6 Steps to Air Savings: Step 1 – Measure!

Six Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

If you’re a follower of the EXAIR Blog, you’re probably well aware that compressed air is the most expensive utility in an industrial environment. The average cost to generate 1000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air is $0.25. If you’re familiar with how much air you use on a daily basis, you’ll understand just how quickly that adds up. To make matters worse, many compressed air systems waste significant amounts of compressed air just through leaks. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, a typical plant that has not been well maintained will likely have a leak rate of approximately 20%!! Good luck explaining to your finance department that you’re carelessly wasting 20% of the most expensive utility. Step 1 of the 6 steps to optimizing your compressed air system is to measure the air consumption to find sources that consume a lot of air.

In order to have an understanding of your compressed air usage across various processes and in your entire facility, you have to measure. Without a measurement of usage, there’s no way to determine your actual costs or evaluate opportunities for savings. To do so, EXAIR offers a range of Digital Flowmeters in sizes from as small as ½” Schedule 40 iron pipe and up to 4” Schedule 40 pipe from stock. Larger sizes and pipes calibrated for use on copper or metric pipe are also available.

The Digital Flowmeter provides a digital readout of the exact amount of compressed air being used. Many companies will install the DFM on each major leg of their air distribution system to allow for constant monitoring and provide a benchmark of compressed air usage.

Each meter has a built in LED display that provides the volume of air moving through the pipe in SCFM, m3/hr, or m3/min. Two small probes are inserted into holes in the pipe (drill guide kit w/ drill bit included) to detect the airflow. The unit seals to the pipe once the clamps are tightened. (If the DFM ever needs to be removed, EXAIR also offers blocking rings to seal off the holes) No cutting, welding, adjustments or calibrations are ever required.

In addition to the standard Digital Flowmeter itself, it’s also offered with wireless capability to transmit the data back to your PC, or via USB Data Logger. Both of these options will allow you to track usage over time and upload that data into an Excel spreadsheet.

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

If you’re “flying blind” when it comes to understanding your costs of compressed air in your facility, this is the first step. Contact an EXAIR Application Engineer today to get started. We’ll be happy to help you identify areas where you could take advantage of simple savings.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Turn It Off: Saving Compressed Air The Easy Way

A major benefit to utilizing compressed air is the speed at which it can be shut off and re-energized for use – in fact, this can be done instantaneously. Shutting down the supply of compressed air to an application while it is not needed can drastically reduce the compressed air consumption of the process. This is an easy remedy that can produce significant savings.

Think about a place where you have a compressed air blow off with spaces between the parts or dwell times in conveyor travel. What about break times, do operators continue to keep the air on when they leave for a break or even worse, for the day?

Step number four in EXAIR’s Six Steps to Optimization is:

A simple manual ball valve and a responsible operator can provide savings at every opportunity to shut down the airflow. But an automated solution is a no-brainer and can provide significant savings.

Quarter Turn Ball Valves are low-maintenance and easy to install/use.

For a more automated approach, you can add a solenoid valve that would tie into your existing PLC or e-stop circuit, into your compressed air supply lines to aid in turning the compressed air on and off.

For an automated on/off solution can be found by using the EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control). The EFC is made to accept 110V or 220V AC, and convert it to 24V DC to operate a sensor, timer, and solenoid valve. Its multiple operating modes allow you delay on, delay-off, and delay on/off among others. The operating mode can then be set to the specific time necessary for a successful application.

The spaces between parts can be turned into money saved. Every time you reach the end of a batch run, the EFC can turn the air off. You can also add solenoid valves and run them from your machine controls. If the machine is off, or the conveyor has stopped – close the solenoid valve and save the air. The modes are all defined in the video below.

So, take a look, or even better a listen, around the plant and see what you can find that could benefit from turning the air off; even if it is just for a moment it will help put money back into your bottom line.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Compressed Air: Only as Intelligent as Your Accessories

How often have you seen a compressed air system functioning at 100% efficiency? Do you have the right accessories to provide a source of clean air at the proper pressure? Even with the right accessories, have they been maintained in good working order? Chances are that some of your components are in fact in need of attention such as a clogged filter, improper regulator or maybe undersized hoses. Your air compressor is only as intelligent as the weakest component in your system.

This is why you need to make sure all of your EXAIR accessories are properly fitted and located in the most efficient locations. Your compressor is capable of producing compressed air but your accessories will allow it to function the way it is meant to function. Using accessories and using them in the right manner is the intelligent choice, it will minimize your maintenance while increasing your energy efficiency for the life of your compressor. Let’s review a few of the most important compressed air accessories you should consider.

