Compressed Air Efficiency – How It Benefits Business

It is estimated that typically plants can waste up to 30 percent of their generated compressed air and that cost is substantial.  Considering the average cost to generate compressed air here in the Midwest is .25 cents per 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet, that translates into .075 cents for every .25 cents spent!  Compounded with the fact that energy costs have doubled in the last five years, it couldn’t be a better time to make your air compressor system more efficient.

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The following steps will help you save air and in turn save money.

  1. Measure the air consumption to find sources that use a lot of compressed air.

Knowing where you stand with your compressed air demand is important to be able to quantify the savings once you begin to implement a compressed air optimization program. Placing a value upon your compressed air consumption will also allow you to place a value on its costs and the savings you will reap once you start to reduce your consumption. (EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meter)

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  1. Find and fix the leaks in your compressed air system.

Not fixing your compressed air system leaks can cause your system pressure to fluctuate and affect your equipment negatively. It may cause you to run a larger compressor than necessary for your compressed air needs and raise your total costs. Or it could cause your cycle and run times to increase which leads to increased maintenance to the entire system. (EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector)

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  1. Upgrade your blow off, cooling and drying operations using engineered compressed air products.

Your ordinary nozzle with a through hole and a cross drilled hole can be an easy choice based upon price, but if you do not consider the operating cost you do not really know how much it is costing you. An Engineered Air Nozzle will pay for itself and lower operating costs quickly. Engineered Air Nozzles are the future of compressed air efficiency and are made to replace ordinary nozzles, homemade nozzles and open line blow offs. Engineered Nozzles reduce air consumption and noise levels; ordinary nozzles cannot compete. Engineered Nozzles maintain safety features and can qualify for an energy savings rebate from a local utility; ordinary nozzles fall short. Open blow off or homemade blow off applications typically violate OSHA safety standards; Engineered Nozzles do not.  (EXAIR’s Air Nozzles)

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EXAIR Nozzles
  1. Turn off the compressed air when it is not in use.

Automated solutions add solenoid valves and run them from your machine controls. If the machine is off, or the conveyor has stopped – close the solenoid valve and save the air.  And blow off applications can benefit from any space in between parts by turning the air off during the gaps with the aid of a sensor and solenoid. (EXAIR’s automated  Electronic Flow Control)

 

  1. Use intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use.

Also known as secondary receivers, intermediate air storage is especially effective when a system has shifting demands or large volume use in a specific area. Intermediate storage is the buffer between a large demand event and the output of your compressor. The buffer created by intermediate storage (secondary receiver) prevents pressure fluctuations which may impact other end use operations and affect your end product quality. (EXAIR’s Receiver Tanks)

  1. Control the air pressure at the point of use to minimize air consumption.

This is a very simple and easy process, all it requires is a pressure regulator. Installing a pressure regulator at all of your point of use applications will allow you to lower the pressure of these applications to the lowest pressure possible for success. Lowering the pressure of the application also lowers the air consumption. And it naturally follows that lower air consumption equals energy savings. (EXAIR’s Pressure Regulators)

By increasing your awareness of the health of your air compressor system and implementing a PM program you can significantly reduce your costs from wasted energy and avoid costly down time from an out of service air compressor.

If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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Benefits of an Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Ultrasonic Leak Detector

As margins get tighter and cost of manufacturing climbs, industries are looking into different areas to be more efficient.  A big focus nowadays is in their compressed air system.  Why is this?  Manufacturers are starting to realize that it takes an abundant amount of electricity to make compressed air.  That is why EXAIR manufactures compressed air products for optimization to get the best efficiency.  But what many manufacturers don’t realize is that quiet little hissing sound from there compressed air lines is costing them much money.   That is why EXAIR has the Ultrasonic Leak Detector.

Finding leaks will save you money

Energy Star, a federal voluntary program ran by the Environmental Protection Agency, offers energy-efficient solutions.  EXAIR has partnered with Energy Star because it underscores our commitment to improve energy savings.  They even wrote an excerpt about compressed air leaks here: Energy Tips: Minimize Compressed Air Leaks.  With compressed air leaks, it can be as much as 30% of your compressed air usage.

When a leak occurs, it emits an ultrasonic noise.  The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick this up.  It has a frequency range from 20 KHz to 100 KHz, above human hearing, so it can make the inaudible leaks, audible.  With three sensitivity ranges and LED display, you can find very minute leaks.  It comes with headphones and two attachments; the parabola attachment to find leaks up to 20 feet (6 meters) away, and the tube attachment for local proximity to define the exact location of the leak.

In the Energy Tips from Energy Star, they reference estimated leak rates and costs associated with these leaks.  They also recommend a leak prevention program with reference materials to help improve energy savings.  As part of that program, an Ultrasonic Leak Detector is the best way to begin.

Checking pipe fittings

To tell a common success story about the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, an EXAIR customer had a 50-horsepower air compressor.  It started to overwork, overheat, and occasionally shut down.  He thought that he would need to buy a larger air compressor to keep his plant running.  In discussing his problems and requirements, he decided to purchase an Ultrasonic Leak Detector from EXAIR to check for leaks as a possible cause.  He checked every fitting and connection in his facility.  When he finished checking the compressed air system, he found 91 leaks.  (You will be surprised with your system if it is not well maintained).

If we look at a very small 1/16” (1.6mm) diameter hole at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar), it will cost you $360 a year per leak (based on 6000 working hours per year).  Thus, 91 leaks at $360/year will equal $32,760 per year.  After the fittings were reworked with piping compound, the compressor was back operating in a normal range.  There was no need to buy a larger air compressor with capital funds, and he was able to save $32,760 a year by finding and fixing the leaks.

As a little secret with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, it can do more than find compressed air leaks.  Any issue that creates an ultrasonic noise, the Ultrasonic Leak Detector can find it.  This will include air damper seals, circuit breakers, cracked rubber belts, gas burner leaks, refrigerant leaks, worn bearings, and air brake systems on trucks.  It is a handy tool to find potential issues or problems in other areas other than compressed air systems.

For optimization of your compressed air system, it is very important to find and correct leaks in your piping system.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector can help you do that.  It is an inexpensive way to solve an expensive problem, compressed air leaks.  If you would like to discuss the features and benefits in more detail, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be glad to help you.

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

Finding & Fixing Leaks: The Benefits of Creating a Leak Detection Program

Leaks in a compressed air system can be a substantial source of wasted energy. A facility that hasn’t maintained their compressed air system will likely have a leak rate around 20-30% of the total air production.  But with a leak detection plan you can reduce air leaks to less than 10% of the compressor output.

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Along with the energy waste, leaks will contribute to higher operating cost.  Leaks cause a drop in system pressure, which can make air tools operate poorly, harming production cost and time. In addition, by forcing the equipment to cycle more often, leaks shorten the life of almost all system equipment, including the compressor. Increased running time can also lead to added maintenance and increased downtime. Finally, leaks can lead to adding unnecessary compressor volume.

Since air leaks are almost impossible to see, other methods must be used to locate them. The best way to detect leaks is to use an ultrasonic acoustic detector, Like EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD). This unit can recognize the high frequency hissing sounds associated with air leaks. A person using the ULD only needs to point it in the direction of the suspected leak. When a leak is present, an audible tone can be heard with the use of the head phones, and the LED display will light.  Testing various unions, pipes, valves and fittings of a complete system can be done quickly and effectively at distances up to 20’ away!

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The advantages of ultrasonic leak detection include flexibility, speed, ease of use, the ability to test the system while machines are running, and the ability to find a wide variety of leaks. They involve very little training, operators often become competent after 10 minutes of training.

Due to the nature of ultrasound, it is directional in transmission. For this reason, the signal is loudest at its source. By scanning around a test area, it is possible to very quickly target in on a leak site and pin point its exact location. For this reason, ultrasonic leak detection is not only fast, it is also very accurate.

An active leak prevention program will embrace the following components: identification, tracking, repair, verification, and employee participation. All facilities with a compressed air system should establish an aggressive leak reduction program. A team involving managerial representatives from production should be formed to carry out this program.

A leak prevention program should be part of an overall program intended to improve the performance of compressed air systems. Once the leaks are found and repaired, the system should be started from the beginning until all leaks are addressed.

A good compressed air system leak repair program is very important in maintaining the efficiency, reliability, stability and cost effectiveness of any compressed air system.

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“First a Plant Engineer or Maintenance Supervisor must realize that leak repair is a journey, not a destination. An ongoing compressed air leak monitoring and repair program should be in place in any plant that has a compressed air system.” Explains Paul Shaw, a General Manager for Scales Industrial Technologies’ Air Compressor Division, and an Advanced CAC Instructor, “Leak identification and remediation with a high quality repair can lead to substantial energy savings that typically has a very rapid payback, usually a year or less. In the hundreds of leak audits and repairs that we have done we’ve found that the quality of the repair is critical to ensuring the customer receive the most value for his investment and that the leak remains repaired for as long as possible. From there, constantly monitoring for compressed air leaks and repairing them as they occur can help the plant continue to reap the energy benefits.”

Above is an excerpt from “Best Practices for Compressed Air Systems”, Appendix 4.E.1.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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No Matter The Size of The System, Air Leaks Should be Fixed

Just last night I was in my garage tinkering around with a vintage Coleman Camping lantern from 1949 that I am working on refurbishing. I grabbed my parts washing bin (A bread pan my wife let me have because she didn’t like the way it cooked bread) and was reminded that I had been soaking a helmet lock from a friends dirt bike in a penetrating oil. I removed the lock from the pan, wiped it down, then went to my trusty 30 gallon compressor to use a Safety Air Gun to blow the residual oil out of the lock.

When not in use my compressor stays turned off and I modified the factory outlet to include a quarter turn ball valve so that I can retain all air in the receiver tank and not have to charge the tank up every time that I use it. As I turned the valve on I was reminded that I have a rather large air leak that can drain the 30 gallon tank down from 150 psig to 60 psig within a few hours.

While my air system is almost as simple as it can be, single air hose real with an additional quick disconnect before the hose reel for small quick blow offs, it still has over a dozen connections within the system. While my worst offending leak is audible to my slightly aged ears there are other leaks that I cannot see or hear. That is unless I use one of two methods I know to find leaks.

The easiest is right out of our 6 Steps of Compressed Air Optimization, the Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD). The ULD is a versatile, low cost, hands free electronic device that will quickly and easily detect the general vicinity of a leak and then easily pinpoint the exact point of the leak. In conducting a test, it took right at twenty minutes to test each of the connections within my system and identify which connections had leaks. The actual repairs of the leaks around an hour. Before fixing though I timed the amount of time it took a friend to use the soapy water method to detect the same leaks.

The soapy water method timed in at around thirty-five minutes for the same number of connections. This was due to a few of the fittings needing to be tested multiple times because of small leaks. It then took an additional fifteen minutes to wipe up all the soapy water that was now dripping down the air line and around the fittings.

While both methods found the same leaks and the ULD performed the task quicker and without any cleanup required, the true focus was on all leaks being repaired. My system has a dozen connection points for a two outlet compressed air system that are regulated and filtered at a single point. This system was draining a 30 gallon tank within a few hours which costs me every time I used my compressor and did not shut off the valve that shuts off the system.

This burden on my electrical bill was removed with less than two hours of labor and I can now leave the compressor fully charged and have air as soon as I need it rather than having to wait for the tank to charge up. Had this been in a production environment the cost could have crippled production resulting in catastrophic.

If you would like to discuss how leaks within your system can easily be found by using the ULD or would like to learn more about the other five steps in our Six Steps To Compressed Air Optimization, contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Ph. 1-513-671-3322
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

6 Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

If you’re a follower of the EXAIR Blog, you’re probably well aware that compressed air is the most expensive utility in an industrial environment. The average cost to generate 1000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air is $0.25. If you’re familiar with how much air you use on a daily basis, you’ll understand just how quickly that adds up.

To make matters worse, many compressed air systems waste significant amounts of compressed air just through leaks. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, a typical plant that has not been well maintained will likely have a leak rate of approximately 20%!! Good luck explaining to your finance department that you’re carelessly wasting 20% of the most expensive utility.

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6 Steps from Catalog

The best way to save energy associated with the costs of generating compressed air is pretty straightforward and simple: TURN IT OFF! Placing valves throughout your distribution system allows you to isolate areas of the facility that may not need a supply of compressed air continuously.

Even a well-maintained system is going to have a leakage rate around 10%, it’s darn near impossible to absolutely eliminate ALL leaks. By having a valve that allows you to shut off the compressed air supply to isolated areas, you’re able to cut down on the potential places for leaks to occur.

You’re likely not running each and every machine continuously all day long, if that’s the case why not shut off the air supply to those that aren’t running? When operators go to lunch or take a break, have them turn off the valves to prevent any wasted air. The fact of the matter is that taking this one simple step can truly represent significant savings when done diligently.

You wouldn’t leave your house with all the lights and TV on, so why leave your compressed air system running when it’s not in use? Even if everyone’s left for the day, leaks in the system will cause the compressor to keep running to maintain system pressure.

Taking things one step further, EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control (EFC) utilizes a solenoid controlled by photoelectric sensor that has the ability to shut off the compressed air when no part is present. If you’re blowing off parts that are traveling along a conveyor with space in between them, there’s no need to continuously blow air in between those parts. The EFC is able to be programmed to truly maximize your compressed air savings. The EFC is available in a wide range of different capacities, with models from 40-350 SCFM available from stock and systems controlling two solenoid valves for larger flowrates available as well.

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It’s no different than turning off your house lights when you leave for work each day. Don’t get caught thinking compressed air is inexpensive “because air is free”. The costs to generate compressed air are no joke. Let’s all do our part to reduce energy consumption by shutting off compressed air when it isn’t necessary!

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

Upgrade Blowoff Applications with Engineered Products to Increase Safety and Efficiency

At EXAIR, it’s our business to make sure that you get the most out of your compressed air system.  We’ve got a Six Step plan to help you do just that, and one of those steps is the topic of today’s blog:

We have a couple of ways to help with step #1.  You can use a Digital Flowmeter to measure your total compressed air usage, and take advantage of our Efficiency Lab service to determine the consumption of individual compressed air devices that may be running up the total.  Based on our performance tests of those devices, we can recommend suitable EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products to replace them with, along with the expected reductions in air consumption & noise levels…quieter is always better too.

We’re going to skip right over Step #2…just for now…but if you can’t wait, click on the picture above for more on finding & fixing leaks.

Once you get our recommended replacements in (I mean, why wouldn’t you?), they’re going to be part of your compressed air system, so naturally, we want to make sure you get the most out of them as well.  Key considerations are suitable supply lines, and proper installation.

In the case of a Super Air Nozzle or Air Jet, these are oftentimes one and the same.  They’re all small enough, and lightweight enough, to be adequately supported by compressed air piping (assuming the piping is adequately supported,) metal tubing (via a compression fitting adapter,) or even mounting solutions like our Stay Set Hoses.

Just a few ideas for installing an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle

Sometimes, though, you need a firm, vibration-resistant mounting…that’s where we recommend our Swivel Fittings.  A hex retainer tightly locks the ball in position, but allows for easy repositioning when loosened.  They come in standard NPT sizes from 1″ NPT down to 1/8″ NPT, and we even have them for the M4, M5, and M6 metric threads for our Atto, Pico, and Nano Super Air Nozzles.

Typical threaded fittings are limited in the angles you can achieve. EXAIR Swivel Fittings provide 50° of adjustability.

Even a highly efficient blow off needs to be aimed well in order to do its job well.  If you’d like to discuss how to get the most out of your compressed air system – or our products – give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Starting a Leak Prevention Program

Since 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.

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There are generally two types of leak prevention programs:

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

Of the two types, the easiest would be the Seek-and-Repair method.  It involves finding leaks and then repairing them immediately. For the Leak Tag method, a leak is identified, tagged, and then logged for repair at the next opportune time.  Instead of a log system, the tag may be a two part tag.  The leak is tagged and one part of the tag stays with the leak, and the other is removed and brought to the maintenance department. This part of the tag has space for information such as the location, size, and description of the leak.

The best approach will depend on factors such as company size and resources, type of business, and the culture and best practices already in place. It is common to utilize both types where each is most appropriate.

A successful Leak Prevention Program consists of several important components:

  • Baseline compressed air usage – knowing the initial compressed air usage will allow for comparison after the program has been followed for measured improvement.
  • Establishment of initial leak loss – See this blog for more details.
  • Determine the cost of air leaks – One of the most important components of the program. The cost of leaks can be used to track the savings as well as promote the importance of the program. Also a tool to obtain the needed resources to perform the program.
  • Identify the leaks – Leaks can be found using many methods.  Most common is the use of an Ultrasonic Leak Detector, like the EXAIR Model 9061.  See this blog for more details. An inexpensive handheld meter will locate a leak and indicate the size of the leak.

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    Using the Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector to search for leaks in a piping system
  • Document the leaks – Note the location and type, its size, and estimated cost. Leak tags can be used, but a master leak list is best.  Under Seek-and-Repair type, leaks should still be noted in order to track the number and effectiveness of the program.
  • Prioritize and plan the repairs – Typically fix the biggest leaks first, unless operations prevent access to these leaks until a suitable time.
  • Document the repairs – By putting a cost with each leak and keeping track of the total savings, it is possible to provide proof of the program effectiveness and garner additional support for keeping the program going. Also, it is possible to find trends and recurring problems that will need a more permanent solution.
  • Compare and publish results – Comparing the original baseline to the current system results will provide a measure of the effectiveness of the program and the calculate a cost savings. The results are to be shared with management to validate the program and ensure the program will continue.
  • Repeat As Needed – If the results are not satisfactory, perform the process again. Also, new leaks can develop, so a periodic review should be performed to achieve and maintain maximum system efficiency.

In summary – an effective compressed air system leak prevention and repair program is critical in sustaining the efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of an compressed air system.

If you have questions about a Leak Prevention Program or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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