When evaluating plant instrument air and system air, operators should be mindful of the following factors to ensure that the system meets the plants process requirements and financial constraints:
Analysis of Technical Specifications
Careful analysis of a customer’s technical specifications are crucial to the selection and delivery of the right IA & SA system. This includes a thorough understanding of the project, quality standards, environmental certifications, and system requirements. Both systems and vendors also need to be evaluated against requirements to ensure that not only is the right piece of equipment is chosen, but that a vendor with system and application expertise is also selected.
Product Configuration & Project Integration
In order to maximize cost savings, product configuration should be kept as simple as possible. Operating parameters, power supply, and space required, as well as maintenance and control requirements, also need to be considered to ensure the chosen system meets plant and project needs.
Engineered Compressor Packages
Engineered IA & SA compressor packages are typically the best option for most customers and/or EPC projects. Custom tailored to meet specific project needs, engineered compressor packages can provide plant operators and EPC’s with a solution that meets the technical, regulatory, budgetary, and safety requirements of the project.
Air Quality Standards
Air quality standards and requirements can vary greatly, even with each usage point within a plant.
The right system needs to have the purification equipment to meet the air quality required by each step of the process. A combination of choosing the right supplier, along with referencing ISO 8573 quality classifications or other international standards like ISA-7.0.01-1996 Quality Standard for Instrument Air, can help to identify the purification equipment required to achieve the quality standards needed.
Plants require increasing levels of power. With approximately 10% of industrial energy being used by compressed air systems, it is becoming increasingly important for operators to focus on the energy usage of their equipment. Equipment that can be operated (loaded/unloaded) as required, and technology such as Variable Speed Drives (VSDs), can provide significant savings for plants with fluctuating air demands; however fixed speed compressors may offer better efficiency where demand is constant.
Choosing a Flexible, Global Supplier
Choosing the right supplier is key to ensuring success. Suppliers with a comprehensive product and project portfolio, extensive application expertise, project management skills, and flexibility can help ensure that they are able to quickly adapt to customer/project requirements, and deliver a robust and reliable solution.
IA & SA systems are typically included in EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) contracts, or other complex industrial projects that require significant management and coordination to execute.
In each phase, it is important that all suppliers follow established project management practices to ensure the right equipment is designed, delivered, tested, and commissioned as required by the project. Suppliers with dedicated project management teams can provide significant benefits across each phase of the project; from specification, configuration and integration, to manufacturing, testing, delivery, startup and commissioning.