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

How-To Size Receiver Tanks and Why Use Them in Your Compressed Air System

Receiver Tank

My colleague, Lee Evans, wrote a blog about calculating the size of primary receiver tanks within a compressed air system.  (You can read it here: Receiver Tank Principle and Calculations).  I would like to expand a bit more about secondary receiver tanks.  They can be strategically placed throughout the plant to improve the operation of your compressed air system.  The primary receiver tanks help to protect the supply side when demands are high, and the secondary receiver tanks help pneumatic systems on the demand side for optimum performance.

Circuit Board

I like to compare the pneumatic system to an electrical system.  The receiver tanks are like capacitors.  They store energy produced by an air compressor like a capacitor stores energy from an electrical source.  If you have ever seen an electrical circuit board, you notice many capacitors with different sizes throughout the circuit board (reference photo above).  The reason for this is to have a ready source of energy to increase efficiency and speeds with the ebbs and flows of electrical signals.  The same can be said for a pneumatic system with secondary receiver tanks.

To tie this into the compressed air system, if you have an area that requires a high volume of compressed air intermittently, a secondary receiver tank would benefit this type of pneumatic setup.  With valves, cylinders, actuators, and pneumatic controls which turn on and off, it is important to have a ready source of stored “energy” nearby.

For calculating a minimum volume size for your secondary receiver tank, we can use Equation 1 below.  It is the same for sizing a primary receiver tank, but the scalars are slightly different.  The supply line to this tank will typically come from a header pipe that supplies the entire facility.  Generally, it is smaller in diameter; so, we have to look at the air supply that it can feed into the tank.  For example, a 1” NPT Schedule 40 Pipe at 100 PSIG can supply a maximum of 150 SCFM of air flow.  This value is used for Cap below.  C is the largest air demand for the machine or targeted area that will be using the tank.  If the C value is less than the Cap value, then a secondary tank is not needed.  If the Cap is below the C value, then we can calculate the smallest tank volume that would be needed.  The other value in the equation is the minimum tank pressure.  In most cases, a regulator is used to set the air pressure for the machine or area.  If the specification is 80 PSIG, then you would use this value as P2P1 is the header pressure that will be coming into the secondary tank.  With this collection of information, you can use Equation 1 to calculate the minimum tank volume.  So, any receiver tank with a larger volume would work as a secondary receiver tank.

Equation 1:

V = T * (C – Cap) * (Pa) / (P1-P2)

Where:

V – Volume of receiver tank (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)

If you find that your pneumatic devices are lacking in performance because the air pressure seems to drop during operation, you may need to add a secondary receiver to that system.  EXAIR stocks 60 Gallon tanks, model 9500-60, to add to those specific areas.  If you have any questions about using a receiver tank in your application, primary or secondary, you can contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We can restore your efficiency and speed back into your applications.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Photo: Circuit Board courtesy from T_Tide under Pixabay License

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

Optimization:  Step 6 – Control the air pressure

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important that you use it as efficiently as possible.  EXAIR generated a chart with six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system.  Following these steps will help you to cut overhead costs and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover the sixth step; controlling the air pressure at the point of use.

Pressure Regulators

One of the most common pressure control devices is called the Regulator.  It is designed to reduce the downstream pressure that is supplying your system.  Regulators are commonly used in many types of applications.  You see them attached to propane tanks, gas cylinders, and of course, compressed air lines.  Properly sized, regulators can flow the required amount of gas at a regulated pressure for safety and cost savings.

EXAIR designs and manufactures compressed air products to be safe, effective, and efficient.  By replacing your “old types” of blowing devices with EXAIR products, it will save you much compressed air, which in turn saves you money.  But, why stop there?  You can optimize your compressed air system even more by assessing the air pressure at the point-of-use.  For optimization, using the least amount of air pressure to “do the job” can be very beneficial and practical.

Model 1100

Why are regulators important for compressed air systems?  Because it gives you the control to set the operating pressure.  For many blow-off applications, people tend to overuse their compressed air.  This can create excessive waste, overwork your air compressor, and steal from other pneumatic processes.  By simply turning down the air pressure, less compressed air is used.  As an example, a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  If you only need 50 PSIG (3.4 bar) to satisfy the blow-off requirement, then the air flow for the model 1100 drops to 9.5 SCFM.  You are now able to add that 4.5 SCFM back into the compressed air system. And, if you have many blow-off devices, you can see how this can really add up.

In following the “EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System”, you can reduce your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money.  I explained one of the six steps in this blog by controlling the air pressure at the point of use.  Just as a note, by reducing the pressure from 100 PSIG (7 bar) to 80 PSIG (5.5 bar), it will cut your energy usage by almost 20%.  If you would like to review the details of any of the six steps, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to help. 

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb