If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:
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
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.
After the busy and enjoyable long weekend I have found myself looking back through some logs and have compiled a brief list of the most common issues we receive from Consultants on their customers’ compressed air systems. The list is also what we commonly see and hear as issues from direct customers also. The list is below.
Pressure drops in the compressed air system
Lack of measurement for flow / pressure within the system
Contaminants / moisture within the air
Lack of engineered point of use solutions
That is a pretty short list that can cover a large amount of issues within a compressed air system. So let’s see if we can shine a little more light on these issues.
Pressure drops in the compressed air system are more often than not a piping system issue. The pressure drop could possibly occur when the point of use device is consuming more air than the supply pipe or system can give it, or when you have a piping system that is undersized for the length of pipe that is installed – For instance, 50′ of 1/4″ schedule 40 pipe can only flow approximately 11 SCFM. The best solution I can recommend is to ensure you are always utilizing an Intelligent Compressed Air® Product at all applicable points of use. EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to reduce air volume at the point of use and conserve as much compressed air as possible. So keep your compressed air supply lines properly sized and rely on engineered solutions at the point of use to keep your end use product running as efficiently as possible. Pressure regulators can also be added to fine tune the incoming pressure to a lower pressure or just enough pressure for a successful application.
The lack of measurement devices for flow and pressure within the system can be easily solved by installing flow meters and pressure regulators with gauges. EXAIR Digital Flowmeters, pressure regulators, and even just pressure gauges are readily available and in stock ready to ship direct to your facility. The Digital Flowmeters are available for 1/2″ iron pipe through 4″ iron pipe (copper also available) to fit nearly any of the hard piping you may have within your system. These flow meters require only 2 small holes into the compressed air pipe and provide a readout or data logging capabilities to monitor your compressed air. Pressure regulators with gauges can keep your end use pressure to minimum in order to conserve compressed air and the gauge provides the valuable measurement so you can remain aware of legs/areas you may be able to lower overall pressure. Knowing how much air is flowing through the system along with what pressure your point of use devices are at can make optimization of the system a lot easier.
Contaminants and moisture in the air can easily be remedied by utilizing one of the EXAIR auto drain filter separators as well as an oil removal filter. By using the auto drain filter separators the units will only dump the waste material once they have reached a certain level within the filter bowl. This means no need for a timer based drain system which can become costly if there is no moisture to dump at that time. Keeping the supply air clean and contaminant free will also prevent wear of the end use products and keep them operating at peak performance.
Leaks are always hard to find. This is why EXAIR offers the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, this device will help you pin point the compressed air leaks in your piping system. The easy to read LED indicator as well as the adjustable sensitivity scale make the handheld device very easy to use. Remember, just because you can’t personally hear the leak doesn’t mean that a leak is not there. An Ultrasonic Leak detector can identify leaks we are unable to hear so you may locate and repair them which will further optimize your system.
The lack of engineered point of use solutions is even easier to troubleshoot. Simply contact an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and we will help you determine which product from our selection is right for your situation. Engineered products are designed with maximum efficiency and safety in mind. Whether you are coating, conserving, cooling, conveying, or cleaning with compressed air, chances are we have a solution for you.