A common problem in tracking inventory in a business is shrinkage. Products or merchandize will disappear before being sold. This could be by theft or some sort of accounting problem, but the effect is the same, the effort, energy or money spent in making the product is wasted, with no real return on this effort. In most companies the theft or waste of valuable products by an individual worker would be an offense big enough to cause them to be fired.
The U.S. Department of Energy did a study of hundreds of compressed air systems a few years ago. They found that about 50% of the expensive compressed air produced by air compressors in a typical industrial plant is wasted!
Of the total flow coming out of the compressor room, about 20% to 30% is lost due to system leakage. A further 10% to 15% is lost through these same leaks due to having the compressed air pressure higher than it needs to be. In addition to this about 10% to 15% is lost to inappropriate uses such as blowing or cleaning.
The efficiency of a compressed air system is already very poor — only about 10% to 15% of the energy put into a compressor comes out as actual mechanical energy at the air powered tool. Reduce the flow by 50%, and the efficiency of the system gets ridiculous. Not all of this loss is caused by employees, so nobody needs to be fired, but they can certainly improve the situation.
Having a good system of leakage monitoring and repair can go a long way in improving the situation. So to is having your system checked out on a regular basis to ensure the system pressure is adequate and that that the compressed air is not being wasted by any inappropriate use. This usually requires a compressed air assessment.
If you are not doing these things, it is probably time to take action now!