Optimizing Your Current Compressed Air System Is Simple

A few weeks ago, we posted a blog discussing how artificial demand and leaks can lead to poor performance and expensive waste.  Today, I’d like to review how following a few simple steps can help optimize your current compressed air system and reduce compressed air usage.

The first step you want to consider is measuring the air usage in the system. To do this, you want to start at the compressor and check individual leads to each drop point to a blowoff device, record your findings to track the demand. By measuring your compressed air usage, you can locate the source of high usage areas and monitor the usage on each leg of the system. If the demand exceeds the supply, there is potential for problems to arise, such as lowered pressure and force from compressed air operated devices leading to irregular performance.

Digital Flowmeter with wireless capability

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeters are designed to measure flow continuously and accurately to give you real-time flow measurements of your compressed air system to help identify problems areas.

Step 2 is to locate the source of waste. Again, compressed air leaks can result in a waste of up to 30% of a facility’s compressor output. A compressed air leak detection and repair program can save a facility this wasted air. Implementing such a program can be used as a way for a facility to “find” additional air compressor capacity for new projects. Whenever a leak occurs, it will generate an ultrasonic noise.

Model # 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Our Ultrasonic Leak Detector is designed to locate the source of ultrasonic sound emissions up to 20’ away. These ultrasonic sound emissions are converted to a range that can be heard by humans. The sound is 32 times lower in frequency than the sound being received, making the inaudible leaks, audible through the included headphones and the LED display gives a visual representation of the leak.

The 3rd step involves finding the source of noisy and wasteful blowoffs, like open pipes or homemade blowoffs, and replacing them with an energy efficient, engineered solution. By replacing these devices, you are not only reducing the amount of waste but also improving operator safety by complying with OSHA safety requirements.

Model # 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter

EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter is an easy to use instrument that measures and monitors the sound level pressure in a wide variety of industrial environments. The source of loud noises can be quickly identified so that corrective measures can be taken to keep sound levels at or below OSHA maximum allowable exposure limits.

The easiest way to reduce compressed air usage and save on operating expense is to turn off the compressed air to a device when it isn’t needed, step 4 in the process. Not only will this save money, in many cases, it can also simplify a process for the operator.

 

Sizes from 1/4″ NPT up to 1-1/4″ NPT are available

A simple manual ball valve and a responsible operator can provide savings at every opportunity to shut down the air flow.

 

120VAC, 240VAC or 24VDC

 

For automated solutions, a solenoid valve can be operated from a machine’s control. For example, if the machine is off, or a conveyor has stopped – close the solenoid valve and save the air.

 

 

Model # 9040 Foot Valve

A foot pedal valve offers a hands free solution to activate an air operated device only when needed, such as being implemented in an operator’s work station.

 

EFC – Electronic Flow Control

For even more control, you can use a device like our EFC or Electronic Flow Control. This helps minimize compressed air usage by incorporating a programmable timing controlled (0.10 seconds to 120 hours) photoelectric sensor to turn off the compressed air supply when there are no parts present. It is suited for NEMA 4 environments and can be easily wired for 100-240VAC.

 

 

Step 5, intermediate storage. Some applications require an intermittent demand for a high volume of compressed air. By installing a receiver tank near the point of high demand, there is an additional supply of compressed air available for a short duration. This will help eliminate fluctuations in pressure and volume.

Model # 9500-60

EXAIR offers a 60 gallon, ASME approved vertical steel tank with mounting feet for easy installation near high demand processes.

Many pneumatic product manufacturers have a certain set of specifications regarding performance at stated input pressures. In many applications, or in the case of using a homemade blowoff device like open pipe, these wouldn’t necessarily require the full rated performance of the device or full line pressure. Controlling the air pressure at the point-of-use device will help to minimize air consumption and waste, step 6.

Pressure Regulators permit easy selection of the operating pressure

By simply installing a pressure regulator on the supply side, you can start off at a low pressure setting and increase the pressure until the desired result is achieved. Not only will this help to conserve energy by only using the amount of air required for the application, it also allows you to fine tune the performance of the point-of-use device to match the application requirements.

If you have any questions, please contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

Lower Operating Costs by Minimizing Compressed Air Leaks

Almost every industry uses compressed air in some capacity. It is often referred to as the “fourth utility” In an industrial setting, next to water, gas and electric. and in many cases, is the largest energy user in the plant. With an average cost of $ 0.25 per every 1000 Standard Cubic Feet used, compressed air can be expensive to produce so it is very important to use this utility as efficiently as possible. When evaluating the performance of a compressed air system, it’s important to look at the system as a whole.

