The San Jose Mercury News Upgrades its Printing Plant's Compressed Air System To Trim Both Energy and Operating Costs
June 3, 2005
A few years ago, staff at the San Jose Mercury News' 410,000-square-foot printing plant noticed that its compressed air system was performing erratically. They realized that this poor performance was increasing the plant's energy and operating costs rapidly—and needlessly. To address the problem, the company commissioned Air Perfection, a DOE Allied Partner, to evaluate the system and suggest cost-saving improvements.
A DOE AirMaster+ Qualified Specialist at Air Perfection, Dan McCoin, conducted the evaluation using AirMaster+ software. He was able to estimate potential energy savings and suggest a system-level strategy for improvements. These improvements were made as part of a project that fitted the system with better compressor controls, repaired costly leaks, stabilized pressure levels, and improved air treatment. The result was better system performance and significant energy savings. A PG&E rebate brought total project costs to $129,000, so the simple payback period was only a little less than 1-1/2 years.
McCoin found that air demand patterns could be better controlled by increasing storage capacity, improving compressor controls, and installing a new pressure/flow controller. He also noted that mist-eliminator filters would improve the plant's air quality and that fixing leaks would lower its load.
Before the project, all six of the plant's compressors had to be operating at once to maintain consistent production levels. This wasted energy and placed added stress on other equipment. Now, fewer compressors need to operate to meet the plant's compressed air demand.