Food Engineering

Compressed air system helps save 'dough' in energy usage

October 1, 2009
Pepperidge Farm baked goods are a common sight in pantries and on grocery shelves.


Control panel for Atlas Copco compressors lets Pepperidge Farm monitor and adjust the compressed air system as needed to save energy.




Noel Skwiot, a project manager at the Pepperidge Farm bakery in Bloomfield, CT, sums up the plant’s activity in a simple statement: “We just bake a lot of bread.”  The 265,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art facility produces nearly one million loaves of bread a week.

Skwiot works to ensure the baking operations run smoothly and efficiently. With a colossal assortment of products in production, Skwiot’s responsibilities cover a wide range including oversight of the facility’s compressed air system.

“Our compressed air is a utility, just like electricity, water or natural gas,” says Skwiot. “Primarily, we use compressed air for fluid power applications. We have a system of flour conveyors that move flour from exterior silos to various mixers throughout the facility. Giant diverter valves, the size of a five-gallon pail, are powered by compressed air pilot valves and open to allow flour to flow to the appropriate mixer. We also have a lot of cylinders that use compressed air to move mechanical linkages for the different bakery machinery, such as conveyors and packaging equipment.”

Contamination by even the smallest quantities of oil in such purity-critical compressed air applications can result in damaged products or product batches, higher rejection rates and costly downtime and clean up. Therefore, Pepperidge Farm standardized on Atlas Copco’s Class Zero oil-free compressors in all its plants nationwide. The compressors provide clean, 100% oil-free air that eliminates any risk of contamination.

A large facility like the Bloomfield plant has significant energy needs, so efficiency is a constant pursuit. Skwiot works with Atlas Copco engineers to capitalize on a Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) incentive program focused on reducing energy costs for compressed air systems. 

The supplier conducted an energy audit at the Bloomfield facility and evaluated the compressed air system. As part of the audit, energy usage was measured and evaluated to identify inefficiencies, such as air leaks, throughout the plant. This information was compiled in a comprehensive report that included recommendations for equipment or operational changes. To compound the energy savings available at the plant, recommendations for improvements were linked with a potential for additional savings through financial incentives from CL&P, providing further motivation for Pepperidge Farm to make upgrades.

At the Bloomfield facility, there are two Atlas Copco ZR110 (150hp) oil-free water-cooled air compressors, each with its own FD refrigerated drier, and one ZR45 (60hp) oil-free water-cooled air compressor with an FD refrigerated drier. 

“We generally run both the 150s and add the 60 when demand increases,” Skwiot says. “As part of the constant system analysis Atlas Copco provides, we will continue to evaluate options, like a variable speed drive compressor, that could increase our energy savings, giving us a quick return on investment, saving money and reducing our plant’s energy draw.”

For more information:
Paul Humphreys, 803-817-7479, paul.humphreys@us.atlascopco.com