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

How to Save Money on Compressed Air

Compressed air can be one of the more expensive utilities to use in a facility, but a compressed air system is full of simple opportunities to increase efficiency and minimize the cost. Much like how you can take multiple steps to save electricity at your house there a few simple steps you can take to save your compressed air. These steps include finding and repairing leaks, compressor maintenance, minimizing pressure at the point of use, and turning the compressed air off when not in use. Implementing these steps and using the right tools to achieve them can lead to significant dollar savings – in fact our website case studies, other blog articles and catalog are filled with example after example of air (and dollar) savings success! And let’s be honest here, who doesn’t like saving money.

First off is finding your leaks. Leaks are one of the major wastes of compressed air in a system that could happen. Leaks in a compressed air system can account for wasting 20-30% of a compressors output. These leaks can commonly be found in pipe joints, devices that use the compressed air, quick connect fittings, and storage tanks. All of this compounds to wasting air much like a leaky faucet wastes water – little by little it grows until it simply needs to be addressed. One of the ways to help find leaks in your system is EXAIR’s affordable Ultrasonic Leak Detector. This leak detector uses ultrasonic waves to detect where costly leaks can be found so that they can be patched or fixed.

EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Choose efficient end-use products. Engineered air knives, air amplifiers, air nozzles and safety air guns can dramatically outperform (use less air) than commercial air nozzles and in-house solutions such as drilled pipes, open air lines and other creative “fixes”. We have seen some very nice in-house solutions from customers who have put in some significant time and effort, but they all have one thing in common – they use more air than any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions.

Minimizing your pressure can also save you money by limiting the amount of compressed air that is being used. Pressure and volume go hand and hand, the higher the pressure the higher the volume of air and vice versa. By minimizing the pressure that you are using you are also minimizing the amount of air that is being used which means savings. Each CFM used can be associated with a certain price value so the less you use the more you save. You also cut down on the amount of work the compressor has to do and how often the compressor has to cycle. Pressure can be minimized using one of EXAIR’s Pressure Regulators to cut down on the amount of air being used.

EXAIR’s Pressure Regulators come in 4 different sizes

Turn off the compressed air when it is not in use. Just like how you wouldn’t leave the faucet running or lights on in a room that is not being used, don’t leave your compressed air running (insert bad dad joke). Constantly using compressed air even when not in use will cause the compressor to cycle more often wasting money. Each CFM has a price to it so don’t waste CFM’s blowing it back into the air and doing nothing. This can simply be done by adding one of EXAIR’s ball valve or solenoid valves to turn off when you are done using it. Also, if you want to take it another step farther you can look at using one of EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controllers (EFC). The EFC uses a photo eye attached to a timer that will open a solenoid valve for a set amount of time when it detects an object within 3’ of the photo eye. This will turn the air on only when your product is in the air path and turn it off during any spaces in between.

EXAIR’s EFC in use

Compressor maintenance is another important step to minimizing the cost of compressed air. Neglected air compressors can cause a lot of issues ranging from expensive repairs to a decreases in efficiency. Wear and tear placed on the motor of an air compressor can cause the compressor to produce less compressed air (SCFM) at the same power consumption. This means you are paying the same amount of money and getting less out of it. Making sure that your compressor or any machine is always running at its optimal performance and should always be a priority for any facility.

There are many different ways to save on compressed air, these are just a few of them. Reducing air use will save money and reduce the demand on your compressor which in turn can prolong the life of your air compressor. If you have questions about how to save on compressed air or any of our engineered Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR or any Application Engineer.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Turn the Pressure Down, Save Operation Costs

I recently recommended to a customer to turn their air pressure down on their system as low as their process would allow. Meaning regulate the pressure so you have enough to complete the operations needed but find that happy medium where your compressor isn’t working as hard to build those high pressures for no reason!

Compressed air is an amazing tool to have, and when used properly it can be more efficient that other non compressed air tools that run off electricity. How ever its pretty common to see compressed air systems running at their max just because.

Lowering the air system pressure reduces the compressor power consumption by about 1% for every two psi of lower pressure. Lowering the pressure also makes any unregulated operations reduce consumption by almost 1% for every one psi of pressure reduction. Not to mention the extra savings if your compressor system can turn down the compressor power because of the reduced flow and possibly shut off compressors that are no longer needed!

The best pressure at which to set your system is the level where your production can operate efficiently and effectively without waste: There is no right pressure—it depends on your operations and tools. You may have 90 to 100 psig at the compressor, but at the production machine, where the actual work is being done, you could have only 65 to 70 psig. In some cases, it may be even lower due to pressure drops in undersized piping, filters, regulators. The goal is to lower compressor discharge pressure without affecting the the operations at the end of the line.

Having artificially high plant-pressure can help you deal with surges in compressed air demand that might occasionally cause low-pressure and affect production. The higher pressure acts to store reserve air in the various volumes made up of receivers, pipes and such in your system. However, the higher pressure costs more to produce and makes unregulated end uses consume more air, which is an expensive trade-off. Another option is to make sure you have line pressure regulators at each point of use. This will allow you to regulate the operation to the pressure needed being sure to save compressed air and keep the over all system running more efficient.

You can regulate those point of use lines with a number of EXAIRs Pressure Regulators!

EXAIR offers a range of Pressure Regulators capable of handling air flow of up to 700 SCFM.

If we can help size a regulator, or have any other questions on how EXAIR can help you save compressed air in your system please reach out to me or one of our other Application Engineers!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Optimize Your Intelligent Compressed Air® Products with EXAIR’s Accessories

EXAIR offers a wide variety of various accessories that can help you to better control and fine-tune any of your compressed air operated products. Most of EXAIR’s line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products have no moving parts and require no maintenance. The caveat to the “no maintenance” aspect is proper filtration at the point of use. Many products have very tight orifices that could get clogged from any contaminants such as particulate, condensate, and lubricant. EXAIR recommends point of use filtration to be installed just upstream of any EXAIR Product for this purpose.

EXAIR has a line of Automatic Drain Filter Separators and Oil Removal Filters, available from stock, to make sure the quality of your air supply is sufficient for proper operation of any EXAIR product. Particulate filters remove any suspended solids from the airstream, ensuring the tight orifices in the products remain free of debris. If your system has residual oil, this should also be removed with a coalescing filter. Check out this short video from my colleague, Brian Farno, that demonstrates these filters in action:

Controlling your compressed air pressure at the point of use is an excellent way of minimizing your compressed air usage. 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 at the point of use can often be overlooked. using them to minimize your pressure can result in dramatic savings to your costs of compressed air. As pressure and flow are directly related, lowering the pressure supplied results in less compressed air usage. EXAIR recommends operating your Intelligent Compressed Air Products at the minimum pressure necessary to achieve a successful application. If you notice a desirable result at a pressure of 60 PSIG, or even less, there’s no need to run full line pressure. In-line point of use pressure regulators are the simplest and most reliable way to allow you to dial down to the pressure to any compressed air operated product.

Taking this idea of minimizing air usage one step further, you can achieve even greater savings by simply turning the air off when not needed. The most basic option for turning off the air supply is a simple manual valve. EXAIR offers a range of various sized valves to allow you to do just that.

This process can also be automated as well. If you’d like to automate the control of your blowoff, EXAIR offers solenoid valves that can tie into your existing PLC and eliminate unnecessary air usage. For those that want a solution ready to go right out of the box, EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller utilizes a photoelectric sensor and solenoid valve tied to a timer that allows you to shut off the air supply when a part or component is not present. This can lead to dramatic air savings in many applications where parts are traveling along a conveyor.

Once you’ve selected an engineered compressed air nozzle for your blow off application, you’ll likely need a solution to mount and position it as well. Here’s where EXAIR’s Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases come into play. EXAIR’s Stay Set Hoses are available from 6”-36” in length with ¼ NPT male threads on each end, or a ¼ NPT male on one end and 1/8 NPT female on the other. The Stay Set Hoses are rigid and allow you to maintain precise positioning of the blow off nozzle. The hoses have “memory” and will not creep or bend. They’re easily repositionable as well, making them an ideal solution for applications that may require frequent repositioning due to varying parts.

In addition to the Stay Set Hoses, EXAIR also has Magnetic Bases available as well. The powerful magnet permits both horizontal and vertical mounting. A manual valve is also included that will allow you to vary the force and flow. Magnetic bases are available with one or two outlets and can be combined with any of our nozzles and Stay Set Hoses to create your own customized blowoff system.

Regardless of your application, EXAIR has the products available from stock to help optimize your processes. These accessories allow you to help optimize the use of your blowoff products and ensure reliable, repeatable performance. If you’d like to discuss an application, give us a call.

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