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

Marketing Metrics

Step 4 “6 Steps to Optimizing your Compressed Air”

Turn it off! When you pull your car in the garage what do you do? I believe the answer would be you turn it off. When you finish washing your hands what do you do? I believe that you turn off the water. When your finish baking your dinner, what do you do? I believe you turn off the oven. These all seem like natural habits that we learned through life but seemingly we tend to overlook, “turning it off” when using compressed air. One of the biggest savings you can find when working with your compressed air systems would be “Turning It Off” when not in use.

EXAIR has both manual and electronic driven options for turning your compressed air off while it is not needed. You can use manual (ball) valves to easily turn your compressed air on or off. Manual valves can be used at the point of use for anyone to simply turn the valve stopping the compressed air when it is not needed. A ball valve is a shut-off valve that controls the flow of a liquid or gas by means of a rotary ball having a bore. Rotating the ball a quarter turn (90 degrees) around its axis, the medium can flow through or is blocked. They are characterized by a long service life and provide a reliable closure over the life span, even when the valve is not in use for a long time.EXAIR has valves available from 1/4 NPT up to 1 NPT fittings.

Some systems may require turning your compressed air on/off on a more frequent basis so using an electronic form of shut off might be a preferred method. EXAIR has an Electronic Flow Control (EFC) that can be programmed to accommodate gaps of time ensuring the most efficient use of air. Our EFC is a user friendly, flow control for compressed air that is designed to minimize compressed air use on blow off, drying, cooling, conveying and statius elimination operations. The EFC combines a photoelectric sensor with a timing control that limits compressed air use by turning it off when no part is present. The timing control permits easy tuning to the application requirements while providing flexibility in sensing distance. The EFC also has eight programmable on and off modes.

EXAIR can help your company “go green” saving you money through efficient use of your compressed air. If you have questions or need help determining which of our products will help, please contact one of our Application Engineers as we are happy to help.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

Compressed Air Efficiency! “Step One”

I’m currently in the closing process of selling my first home. This is the house I got married in, brought my first child home to. Needless to say there has been a lot going on to get the place up to selling shape, one of those things was getting the HVAC system checked out to verify its running correctly and efficiently! (Spoiler, mine was running very well thank goodness)

With compressed air being considered a fourth utility its important we check the efficiency of the system and fix issues and install upgrades where we can! 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.

EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

Data is important to have when diagnosing 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.

The first step to optimizing compressed air systems within an industrial facility is to get a known baseline. To do so, utilizing a digital flowmeter is an ideal solution that will easily install onto a hard pipe that will give live readouts of the compressed air usage for the line it is installed on.  There is also an additional feature that we offer on the Digital Flowmeters that can help further the understanding of the compressed air demands within a facility.

The Pressure Sensing Digital Flowmeters are available from 2″ Sched. 40 Iron Pipe up to 8″ Sched. 40 Iron Pipe.  As well as 2″ to 4″ Copper pipe.  These will read out and with the additional Data Logger or Wireless Capability options record the information. When coupled with the wireless capability an alarm can be set for pressure drops that give live updates on the system as well as permits data review to see system trends throughout the day.

Generating a pressure and consumption profile of a system can help to pinpoint energy wasters such as timer-based drains that are dumping every hour versus level based drains that only open when needed. A scenario similar to this was the cause of an entire production line shut down nearly every day of the week for a local facility until they installed flowmeters and were able to narrow the demand location down to a filter bag house with a faulty control for the cleaning cycle.

If you would like to discuss the best digital flowmeter for your system and to better understand the benefits of pressure sensing, please contact us.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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How Much $$$ are Compressed Air Leaks Costing You?!

All compressed air systems will have some amount of leakage. It is a good idea to set up a Leak Prevention Program.  Keeping the leakage losses to a minimum will save on compressed air generation costs, and reduce compressor operation time which can extend its life and lower maintenance costs.

The Compressed Air Challenge estimates an individual compressed air leak can cost thousands of dollars per year when using $0.07/kWh.

  • 1/16″ diameter hole in excess of $700/year
  • 1/8″ hole in excess of $2900/year
  • 1/4″ hole in excess of $11,735 per year

There are generally two types of leak prevention programs:

  • Leak Tag type programs
  • Seek-and-Repair type programs

If you walk through your facility, how many leaks can you hear? These are only the REALLY bad ones!!  So if we know that a large amount of compressed air is leaking, what do we do about it? ? A proper leak prevention plan is the key to success. Since these leaks are impossible to see and some cannot even be heard, you need a tool to help assist you. EXAIR’s model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector is the right tool for the job. When compressed air leaks through a pipe, it creates an ultrasonic signature due to turbulence. While this sound is not always detectable by the human ear, this meter will allow you to locate leaks up to 20’ away by converting the ultrasonic signature into an audible sound.

The first step will be locating the leaks using an Ultrasonic Leak Detector and tagging them throughout the facility. Don’t let this overwhelm you!! If you have a larger facility, break it up into sections that can be completed in 1 day. This will allow you to decide which areas of the plant should be looked at first. Once you’ve located and tagged all of the leaks, rate them under two separate criteria so that you can prioritize what to fix first. Rate them based on the difficulty that it will take to fix them and also by the severity of the leak. Those that are severe yet easy to fix would make sense to begin fixing first. Those that may require a period of shutdown can be planned to fix at a more appropriate time.

9061 ULD

When you’ve had the opportunity to fix them, don’t just forget about it. When new piping is installed, new lines are added, or anything involving compressed air is installed there is the potential for new leaks to develop. Set this as one of your regular PM activities and complete your own compressed air audit once a year. Implementing the process and maintaining it are the keys to your success.

If you have questions about developing a leak program or how to use the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to help with the process and recommend some other methods to save on your compressed air supply.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS