Since all compressed air systems will have some amount of leakage, it is a good idea to set up a Leak Prevention Program. Keeping the leakage losses to a minimum will save on compressed air generation costs,and reduce compressor operation time which can extend its life and lower maintenance costs.
There are generally two types of leak prevention programs:
Leak Tag type programs
Seek-and-Repair type programs
Of the two types, the easiest would be the Seek-and-Repair method. It involves finding leaks and then repairing them immediately. For the Leak Tag method, a leak is identified, tagged, and then logged for repair at the next opportune time. Instead of a log system, the tag may be a two part tag. The leak is tagged and one part of the tag stays with the leak, and the other is removed and brought to the maintenance department. This part of the tag has space for information such as the location, size, and description of the leak.
The best approach will depend on factors such as company size and resources, type of business, and the culture and best practices already in place. It is common to utilize both types where each is most appropriate.
A successful Leak Prevention Program consists of several important components:
Baseline compressed air usage – knowing the initial compressed air usage will allow for comparison after the program has been followed for measured improvement.
Establishment of initial leak loss – See this blog for more details.
Determine the cost of air leaks – One of the most important components of the program. The cost of leaks can be used to track the savings as well as promote the importance of the program. Also a tool to obtain the needed resources to perform the program.
Identify the leaks – Leaks can be found using many methods. Most common is the use of an Ultrasonic Leak Detector, like the EXAIRModel 9061. See this blog for more details. An inexpensive handheld meter will locate a leak and indicate the size of the leak.
Document the leaks – Note the location and type, its size, and estimated cost. Leak tags can be used, but a master leak list is best. Under Seek-and-Repair type, leaks should still be noted in order to track the number and effectiveness of the program.
Prioritize and plan the repairs – Typically fix the biggest leaks first, unless operations prevent access to these leaks until a suitable time.
Document the repairs – By putting a cost with each leak and keeping track of the total savings, it is possible to provide proof of the program effectiveness and garner additional support for keeping the program going. Also, it is possible to find trends and recurring problems that will need a more permanent solution.
Compare and publish results – Comparing the original baseline to the current system results will provide a measure of the effectiveness of the program and the calculate a cost savings. The results are to be shared with management to validate the program and ensure the program will continue.
Repeat As Needed – If the results are not satisfactory, perform the process again. Also, new leaks can develop, so a periodic review should be performed to achieve and maintain maximum system efficiency.
In summary – an effective compressed air system leak prevention and repair program is critical in sustaining the efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of an compressed air system.
If you have questions about a Leak Prevention Program or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
An important part of operating and maintaining a compressed air system is taking accurate pressure measurements at various points in the compressed air distribution system, and establishing a baseline and monitoring with data logging. A Pressure Profile is a useful tool to understand and analyze the compressed air system and how it is functioning.
The profile is generated by taking pressure measurements at the various key locations in the system. The graph begins with the compressor and its range of operating pressures, and continues through the system down to the regulated points of use, such as Air Knives or Safety Air Guns. It is important to take the measurements simultaneously to get the most accurate data, and typically, the most valuable data is collected during peak usage periods.
By reviewing the Pressure Profile, the areas of greatest drop can be determined and the impact on any potential low pressure issues at the point of use. As the above example shows, to get a reliable 75 PSIG supply pressure for a device or tool, 105-115 PSIG must be generated, (30-40 PSIG above the required point of use pressure.) As a rule of thumb, for every 10 PSIG of compressed air generation increase the energy costs increase 5-7.5%
By developing a total understanding of the compressed air system, including the use of tools such as the Pressure Profile, steps to best maximize the performance while reducing costs can be performed.
If you have questions about getting the most from your compressed air system, or would like to talk about any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” might be the most popular axiom in any process improvement endeavor. And it’s true. We hear it almost every time we discuss a Digital Flowmeter application, and a conversation I just had with a customer was no exception.
Their business is growing, and they’re pushing the limits of their compressed air system. The use compressed air to run their CNC mills in their machine shop, for blow off/cleaning as they assemble products, as well as a variety of pneumatic tools throughout the shop. The CNC machines’ air load was pretty consistent…the rest of the shop; not so much. So they wanted to find out when their compressed air demand peaked, and what it peaked at, in order to make a more informed decision about upgrading their compressor.
So, they purchased a Model 9095-DAT Digital Flowmeter for 2″ SCH40 Pipe, with USB Data Logger. They installed it immediately, with the USB Data Logger set to record once a second…this told them their consumption at any given time over the course of the day. Every day at closing time, the shop manager pulls the USB Data Logger from the Digital Flowmeter and transfers the data to his computer. After just a few days, he knew exactly how much air they were using…and exactly when they were using it. He’s now using this data (in the short term) to plan certain operations around peak scheduling, and (in the long term) to know what they’re looking at for their next air compressor.
Do you know as much about your compressed air usage as you should? If you’d like to talk about how to measure…and manage…your air consumption, give me a call.
EXAIR’s Model 9147 USB Data Logger has become one of the most valuable tools that we sell to help customers get a “view” of their compressed air usage over time. One of the important tenets we promote at EXAIR is energy savings by prudent use of compressed air through our engineered solutions (Air Knife,Air Nozzles, Air Amplifier, etc.). But how does a person in charge of such systems really “know” whether they are helping or hurting their compressed air system?
The first step is to have an appropriate flow meter which can give an indication of how much air volume is being used. EXAIR’s line of Digital Flow Meters are perfect for getting to that point with instant and direct readings that don’t need to be calculated any further. What you see on the meter is the flow in either SCFM or m3/hr calibrations.
The second step is to attach the USB Data Logger to the Digital Flow Meter so that readings can be kept over time. It is like setting up a security camera for your compressed air system. Nothing gets by without being recorded.
The USB Data Logger can be connected to just about any type of monitoring system that has a 4 – 20 mA output to which the 2-wire harness can be installed. A quick and easy initialization to choose the unit of measure, to select the frequency of measurement and some optional alarms is all that is necessary. The software package is included with the USB Data Logger and is convenient to run on a typical desktop or laptop computer. You simply, set it and forget it (at least until you want to do some reporting).
The reporting is how the USB Data Logger can help you as the person concerned with monitoring the compressed air use in your facility. Once the defined monitoring period of time has passed, the USB Data Logger can be removed from its socket, stopped from recording and the data is then downloaded into a suitable format that can be imported into EXCEL or other spreadsheet program for creating charts to analyze what is happening, when it is happening and how much compressed air is being used. In the analysis, you can compare the flow data and times with certain problems in a production line that might cause low pressure condition which shuts machinery down. You might also be able to determine where additional, point of use compressed air storage might be needed close to certain processes.
Ultimately, the USB Data Logger allows you to “see” your compressed air system in a way that allows you to sleuth out problems seen that might have no other explanation. It can also help you to justify your air savings when you apply the other air saving compressed air products that EXAIR produces by monitoring a base line for “before” performance and “after” performance. After all, it if is important to your organization, it should be measured. And compressed air is certainly a utility that should be measured.
Another factor in the six steps is identifying and addressing leaks within your system. Finding leaks in your compressed air system can be done several ways, one of the oldest methods is to use a soap and water mixture to spray on every joint and see if there is a leak that causes bubbles. The next method would be to use ball valves and pressure gauges to test each run of pipe to ensure they are holding their pressure over a period of time, similar to a leak down test. The final method, and by far the easiest, would be to utilize our Ultrasonic Leak Detector.
This can be used to sense leaks in compressed air systems up to 20′ away and can also pin point a leak by closely monitoring each joint. Neal Raker made a great video on how to use the Ultrasonic Leak Detector a while back and it is shown below.
If you have any questions on how to find leaks or how to optimize your compressed air system, give us a call.