Design Engineering

Festo pushes for greater efficiency

By Design Engineering staff   

General Festo

Festo is rolling out new services and products to help manufacturers increase the efficiency of their pneumatic systems.

In the present economic environment, it can be difficult to justify new capital expenditures. It can be equally painful, however, to watch (or listen to) earnings deflate due to sub-optimal system design and/or neglected maintenance of compressed air systems. Statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Energy suggest the problem is widespread: the average facility, estimates show, has 30 to 35-percent leakage if it hasn’t taken recent action.

According to National Resources Canada, small leakages in compressed air systems can add up to significant costs. For example, a leak as small as 1/16 in. (1.6 mm)—on a compressed air system running 24/7 at 125 PSI with a compressor rated at 20 kW/100 cfm and electricity at  $0.10/kW—can cost as much as Cdn$1,130 per year.


Multiply those numbers by several leaks and you’re talking serious money, says Bill Antonacci, technical and quality manager for Festo Canada.

“Anybody can go into their plant and hear the leaks,” he says. “That’s just money being burned up.”

In response, automation equipment giant Festo International is rolling out new services and products to help manufacturers increase the efficiency of their pneumatic systems. At its 7th International Festo Press Conference, held in Delft, The Netherlands, at the end of 2008, the company announced a number of efficiency initiatives including a global cooperation agreement with LeekSeek International Ltd., a British-based company specializing in leak detection and management.

While that agreement doesn’t include Canada, Antonacci says Festo Canada’s Customer Solutions Group plans to offer extra value services including leak detection, air quality and similar air auditing services to its customers in 2009.

The company will also introduce the GFDM, a new system for monitoring and diagnosing sources of air consumption in pneumatic systems. It includes pressure and flow sensors, a diagnostic controller and visualization tools so that users can to detect and fix air problems early.

In total, the company estimates optimizing application of pneumatic components coupled with proper system maintenance can lower air consumption up to 60 percent. At that rate, return on investment averages around six months, the company says.

“It’s not only finding the leaks but also making suggestions about where else customers can save money within their equipment,” Attonacci says. “We can also suggest right sizing components, running at the proper pressures and monitoring compressed air quality, among other considerations. We take a more holistic approach.”


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