Compressed Air Digital Flow Meters Monitor Your System Demand

In the times we live in, efficiency is key. To offset the rising costs of goods, services, and energy we must be purposeful in lowering costs wherever we can. Every company has large utility expenses such as electricity, water, gas, sewer, waste, and recycling. Many companies have policies and systems in place to help control these expenses. One major utility that gets overlooked is your compressed air. Many companies just loop this expense into the gas and or electricity funnel and move on. But that can be a costly mistake. Assuming you utilize compressed air in your facility, it is most likely your 3rd-4th highest utility expense. The good news is there are many ways to make this utility much more efficient.

We have several EXAIR blogs on how to improve your compressed air efficiency from mitigating leaks, sizing pipe properly, flow control, pressure regulators, engineered nozzles and tools, and even receiver tanks. These are all very effective ways to reduce this expense. There is another tool that I would like to share with you; our Digital Flow Meters. What they are, how they work, and how they can save you money…

With a rough cost of $0.25 per 1000 SCFM, wouldn’t it be nice to know how many SCFM you are using? (Please click here for a great blog on how to calculate your SCFM cost) More importantly how much air are you wasting… Your compressor information already tells you how much air it is producing and with EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter, you will know the exact amount of compressed air that is being used, making it very easy to identify loss. These losses are primarily found in leaks or inefficient air products. A best practice is to install one of these on each leg of the air distribution system and monitor and and benchmark the compressed air usage.

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

The EXAIR Flowmeters work by measuring the temperature differential between two probes that are inserted into the compressed air pipes. One probe is kept warmer than the other, and the mass flow rate is determined by the amount of heat required to maintain the temperature differential. The flow rate, or SCFM is displayed on the large digital display

To install the Flowmeters, you will drill 2 holes into your pipe for the probes. Included with the meter is the drill bit and the Drill Guide to quickly install the meter. We have these available in many sizes from 1/2″ to 4″ iron pipe, We also offer these for Copper Pipes, and can make / calibrate them for many others, we will just need the information.

In addition to our standard version we offer several upgrades. One is a Data Logging version. You can download our software and then set the data logging to record from once a second for about 9 hours of data to twice a day for over 2 years worth of data. You simply plug the Data Log Stick this into your computer, download and repeat.

We also offer a wireless option that will run through a ZigBee mesh Network. A radio module within each meter transmits data to an ethernet connected gateway. You can also piggyback meter to meter to extend the range for this wireless solution. Each meter has a range of about 100 feet.

Many people ask if they have to shut down their system to install the Flowmeters. Understanding that this could cause systemic issues, we have a Hot Tap option that will allow you to install while the pipe is still under pressure. It incorporates 2 valves that the probes pass through as well as a muffler that collects the chips from the drilling process. This is only available on the 2″ or larger units.

Speaking of pressure, we also offer a Pressure Sensing Digital flow meter. On this, there is a pressure sensor that is mounted between the two flow sensor probes. The pressure is sent via a second milliamp output. The display can be configured to show either pressure or flow. You can set this to send alarms if the pressure falls under 50 psi. Also only available on 2″ pipes and above.

Finally, we also offer Block Off Rings. These are simply rings to block off holes where the flowmeter was, in case you need to use the same one in a different location.

Please fee free to reach out with any questions, or for more information. Let us help you save air and money…

Thank you for stopping by,

Brian Wages

Application Engineer

EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air System Maintenance

Air Compressor and Storage Tanks

Compressed air is the life blood of a manufacturing plant, and the air compressor would be considered the heart. To keep things “fit”, it is important to check all areas and to optimize your system to keep your plant running safely and efficiently. You do not have to be a doctor to do these “operations”. If your compressor fails, the entire facility will stop working. In this blog, I will cover some simple preventative maintenance that can really help you.

As margins get tighter and cost of manufacturing climbs, industries are looking into other areas to be more economical. A big focus today is the compressed air system. Compressed air is considered to be a “forth” utility behind gas, water, and electricity, and it is a necessary to run your pneumatic systems. But it is the least efficient of the utilities. So, it is very important to use this utility as practical as possible and to use a PM program to keep it going.

If we start at the beginning of your compressed air system, this would jump us to the air compressor. This is the machine that uses an electric or gas motor to spin a crank. It compresses the ambient air into a small volume to generate stored energy to be used by your pneumatic systems. Because the air compressor is complex and intricate, I would recommend a trained service personnel to do the maintenance. But, if your staff is familiar with air compressors, I wrote a blog to help look at certain parts periodically. You can read it here: “6 Basic Steps for Good Air Compressor Maintenance (And When to Do Them)”.

The next part after the air compressor is to look at the aftercoolers, compressed air dryers, receiver tanks, filters, and condensate drains. Some facilities may only have some of these items.