Filter Separators: Filters remove and separate water, dirt and scale from your compressed air system to keep your air clean and output pure. Clean air keeps your air products and machines more efficient and reduce the frequency of maintenance. Filter Separators will accumulate particulate matter naturally so they will need cleaned and/or replaced filter elements regularly depending on your operating environment. EXAIR provides Filter Separators and recommend they be installed prior to an Oil Removal Filter, pressure regulator or valve.

Filter Separators

Oil Removal Filters: Many air compressors use oil to lubricate therefore the risk of oil in your air lines is imminent. Although oil may not affect the compressed air system itself it can become a problem with products which do not require oil and have small air gaps. It can also be problematic if oil is blowing on to packaging or the final product. Keep this in mind and remember that oil should be removed from compressed air lines in certain instances. EXAIR’s oil removal filters will remove oil and solid particulate found in many compressed air systems.

Pressure Regulators: Regulators adjust the air pressure being supplied by your air compressor to the level that you require at the point of use. For instance your compressor generates 150 PSI but your compressed air product only requires 80 PSIG, the regulator can adjust the pressure to the desired setting and also relieve undue pressure on fittings, hoses and tools. Reducing pressure at the end-use product will also reduce the air consumption. Almost every compressed air application will use tools with varying pressure ratings making EXAIR Pressure Regulators a must-have accessory.

Hoses & Fittings: Hoses and fittings wear with time. Common issues are kinking, bending, leaks and contaminants, they should be checked often and replaced when required. Another common problem with hoses is that they are either too long and not as efficient or too short which can cause your employees reduced productivity. EXAIR offers STAY SET Hoses, Conveying Hose, Coiled Hoses and Compressed Air Hoses of different sizes and lengths. Our selection of compressed air fittings insures you can get all you need from one location.

Receiver Tanks: The use of receiver tanks can improve your overall system efficiency. Storage receivers can be placed near equipment that consume short duration of high flows of compressed air that might cause localized low pressure. EXAIR’s 60 Gallon Receiver Tank placed near the point of use can smooth out the high flows so as not to cause the start of an extra air compressor or cause localized low pressure.

If you would like more information regarding how proper use of EXAIR’s accessories can make your compressed air consumption more intelligent please contact me or any of our qualified Applications Engineers to discuss your applications.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

 

Optimizing Compressed Air Systems in Six Easy Steps

Knowing your compressed air needs and understanding the limitations of your equipment is essential when optimizing your compressed air system. Everything about compressed air systems are interrelated. Items putting demand on your system can and will effect how the equipment supplying the demand will operate. Taking a holistic approach when optimizing your compressed air system will not only give you a better understanding of your supply and demand requirements but will also serve as the most efficient means to optimize your process. Now lets look at the six steps to optimizing.

  1. Measure: the air consumption You must create a baseline to understand your demand requirements. How can you measure your improvements if you do not understand your total demand or baseline? Installing an EXAIR Flow Meter to your main air lines will help identify the amount of compressed air demand you have and help identify areas of concern.
  2. Find and fix leaks in the system: The repair of compressed air leaks is one of easiest ways to gain energy savings. In most cases all you need is a keen sense of hearing to locate a leak. Once a you have confirmed a leak then the make the necessary repairs. Harder to find leaks may require tools such as EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector. This is a hand held high quality instrument that can be used to locate costly air leaks.
  3. Upgrade your blow off, cooling and drying operations: Updating your compressed air process tooling can save you energy and help you comply with OSHA noise and safety regulations. An example would be to replace old blow off or open pipe systems with EXAIR Safety Air Nozzles. Replacing open copper tubes or pipes can amount up to 80% air savings. You achieve lower sound levels and significant energy savings.
  4. Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use: It sounds obvious but how many times has an operator left for a break or lunch and doesn’t shut off the compressed air for his/her station? The minutes add up to a significant amount of time annually meaning there is opportunity for energy savings. The use of solenoid valves will help but EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control (EFC) will dramatically reduce compressed air costs with the use of a photoelectric sensor and timing control.
  5. Use intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use: The use of storage receivers can improve your overall system efficiency in a number of ways. For example, using a main air receiver at the compressor room can make load/unload compressor control more efficient. Localizing receiver tanks such as EXAIR’s 9500-60 sixty gallon receiver tank by the point of use for a high demand process will stabilize the demand fluctuations allowing a more fluid operation.
  6. Control the air pressure at the point of use to minimize air consumption: The use of pressure regulators will resolve this issue. Using regulators you can control the amount of air being processed at each point of use. EXAIR offers different sized pressure regulators depending upon your air line and process requirements. Regulating the compressed air to the minimum amount required and will reduce your overall demand resulting in annual savings and a payback schedule.

Compressed air optimization can definitely be implemented using low cost and manual procedures but sometimes you will need a higher level means to achieve your goal. EXAIR has many optimization products to support your efforts. You can review our catalog, blogs and videos at www.EXAIR.com or by calling 800.903.9247 and any of our qualified Application Engineers will assist you.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK