Regulating compressed air, which is an essential input for all modern textile machines – from spinning to weaving – can help us conserve air, and consequently save energy.
And that is exactly what textile manufacturers in Coimbatore and Tirupur have started to do. After cutting trenches in the ground to collect rainwater, they have turned their focus to air, trying to conserve its flow from compressors in txtile machines to plug leakages and save energy.
Following a three-day pilot in around 30 different mills, conducted over a period of a few months, it was proven that textile machines had a lot to gain by regulating the compressed air. The draw of power by textile machines, which are practically power guzzlers, can be reduced to a large extent by sealing off the weak areas and optimising the compressor capacity.
“Air is a utility in itself now, and its reckless utilisation means a higher cost of production. More air you use, more is the power consumption. Industries like foundries and even rice mills had realised this. Now, the textiles are catching up,” says G Ramesh Kumar, who heads Channel Sales at ELGi Equipments, a manufacturer of compressors helping mills with the pilot.
For the spinners of Tamil Nadu, who are mostly SMEs, any method of saving power can yield heavy gains for them. For an average mill of capacity 25,000 spindles, air monitoring can result in conserving 750 units of energy everyday. Meanwhile, the annual savings for the state’s spinning industry is estimated at around Rs 200 crore.
“We have implemented robust air monitoring systems in many mills now. The idea is to expose the advantages to more mills and create a model for effective air-monitoring and corrective action,” said Prabhu Damodharan, secretary of entrepreneur forum Indian Texpreneurs Federation.
Modern textile machines are operated by pneumatic systems that use gas or compressed air for key processes. In weaving machines, compressed air ejected from fine nozzles moves weaved threads from one end of the machine to another. Earlier, this process used to be done manually. This compressed air needs to be clean and dry. It should not have impurities like oil or moisture, both of which can affect the performance of the machine, leading to an increased number of defective garments, higher power consumption or even a sudden breakdown, risking higher capital costs for entrepreneurs.
“Maintenance costs of a compressed air system equals to the price of the product in three years. A full-fledged service once for every 8,000 hours, and it will cost over Rs 4 lakh. Between these services, every time compressed air leaks out of the numerous joints in the air pipeline, I lose money,” shared Manojh Jhajhariaa, joint MD of Salona Cotspin.