 1,000 leaks in the compressed air system. These leaks resulted in a compressed air volume loss of approximately 1,500 SCFM that was costing the mill $200,000 per year. The data collected, along with issues and trends observed during the review, were used to develop a roadmap for system improvement.

The first target was one of the environmental control systems. It was the easiest unit to isolate and repair, and provided the second quickest ROI. A total of 170 leaks had been identified on this system alone, resulting in an annual cost avoidance of over $25,000. The system corrections recommended by the Swagelok team also was approximately $25,000, which meant the mill operators could recuperate their investment in less than 12 months.

The Assembly Solutions team at the local Swagelok sales and service center produced robust, tested, leak-free assemblies that were well suited to the operating environment and made installation, routing, and alignment both quick and simple. Members of the Swagelok services team also supervised all component installation, ensuring proper installation.

 

These leaks resulted in a compressed air volume loss of approximately 1,500 SCFM that was costing the mill $200,000 per year.

 

Results

Partnering with Swagelok resulted in significant benefits to the customer and their compressed air system. Implementing the recommended design changes and repairs on the targeted system resulted in a 5 percent increase in system pressure. Compressed air usage was also reduced by 180 SCFM. A follow-up survey of the system showed no leaks. Continuing to follow the roadmap laid out by the Swagelok team will allow the mill operators to eliminate their rental compressors.

Stop leaks

Don't let leaks drain away your resources and profits. Learn more about how Swagelok Northern California can help you make improvements to your compressed gas system and/or set-up a call with our team to discuss your compressed gas system at https://northerncal.swagelok.com/stop-leaks


additional resources

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