Find Compressed Air Leaks with an Ultrasonic Leak Detector

The Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD) is a hand-held, high quality instrument that can locate costly leaks in a compressed air system. The definition of Ultrasonic as defined by Merriam-Webster is: “having a frequency above the human ear’s audibility limit of about 20,000 hertz —used of waves and vibrations.” The human hearing range depends on pitch and sound. Sound is a measure of how low or high the volume of loudness in terms of decibels (dBA) and “Pitch” is measured in Hertz (Hz).The overall spectra of the emitted ultrasonic sound is “white noise”, white noise is the broad band emission of sound.

Humans can detect sounds in a frequency range from about 20 Hz to 20 kHz. (Human infants can actually hear frequencies slightly higher than 20 kHz, but lose some high-frequency sensitivity as they mature; the upper limit in average adults is often closer to 15–17 kHz.)

The Model 9061 ULD is designed to locate the source of ultrasonic sound emissions and is used to find compressed air leaks. These ultrasonic sound emissions are converted by the ULD to a range that can be heard by humans. All this being said, the EXAIR ULD makes finding your air leaks fast and efficient.

The Model 9061 comes complete with with a hard shell plastic case, headphones, parabola, tubular adapter, tubular extension and a 9 volt battery. The ULD can be adjusted to filter out background noise typically heard in manufacturing environments by using the X1, X10 and X100 sensitivity settings. The “on/off” thumb wheel can be used for sensitivity adjustment within each of theses settings. The parabola or tubular extension can be attached to the ULD masking out background noise and finding the ultrasonic sounds being generated from the leaks.

Compressed air is an expensive cost center so using the ULD to detect and fix air leaks can not only be fun but also show a payback on investment with just one leak detection. The illustration below demonstrates just how a payback occurs.

EXAIR has many tools and accessories for your intelligent air needs and want to hear from you as we have Application engineers ready to assist your projects and compressed air challenges.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

Opportunities to Save On Compressed Air

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.  (Click HERE to read).  Following these steps will help you to cut your overhead costs and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover a few tips that can really help you to save compressed air.

To start, what is an air compressor and why does it cost so much in electricity?  There are two types of air compressors, positive displacement and dynamic.  The core components for these air compressors is an electric motor that spins a shaft.  Like with many mechanical devices, there are different efficiencies.  Typically, an air compressor can put out anywhere from 3 SCFM per horsepower to 5 SCFM per horsepower.  (EXAIR settles on 4 SCFM/hp as an average for cost calculations.)  Equation 1 shows you how to calculate the cost to run your air compressor.

Equation 1:

Cost = hp * 0.746 * hours * rate / (motor efficiency)

where:

Cost – US$

hp – horsepower of motor

0.746 – conversion KW/hp

hours – running time

rate – cost for electricity, US$/KWh

motor efficiency – average for an electric motor is 95%.

As an example, a manufacturing plant operates a 100 HP air compressor in their facility.  The cycle time for the air compressor is roughly 60%.  To calculate the hours of running time per year, I used 250 days/year at 16 hours/day.  So operating hours equal 250 * 16 * 0.60 = 2,400 hours per year.  The electrical rate for this facility is $0.08/KWh. With these factors, the annual cost to run the air compressor can be calculated by Equation 1:

Cost = 100hp * 0.746 KW/hp * 2,400hr * $0.08/KWh / 0.95 = $15,077 per year in just electrical costs.

There are two major things that will rob compressed air from your system and cost you much money.  The first is leaks in the distribution system, and the second is inefficient blow-off devices.   To address leaks, EXAIR offers an Ultrasonic Leak Detector.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector can find hidden leaks to fix. That quiet little hissing sound from the pipe lines is costing your company.

A University did a study to find the percentage of air leaks in a typical manufacturing plant.  For a poorly maintained system, they found on average that 30% of the compressor capacity is lost through air leaks.  Majority of companies do not have a leak preventative program; so, majority of the companies fall under the “poorly maintained system”.  To put a dollar value on it, a leak that you cannot physically hear can cost you as much as $130/year.  That is just for one inaudible leak in hundreds of feet of compressed air lines.  Or if we take the University study, the manufacturing plant above is wasting $15,077 * 30% = $4,523 per year.

The other area to check is air consumption.  A simple place to check is your blow-off stations.  Here we can decide how wasteful they can be.  With values of 4 SCFM/hp and an electrical rate of $0.08/KWh (refence figures above), the cost to make compressed air is $0.25 per 1000 ft3 of air.

One of the worst culprits for inefficient air usage is open pipe blow-offs.  This would also include cheap air guns, drilled holes in pipes, and tubes.  These devices are very inefficient for compressed air usage and can cost you a lot of money.  As a comparison, a 1/8” NPT pipe versus an EXAIR Mini Super Air Nozzle.  (Reference below).  As you can see, by just adding the EXAIR nozzle to the end of one pipe, the company was able to save $1,872 per year.  That is some real savings.

 By following the Six Steps to optimize your compressed air system, you can cut your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money.  With the added information above, you can focus on the big contributors of waste.  If you would like to find more opportunities to save compressed air, 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

Controlling Compressed Air can be Easy, and Save Thousands of Dollars

The history of automated controls can be traced back to inventors in ancient Greece & Egypt, who sought ways to keep more accurate track of time than afforded by sundials and hourglasses.  Their efforts, dating as far back as 300BC, produced devices actuated by water flow, which is actually quite reliable and repeatable: a set amount of water will flow via gravity through a fixed conduit in the exact same amount of time, every time.  These were in fairly common use until the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century.

The Industrial Revolution grew the need for automated processes exponentially…the need to control objects or tooling in motion, fluid flow, temperature, and pressure, just to name a few.  As time passed, the sky was literally the limit: modern aircraft & spacecraft rely on a staggering amount of automated processes from production to operation.

All throughout history, though, the benefits of automation remain the same: making processes more efficient.  That’s where the EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control comes in, for automating processes involving compressed air use, by turning air flow off when it’s not needed.  In fact, not only do they provide simple on/off control to blow only when a part is “seen” by the photoelectric sensor, there are eight distinct modes to incorporate delay on or off, flicker on or off, signal on/off delay, interval, or “One-Shot,” where the sensor detects the part, delays opening the valve per the timer setting, and blows for one second.

EFC Electronic Flow Control Systems are already assembled & wired for quick & easy installation.

The EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control is a true “plug and play” solution for automating a compressed air application.  Mount the sensor, plumb the valve, plug it in, and you’re ready to go.  There’s no complicated PLC wiring or programming, although the aforementioned mode selections do offer a great deal of flexibility other than “on when the sensor sees it; off when it doesn’t” operation, if desired.  Here are some prime examples of that flexibility, and the monetary benefits due to the compressed air consumption savings:

(Left) On/Off Delay setting used in tank refurbishment application to operate a “halo” of Super Air Knives for blow off as tanks exit oven where old paint is burnt off – $3,393 annual air savings. (Center) Interval setting actuates a Super Ion Air Knife for flat panel display dust blow off/static elimination – $2,045 annual air savings. (Right) Interval setting actuates a “halo” of Super Ion Air Knives to clean & remove static charge from plastic automotive bumper covers prior to painting – $5012 annual savings.

If you’d like to find out more about the EFC Electronic Flow Control can save you time, air, and money, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

EXAIR Digital Flowmeters With Wireless Capability

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a well-known axiom in engineering & process improvement circles.  We talk to callers every day who are keen on conserving compressed air use in their facilities by making a few tweaks, considering a complete overhaul, or more often, some point in between.  Bottom line (literally) is, compressed air isn’t cheap, so small gains in efficiency can add up.  And large gains can be complete game-changers…following our Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System has resulted in users being able to shut down 50 and 100 HP air compressors, saving thousands of dollar A MONTH in operating costs.

Step #1 is measurement, and that’s where the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter comes in.  They’re easy to install, highly accurate, extremely reliable, and available for just about any size pipe used for compressed air distribution.  They can output a 4-20mA signal straight from their PCB board, or serial comms (RS485) through an optional control board.  USB Data Loggers and Summing Remote Displays have proven to be value-added accessories for data management as well.

Summing Remote Display (left) for remote indication and totalizing data. USB Data Logger takes data from the Digital Flowmeter to your computer and outputs to its own software (shown above) or Microsoft Excel.

If you want to go wireless, we can do that too: using ZigBee mesh network protocol, a radio module is installed in the Digital Flowmeter with wireless gateway to transmit data to an Ethernet connected gateway.  The transmitting range is 100 ft (30 meters,) and the data can be passed from one radio module to another, allowing for multiple Digital Flowmeter installations to extend the distance over which they can communicate with the computer you’re using for central monitoring.  Advantages include:

  • Wireless monitoring of EXAIR Digital Flowmeters throughout your plant.
  • Prevents unwanted joining upon the network.
  • Monitoring software is included at no extra charge.
  • Measures & transmits both current air usage, and cumulative air usage data.
  • 128 bit encryption for wireless transmissions.
  • Comes configured & programmed, out of the box, available for installation on 1/2″ to 4″ SCH40 iron pipe, or 3/4″ to 4″ Type L copper pipe.

Digital Flowmeter w/ Wireless Capability, Gateway, and Drill Guide Kit

If you’d like to find out more about how easy it is to measure, manage, and optimize your compressed air usage, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook