In the past your typical industrial air compressor was rated to run at 100 psi and it was not often that this pressure was exceeded. Lately with modern advances pressures have slowly crept up and have surpassed this threshold. Unfortunately this has proven costly to the industrial user of compressed air.
To clarify this point, if a compressed air system is set to maintain 102 psi it will cost the plant 1% more in electric costs than if the system ran at 100 psi. Also noteworthy is that unregulated air demands consume about 1% more flow for every psi of additional pressure.
So why is the air pressure getting so high and what can you do about it? Here are some possible causes and solutions:
Devices that do require more than 100 psi: It may not be the pneumatic device at all. If these devices are connected with restrictive fittings or there are excessive leaks in the system this can cause up to a 30 psi increase in line pressure just to make up for the poor piping. If this can be corrected it is possible that the pressure can be reduced.
EXAIR offers the Ultrasonic Leak Detector to facilitate tracking down hard to find system leaks and a wide variety of Air Knives, Air Amplifiers, Super Air Wipes, Air Nozzles, Line Vacs, Vacuum Generators and all of them are engineered to provide peak performance at 80 psi and make efficient use of compressed air. Though it is not uncommon for these products to provide a solution at much less pressure.
Applications that are believed to be high pressure: Plant workers sometimes think that a higher air pressure is required than actually necessary. This can be caused by a lack of training or perhaps the trainers are simply repeating what they have been taught in error. It is good practice to review all locations that are using a higher pressure to determine if it is really necessary.
Loss due to undersize pipes: If your plants compressed air supply lines are undersized for the volume demand, this can cause a significant restriction and raise the line pressure. The EXAIR Digital Flow Meter can assist in recording how much demand is for a given point in time which will clarify usage.
Filter/Dryer restrictions: If the Dryer or Filter/Separators are dirty and/or undersized the compressor operating pressure is typically raised to overcome these restrictions. EXAIR has six sizes of Filter/Separators to ensure they are properly sized for the SCFM required by the devices that are connected to them. Five of the models feature an automatic drain system and of course we carry the replacement filter elements and rebuild kits to keep them in top operating condition.
Temporary demands: There may be occasional peak compressed air demands in the plant that may be caused by a different or special compressed air process or machine. If the demand is greater than the supply, the pressure may be pulled down to unacceptably low levels. In an attempt to make up for the increased demand a plant may raise the operating pressures. The best way to cope with temporary demands is to install a receiver tank that stores compressed air that can be released when the demand calls for it.
Factory default settings: It is common for compressor manufacturers to set the air pressure at or very near the maximum pressure rating for that compressor. There is no reason for this other than to verify that the air compressor will perform at its rated maximum pressure. To save on air and maintenance costs the compressor should be set only as high as the maximum pressure for approved uses in the facility.
In the compressed air industry, EXAIR provides tools and products with quick payback times.