The aftercoolers are designed to cool the exit air from your air compressor. It uses a fan to blow ambient air across coils to lower the compressed air temperature. It is easy to check the fan to verify that it is spinning and to keep the coils clean from debris.

The compressed air dryers can range in size and type. For the refrigerant type air dryers, you should periodically check the freon compressor with ohm and amp readings, the condensers for cleaning, and the super heat temperature as well. For desiccant type air dryers, you will need to check the operation of the valves. Valves are used to regenerate one side of the desiccant bed. The valves can fail and stick either open or closed. In either way, if the desiccant cannot regenerate, then it will allow moisture to go down stream and eventually destroy the desiccant beads.

The receiver tanks have safety relief valves that will need to be checked to make sure that they are not leaking. If they are, they should be changed.

As for the filters, they collect contamination from the compressed air stream. This will include liquid water, oil, and dirt. A pressure drop will start to increase with the contaminants, which will reduce the potential energy. If they do not have pressure drop indicators, you should have two points of references for pressure readings. You should change the filter elements when the pressure drop reaches 10 PSID (0.7 bar) or after 1 year.

With all these items above, water is created. There should be condensate drains to discard the water. The most efficient types of condensate drains are the zero loss drains. Most condensate drains will have a test button to be pressed to verify that they open. If they do not open, they should be replaced or fixed. Do not place a valve on them and partially open for draining. For float type drains, they will have a pin inside that can be pressed to open. You can verify that all the liquid has been expelled.

The distribution system are the pipes and tubes that run compressed air from the supply side to the demand side of your pneumatic system. One of the largest problems affecting the distribution system are leaks. That quiet little hissing sound from the pipe lines is costing your company much money. A study was conducted by a university to determine the percentage of air leaks in a typical manufacturing plant. In a poorly maintained system, they found on average of 30% of the compressor capacity is lost through air leaks.

To put a dollar value on it, a leak that you cannot physically hear can cost you as much as $130/year. That is just for one inaudible leak in hundreds of feet of compressed air lines. Unlike a hydraulic system, compressed air is clean; so, leaks will not appear at the source. So, you have to find them by some other means.

Digital Flowmeter


EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Most leaks occur where you have threaded fittings, connections, hoses, and pneumatic components like valves, regulators, and drains. EXAIR has two products in our Optimization product line that are designed to help find leaks in your compressed air system.

The Ultrasonic Leak Detectors can find air leaks, and the Digital Flowmeters can monitor your system for loss of air. When an air leaks occur, it emits an ultrasonic noise caused by turbulence. These ultrasonic noises can be at a frequency above audible hearing for human. The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick up these high frequencies to make inaudible leaks audible.

With the Digital Flowmeters, you can continuously check your system for waste and record it with a USB Datalogger.  Air leaks can occur at any time within any section of your pneumatic system.  With a Digital Flowmeter, you can also isolate an area to watch for any flow readings; telling you that the air is leaking in that section.  With both products included in your leak-preventative program, you will be able to reduce your waste and optimize your compressed air system.

Family of Nozzles

At the point-of-use areas, this is the easiest target area for compressed air maintenance. If you are using open tubes or drilled pipes for blowing, they are loud, inefficient, and unsafe. They can be easily change to an engineered blow-off product from EXAIR which are very efficient and OSHA safe. EXAIR offers a range of Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Knives to simply replace the current blow-off devices that overuse compressed air. If we go back to the beginning of your system, the air compressor is a mechanical device which will have a MTBF, or Mean Time Between Failures. The hour meter on your air compressor is like a life monitor. By using less compressed air, your air compressor will extend that time in MTBF.

Keeping your compressed air system running optimally is very important for a business to run. With a simple maintenance program, it can help you with your pneumatic operations and energy savings. Like stated above, your compressed air system is the life blood of your company, and you do not need a PhD to keep it well maintained. Just follow the target areas above. If you would like to discuss further about the health of your compressed air system, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR. We will be happy to help “diagnose” a solution.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Video Blog: Customizing The Display on Your Digital Flowmeter

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeters are the easy way for you to monitor your compressed air consumption and waste. They provide a digital readout of the compressed air being used, allowing you to identify costly leaks or inefficient air products throughout the plant. They’re available from stock in sizes ranging from 1/2″-4″ for use with Schedule 40 iron pipe. Additional sizes and pipe materials are available as well, contact the factory for assistance in these applications.

The display on the Digital Flowmeter can be customized to show different values, units of measure, default display setting, resolution, etc. Check out the video below to see which settings are available and how you can adjust the display on your Digital Flowmeter.


If you have any questions give us a call, start an online chat from our website or send us an e-mail.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD