Processing 5.5 million square feet of paper per day into corrugated containers requires a lot of equipment … and a lot of compressed air. And when you’re the person responsible for making sure there’s enough compressed air to keep all the process running smoothly, you need reliable equipment operating at maximum efficiency.

Jud Duell is the maintenance and procurement coordinator for Georgia Pacific’s Bradford , Pa. , facility. This 212,000-square-foot facility includes two corrugating machines and six finishing pieces of equipment. It runs three shifts – 24 hours per day, five days per week, and sometime on Saturday depending on customer demand. The facility’s existing air system included two 150-horsepower units, one 125-horsepower unit and a 2,400-gallon receiver – but Georgia Pacific needed improved reliability and efficiency and an air system that would keep up with the facility’s demand.

Duell had previous experience with Compressed Air Specialists Company (CASCO) in Erie , Pa. Since the new air system would need serious design experience, he called in the CASCO team – owners Jim and Chip Miller, branch manager Ed Vorpagel and engineer Phil Shaver. Having used them as a vendor for a closed-loop cooling system, Duell was quite familiar and very comfortable with their systems expertise.

CASCO proposed a new compressed air system with four 75-horsepower Kaeser CSD 75 compressors, one 100-horsepower SFC 75S variable speed drive compressor, one TH 371 air dryer and related accessories. They would reconfigure and utilize the existing receiver tank, plus installed two 400 cfm buffer tanks. These tanks will hold the compressed air and provide a rudimentary first stage of moisture separation before the compressed air enters the clean air treatment equipment. A key feature of the new installation would be Kaeser’s new Sigma Air Manager (SAM) 8/4. This unique compressed air system controller monitors and sequences all system components of any brand. It also provides HTML reporting and demand tracking with remote control access.

“Design” was a key theme throughout the entire project. The compact design of Kaeser’s compressors allowed the entire air system to be relocated to the second floor of the plant, and opened up the existing floor space as an additional maintenance equipment/oil storage area. The units’ “split cooling air flow” design not only significantly reduces noise levels, it also allowed the compressors to be easily ducted for heat recovery. In fact, there’s enough heat recovered to heat the facility’s entire second floor – more than 32,000 square feet.

With SAM’s comprehensive management features, the entire system operates in the most efficient mode and provides improved reliability and optimum performance. Rather than running the full 425 horsepower, SAM brings on line only the compressors that are needed using the SFC variable frequency drive to “trim” the demand. The facility’s average usage is now between 275 and 325 horsepower.

“We now run the three 75s with the one trim unit, and the SAM keeps them all within 60 run hours of each other,” says Duell.

Georgia Pacific has also been able to reduce and stabilize their system pressure at 85 psig. Since every 2 psig in pressure reduction saves 1 percent in energy demand, the energy savings are really adding up. Georgia Pacific is currently reporting savings of $3,000 to $5,000 per month.

Looking forward, the comprehensive reports issued from SAM will also help Georgia Pacific track actual air demand and usage over time, providing excellent insight into trends and opportunities for further refining the system. Georgia Pacific used SAM integral modem and an unused telephone line to connect to Kaeser’s air system engineers. In the event that troubleshooting or system adjustments are required in the future, Kaeser’s experts can dial in and participate in the process.

Georgia Pacific’s Bradford , Pa. , facility is an excellent example of how manufacturers are combining the latest in equipment technology, factory-trained specialists and custom design expertise, to improve their business’ bottom line by increasing performance and efficiency.

About the author:

Angela Kelly handles marketing and public relations for Kaeser Compressors, Inc. a global leader in air system technology. To learn more about compressors, call 800-777-7873 or visit www.kaeser.com.