The Basics of a Compressed Air Leak Detection Program

It is no surprise that compressed air can be a costly utility for industrial facilities. It can easily chip away at the bottom line finances if used carelessly and without planning. This is one of the leading reasons we have educated continuously on how to ensure this vital utility is used with safety and conservation in mind. If we have installed all engineered solutions at the point of use throughout a facility, there is still more to be saved. One of the easiest things to do with a utility system inside of a facility is to leave it unchecked and undocumented until something goes wrong. This does not have to be the scenario and in fact, starting a leak detection program in a facility can help to save up to 30% of the compressed air generated.

Leaks cost money!

That’s right, up to 30% of the compressed air being generated in an industrial facility can be exhausting out to ambient through leaks that run rampant throughout the facility. When the point of use production is still working fine, then these sorts of leaks go unnoticed. Another common occurrence goes something like this example: Maybe there is a leak bad enough to drop the packaging line pressure slightly, this may get fixed by bumping up a pressure regulator, production is back up and it is never thought of again. In all actuality this is affecting the production more and more with each leak.

The leaks add additional load onto the supply side. The compressor has to generate more air, the dryer needs to process more air, the auto drains dump more moisture, it all ads up to additional wear and tear also known as false load. All of this additional load on the system can add more maintenance which if left undone can result in system shut downs. One way to begin to eliminate this false load is to deploy a leak detection program. The steps are fairly easy.

Similar to our 6 Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, you start with a baseline of how much air the system is seeing and operating pressures. This begins the documentation process which is critical to the success of the program. Next, acquire an ultrasonic leak detector (ULD) and a layout of your compressed air system piping. Utilizing the ULD, test all compressed air piping along with equipment, and tag each leak that is detected. Next, begin to repair all of the tagged leaks and document the amount of compressed air savings with each repair. This again, is more documentation which leads to giving a quantitative value to the return on investment of the program. Lastly, schedule a follow up scan that recurs on a pre-determined basis to prevent the system from returning to it’s original leaky state.

EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector

If you would like to discuss starting a leak detection program in your facility or have questions about the ULD or any point of use compressed air product, please reach out to an Application Engineer today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Engineered Compressed Air Products = Less Noise & Money Saved

Everyone dislikes loud noises for the most part. Here in Ohio we just got done surviving the constant buzz and swarming of cicadas. We all deal with noise on a daily basis, some of it enjoyable and some of it not so much. Noise is an inescapable fact of life and all we can do is try to reduce noise level to save our sanity. But, did you know that cutting down on the noise produced by compressed air blow offs can actually save you money? Your loud homemade blow off system is not only way too loud, but it is most likely also costing you more money than you need to spend.

EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products are designed to operate quietly and efficiently. The reduction in noise they produce is only one of the benefits – another is the reduction in money by reducing compressed air use.

EXAIR Super Air Knife Promotion
EXAIR’s SUPER AIR KNIFE

But how does one calculate out the ROI? It is very simple to calculate out your potential savings of using one of EXAIR’s Intelligent Engineered Compressed Air Products. If you would rather not do the calculations out yourself then we can do it for you by sending the item in question to our Efficiency Lab Testing. The Efficiency Lab Testing is a free service that we offer to show you the possible savings by switching to one of our products.

The following is a typical ROI preformed and replaced with a corresponding EXAIR Super Air Nozzle:

  • ¼” drilled pipe with (3) 3/32” Holes which uses 9.4 SCFM per hole at 80 psig (denoted as DP)
  • A Model 110003 3” Super Air Knife can be used to replace and only uses 8.7 SCFM at 80 psig (denoted below as SAK)

Calculation:

(DP air consumption) * (60 min/hr) * (8 hr/day) * (5 days/week) * (52 weeks/year) = SCF used per year for Copper Pipe 

(28.2) * (60) * (8) * (5) * (52) = 3,519,360 SCF

(SAK air consumption) * (60 min/hr) * (8 hr/day) * (5 days/week) * (52 weeks/year) = SCF used per year for EXAIR Product 

 (8.7) * (60) * (8) * (5) * (52) = 1,085,760 SCF

Air Savings:

SCF used per year for DP – SCF used per year for SAK = SCF Savings

               3,519,360 SCF – 1,085,760 SCF = 2,433,600 SCF in savings

If you know the facilities cost to generate 1,000 SCF of compressed air you can calculate out how much this will cost you would save. If not, you can us $0.25 to generate 1,000 SCF which is the value used by the U.S. Department of Energy to estimate costs.

Yearly Savings:

                (SCF Saved) * (Cost / 1000 SCF) = Yearly Savings

                                (2,433,600 SCF) * ($0.25 */ 1000 SCF) = $608.40 annual Savings

With the simple investment of $216 (as of date published) you can calculate out the time it will take to pay off the unit.

Time Until payoff:

                (Yearly Savings) / (5 days/week * 52 weeks/year) = Daily Savings

                                ($608.40/year) / (5 days/week * 52 weeks/year) = $2.34 per day

                (Cost of EXAIR Unit) / (Daily Savings) = Days until unit has been paid off

                                ($216) / ($2.34/day) = 92.3 days 

As you can see it doesn’t take long for the air knife to pay for itself. You also get better overall performance as the Super Air Knife will provide a solid curtain of air. In the end you get to breathe a sigh of relief as no more jump scares and a loud hiss when you turn your air on. Who doesn’t like to save a little money and sanity, especially in these crazy times?

If you have any questions or want more information on EXAIR’s Air Knifes or like products. Give us a call, we have a team of application engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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When Air Flow, Not Force, Makes The Difference

I recently had the pleasure of talking with a CAGI Certified Compressed Air Systems Specialist, who was working with a client to improve energy efficiency in the use of their compressed air. One particular application that was particularly taxing on their system is the use of hose barb fittings (basically, an open blow device) to fold over a cardboard box flap on a packaging line.

We discussed the possibility of trying something out, but the client wanted to look at some data, showing what their expected savings could be. Hose barb fittings are quite common, and they DO focus the flow of a compressed air discharge into a forceful little blast, which is quite effective at folding a box flap.

The client’s main concern was the force applied. In truth, there’s no better way to maximize force than by discharging a compressed gas directly through an open ended device. Excessive force, however, isn’t the only way to solve an application like this, as I proved in a test in our Efficiency Lab.  Here’s what happened:

EXAIR 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles can be fitted with a variety of shims for variable performance.
  • All of them folded the box flap easily.  The Model HP1125 folded it just as far as the hose did in the test I rigged, and with a 37% reduction in compressed air consumption.  The others folded it very nearly as far, with 62% (Model 1122) and 70% (Model HP1126) reductions.
  • Not to mention the drastic reduction in noise levels.

Lastly, I documented it all in a short video:

We field calls all the time from callers wanting to know how much force our Intelligent Compressed Air Products can generate.  Applications like part ejection do indeed require a certain amount of force to, say, move an object in motion from a conveyor belt…that’s just physics.  Most blow off applications (and folding over a flat box flap, for instance,) just need air flow…which engineered products from EXAIR Corporation can handle just fine, and at a fraction of the compressed air use & sound levels associated with open end blowing devices.

If you’d like to find out how EXAIR Corporation can help save you money on compressed air consumption, and ear plugs, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air! image courtesy of Barney Moss  Creative Commons License

Intermediate Storage Tanks & How To Size Them

When evaluating processes that utilize compressed air and adhering to the Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, intermediate storage proves to be a critical role coming in at step number five. Intermediate storage tanks may already be in place within your facility and often times can be implemented as modifications to aid existing lines that are struggling to maintain proper availability of compressed air to keep the line at peak performance.

EXAIR Receiver Tank in 60 Gallon Capacity

When determining whether or not a production line or point of use compressed air operation would benefit from a receiver tank/intermediate storage we would want to evaluate whether the demand for compressed air is intermittent.  Think of a receiver tank as a capacitor in an electrical circuit or a surge tank in a water piping system.  These both store up energy or water respectively to deliver to during a short high demand period then slowly charge back up from the main system and prepare for the next high demand.   If you look from the supply point it will see a very flattened demand curve, if you look from the application side it still shows a wave of peak use to no use.

Intermittent Applications are prime for rapid on/off of compressed air.

One of the key factors in intermediate storage of compressed air is to appropriately size the tank for the supply side of the system as well as the demand of the application.  The good news is there are equations for this.  To determine the capacity, use the equation shown below which is slightly different from sizing your main compressed air storage tank.  The formulate shown below is an example.

Where:

V – Volume of receiver tank (ft3 / cubic feet)

T – Time interval (minutes)

C – Air demand for system (cubic feet per minute)

Cap – Supply value of inlet pipe (cubic feet per minute)

Pa – Absolute atmospheric pressure (PSIA)

P1 – Header Pressure (PSIG)

P2 – Regulated Pressure (PSIG)

One of the main factors when sizing point of use intermediate storage is, they are being supplied air by smaller branch lines which cannot carry large capacities of air.  That limits your Cap value. The only way to decrease the V solution is to increase your Cap. The other key point is to ensure that all restrictions feeding into the tank and from the tank to your point of use are minimized in order to maintain peak performance.

If there are intermittent applications that are struggling to keep up with the production demands within your system, please reach out and speak with an Application Engineer.  We are always here to help and we may even be able to help you lower the demand needed by utilizing an engineered point of use compressed air solution.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF