How much air leaks really cost

We all know that compressed air leaks are a huge source of energy (and money) waste, but do you know how much they really cost?

After conducting around 60 surveys in different facilities from different industries, using an ultrasound camera, we concluded that the average leak would cost around 1200£ per year.  When you think that any industrial site will have dozens or even hundreds of leaks, you can quickly realize the savings potential. 

The urgency for leak detection 

As energy prices rose up to historical peaks, compressed air leaks have also become more expensive than ever. Finding and repairing wasteful leaks became a priority for  maintenance teams looking to cut down on energy waste.  

Knowing that, on average, approx. 10% of all energy supplied to an industrial facility will be used for compressed air; and that the average leak rate across a site in industry is 30%, we can quickly realize that compressed air leaks will be one of the greatest sources of waste in industry.

How to conduct effective air leak surveys 

It is well established that using ultrasound instruments is the most effective way of finding leaks.  Normally these are handheld and listen-only instruments – still very effective in detecting leaks, but more recently, with the deployment of ultrasound cameras, you can also see the leaks, in real time.

This will turn leak surveys into a much more effortless and quicker task.  

As these cameras are working by simply showing the leaks on the screen, you can find dozens of leaks in minutes.  

Commercial Printing Facility – 1 single leak costing 1650£ per year 

The printing industry uses a lot of compressed air (especially when printing newspapers and magazines, like this facility), making these facilities perfect candidates for an efficient leak detection device.

One single leak was estimated to cost 1650£ per year! A 30-minute survey at this facility detected 6 leaks amounting to a cost of 7000£ per year. This is only a small part of the total amount of leaks estimated at this site, since almost all printing machines will need compressed air.

Besides the energy waste, these leaks bring other issues: as leaks on the printing machines will bring down the system pressure, this will compromise the printing quality. Thus, finding and repairing leaks in the printing industry becomes also a matter of assuring the final product quality.

Costly compressed air and argon/nitrogen leaks found at pharmaceutical company  

Pharma uses a lot of compressed air, as well as special gas, which means leaks can quickly become a huge source of energy waste. We could attest exactly that when surveying a pharmaceutical plant using the UltraView. During the demonstration we were able to pinpoint and report 29 compressed air leaks in about 2 hours of survey 

The total cost for these leaks is estimated at a costly 28313£ per year. We could also detect some very expensive argon and nitrogen leaks. In the video we can see an argon leak at a tank. This is a leak losing 9 liters per minute of argon, meaning that, if it were left undetected, the tank would be empty in about 3 to 4 days.

Food packaging plant: detecting compressed air, vacuum and vent leaks  

At a food packaging plant we did a quick survey using the UltraView camera. Packaging facilities normally rely heavily on compressed air, so it was no surprise that we were able to quickly find 22 leaks amounting to almost 13000£, including 2 leaks at hard-to-reach locations which we could easily detect even at a 5 meter distance.

The UltraView could also detect 3 vacuum leaks and 1 leak in the ventilation system, as we can see in the video. Vacuum leaks are a big issue in many industries, as they are very hard to detect and can quickly lead to product quality loss and increase in production time.