Proper Labeling of Piping Systems Increases Safety

Industrial facilities can have a multitude of piping and utilities within them. Some of the piping can all look similar, especially if it is not labeled. water, sprinkler lines, compressed air, even steam, and refrigeration lines are just a few of those that can easily be seen within a number of manufacturing facilities. Proper labeling of these helps to ensure plant safety and can also lead to higher efficiencies within the system.

Properly labeled compressed air piping.

So how does labeling lead to safety? Well, in more than one occurrence I have been inside of facilities where piping that was not intended for compressed air, such as PVC was used for it. When the incorrect piping gets used it can become easily confused and if the contractor that is installing new equipment doesn’t do their homework then it can lead to catastrophic errors. For instance, piping can rupture, or even worse, you could easily pipe the incorrect utility into a piece of equipment. Imagine seeing PVC pipe, which is used for water, and hooking it to a rinse application only to find someone improperly used the piping for industrial compressed air. Or vise versa, an unlabeled pipe thought to be compressed air is actually city water and the next thing happening is water raining down on a packaging blowoff.

Cold Water Piping Labeled properly.

This all can and should be easily prevented by properly labeling any and all piping systems thoroughly throughout the facility. This not only names the utility but generally shows the flow direction as well which an help determine where the source is coming from as well. When performing the first step in the 6 Steps To Compressed Air Optimization knowing the direction of flow is critical when installing a Digital Flowmeter in order to assess system efficiency for compressed air.

The proper labeling and utilizing proper piping within industrial environments can easily prevent accidents and ensure ease of troubleshooting or new installations because the piping is already labeled. If you would like to discuss more on what types of piping are acceptable to use with compressed air, feel free to contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Why use EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meters

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible. EXAIR has six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system. Following these steps will help you to cut electrical costs, reduce overhead, and improve your bottom line. In this blog, I will cover the first step – Measure the air consumption to find sources that use a lot of compressed air.

Six Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

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.

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:

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

USB Data Logger: This option allows for a recording of the flow information. With a software download, you can setup the USB Data Logger to record the flows from once a second (roughly 9 hours of storage) to every 12 hours. After the data points are recorded, you can then download the information into the software to review. Then the information can be uploaded into an Excel program to do further analysis.

Summing Remote: With compressed air pipes running along the ceiling and walls, reading the Digital Flowmeter may be difficult. The Summing Remote has a 50-foot (15 meter) cable to bring the LED display into viewing. The Summing Remote is powered by the Digital Flowmeter, and it can be positioned at eye level, inside managers’ rooms, or around large equipment for monitoring.

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.

Hot Tap DFM

Hot Tap Digital Flowmeter: This option is a great way to install a Digital Flowmeter to the pipe without shutting down the compressed air line. We offer this option for 2″ and larger flow meters for steel and copper pipes. It gives a quick and easy way to attach if you have a 24-hour operation or a critical process that needs to continue to run.

Pressure Sensing Port

Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeter: If you would like to know the compressed air flow and the air pressure, this option will be able to do this. They are available with the Digital Flowmeters for steel and copper pipes that are 2″ and larger, and for the aluminum piping that is 50mm and larger. This option can display pressure units in either PSI or Bar right on the same LED display that shows the flow readings.

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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Want to Know How Much Money you can Save? Use EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab

Growing up as a kid of the 80’s I remember wanting a Nintendo 64. This was very much a want due to the excellent advertising and having friends that got them when they first came out. So, like many kids of the times, I set forth to present my case to my parents and sell them on the benefits to me receiving this 64 bit wonder of the world. These benefits all revolved around me doing chores and “helping” to earn money to go towards the end goal. Thinking back now, I really should have started to learn more about negotiating earlier in life because my parents and older brother really made out on the deal. The point is, I had to make sure that they saw a return on their investment. Mainly, I would be entertained and they would get some stuff done around the house without complaints.

1 – NUTS For Nintendo special on ABC news 20/20 from 1988

Well, flash forward to today and I still feel as though it is always an easy justification if I have supporting evidence of the benefits and even better, if there is some form of cost savings that will be had by spending money on a project or a tool. Often times the justification is the amount of time spent on a task. Well, here at EXAIR we completely embrace that justification culture and, in many cases, can provide you the information necessary to present to management or budget committee – the simple ROI your company will see when investing in EXAIR products. The best part is, this study is always free.

