6 Steps to Air Savings: Step 1 – Measure!

Six Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

If you’re a follower of the EXAIR Blog, you’re probably well aware that compressed air is the most expensive utility in an industrial environment. The average cost to generate 1000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air is $0.25. If you’re familiar with how much air you use on a daily basis, you’ll understand just how quickly that adds up. To make matters worse, many compressed air systems waste significant amounts of compressed air just through leaks. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, a typical plant that has not been well maintained will likely have a leak rate of approximately 20%!! Good luck explaining to your finance department that you’re carelessly wasting 20% of the most expensive utility. Step 1 of the 6 steps to optimizing your compressed air system is to measure the air consumption to find sources that consume a lot of air.

In order to have an understanding of your compressed air usage across various processes and in your entire facility, you have to measure. Without a measurement of usage, there’s no way to determine your actual costs or evaluate opportunities for savings. To do so, EXAIR offers a range of Digital Flowmeters in sizes from as small as ½” Schedule 40 iron pipe and up to 4” Schedule 40 pipe from stock. Larger sizes and pipes calibrated for use on copper or metric pipe are also available.

The Digital Flowmeter provides a digital readout of the exact amount of compressed air being used. Many companies will install the DFM on each major leg of their air distribution system to allow for constant monitoring and provide a benchmark of compressed air usage.

Each meter has a built in LED display that provides the volume of air moving through the pipe in SCFM, m3/hr, or m3/min. Two small probes are inserted into holes in the pipe (drill guide kit w/ drill bit included) to detect the airflow. The unit seals to the pipe once the clamps are tightened. (If the DFM ever needs to be removed, EXAIR also offers blocking rings to seal off the holes) No cutting, welding, adjustments or calibrations are ever required.

In addition to the standard Digital Flowmeter itself, it’s also offered with wireless capability to transmit the data back to your PC, or via USB Data Logger. Both of these options will allow you to track usage over time and upload that data into an Excel spreadsheet.

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

If you’re “flying blind” when it comes to understanding your costs of compressed air in your facility, this is the first step. Contact an EXAIR Application Engineer today to get started. We’ll be happy to help you identify areas where you could take advantage of simple savings.

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

EXAIR Digital Flow Meters

Information is important to diagnose wasteful and problematic areas within your compressed air system. To measure air consumption, flow meters are used to find the volume or mass of compressed air per unit of time. Flow rates are very useful data points to find problems like leaks, over-use in blow-offs, waste calculations, and comparison analysis.

There are many different types of flow meters. Many of them entail a breakdown of your current compressed air lines by cutting, welding, or dismantling for installation. This will add cost in downtime and maintenance staff. But, not with the EXAIR Digital Flowmeters. In this blog, I will share the features and benefits of the Digital Flowmeters including options for you to start measuring and optimizing your compressed air system in Step 1.

Digital Flowmeter

Overall, it only takes a few minutes to install and start measuring. The installation kit comes with a drill bit and a drill guide to properly locate the two holes on the pipe. The Digital Flowmeter uses a clamp to mount to the pipe and to seal the area around the probes. Once it is powered, the unit is ready to measure the air flow inside the pipe with a large LED display. The display can be customized to show flow readings in three different units; SCFM, M3/hr or M3/min; and, it can display the Daily Usage and Cumulative Usage. This will require that the compressed air line is discharged, or pressure free. However, there are Hot Tap digital flowmeters available for installing on pressurized compressed air lines.

To get started, the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter is a thermal dispersion device that can accurately measure compressed air flows. They use two sensing probes for comparative analysis. One probe is a temperature sensing probe, and the other is a flow-sensing probe. By comparing these, the Digital Flowmeter can measure precisely the mass air flow without needing to be recalibrated. They are a cost-effective, accurate, and simple way to measure compressed air flows.

EXAIR stocks a large volume of Digital Flowmeters to ship same day for U.S. and Canadian customers. We also offer a 30-day unconditional guarantee to try them out. We stock meters for pipe diameters from ½” NPT to 4″ NPT Schedule 40 black pipe. EXAIR can also offers flow meters up to 8″ NPT black pipe; copper pipes with diameters from 3/4″ to 4″, and aluminum pipes with diameters ranging from 40mm to 101mm. If you have another type of piping for your compressed air system, you can give us the material, O.D. or I.D., and wall thickness. We may still be able to get a Digital Flowmeter for you.

For measuring, all the units come standard with a 4 – 20mA analog output. Per your request, we can change this signal to a serial output for RS-485 or Ethernet connections. What more can we offer with the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter? Options. Options upgrade the flow meters to better suit your application. Here is a list below:

Digital Flowmeter w/ Wireless Capability, Gateway, and Drill Guide Kit

Wireless Capability: Our latest Digital Flowmeter now has wireless capabilities. They use a Zigbee® communications to pick up flow readings from other flow meters and the Gateway. The Gateway can detect over 100 Digital Flowmeters in your facility. From the Gateway, the information is transferred through a LAN. You can record and analyze the flow information from each meter on the network with our EXAIR® Logger Software. You can set limits to send warnings when your compressed air system is using too much or too little of compressed air. This technology makes it very easy for measuring your compressed air system in the entire facility without having to be there.

When you need to analyze your pneumatic components, flow is an important point in diagnosing the overall “health” of your compressed air system. The EXAIR Digital Flowmeter can give you that important data point. With optimization, you can cut your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money. This blog is an overview of Step 1 of six steps. You may have more questions; and, that is great! You can find them in other EXAIR blogs, or you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Turn It Off: Saving Compressed Air The Easy Way

A major benefit to utilizing compressed air is the speed at which it can be shut off and re-energized for use – in fact, this can be done instantaneously. Shutting down the supply of compressed air to an application while it is not needed can drastically reduce the compressed air consumption of the process. This is an easy remedy that can produce significant savings.

Think about a place where you have a compressed air blow off with spaces between the parts or dwell times in conveyor travel. What about break times, do operators continue to keep the air on when they leave for a break or even worse, for the day?

Step number four in EXAIR’s Six Steps to Optimization is:

A simple manual ball valve and a responsible operator can provide savings at every opportunity to shut down the airflow. But an automated solution is a no-brainer and can provide significant savings.

Quarter Turn Ball Valves are low-maintenance and easy to install/use.

For a more automated approach, you can add a solenoid valve that would tie into your existing PLC or e-stop circuit, into your compressed air supply lines to aid in turning the compressed air on and off.

For an automated on/off solution can be found by using the EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control). The EFC is made to accept 110V or 220V AC, and convert it to 24V DC to operate a sensor, timer, and solenoid valve. Its multiple operating modes allow you delay on, delay-off, and delay on/off among others. The operating mode can then be set to the specific time necessary for a successful application.

The spaces between parts can be turned into money saved. Every time you reach the end of a batch run, the EFC can turn the air off. You can also add solenoid valves and run them from your machine controls. If the machine is off, or the conveyor has stopped – close the solenoid valve and save the air. The modes are all defined in the video below.

So, take a look, or even better a listen, around the plant and see what you can find that could benefit from turning the air off; even if it is just for a moment it will help put money back into your bottom line.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer


Compressed Air: Only as Intelligent as Your Accessories

How often have you seen a compressed air system functioning at 100% efficiency? Do you have the right accessories to provide a source of clean air at the proper pressure? Even with the right accessories, have they been maintained in good working order? Chances are that some of your components are in fact in need of attention such as a clogged filter, improper regulator or maybe undersized hoses. Your air compressor is only as intelligent as the weakest component in your system.

This is why you need to make sure all of your EXAIR accessories are properly fitted and located in the most efficient locations. Your compressor is capable of producing compressed air but your accessories will allow it to function the way it is meant to function. Using accessories and using them in the right manner is the intelligent choice, it will minimize your maintenance while increasing your energy efficiency for the life of your compressor. Let’s review a few of the most important compressed air accessories you should consider.

Filter Separators: Filters remove and separate water, dirt and scale from your compressed air system to keep your air clean and output pure. Clean air keeps your air products and machines more efficient and reduce the frequency of maintenance. Filter Separators will accumulate particulate matter naturally so they will need cleaned and/or replaced filter elements regularly depending on your operating environment. EXAIR provides Filter Separators and recommend they be installed prior to an Oil Removal Filter, pressure regulator or valve.

Filter Separators

Oil Removal Filters: Many air compressors use oil to lubricate therefore the risk of oil in your air lines is imminent. Although oil may not affect the compressed air system itself it can become a problem with products which do not require oil and have small air gaps. It can also be problematic if oil is blowing on to packaging or the final product. Keep this in mind and remember that oil should be removed from compressed air lines in certain instances. EXAIR’s oil removal filters will remove oil and solid particulate found in many compressed air systems.

Pressure Regulators: Regulators adjust the air pressure being supplied by your air compressor to the level that you require at the point of use. For instance your compressor generates 150 PSI but your compressed air product only requires 80 PSIG, the regulator can adjust the pressure to the desired setting and also relieve undue pressure on fittings, hoses and tools. Reducing pressure at the end-use product will also reduce the air consumption. Almost every compressed air application will use tools with varying pressure ratings making EXAIR Pressure Regulators a must-have accessory.

Hoses & Fittings: Hoses and fittings wear with time. Common issues are kinking, bending, leaks and contaminants, they should be checked often and replaced when required. Another common problem with hoses is that they are either too long and not as efficient or too short which can cause your employees reduced productivity. EXAIR offers STAY SET Hoses, Conveying Hose, Coiled Hoses and Compressed Air Hoses of different sizes and lengths. Our selection of compressed air fittings insures you can get all you need from one location.

Receiver Tanks: The use of receiver tanks can improve your overall system efficiency. Storage receivers can be placed near equipment that consume short duration of high flows of compressed air that might cause localized low pressure. EXAIR’s 60 Gallon Receiver Tank placed near the point of use can smooth out the high flows so as not to cause the start of an extra air compressor or cause localized low pressure.

If you would like more information regarding how proper use of EXAIR’s accessories can make your compressed air consumption more intelligent please contact me or any of our qualified Applications Engineers to discuss your applications.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK