Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 2 – Find and Fix Leaks.

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible.  The compressed air system is considered to be the “forth” utility behind gas, water, and electricity.  It is necessary for 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.  EXAIR has six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system.  Following these steps will help you to cut electrical costs, reduce overhead, and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover the second step – find and fix leaks.

One of the largest problems affecting compressed air systems is leaks.  That quiet little hissing sound from the pipe lines is costing your company much money.  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 on average that 30% of the compressor capacity is lost through air leaks.  For a 100 hp compressor, you are losing 30 hp into the ambient air.  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 the leaks that you can hear, you can tell by the chart below (**Note 1) 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 appear at the source.  You have to locate 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 product line from EXAIR are designed to help improve your compressed air system, and the most effective way is to eliminate leaks.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detectors can find the air leaks, and the Digital Flowmeters can monitor your system for air leaks.  With both of these products included in your leak preventative program, you will be able to keep your compressed air system running optimally and reduce the “hidden” cost of leaks.

Ultrasonic Leak Detector

EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector:

When a leak occurs, it emits an ultrasonic noise caused by turbulence from the gas escaping.  This ultrasonic noise can be at a frequency above the audible level 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 locate 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’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter:

With the Digital Flowmeters, you can continuously monitor 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 watch 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 computer 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 preventative 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 preventative 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.  Once you find and fix all your leaks, you can then focus on improving the efficiency of your blow-off devices with EXAIR products and save yourself even more money.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

**Note 1: Chart was published by Compressed Air Challenge in April 1998 – Rev. 0

Measuring And Adding Sound Levels Together

What sound level do you get when you feed an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle at 80psig? What if there are two of them?  Or three?  Grab your scientific calculators, folks…we’re gonna ‘math’ today!

But first, a little explanation of sound power & sound pressure:

Strictly speaking, power is defined as energy per unit time, and is used to measure energy generation or consumption.  In acoustics, though, sound power is applicable to the generation of the sound…how much sound is being MADE by a noisy operation.

Sound pressure is the way acoustics professionals quantify the intensity of the sound power at the target.  For the purposes of most noise reduction discussions, the target is “your ears.”

The sound levels that we publish are measured at a distance of 3 feet from the product, to the side.  The units we use are decibels, corrected for “A” weighting (which accounts for how the human ear perceives the intensity of the sound, which varies for different frequencies,) or dBA.  Also, decibels follow a logarithmic scale, which means two important things:

  • A few decibels’ worth of change result in a “twice as loud” perception to your ears.
  • Adding sources of sound doesn’t double the decibel level.

If you want to know how the sound level from a single source is calculated, those calculations are found here.  For the purposes of this blog, though, we’re going to assume a user wants to know what the resultant sound level is going to be if they add a sound generating device to their current (known) situation.

Combined Sound Level (dBA) = 10 x log10[10SL1/10 + 10SL2/10 + 10SL3/10 …]

Let’s use an EXAIR Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (rated at 74dBA) as an example, and let’s say we have one in operation, and want to add another.  What will be the increase in dBA?

10 x log10[1074/10 + 1074/10] = 77.65 dBA

Now, there are two reasons I picked the Model 1100 as an example:

  • It’s one of our most versatile products, with a wide range of applications, and a proven track record of efficiency, safety, and sound level reduction.
  • We proved out the math in a real live experiment:

Why do I care about all of this?  My Dad experienced dramatic hearing loss from industrial exposure at a relatively young age…he got his first hearing aids in his early 40’s…so I saw, literally up close and very personal, what a quality of life issue that can be.  The fact that I get to use my technical aptitude to help others lower industrial noise exposure is more than just making a living.  It’s something I’m passionate about.  If you want to talk about sound level reduction in regard to your use of compressed air, talk to me.  Please.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Know How Much Money You Can Save with EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab

 
Free testing. Verifiable data. EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

When it comes to buying new gear for any kind of outdoor hobby the research almost becomes a full-time job to decided what to get. When I’m hanging 200 ft. in the air off of a single rope, I want to make sure that my harness, rope, and all my other gear is top notch and not going to fail me as my literal life is hanging on the line. Sometimes it would be nice to have a professional climber standing there telling you all of the pros and cons, what they like and dislike about it, and weather it’s worth the buy. Outdoor gear is expensive and climbing equipment is no exception, in an ever-changing world of innovation new things are coming out every week and is just to hard for one person to keep up with.

Similarly, EXAIR has multiple product lines, many new products, and countless applications for our products. That is where our Application Engineers come in; as experts on our products and their applications we can provide in-depth knowledge on the various uses and expected outcomes. 

EXAIR’s Products in action

EXAIR has been making compressed air products since 1983, and have since created a culture of making high quality, safe, and efficient compressed air products. With this in mind we started the Efficiency Lab program for people to take advantage to test your current pneumatic blow-off device and compare it to an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air product. We will generate a detailed report on our findings and send it to you for your review. This free service provided to U.S. and Canadian companies allows people to test and look into possible upgrades and cost savings.

During my time as a project and process engineer at Valeo and Tyson I wish I had known about this service.  The Efficiency Lab allows you to look at what your current process is, whether it is an open-ended pipe or some other nozzle and have EXAIR compare it to an EXAIR product for free. Its like getting a free inspection of all your gear and having an expert help you find the best replacement if needed.

You may be wondering why we offer this service; it’s simple, compressed air can be expensive and we want to save you money. Not only are open ended pipes unsafe and can violate OSHA Standards on both dead-end pressure and noise level, but they also use a lot of compressed air. To operate an 1/8” open pipe you are looking at over $2000 a year for just one pipe; there isn’t a single plant that is just going to use one pipe. That is a lot of money that can add up over time, which could easily be saved by changing out what you are using.

The Efficiency Lab is quite simple to use. The simplest way is to contact us (my info below) and we can exchange the information needed to get your product into EXAIR. Once received, we will proceed. We will then calibrate the equipment and standardized procedures to test for noise level, air consumption, and force generated. Based off of this information we will recommend a similar product. Don’t be afraid, let us take care of the hard part of choosing which product is best for your application. If you cannot send any product in, use our  Product Efficiency Survey to provide as many details as possible. 

If you have any questions about compressed air systems or want more information on any of EXAIR’s products, give us a call, we have a team of Application Engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Back To The Basics: Process Improvement Basics

We understand that it is more important than ever to realize savings within manufacturing processes. EXAIR can reduce compressed air consumption and provide simple ROI in a matter of weeks in MANY cases.

In the hustle and bustle of the daily grind wherever you are, there are certain processes that become muscle memory for you and certain processes that just work and don’t need any attention. Whether it be a login process for your computer network, the number of steps it takes to fill your coffee cup, or the compressed air applications in your facility.

You know what I am talking about, these items begin to get glanced over and often become overlooked. When going through process improvements or troubleshooting, it is easy to overlook processes which are not causing trouble or that have become “acceptable” because they are producing. EXAIR firmly believes compressed air applications are ripe for improvement, and our product lines are built to replace inefficient compressed air products with engineered and efficient solutions.

When evaluating a process for improvement creating a baseline is the necessary start. With this, we can then start to draw a realistic target of where the process needs to be in order to be optimized and document the changes from our starting baseline.

Much like the 6 Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, which starts with measuring compressed air consumption to provide a baseline.  Sometimes, this may require the installation of a Digital Flowmeter, others it may include taking advantage of our Efficiency Lab service for us to get a baseline of what air consumption and other key performance indicators are for your application.

Looking to “go green?” We can help.

Once we have the baseline and a target, we can then begin to design an improvement process. Whether this is implementing better controls for the air, such as pressure regulators, or implementing controllers such as the Electronic Flow Control, it may even be simply installing an engineered solution.  Once an improvement has been implemented we can then go on to the next testing phase to again gather data to see how much air was saved from the baseline.

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

Once the performance of the new process is determined then we can take the new cost of ownership numbers and give a simple return on investment back to determine what the actual savings by implementing these process improvements have amounted to.

The below example is from a customer who had already improved their static elimination application by using our Super Ion Air Knife instead of a homemade pipe with drilled holes. They further optimized the application with our Electronic Flow Control.

If you would like to talk through methods for process improvement or how we can help you determine these costs, please reach out.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF