Starting a Leak Prevention Program

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.

SBMart_pipe_800x

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 EXAIR Model 9061.  See this blog for more details. An inexpensive handheld meter will locate a leak and indicate the size of the leak.

    ULD_Pr
    Using the Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector to search for leaks in a piping system
  • 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.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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Video Blog: EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab

If you’d like to know how efficient (or not,) quiet (or not,) and effective (or not) your current compressed air devices are, the EXAIR Efficiency Lab can help.  For more details, we hope you’ll enjoy this short video.

If you’d like to talk about getting the most out of your compressed air system, we’d love to hear from you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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“Go Green” in 2019 With EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles & Jets!

If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2019 is to help improve your impact on the environment, look no further than EXAIR’s Engineered Air Nozzles & Jets. By upgrading your blowoff, cooling, and drying operations to use one of our Super Air Nozzles or Jets you can save as much as 80% of your compressed air usage when compared with an inefficient solution.

open tubes
Example of a manifold of open pipes

An open copper pipe or tube, even if “flattened” as we’ll commonly see, wastes an excessive amount of compressed air. This wasted compressed air can create problems in the facility due to unnecessarily high energy costs and the pressure drop that can be experienced affecting other processes. In addition to simply using too much compressed air, an open pipe or tube will often produce sound levels in excess of 100 dBA. At these sound levels, according to OSHA, permanent hearing damage will occur in just 2 hours of exposure.

OSHA Chart

By simply replacing the open tubes and pipe with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle, you can quickly reduce air consumption AND reduce the sound level. Sound level isn’t the only thing an OSHA inspector is going to be concerned about regarding an open pipe blowoff, in addition OSHA 1910.242(b) states that a compressed air nozzle used for blowoff or cleaning purposes cannot be dead-ended when using with pressures in excess of 30 psig. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to use an air gun with 30 psig fed to it, but the effectiveness of it is dramatically reduced. This is why there needs to be a device installed that’ll prevent it from being dead-ended so that you can operate at a higher pressure.

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EXAIR Super Air Nozzle entrainment

EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are designed with fins that serve two purposes. They help to entrain ambient air from the environment, allowing us to maximize the force and flow from the nozzle but keeping the compressed air consumption minimal. In addition, these fins are what prevents the nozzle openings from being completely blocked off. Using an OSHA compliant compressed air nozzle for all points where a blowoff operation is being performed should be a priority. Each individual infraction will result in a fine if you’re subject to an OSHA inspection. Inspections are typically unannounced, so it’s important to take a look around your shop and make sure you’re using approved products.

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The fins along the outside of the Super Air Nozzle prevent it from being dead-ended

So, go ahead and make 2019 the year of energy savings, increased efficiency, and improving worker safety. You’ll find all of the tools you need in EXAIR’s 32nd edition of the catalog. Click here if you’d like a hard copy sent directly to you! Or, get in touch with us today to find out how you can get saving with an Intelligent Compressed Air Product.

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

 

How to Estimate Leaks and the Impact upon a Compressed Air System

In today’s age where compressed air is often referred to as the 4th utility in an industrial manufacturing facility, leaks throughout the system can add up to serious financial losses. It has been estimated that leaks can waste as much as 20-30 percent of an air compressor output.

waste

Not only are leaks a source of wasted energy, they can also contribute to other losses such as:

  • Causing a drop in system pressure, resulting in air tools to function less efficiently
  • Increasing the air compressor on/off cycles which shortens the life of it and other components in the system
  • Increased maintenance costs and more planned downtime for the maintenance to be performed
  • A need to install of additional compressors to make up for the inefficiencies caused by leaks

For compressors that have start/stop controls – the below formula can be used to estimate the leakage rate in the system-

Leakage Equation 1

To use the above formula, the compressor is started when there is no demand on the system –  all air operated equipment and devices are turned off.  As the air escapes the system through the leaks, the system pressure will drop and the compressor will turn on and cycle to bring the pressure back up to the operating level. Measurement of the average time (T) of compressor run duration, and time (t) of the system pressure to drop to the set-point can be plugged into the formula and a Leakage Percentage established.

Another method to estimate the leakage rate is shown below-

Leakage Equation 2

The above method requires knowledge of the total system volume, which includes downstream air receivers, air mains, and all piping.  To perform the check, bring the system pressure up the normal operating pressure (P1) and then measure the time (T) it takes for the system to drop to pressure (P2) which is generally around half the operating pressure.  The 1.25 is a correction factor to normal system pressure, since the leakage rate will be less as the system pressure is lowered.

A leakage rate greater than 10% typically shows that there are areas of improvement (leaks that can be identified and repaired)

Any leakage testing and estimating should be preformed regularly, at least each quarter, so as to minimize the effect of any new system leaks. The tests are only one part of a leak detection and repair program. The best way to detect leaks is the use of ultrasonic leak detector (shown below.)  To learn more about the EXAIR model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector, check out this blog that was previously published.

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If you have questions about compressed air systems, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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The Value Of A Pressure Regulator At Every Point Of Use

regulator
EXAIR Pressure Regulator

To understand the value of a having a Pressure Regulator at every point of use we should start with identifying the two types of Pressure Regulators, Direct Acting & Pilot Operated.  Direct Acting are the least expensive and most common (as shown above), however they may provide less control over the outlet pressure, especially if they are not sized properly.  However when sized properly they do an outstanding job.  Pilot Operated Regulators incorporate a smaller auxiliary regulator to supply the required system pressure to a large diaphragm located on the main valve that in turn regulates the pressure.  The Pilot Operated Regulators are more accurate and more expensive making them less attractive to purchase.  The focus of this Blog will be on the Direct Acting Pressure Regulator.

The Direct Acting Pressure Regulator is designed to maintain a constant and steady air pressure downstream to ensure whatever device is attached to it is operated at the minimum pressure required to achieve efficient operation.  If the end use is operated without a regulator or at a higher pressure than required, it result’s in increased air demand and energy use. To clarify this point, if you operate your compressed air system at 102 PSI it will cost you 1% more in electric costs than if the system was set to run at 100 PSI! Also noteworthy is that unregulated air demands consume about 1% more flow for every PSI of additional pressure.  Higher pressure levels can also increase equipment wear which results in higher maintenance costs and shorter equipment life.

Sizing of the Air Regulator is crucial, if it is too small to deliver the air volume required by the point of use it can cause a pressure drop in that line which is called “droop”.  Droop is defined as “the drop in pressure at the outlet of a pressure regulator, when a demand for compressed air occurs”.  One commonly used practice is to slightly oversize the pressure regulator to minimize droop.  Fortunately we at EXAIR specify the correct sized Air Regulator required to operate our devices so you will not experience the dreaded “droop”!

Standard Air Knife Kit
EXAIR Standard Air Knife Kit Which Incudes Shims, Properly Sized Pressure Regulator & Filter Separator

Another advantage to having a Pressure Regulator at every point of use is the flexibilty of making pressure adjustments to quickly change to varying production requirements.  Not every application will require a strong blast sometimes a gentle breeze will accomplish the task.  As an example one user of the EXAIR Super Air Knife employs it as an air curtain to prevent product contamination (strong blast) and another to dry different size parts (gentle breeze) coming down their conveyor.

EXAIR products are highly engineered and are so efficient that they can be operated at lower pressures and still provide exceptional performance!  This save’s you money considering compressed air on the average cost’s .25 cents per 1000 SCFM.

Super Air Knife Performance
EXAIR Super Air Knife Performance Specifications At 5 Different Pressures.

If you would like to discuss Air Regulators or quiet and efficient compressed air devices, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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ROI – Is it Worth the Investment?

Any time you’re planning to purchase something, the return on investment (ROI) is an important thing to consider. Whether you’re considering buying new windows to improve on your heating and cooling costs, looking at replacing outdated appliances with newer and more efficient models, or purchasing an Intelligent Compressed Air Product, how quickly that product will pay for itself can help you to make the right decision.

coins

Last year, my wife and I purchased our first home. In the backyard, was a nice, big in-ground pool. While it was something we did look for, it requires a bit of maintenance during the summer months to keep the water clear and things running smoothly. Who wants to swim in a pool ridden with dirt, leaves, bugs, and debris floating around? Certainly not me, which meant I needed to spend some time brushing the sides of the pool and vacuuming to keep everything clean. For our first season, we elected to tackle this task manually. Not only was this time consuming, but it was also not very effective. To brush the sides and steps, skim, and vacuum took about 2 hours each time. I was doing this 2x per week to keep everything looking good. Over the course of a 15-week pool season here in Southwest Ohio, I spent approximately 60 hours just keeping the pool clean.

We were interested in the robotic pool vacuums available at our local pool supply store, but we balked at the initial price of them. After spending all this time doing it myself, I began to think that it would pay for itself relatively quickly (depending on how much I valued my own labor 😊). Allocating the cost of the robotic vacuum over the six-year life expectancy, as well as taking into consideration how much time I had spent cleaning the previous year, made this decision much more palatable. We went ahead, bit the bullet, and purchased one for this season. I must say, just two weeks in and my pool is cleaner than it ever was last year. We’ve only run it twice!! It only takes 5 minutes to connect and drop in. I reduced my time spent from 4 hours per week to 10 minutes per week. Consider me a happy consumer.

If you follow the EXAIR Blog, you’ll know that one of our primary focuses is saving customers money by reducing their compressed air operating cost. Recently, I wrote a blog post about a customer that replaced an inefficient solution with some EXAIR Super Air Knives. Let’s take a look and see how quick these knives were able to pay for themselves:

The previous solution consisted of (3) nozzles operated at 50 psig, consuming a total of 51 SCFM. This line was run continuously for (1) 8-hour shift, (5) days per week. The average cost for compressed air is $0.25 per 1,000 SCF (based on $0.08/kWh).

51 SCFM x 60 mins x 8-hours x $0.25/1000 = $6.12 per day

Replacing the inefficient nozzles with (3) Model 110003 Super Air Knives reduced the overall consumption to 17.1 SCFM when operated at 50 psig.

17.1 SCFM x 60 mins x 8-hours x $0.25/1000 = $2.05 per day

This led to a total savings of $4.07 per day, just by swapping out the inefficient product with the EXAIR Super Air Knives. So how quickly will they pay for themselves? Each Model 110003 Super Air Knife carries a list price of $199.00. Since we were using (3) on each line, their total investment per line was $597.00 USD.

$597.00/4.07 = 146.68 (147 days)

KIMG0161
Inefficient blowoff

On the 147th day (less than 30 weeks, based on a 5-day workweek), the Super Air Knives have paid for themselves. Afterward, that $4.07/day/line goes straight to the bottom line. You’ll be hard pressed to find many products that will pay for themselves in less than one year, but at EXAIR we see this day in and day out. Stop throwing your money out the window with inefficient compressed air solutions. Reach out to an EXAIR Application Engineer and see how quickly your blowoffs can start paying YOU.

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

Little things add up image courtesy of Nic McPhee via creative commons license

EXAIR’s Industry Leading Super Air Knife Saves You Money

One common application that we get calls for each and every day centers around maximizing compressed air efficiency. I recently got to work with a customer who was using an inefficient blowoff method and was looking to replace it with an engineered compressed air solution. They had a total of (8) extrusion lines, each with (3) modular-hose style flat nozzles installed. Before a cooling bath they had one nozzle remove some of the heat, then as the extruded material exits the water bath another (2) nozzles blowoff any residual water. They were maxing out their compressor’s peak operating capacity and pressure drops across the system were causing problems elsewhere in other processes.

KIMG0161

They were operating each of the flat nozzles at 50 psi using a total of 17 SCFM per nozzle. We first calculated how much air the current method was using. The extrusion lines were run for one full 8-hr shift per day:

17 SCFM/nozzle x 3 nozzles/line = 51 SCFM per extrusion line

51 SCFM x 60 mins x 8hrs x 5 days x 50 weeks = 6,126,000 SCF

The extrusion lines accommodated product that ranged from 1”-2.5” wide. They wanted one single solution to use across all different products. We settled on (3) of our 110003 3” Super Air Knives. Let’s take a look at the compressed air requirement for (3) 110003 Super Air Knives, also operated at 50 psig.

A Super Air Knife will consume 1.9 SCFM/inch when operated at 50 psig:

1.9 SCFM/inch x 3 inches (per knife) = 5.7 SCFM/knife

5.7 SCFM x (3) total knives = 17.1 SCFM

17.1 SCFM x 60 mins x 8hrs x 5 days x 50 weeks = 2,052,000 SCF

Total savings per extrusion line – 6,126,000 SCF – 2,052,000 SCF = 4,074,000 SCF

4,074,000 SCF x 8 extrusion lines = 32,592,000 SCF

By replacing the (3) inefficient nozzles with EXAIR’s Super Air Knives, a whopping 4,074,000 SCF of compressed air is saved each year. With (8) total lines, this equates to a total of 32,592,000 SCF of compressed air. Most companies will know the cost of their compressed air usage per CFM, but a cost of ($0.25/1000 standard cubic feet) is a good baseline to use.

($.25/1000 SCF) x 32,592,000 SCF = $8,148.00 USD

By replacing (3) inefficient nozzles across all (8) extrusion lines with EXAIR’s industry leading Super Air Knife, they were able to save a total of $8,148.00 per year. In as little as (6) months, the Super Air Knives will have already paid for themselves!!

If you’ve been maxing out your compressed air system, don’t necessarily assume you need to increase your overall capacity. Put in a call to an EXAIR Application Engineer and we can take a closer look at the ways your using your compressed air throughout the facility. By replacing some inefficient methods with an engineered solution, we can help you save air and money!

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