Back in 2011 International Wire Group (IWG) completed a full compressed air piping system upgrade at its wire plating facility in Camden, New York which optimized the piping for two different processes at two different pressures. This has allowed them to reduce delivery pressure to the lowest possible levels for the majority of the plant’s demand, which is air wipes between the stages of their plating process. The upgrade has saved them over 400,000 kWh / year yielding cost savings of over $40,000 / year. On its own, this piping upgrade and its results are a definite success. Phase 2 of the project later that year was to replace the aging compressors with new, more energy efficient oil-free compressors. Doing so has provided an additional estimated savings of over 200,000 kWh and $20,000 / year. Since the completion of phase 2, not only have these combined system upgrades saved operating costs, they have provided years of continual uptime for plant operations.
We spoke with John Hoyt, Mechanical Engineer, who was a member of IWG’s project team for both phases: “To produce electro-plated wire that meets IWG’s strict quality standards, it is critical that the compressed air supplied to the platers is free of any contaminants and oil. As a result, the project team chose to use Kobelco’s KNW Series of oil-free compressors because of their reputation for reliability and efficiency.”
Both phases of the project have produced a more reliable and energy efficient compressed air system for IWG that continues to save them operating costs each year. However, facilitating a piping system optimization/upgrade and replacing equipment while still keeping a plant operating is no small task. This project was no exception. The project took months and was very involved, but with expert assistance IWG’s team worked through it and the results speak for themselves. Sonny Angell, Lead Maintenance Mechanic for the plating operation, had this to say regarding the system since it was installed: “In my nearly 40 years working as a maintenance mechanic, I have had experience with many brands of air compressors. The Kobelco KNW Series compressors are the best I’ve ever worked with. They are virtually trouble free.”
Yet, there’s more. IWG has been able to further increase their cost savings each year while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint. They made sure not to overlook something relatively simple that yields even more savings with Phase 2 of the project. Historically, the main source of heat at this facility was from a #2 fuel oil-fired boiler. Instead, IWG now utilizes an insulated wall plenum of their own design that recovers the waste heat from their air-cooled compressors, saving them an estimated $27,000+ / year by offsetting their space heating costs during the winter months. And that estimate is based on the average cost of #2 fuel of $1.94 / gallon back when the project first started! The savings each season changes with the fluctuations in fuel costs, and last season IWG’s cost was around $2.12 / gallon. If fuel prices are close to what they were last year the offset stands to be nearly $30,000 for this upcoming heating season.