As margins get tighter and cost of manufacturing climbs, industries are looking for ways to be more economical. A big focus today is in the compressed air systems. Compressed air is considered to be the “fourth” utility behind gas, water, and electricity. Air compressors are necessary to run pneumatic systems, but it is the least efficient of the utilities. For every $1.00 that is put into making compressed air, you only get roughly 5¢ of work from it. So, it is very important to use this utility as resourceful as possible.
One of the biggest problems affecting compressed air systems are leaks. That quiet little hissing sound from the pipe lines is costing your company much money. For the amount of electricity required to produce compressed air, a study was conducted by a university to determine the percentage of air leaks in a typical manufacturing plant. In a poorly maintained system, they found that 30% of the compressor capacity is lost through air leaks on average. Majority of companies do not have a leak prevention program; so, they will fall into the “poorly maintained” category. To put a dollar value on it, a leak that you cannot physically hear can cost you as much as $130/year. That is just for one inaudible leak in hundreds of feet of compressed air lines. For larger leaks, you can tell by the chart below the amount of money that can be wasted by the size of the hole. Unlike a hydraulic system, compressed air is clean; so, leaks will not be visible at the source. You have to find them by some other means.
Most leaks occur where you have threaded fittings, connections, hoses, and pneumatic components like valves, regulators, and drains. The Optimization products that EXAIR offers are designed to help optimize your compressed air system, and the most effective way is to find and stop leaks. The Ultrasonic Leak Detectors can find inaudible air leaks, and the Digital Flowmeters can check your system to find leakage rates. With both products included in a leak prevention program, you will be able to keep your compressed air system running optimally and reduce the cost caused by wasting compressed air.
EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector:
When a leak occurs, it emits an ultrasonic noise caused by turbulence. These ultrasonic noises can be at a frequency above that which is audible for human hearing. The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick up these frequencies and make the leaks audible. With three sensitivity ranges and LED display, you can find very minute leaks. It comes with two attachments; the parabola to find leaks up to 20 feet away, and the tube attachment to define the exact location in the pipe line. Once you find a leak, it can be marked for fixing.
EXAIR Digital Flowmeter:
With the Digital Flowmeters, you can continuously watch for waste. Air leaks can occur at any time within any section of your pneumatic area. You can do systematic checks by isolating sections with the Digital Flowmeter and watching for a flow reading. Another way to monitor your system would be to compare the results over time. With the Digital Flowmeters, we have a couple of options for recording the air flow data. We have the USB Datalogger for setting certain time increments to record the air flows. Once the information is recorded, you can connect the USB to your computer, and with the downloadable software, you can view the information and export it into an Excel spread sheet. We also offer a wireless capability option with the Digital Flowmeters. You can have multiple flow meters that can communicate with your computers to continuously log and record the flow information. Once the flow information starts trending upward for the same process, then you can use the Ultrasonic Leak Detector to find the leak. It can also give you a preventive measure if a pneumatic system is starting to fail.
Compressed air leaks will rob you in performance, compressor life, and electrical cost. It is important to have a leak prevention program to check for leaks periodically as they can happen at any time. The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector and the Digital Flowmeters will help you accomplish this and optimize your compressed air system. If you need more information, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR. Once you find and fix all your leaks, you can then focus on improving the efficiency of your blow-off devices with EXAIR products. It will save yourself even more money.
**Note 1: Chart was published by Compressed Air Challenge in April 1998 – Rev. 0