Opportunities To Save On Compressed Air

If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:

EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

This guideline is as comprehensive as you want it to be.  It’s been applied, in small & large facilities, as the framework for a formal set of procedures, followed in order, with the goal of large scale reductions in the costs associated with the operation of compressed air systems…and it works like a charm.  Others have “stepped” in and out, knowing already where some of their larger problems were – if you can actually hear or see evidence of leaks, your first step doesn’t necessarily have to be the installation of a Digital Flowmeter.

Here are some ways you may be able to “step” in and out to realize opportunities for savings on your use of compressed air:

  • Power:  I’m not saying you need to run out & buy a new compressor, but if yours is
    Recent advances have made significant improvements in efficiency.

    aging, requires more frequent maintenance, doesn’t have any particular energy efficiency ratings, etc…you might need to run out & buy a new compressor.  Or at least consult with a reputable air compressor dealer about power consumption.  You might not need to replace the whole compressor system if it can be retrofitted with more efficient controls.

  • Pressure: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure.  In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental for the pressure to be too high.  Depending on the layout of your compressed air supply lines, your header pressure may be set a little higher than the load with the highest required pressure, and that’s OK.  If it’s significantly higher, intermediate storage (like EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank, shown on the right) may be worth looking into.  Keep in mind, every 2psi increase in your header pressure means a 1% increase (approximately) in electric cost for your compressor operation.  Higher than needed pressures also increase wear and tear on pneumatic tools, and increase the chances of leaks developing.
  • Consumption:  Much like newer technologies in compressor design contribute to higher efficiency & lower electric power consumption, engineered compressed air products will use much less air than other methods.  A 1/4″ copper tube is more than capable of blowing chips & debris away from a machine tool chuck, but it’s going to use as much as 33 SCFM.  A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (shown on the right) can do the same job and use only 14 SCFM.  This one was installed directly on to the end of the copper tube, quickly and easily, with a compression fitting.
  • Leaks: These are part of your consumption, whether you like it or not.  And you shouldn’t like it, because they’re not doing anything for you, AND they’re costing you money.  Fix all the leaks you can…and you can fix them all.  Our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector (right) can be critical to your efforts in finding these leaks, wherever they may be.
  • Pressure, part 2: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure (seems I’ve heard that before?)  Controlling the pressure required for individual applications, at the point of use, keeps your header pressure where it needs to be.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product Kits come with a Pressure Regulator (like the one shown on the right) for this exact purpose.
  • All of our engineered Compressed Air Product Kits include a Filter Separator, like this one, for point-of-use removal of solid debris & moisture.

    Air Quality: Dirty air isn’t good for anything.  It’ll clog (and eventually foul) the inner workings of pneumatic valves, motors, and cylinders.  It’s particularly detrimental to the operation of engineered compressed air products…it can obstruct the flow of Air Knives & Air Nozzles, hamper the cooling capacity of Vortex Tubes & Spot Cooling Products, and limit the vacuum (& vacuum flow) capacity of Vacuum Generators, Line Vacs, and Air Amplifiers.

Everyone here at EXAIR Corporation wants you to get the most out of your compressed air use.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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The Solution To Intermittent Compressed Air System Loads

I recently had the pleasure of assisting an EXAIR Cold Gun user with an application: the parts that the Cold Guns were supposed to be cooling weren’t always getting as cool as they wanted…they’re thermistors being assembled onto a component, and they need to be below a certain temperature when they test them, so they can make sure they’re set properly. Some were getting to the test station while they were at a temperature above their setpoint, which resulted in a rejection of that part. The user wanted to know what could make the Cold Gun work better at times, and worse at other times.

The Cold Gun Aircoolant System has a Vortex Tube with a preset Cold Fraction (that’s the percentage of air supply that is directed to the cold end), so, assuming a constant compressed air supply pressure and temperature, it’ll produce the same amount of cold air flow, at the same low temperature, continuously. The user told me that they used some pneumatic tools in the area, and that these were supplied off the same header as the Cold Guns. We supposed that, during the tools’ operation (which is largely intermittent, as are the Cold Guns’), that portion of the compressed air system may be experiencing a pressure drop, possibly large enough to affect the Cold Guns’ temperature drop.

This could have resulted in a complicated re-plumbing of the compressed air supply in this area, but they were in luck…they had an unused receiver tank, and were able to install it upstream of the feed to the Cold Guns. This resulted in an undisturbed supply of air at a constant 100psig, regardless of whether, or how many, pneumatic tools were being operated at the same time in this area.

This kind of intermittent pressure drop could just as easily affect an Air Knife used for blow off (causing it to not be able to remove moisture/debris in some spots but not others), a Line Vac’s conveyance rate, an E-Vac’s suction power…and the list goes on…not to mention the reduced performance of the pneumatic tools.

If this situation sounds familiar, give us a call. We can look at your supply and demand conditions, and see if a receiver tank might be the solution. Oh, and if you don’t have one, we do: our Model 9500-60 60 Gallon Receiver Tank is ASME rated, and is ideally sized for a wide range of intermittent demands. Let us know if we can help determine if this is a viable solution for your needs.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
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(513)671-3363 fax
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