May 3, 2022
Centralized Vacuum Pumps vs Point of Use Vacuum Pumps
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Vacuum pumps are industrial machines that remove air and gas molecules from a confined space, creating a vacuum effect that helps complete a given task. Vacuum pumps help in different holding, lifting, and moving applications, to forming, shaping, preserving, and clean environment applications. More and more manufacturing companies these days are making the switch from “point-of-use” vacuum pumps to centralized vacuum pump systems that deliver vacuum to their processes, equipment, and applications.
What are Point of Use Vacuum Pumps?
Point of use, or decentralized vacuum pumps, are individual pumps that are dedicated to a piece of equipment or machinery with the sole purpose of producing vacuum for that specific application or process. New machinery often comes as a packaged deal, with a dedicated vacuum pump included. An example of this might be a large CNC milling machine with an integrated vacuum pump that provides clamping and suction for holding and cutting parts.
What are Centralized Vacuum Pumps?
A centralized vacuum pump system is one or several vacuum pumps that feed all the facility’s equipment that require vacuum. Generally, the more equipment a facility has that calls for vacuum, the more economical a central system will be compared to point of use pumps for each piece of equipment. However, this is only a rule of thumb, and it is greatly recommended to consult with compressed air/vacuum experts to evaluate your facility’s demand and other parameters that need to be considered.
Benefits of Central Vacuum Systems vs Point of Use Vacuum Pumps:
Depending on the application, centralized vacuum pump systems deliver many advantages over point of use or decentralized pumps:
- Energy Savings: A decentralized vacuum pump installed directly at the point of use is always operating at full power while the process is running, even when there is no demand for vacuum. This consumes a lot of energy. Centralized vacuum systems, on the other hand, are controlled on a demand-driven basis. Central systems often use advancements in vacuum and compressed air technology, like variable frequency drives, which allow for finer-tuned performance adjustments where the system only generates as much vacuum as needed at that exact moment. This results in greater energy saving potential compared to point of use pumps.
- Simple Expansion: On-demand vacuum with centralized systems offers much more flexibility, making expansions and adding additional vacuum modules much easier. An example being a facility adding a new packaging line.
- Maintenance Cost/Time Reductions: Centralized vacuum systems are much easier to maintain compared to point of use pumps. The fact that central systems only use one or a few pumps to feed the entire plant means there are much fewer pumps to service vs. individual pumps at every piece of equipment. Centralized systems are also much more accessible as they are usually installed in a dedicated room or area. This means maintenance personnel doesn’t even have to go into the production area or interrupt operations to service the pumps.
- Continuous, Uninterrupted Operations and Increased Productivity: Many centralized vacuum systems include a backup pump that comes online automatically should a primary pump fail. This allows production or packaging to continue uninterrupted while maintenance and service work is performed on the primary pump. With point of use pumps, the entire operation associated with the downed pump would come to a halt so maintenance could be performed, or the pump is switched out.
- Increased Reliability and Lifetime: When you have point of use pumps, they are always running at full power. With a demand-driven, centralized system, operating hours are much lower with consistent pressures and less strain. This increases the longevity and reliability of the pumps.
- Worker Safety & Comfort: By removing vacuum pumps from immediate work areas, noise levels and heat generated by the pumps and motors are drastically reduced. Also, if the point of use pump is oil-lubricated or water-cooled, centralizing the system removes potentially hazardous spills that could cause a worker to slip. This also makes for a cleaner working environment for employees since the maintenance of pumps is performed outside of the production areas.
- Heat Recovery Opportunities: By using an oil-water heat exchanger, an estimated 50-70% of a motor’s energy consumption can be recovered and reused. Also, since the heat from the pumps is no longer in the production or packaging area (which is often a cooled area) your facility’s HVAC system won’t have to keep up with cooling the room down from the excess heat, which will save on utility costs.
Applications where Central Vacuum Systems are Common:
There are many different industries and applications that could potentially benefit from a centralized vacuum pump system. Generally, when a facility has several point of use vacuum pumps that feed different pieces of equipment during their processes, they are more likely to experience the benefits of a centralized system. Common applications include:
- Vacuum Packaging
- Glass Bottle & Container Manufacturing
- Material Handling
- Woodworking and CNC Routing
- Medical Vacuum Supply
To summarize, a centralized vacuum system can offer many benefits compared to point of use pumps. From substantial energy efficiency gains, increased productivity, increase reliability, maintenance cost reductions, and worker comfort. However, centralized systems are not for everyone. Expert evaluation is highly recommended prior to making commitments.
If your company would like to learn more about transitioning to a central system and need help identifying if it is the right decision, contact C.H. Reed to speak with a vacuum specialist. As a premier Quincy Compressor distribution and service center, we have the expertise and resources to help you identify the right vacuum solution for your applications.
C.H. Reed serves Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.
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