The way it works is pretty simple, we want to compare your current solution to our engineered products. EXAIR has a simple form that gets filled out (or you can call, e-mail or chat) explaining your application to us. We ask for a few key pieces of detailed information, and for you to send one of your current solutions (the nozzle, homemade device, or open tube for example). Then we run side by side tests in house to determine air consumption, noise, and force at the same pressure you are using at your facility. That’s right, this testing is all done here at EXAIR through our EXAIR Efficiency Lab. We document these performance characteristics and send a report showing a simple return on investment for you if you replace your device with an EXAIR engineered solution.

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

This information is then easily backed up by our 30 day guarantee on stock products. Get the EXAIR solution in, test it in your facility and see how the savings stack up. If there is anything that doesn’t stack up, you simply let us know and send the units back.

The entire Efficiency Lab and 30 day guarantee are offered to all of our customers that are within the US and Canada. If you would like to discuss what is possible for you and your team, please reach out to an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

1 – Hertz, Steve – NUTS FOR NINTENDO special on ABC news 20/20 from 1988, 6/24/2010 – Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt4KG9ib8S4

Optimizing Your Compressed Air System in 6 Steps!

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 30%!! Good luck explaining to your finance department that you’re carelessly wasting 30% of the most expensive utility. To make sure you get the most out of your compressed air system, it’s important to follow the Six Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System.

Starting with Step 1: Measure the air consumption to find sources that use a lot of compressed air. In order to have an understanding of your compressed air usage across various processes and in your entire facility, you have to measure and produce a baseline. 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 from stock. 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.

Once you’ve measured your baseline, it’s time to explore another simple avenue of savings. Step 2 in the process is finding and fixing leaks in your current system. EXAIR offers our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector to allow you to locate and fix any leaks within your distribution system. With an unmaintained system wasting on average 30% of the produced volume, this one seems like a no-brainer but is often overlooked. If you can hear the leak without the help of a device like the ULD, it’s a VERY bad leak. These should be located, tagged, and repaired ASAP!

After getting a baseline measurement of the air consumption in your facility of compressed air usage and locating and fixing leaks in your system, it’s time to begin implementing some changes. Step 3 of the 6 Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System covers upgrading your blowoff, cooling, and drying operations using engineered compressed air products. EXAIR manufactures a variety of products that can help to ensure you’re using your compressed air in the best way possible. While it may seem simple, easy, and cheap to use something like an open-ended pipe or tube for blowoff, the fact of the matter is that the volume of air that these homemade solutions use quickly make them more expensive. Look no further than EXAIR when seeking a safe, efficient, and reliable engineered blowoff solution.

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products such as (left to right) the Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, and Air Amplifier are engineered to entrain enormous amounts of air from the surrounding environment.

Step 4 may be the easiest of any of the others. TURN IT OFF! You can’t waste compressed air when it’s turned off. By strategically placing valves at various points throughout the distribution system, it allows you to isolate areas of the facility that may not require continuous compressed air usage. It isn’t exactly feasible to eliminate every single leak, so even if you’ve closely followed Step 3 it’s still beneficial to close some valves here and there to further reduce your consumption. In some applications, such as products traveling on a conveyor, it may be possible to utilize a product like EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller to ensure air isn’t wasted in between parts on the conveyor.

The 5th step in the 6 steps to optimizing your compressed air system highlights the use of intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use. Receiver tanks are installed in the distribution system to provide a source of compressed air close to the point of use, rather than relying on the output of the compressor. Compressed air receiver tanks are an integral part to many compressed air distribution systems. Compressed air is stored at a high pressure after drying and filtration, but just upstream of point of use devices. The receiver tank is charged to a pressure higher than what is needed by the system, creating a favorable pressure differential to release compressed air when needed.

Think of a compressed air receiver tank as a “battery”. It stores the compressed air energy within a system to be used in periods of peak demand, helping to maintain a stable compressed air pressure. This improves the overall performance of the compressed air system and helps to prevent pressure drop. They should be placed strategically to provide a source of compressed air to intermittent high-volume applications.

The last step, Step 6, discusses the use of pressure regulators at the point of use. Pressure regulators are available to control the air pressure within the system and throttle the appropriate supply of air to any pneumatic device. As the last of the six steps to optimizing your compressed air system, controlling air pressure so that you’re only consuming as much as necessary can have a dramatic impact. EXAIR sells a variety of systems that will include a suitably sized pressure regulator to ensure you’re operating as efficiently as possible.

Follow these 6 steps and make sure you get the most out of your compressed air system!

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