This is the weekend, Memorial Day weekend, my family visits one of our local cemeteries and deliver flowers to the graves of veterans including a handwritten note of thanks from the kids in our 4H club. Others at EXAIR will join parades, watch parades, run a Memorial Day 10K, and gather with friends and family.
It is easy to enjoy the extra day off work and recognize how well we grilled those steaks or use the extra day to plant the garden, seal the deck, powerwash the walkway, hang out at the pool, have a beer and relax.
It is slightly harder to pay respects and/or recognize the sacrifice of our veterans who lost their lives in order for us to choose which of the above leisures we would like to enjoy. But, let me encourage us all to take a moment to look for and attend a ceremony, parade, or event focused upon these veterans. They deserve our recognition and respect.
Whatever you choose to do this weekend, enjoy yourselves, love one another, and remember to remember our veterans who have lost their lives serving the United States of America.
When I was seventeen my grandfather took me to a used are dealership and helped me buy my first car. It wasn’t anything special, as it was a 1996 Chevrolet Lumina. It had its fair share of bumps and bruises, but the bones were solid. We took it home and he taught me how to do all the basics, we changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, brakes, pretty much every fluid we could, we changed.
You see my grandfather retired from Ford Motor Company after 50+ years of service. And he always said, “If you treat it right, it will treat you right.”; and I’ve lived by that ever since.
Just like a car, air compressors require regular maintenance to run at peak performance and minimize unscheduled downtime. Inadequate maintenance can have a significant impact on energy consumption via lower compression efficiency, air leakage, or pressure variability. It can also lead to high operating temperatures, poor moisture control, and excessive contamination.
Most problems are minor and can be corrected by simple adjustments, cleaning, part replacement, or the elimination of adverse conditions. This maintenance is very similar to the car maintenance mentioned above, replace filters, fluids, checking cooling systems, check belts and identify any leaks and address.
All equipment in the compressed air system should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturers specifications. Manufacturers provide inspection, maintenance, and service schedules that should be followed strictly. In many cases, it makes sense from efficiency and economic stand-points to maintain equipment more frequently than the intervals recommended by the manufactures, which are primarily designed to protect equipment.
One way to tell if your system is being maintained well and is operating properly is to periodically baseline the system by tracking power, pressure, flow (EXAIR Digital Flowmeter), and temperature. If power use at a given pressure and flow rate goes up, the systems efficiency is degrading.
Types Of Maintenance
Maintaining a compressed air system requires caring for the equipment, paying attention to changes and trends, and responding promptly to maintain operating reliability and efficiency. Types of maintenance include;
Poor Maintenance – Sadly, some plants still operate on the philosophy, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Due to the lack of routine preventative maintenance, this practice may result in complete replacement of an expensive air compressor as well as unscheduled and costly production interruptions.
Preventive Maintenance – This type of maintenance can be done by plant personnel or by an outside service provider. Usually, it includes regularly scheduled monitoring of operating conditions. Replacement of air and lubricant filters, lubricant sampling and replacement, minor repairs and adjustments, and an overview of compressor and accessory equipment operation.
Predictive Maintenance – Predictive maintenance involves monitoring compressor conditions and trends , including operating parameters such as power use, pressure drops, operating temperatures, and vibration levels. The Right combination of preventive and predictive maintenance generally will minimize repair and maintenance costs.
Proactive Maintenance – If a defect is detected, proactive maintenance involves looking for the cause and determining how to prevent a recurrence.
Unfortunately, even the best maintenance procedures cannot eliminate the possibility of an unexpected breakdown. Provisions should be made for standby equipment to allow maintenance with out interrupting production.
If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.
EXAIR uses many different methods to connect with our customers. We have our website, social media, blogs, publications etc. We like to share solutions for some of the most common pneumatic problems in the industry. EXAIR generated a large collection of application information where EXAIR products have solved problems and improved processes. We organized them by Application and by Industry. In this blog, I will show you how to use the Application database; specifically, for the Construction Industry.
Compressed Air Systems are considered to be a fourth utility within industries because they use a large amount of energy. Whether it is an air compressor using fuel for portable units or electricity, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible. This would apply to the construction industry. From blowing off sheets of lumber to cleaning sites with an EXAIR Industrial Vacuum to cooling hot melt on window frames, EXAIR has a library of different processes in which we already accomplished these improvements. We like to use the expression, “Why re-invent the wheel” at EXAIR. If you are in the construction industry, it would benefit you to take a peek at the implementations where we already improved, made safe, and saved money.
Here is how you can find this library. First, you will have to sign into EXAIR. Click here: Log In. Once you fill in the proper information, you can then retrieve a great amount of resources about EXAIR products that we manufacture. The Application Database is under the Knowledge Base tab. (Reference photo below).
At the Application Search Library, we have over one thousand applications that we reference. In the left selection pane, we organized then in alphabetical order under two categories, Applications and Industry. (Reference photo below).
Scroll down in the selection pane until you come to the sub-category: Industry. Under this Sub-category, you will find three selections that are related to this blog: Construction; Construction and Mining Equipment; and Construction, Lumber. You will find many applications that EXAIR has already improved and documented.
Why is this important? If you are a plant manager or owner, the value of the Application Database can improve your current processes with pre-qualified results. Within the construction industry, simple solutions can be found to address those “nagging” issues that you encounter every day. For crisis situations and shutdowns, EXAIR categorized these applications in a way to reference quickly and easily. And since EXAIR has a high volume of stocked items, we can get the product to you very fast; minimizing downtime.
In today’s market, companies are always looking for ways to cut cost, increase productivity, and improve safety. EXAIR can offer engineered products to do exactly that. With the “been there and done that” solutions already described in the Application Database; you can have confidence in finding a way in solving pneumatic issues. If you do not sign up at www.EXAIR.com and take advantage of these offerings, you will be missing out on a great tool in optimizing your compressed air system.
No matter what your use of compressed air entails, moisture is very likely an issue. Air compressors pressurize air that they pull in straight from the environment and most of the time, there’s at least a little humidity involved. Now, if you have an industrial air compressor, it’s also very likely that it was supplied with a dryer, for this very reason.
For practical purposes, “dryness” of compressed air is really its dew point. That’s the temperature at which water vapor in the air will condense into liquid water…which is when it becomes the aforementioned issue in your compressed air applications. This can cause rust in air cylinders, motors, tools, etc. It can be detrimental to blow offs – anything in your compressed air flow is going to get on the surface of whatever you’re blowing onto. It can lead to freezing in Vortex Tube applications when a low enough cold air temperature is produced.
Some very stringent applications (food & pharma folks, I’m looking at you) call for VERY low dew points…ISO 8673.1 (food and pharma folks, you know what I’m talking about) calls for a dew point of -40°F (-40°C) as well as very fine particulate filtration specs. As a consumer who likes high levels of sanitary practice for the foods and medicines I put in my body, I’m EXTREMELY appreciative of this. The dryer systems that are capable of low dew points like this operate as physical filtration (membrane types) or effect a chemical reaction to absorb or adsorb water (desiccant or deliquescent types.) These are all on the higher ends of purchase price, operating costs, and maintenance levels.
For many industrial and commercial applications, though, you really just need a dew point that’s below the lowest expected ambient temperature in which you’ll be operating your compressed air products & devices. Refrigerant type air dryers are ideal for this. They tend to be on the less expensive side for purchase, operating, and maintenance costs. They typically produce air with a dew point of 35-40°F (~2-5°C) but if that’s all you need, they let you avoid the expense of the ones that produce those much lower dew points. Here’s how they work:
Red-to-orange arrows: hot air straight from the compressor gets cooled by some really cold air (more on that in a moment.)
Orange-to-blue arrows: the air is now cooled further by refrigerant…this causes a good amount of the water vapor in it to condense, where it leaves the system through the trap & drain (black arrow.)
Blue-to-purple arrows: Remember when the hot air straight from the compressor got cooled by really cold air? This is it. Now it flows into the compressed air header, with a sufficiently low dew point, for use in the plant.
Non-cycling refrigerant dryers are good for systems that operate with a continuous air demand. They have minimal dew point swings, but, because they run all the time, they’re not always ideal when your compressed air is not in continuous use. For those situations, cycling refrigerant dryers will conserve energy…also called mass thermal dryers, they use the refrigerant to cool a solution (usually glycol) to cool the incoming air. Once the glycol reaches a certain temperature, the system turns on and runs until the solution (thermal mass) is cooled, then it turns off. Because of this, a cycling system’s operating time (and cost) closely follows the compressor’s load – so if your compressor runs 70% of the time, a cycling dryer will cost 30% less to operate than a non-cycling one.
EXAIR Corporation wants you to get the most out of your compressed air system. If you have questions, I’d love to hear from you.
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Here at EXAIR, Coandă is a household name that can be heard on any given day multiple times throughout the day. The Coandă effect is fairly easy to visualize with a ligthweight ball and some high velocity airflow. Take the video below for example. This 2″ Super Air Amplifier on a stand powered at 40 psig at the inlet easily lifts this hollow plastic ball and then suspends the ball due to the Coandă effect.
If you were able to see the airflow, you would see it impacting the surface of the sphere at all different points then following the profile of the sphere until it colides with itself and is forced to separate off the surface. The turbulent flow on the top is creating a downward pressure as well. The science behind this was all found and showcased by Henri Coandă. He showcased this with a propulsion device which used a domed hood with airflow to follow the curvature of the dome then exit off the sharp edge or where the separate air streams began to recombine causing a turbulent / low pressure area depending on the angle.
This stream of air following a surface begins to pull in all surrounding and impacted air molecules from around the stream which is called entrainment. This is a key factor for EXAIR products and one reason the Coandă profiles are a key characteristic to obtaining the peak performance and efficiency out of a compressed air product.
Many EXAIR products utilize the Coandă principle to improve their efficiencies and performance. Below you can see the EXAIR product families containing Coandă profiles within their design which increases the ambient air entrainment resulting in an amplified air blowoff.
A question arises every now and then on whether or not PVC pipe, yes the stuff from your local hardware store that says it is rated for 200 psi, is safe to use as compressed air supply line. The answer is always the same, NO! OSHA agrees – see their statement here.
Schedule 40 PVC pipe is not designed nor rated for use with compressed air or other gases. PVC pipe will explode under pressure, it is impacted significantly by temperature and can be difficult to get airtight.
PVC pipe was originally designed and tested for conveyance of liquids or products that cannot be compressed, rather they can be pressurized. The largest concern is the failure method of the piping itself. When being used with a liquid that cannot be compressed, if there is a failure (crack or hole) then the piping will spring a leak and not shatter. When introducing a compressed gas, such as compressed air, if there is a failure the method ends up being shrapnel. This YouTube video does a good job of illustrating how the pipe shatters.
While it may seem that it takes a good amount of pressure to cause a failure in the pipe, that is often not the case. I have chatted with some local shop owners who decided to run PVC as a quick and cheap alternative to get their machines up and running.
They each experienced the same failures at different points in time as well. The worst one was a section of PVC pipe installed over a workbench failed where an operator would normally be standing. Luckily the failure happened at night when no one was there. Even though no one got injured this still caused a considerable expense to the company because the compressor ran overnight trying to pressurize a ruptured line.
Temperature will impact the PVC as well. Schedule 40 PVC is generally rated for use between 70°F and 140°F (21°-60°C). Pipes that are installed outside or in non temperature controlled buildings can freeze the pipes and make them brittle.
If you haven’t worked with PVC before or do not let the sealant set, it can be hard to get a good seal, leading to leaks and a weak spot in the system.
The point of this is the cheapest, quick, and easy solutions are more often , the ones that will cost the most in the long run.
If you would like to discuss proper compressed air piping and how to save compressed air on your systems, please contact us.