When you operate point-of-use devices at a higher pressure than necessary to perform a certain job or function, you are creating “artificial demand”. This results in excess air volume being consumed, increasing the amount of energy being lost to waste. For example, plant personnel or operators increase the supply pressure in an effort to improve the end use devices performance. When there is a leak in the system, the line pressure will actually begin to drop and performance begins to deteriorate in other areas in the plant. This not only puts stress on the existing compressor but it also leads to the false idea that a larger or secondary compressor is needed.

Here’s a quick reference on how operating pressure can directly affect operating cost:


Our Model # 1101 Super Air Nozzle requires 14 SCFM @ 80 PSIG. Based on the average operating cost of $ 0.25 per 1000 SCF used, it would cost $ 0.21 per hour to operate this nozzle. (14 SCFM x $ 0.25 x 60 minutes / 1000 SCF = $ 0.21)

If you were able to use the same Model # 1101 Super Air Nozzle operating at only 40 PSIG, while still achieving the desired end result, the air demand would decrease to only 8.1 SCFM, reducing the hourly cost to $ 0.12.  (8.1 SCFM x $ 0.25 x 60 minute / 1000 SCF = $ 0.12)

Don’t waste your money

Leaks in a compressed air system can account for up to 30% of the total operational cost of the compressor, wasting thousands of dollars of electricity per year. Some of the more common places for a leak to occur would be at connection points such as valves, unions, couplings, fittings, etc.

In this table, you will see that a certain amount of air volume is lost through an orifice or opening. If you have several leaks throughout your facility, it isn’t gong to take long for the waste and high operating costs to quickly add up as well as potential increases in repair or maintenance costs for the existing compressor. The industry average shows that any leakage more than 10%, shows there are areas where operational improvements could be made in a compressed air system.

Stay tuned to our blog over the next few weeks as we will discuss how following a few simple steps can help optimize your current compressed air system, in many cases, reducing energy costs related to compressed air waste, leading to a more economical operation.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to discuss a particular application or EXAIR product, give me a call at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

Super Air Knife Saves Money Compared to Drilled Pipe

A few months ago, my counterpart Brian Bergmann wrote a blog providing a detailed explanation of ROI or Return on Investment. Today, I would like to take this information and apply it to a common situation we deal with regularly here at EXAIR – replacing drilled pipe with our Super Air Knife.

Drilled pipe – easy to make but extremely wasteful

Sections of pipe with drilled holes across the length are very common as they are made of relatively inexpensive materials and simple to make.  Where the cost begins to add up is on the operation side as these types of homemade blowoffs waste a ton of compressed air, making them expensive to operate.

For comparison, lets look at a 12″ section of pipe with (23) 1/16″ diameter drilled holes. According to the chart below, each hole will flow 3.8 SCFM @ 80 PSIG for a total of 87.4 SCFM.

With an average cost of $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used (based on $ 0.08/kWh), it would cost $ 1.31 to operate this blowoff for 1 hour. (87.4 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000)

Super Air Knife – Available from 3″ up to 108″ in aluminum, 303ss and 316ss

Now let’s take a look at replacing the drilled pipe with our 12″ Super Air Knife. A 12″ Super Air Knife will consume 34.8 SCFM (2.9 SCFM per inch) when operated at 80 PSIG. Using the same figure of $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used, it would cost $ 0.52 / hr. to operate this knife. (34.8 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000)

Now that we know the operating costs, we can make a better comparison between the 2 products.

Drilled pipe operating costs:
$ 1.31 per hour
$ 10.48 per day (8 hours)

12″ Super Air Knife costs:
$ 0.52 per hour
$ 4.16 per day (8 hours)

Cost Savings:
$ 10.48 per day (drilled pipe) –  $ 4.16 per day (Super Air Knife) = $ 6.32 savings per day

A 12″ aluminum Super Air Knife carries a LIST price of $ 297.00. If we take $ 297.00 divided by $ 6.32 (saving per day), we get a ROI of only 47 days.

As you can see, it is quite beneficial to consider ALL of the parameters when looking at a process or application, rather than just the “upfront” details. What seems like a simple and easy fix, can actually be quite  wasteful when it comes to the true cost of ownership.

If you are using similar devices in your plant and would like to see how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help make the process operate more efficiently, contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Estimating the Cost of Compressed Air Systems Leaks

Leaks in a compressed air system can waste thousands of dollars of electricity per year. In fact, in many plants, the leakage can account for up to 30% of the total operational cost of the compressor. Some of the most common areas where you might find a leak would be at connection joints like valves, unions, couplings, fittings, etc. This not only wastes energy but it can also cause the compressed air system to lose pressure which reduces the end use product’s performance, like an air operated actuator being unable to close a valve, for instance.

One way to estimate how much leakage a system has is to turn off all of the point-of-use devices / pneumatic tools, then start the compressor and record the average time it takes for the compressor to cycle on and off. The total percentage of leakage can be calculated as follows:

Percentage = [(T x 100) / (T + t)]

T = on time in minutes
t = off time in minutes

The percentage of compressor capacity that is lost should be under 10% for a system that is properly maintained.

Another method to calculate the amount of leakage in a system is by using a downstream pressure gauge from a receiver tank. You would need to know the total volume in the system at this point though to accurately estimate the leakage. As the compressor starts to cycle on,  you want to allow the system to reach the nominal operating pressure for the process and record the length of time it takes for the pressure to drop to a lower level. As stated above, any leakage more than 10% shows that improvements could be made in the system.

Formula:

(V x (P1 – P2) / T x 14.7) x 1.25

V= Volumetric Flow (CFM)
P1 = Operating Pressure (PSIG)
P2 =  Lower Pressure (PSIG)
T = Time (minutes)
14.7 = Atmospheric Pressure
1.25 = correction factor to figure the amount of leakage as the pressure drops in the system

Now that we’ve covered how to estimate the amount of leakage there might be in a system, we can now look at the cost of a leak. For this example, we will consider a leak point to be the equivalent to a 1/16″ diameter hole.

A 1/16″ diameter hole is going to flow close to 3.8 SCFM @ 80 PSIG supply pressure. An industrial sized air compressor uses about 1 horsepower of energy to make roughly 4 SCFM of compressed air. Many plants know their actual energy costs but if not, a reasonable average to use is $0.25/1,000 SCF generated.

Calculation :

3.8 SCFM (consumed) x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 divided by 1,000 SCF

= $ 0.06 per hour
= $ 0.48 per 8 hour work shift
= $ 2.40 per 5-day work week
= $ 124.80 per year (based on 52 weeks)

As you can see, that’s a lot of money and energy being lost to just one small leak. More than likely, this wouldn’t be the only leak in the system so it wouldn’t take long for the cost to quickly add up for several leaks of this size.

If you’d like to discuss how EXAIR products can help identify and locate costly leaks in your compressed air system, please contact one of our application engineers at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

 

No Drip External Mix Atomizing Nozzle Wins Gold!

It is a very sad day for me at EXAIR… No, I’m not retiring or leaving the company, but today is my last day to write about Plant Engineering Product of the Year Awards …for this year. It has been quite an honor to write about four of our best innovations from the last year over the past weeks.  In case you missed the entries, you can click on the these links to read more about our other 2013 award winners: 316 Stainless Steel Dual Cabinet Coolers, 1 Inch Flat Super Air Nozzle or the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac. nodrip_EF Today’s post is about the No Drip External Mix Atomizing Nozzle, which the readers of the Plant Engineering magazine bestowed the gold award for fluid handling products.  EXAIR’s Liquid Atomizing Nozzles combine the liquid of your choice with compressed air to create a mist of atomized liquid.  The external mix nozzles have the highest liquid flow rate of any of EXAIR’s Liquid Atomizing Nozzles with flow rates up to 60 GPH.  They are a great solution for applications where independent air and liquid control is required.  Additionally, more viscous fluids can be used with the external mixing of the nozzle than either the internal mixing or siphon fed nozzles.  External Mixing Nozzles can be used to atomize liquids up to 800 centipoise. IMG_4031   In addition to the benefits of the external mix atomizing nozzle, this spray nozzle features a valve to positively stop liquid flow, when the compressed air drops below 30 psig. Any time you need to maintain a smooth finish or are spraying an expensive liquid, the no drip function can be invaluable to preventing rework, and ensuring a quality finish on each and every product.  The EXAIR no drip function is patent pending and does not require an additional air line to control the no drip mechanism, simplifying installation and functionality.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW