Data: Not the Cyborg from Star Trek, Air Data

This world is a constant gathering of data anymore. Every item that connects to the internet moves data, collects data, and shares data. The problem is often, what data is truly needed and what we can do with it. When it comes to business analytics and data there are many types. The same can be said for compressed air.

green and white line illustration
Photo by Markus Spiske on

When looking at the data your compressed air system is collecting and what data matters, it is good to understand the types of data we could be dealing with and what could be detrimental. That’s right, too much data can be a bad thing. Or data that hasn’t been refined and is coming in not in the correct format can also be crippling to analysis. The first is too much data and be considered “Vampire” Data, there is so much there that it just simply sucks all the energy out of your analysis and can lead to paralysis through analysis. The second would be considered “Dirty” data. This data causes lots of additional work to clean up and process. Rather than just importing, running with it, and being able to take off, it generates many of its own work levels and may even have erroneous readings in it throughout that can also cause issues. So how can we identify these within our compressed air system?

What could vampire data in a compressed air system look like? Well, multiple Flowmeters collecting data on the same branch line without any offshoots would be the first. If you have a loop-style main, there would be no need to measure the flow coming out of your dry storage and going into the header loop, then measure the header flow again before the first drop. A second instance would be taking measurements in a high quantity during system downtimes, this could be the off-hours period, and there isn’t a need to monitor every second if nothing is running. Now, monitoring overnight is needed, this helps to monitor leaks or other phantom draws of air while equipment is not running. It doesn’t need to be monitored every second of the off hours though. So try to keep this nuisance to a minimum and if you aren’t sure where you should install Digital Flowmeters, contact an Application Engineer to discuss.

The latter, dirty data, is sometimes harder to take care of. This can be caused by different sources all feeding data into separate files or even importing routines from equipment not being refined. This can also be due to operator error when collecting manual data points or not following standard operating procedures. One way to reduce the number of items to import data from is by utilizing equipment like Digital Flowmeters with Wireless Capabilities and also pressure-sensing flow meters. These all help to reduce the number of items or routines in a compressed air system data collection. Again, if you aren’t sure how to clean up data, or how to process the data coming out of our EXAIR Logger software that is included with the Wireless Capability Digital Flow meter, that’s what we are here to help with.

No matter what, data in a compressed air system is important and helps to create system profiles, deduce failed equipment, refine processes, and most of all give you the ability to calculate ROI after installing engineered solutions. If you want to discuss how to do this, reach out to an Application Engineer today!

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Digital Flow Meter Options Make it Easier to Manage What You Measure

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a widely used maxim, in a number of fields. Since EXAIR is in the business of helping customers get the most out of their compressed air system, we use it with regard to our Digital Flowmeters.

While installation of our standard Digital Flowmeters is fairly easy & straightforward, it does require depressurization of the pipe you’re installing it onto to drill the holes for the probes. If you can do that, installation takes a matter of minutes, you can repressurize the line and get back to work. If it’s impossible, impractical, or even inconvenient to isolate and depressurize the pipe, our Hot Tap models allow for installation under full line pressure. Not only do you get away with not depressurizing part of your system, you don’t even have to stop using compressed air loads being supplied by that pipe. Here’s how it works:

  • Like any mass thermal type flow meter, these work by inserting two probes through the pipe wall. One is heated to a specific temperature, and the other measures the temperature of the air flowing past it. The difference is proportional to the mass flow rate through the pipe.
  • Normally, drilling holes in a pressurized pipe is a BAD idea. The bases for the Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters, however, allow you to do it safely. They have valves in them, which the drill bit passes through, that you’ll close as you withdraw the drill bit to prevent compressed air from flowing out.
  • A muffler in the drill guide lowers the sound level to a slight hiss, and collects the chips made by the drill bit.
  • Once the Digital Flowmeter itself is installed on the Hot Tap base, the valves are opened to put the Digital Flowmeter in service.
Hot Tap Digital Flowmeters are available for 2″ through 8″ iron pipe, , and 2″ through 4″ copper pipe.

As beneficial as it is to measure the mass flow rate through the pipe, it can be important to know the pressure inside the pipe as well. Our Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters provide for this, with a 2nd milliamp output.

Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters can be installed on 2″ through 8″ iron pipe, or on 2″ through 4″ copper pipe (above left). They provide input to the Flowmeter’s 2nd milliamp output via a special sensing port (above center). They can display either flow or pressure values on their display, or you can use our optional Wireless Capability (above right) to transmit this data to your computer.

A pressure AND flow profile can aid in identifying areas for improvement…and sometimes even finding problems that need fixing. One of our customers did just that, by using the flow & pressure profile to identify a transient caused by a faulty filter baghouse cleaning cycle control.

If you’re serious about getting the most out of your compressed air use, the very first step in EXAIR’s Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System is literally a great place to start.

Six Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

To find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
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Getting Back To It – One-Step At A Time

I’ve blogged in the past about how one of my favorite things to do is to get out of my comfort zone and over the past year, that has been a struggle for me physically. I’ve slacked off on my rucking and event participation and continued to grow my knowledge level. That’s started to weigh on me over the past few months, so I began to change it. In all honesty, I was okay with being meh. That’s not okay, and I started changing it, how you might ask? It all started with my friends and my daughters.

Not a shabby pace for 35-pound ruck and second ruck back at it.

Rather than trying to do a 180 and completely disrupt my relaxed style, I took the approach of 5mm changes over time. That’s right, I am in the US and I just used the metric system as my primary measurement. So what does this look like, well first it started with less sitting and more standing. Even when at work, I try to stand most of the day at my desk, I’m grateful I have the means to do so through a standing desk. Then, rather than just hanging out while my kids are at their practices, I’ve taken that time to start rucking or at the very least walking/volunteering and working. These are different movements that I didn’t have over the past several months, and it’s honestly been 5mm changes and I can already feel the improvements in my sleep, and my energy throughout the day. The best part is, I can really relate this to being a great approach to an industrial compressed air system as well.

Over time a system can age, efficiencies lower, leaks start to form, equipment wears down or gets built up on it and starts to require more maintenance. Just like my personal journey, we can easily get these back on track by making small 5mm changes in our daily operations. We don’t have to completely gut and revamp a compressed air system or just throw more compressors at the system to fix it. We can follow the Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization and work towards a renewed system.

Processes lead to continuous improvement.

The first point is to get a baseline, find out where you are, and then go from there. This is easily done with Digital Flowmeters w/ Wireless Capabilities. Then, rather than trying to change an entire facility, focus on one spot, one line, or even one machine. Then start to evaluate that specific point for leaks, and open blowoffs. Fixing just this one machine by reducing leaks, and replacing open blowoffs can begin to shift the efficiency within the system and drive the desire to do more. This return will also generally give the system the ability to handle expansion to other new lines as well.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a drastic change or complete teardown and rebuild. It should start with a baseline and then perform small changes from there, so the data can be collected and return can be measured to justify the means. We outline this process and do everything we can to offer items needed for each step of the process to ensure you have one single contact along the process, an EXAIR Application Engineer.

If you want to discuss further how we can help you keep ticking away at these 5mm changes within your system, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

KPIs & Your Air Compressor

We have blogged about the many types of air compressors, ways to maintain your compressed air system, and how to increase compressed air efficiency by utilizing engineering compressed air products. All of these topics spawn from our knowledge and understanding of what it takes to operate and effectively service the products that we design and sell. When it comes to our products we know exactly what we need to convey how good they are, Key Performance Indicators if you will. To go along with those, I thought it would be good to outline some Key Performance Indicators for the air compressor within a system.

A Rental Tow Behind Air Compressor

So what performance values are critical for an air compressor? Well, power and efficiency are two main KPIs that I would be concerned with. This all connects to the bottom dollar of the cost to operate. So let’s add some more levels in there and get to the list I would list the KPIs as:

Pressure Loss
Leakage Rate
Dew Point
SCFM Output
Cost/Production Unit Output

These are not necessarily in a top to bottom list of priorities, They are however some that can be easy to monitor and will ultimately lead you to understand the current state of your compressor and the air you are supplying to your facility. Now let’s break these down further.

Pressure Loss – This phenomenon can be prevalent in aging air systems or systems that have been rapidly expanded over the years causing higher demand than the original design of the system permits. Think of when a new housing development opens on a two-lane country road and adds another thousand cars to the road in that area. Rather than a 4 way stop you generally start to see routes expand and intersections improve in order to supply the new demand. Losing pressure throughout the system can be caused by too much demand on a section from new equipment or even failure of old equipment that results in artificial load. Understanding where the pressure loss is occurring or when helps to troubleshoot.

Leakage Rate – Leaks can often account for up to 30% of a system’s capacity/demand. This is not only costly, it also ties to the pressure loss variable we discussed previously. Leakage is a constant battle and something that needs to be checked for every so often on systems that are established. This again results in artificial demand on the system and steals supply from other processes.

Dew Point – The amount of moisture within the compressed air system and the temperature at which it will condense at is a critical point to understand and affects the output quality of the compressor. Moisture can cause lots of quality issues and create maintenance nightmares for machinery if not kept in check. A low dew point helps to keep the compressor operating at an efficient level as the moisture content is low. Should you be located in a very high-humidity climate, then post-compressor equipment like refrigerant dryers can help to reduce this and keep your system operating at an optimal level.

SCFM Output – This can easily be measured with a Digital Flowmeter and is very easily one of the most useful data points to monitor your compressor’s output as well as baseline and improve your supply side. Understanding if your air compressor is operating at a higher percentage of output will help to determine when system expansion is needed and when demand side issues need to be addressed, and also help you to determine the ROI on equipment that utilizes compressed air.

Cost/Production Unit Output – Lastly, understanding the cost of using your compressed air and how that correlates to the output of the facility can help to see just how important a small leak is. It gives insight into the importance of using the compressed air that is generated efficiently and keeps the compressor operating at peak performance rather than putting off maintenance or overloading an undersized system.

If you would like to discuss any of these KPIs for your air compressor or to see how you can increase performance within your system, contact an Application Engineer today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

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