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

 

 

Finding Leaks and Saving Money with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Locate costly leaks in your compressed air system!  Sounds like the right thing to do.

The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector is a hand-held, high quality instrument that is used to locate costly leaks in a compressed air system.

Ultrasonic sound is the term applied to sound that is above the frequencies of normal human hearing capacity.  This typically begins at sounds over 20,000 Hz in frequency.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector can detect sounds in this upper range and convert them to a range that is audible to people.

When a leak is present, the compressed air moves from the high pressure condition through the opening to the low pressure environment.  As the air passes through the opening, it speeds up and becomes turbulent in flow, and generates ultrasonic sound components. Because the audible sound of a small leak is very low and quiet, it typically gets drowned out by by surrounding plant noises, making leak detection by the human ear difficult if not impossible.

ULD_Pr
Detecting a Leak with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector

By using the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, the background noise can be filtered out and the ultrasonic noises can be detected, thus locating a leakage in the compressed air system. There are (3) sensitivity settings, x1, x10, and x100 along with an on/off thumb-wheel for fine sensitivity.  The unit comes with a parabola and tubular extension for added flexibility.

ULD_Kit
Model 9061 – Ultrasonic Leak Detector and Included Accessories

Finding just one small leak can pay for the unit-

A small leak equivalent to a 1/16″ diameter hole will leak approx 3.8 SCFM at 80 PSIG of line pressure.  Using a reasonable average cost of $0.25 per 1000 SCF of compressed air generation, we can calculate the cost of the leak as follows-

Capture

It is easy to see that utilizing the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, and identifying and fixing leaks is the right thing to do.  It is possible to find and fix enough leaks that a new compressor purchase can be avoided or an auxiliary back-up is not needed any more.

If you have questions regarding the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, or would like to talk about any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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An Ultrasonic Leak Detector Helps a Fire Marshal With a Dry Sprinkler System

A dry sprinkler system? How will that help in a fire? The fire marshal snickered as he told me that this type of system was designed for cold weather fire protection.  Most sprinkler systems that we see in the ceiling are designed with water in the lines.  But, if you have areas that get below 40 deg. F (4 deg. C), the fire department will have you install a dry sprinkler system.  It uses compressed air to hold a valve shut to not allow the water to be inside the cold pipes. So, if you have an unheated crawl space, uninsulated attics, or an outside storage facility, you won’t have to worry about the water freezing and bursting your pipes or sprinkler heads.

The reason that the fire marshal contacted me was to help find a leak in a dry sprinkler system. A facility in his jurisdiction noticed that the air compressor that was assigned to the dry sprinkling system was cycling more often.  This was an indication of a leak, and just like any compressed air system, leaks occur over time at the connection points.  This facility had their pipes located in a crawl space, and there wasn’t much room for maneuvering.  Typically the normal protocol for a leak would be to go to each joint and spray it with soapy water.  If they saw bubbles, then they would fix that connection.  With the small space and the number of connections, he had to find a better way.

Model 9061

Whenever a leak occurs, it will generate an ultrasonic noise. The model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick up these high frequencies in the range of 20 Khz to 100 Khz, above human hearing.  This device makes the inaudible leaks, audible.  With three sensitivity ranges and LED display, you can find very small leaks, and with the two attachments, it can locate them up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away.  When he started using it, he was amazed with the performance.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector cut his time in the field and ensured that all the leaks were found.  In this instance, he was able to use the parabola attachment to locate the area of the leak from a distance.  He then crawled to that area and used the tube attachment to locate the exact location.  He found the leak and had it fixed.  If he did not have the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, he would have to maneuver his way throughout the small crawl space and spray soapy water on each fitting.

If you ever get stuck with a huge task with your compressed air system, like our fire marshal above, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if we can improve your situation.

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

Lost In The Din? Not With An Ultrasonic Leak Detector!

Have you ever found yourself in a noisy environment, trying to hear what someone is saying to you? They could speak up, but sometimes that’s not enough. You might find yourself cupping your hand to your ear…this does two things:

*It blocks a lot of the noise from the environment.  This could also be called “filtering” – more on that in a minute.
*It focuses the sound of the speaker’s voice towards your ear.

IMG_1339
“What? They’re ALL still RIGHT behind me?”

Now, this isn’t a perfect solution, but you’ll likely have much better luck with this in a busy restaurant than, say, at a rock concert. Especially if it’s The Who…those guys are LOUD (vintage loud). If you’re at one of their concerts, whatever your friend has to say can probably wait.

You know what else can be loud?  Industrial workplaces.  Heavy machinery, compressed air leaks, cranes, forklifts, power tools, cranky supervisors/personnel…there are lots of unpleasant but necessary (mostly) sources of sound and noise, right here, where we work.

In the middle of all this, your supervisor might just task you with finding – and eliminating – compressed air leaks…like the person I talked to on the phone this morning.  This is where our Ultrasonic Leak Detector comes in: in places with high noise levels, it could be difficult (if not downright impossible) to hear air leaks.

Most of that noise from the machinery, cranes, etc., is in the “audible” range, which simply means that it’s of a frequency that our ears can pick up.  In a quiet room, you could likely hear an air leak…all but the very smallest ones will make a certain amount of noise…but when a compressed fluid makes its way out of a tortuous path to atmospheric pressure, gets turbulent, and creates an ultrasonic sound it is a frequency that our ears CAN’T pick up on.

Not only does the Ultrasonic Leak Detector pick up on this ultrasonic sound, it can also block (or “filter”) the audible sound out.  It comes with a parabola and a tubular extension so you can hone right in on the area, and then the exact location, of the leak.

If you’d like to find out more about compressed air leak detection, how much you might be able to save by fixing leaks, or how this could make your supervisor a bit less cranky (no guarantees on that last one,) give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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IMG_1339 courtesy of Rich Hanley  Creative Commons License

The Cost of a Leak

Leaks can be costly. If you have a leak in one of your vehicle’s tires, it can cost you more in gas…if you’re lucky. That leak can lead to a blowout, which could cost you your car, or maybe your life. Don’t drive on a leaky tire.

If you have a dripping faucet, it may not bankrupt you – it might be adding a buck or two to your water & sewer bill. It might cost you some sleep, if you can hear it at night…just the thought of it puts an Edgar Allan Poe tale in my head. Most of the time you can fix it with basic hand tools and an o-ring or washer that you can find at any hardware store.

Leaky toilet tanks, on the other hand, can really set you back. A continuous leak into the bowl can set you back $10 a month, or more. Not to sound like a bad prank phone call, but if your toilet’s running, you better catch it, and quick.

Compressed air leaks can be especially costly, because compressing air is an expensive operation. If you have a large leak, you may be able to hear, or even see it. You have to fix those, and you know it. Small leaks are harder to find. Good news is, individually, they’re not costing much. Bad news is, they add up…quickly. Worse news is, they don’t fix themselves. Or find themselves.

If you’re ready for some more good news, here it is: no matter how small a compressed air leak is, it’s producing ultrasonic sound waves. See, during a leak, a fluid moves from high pressure (inside the system) to low pressure (the atmosphere.) As it passes through the leak site, a turbulent flow is generated. This turbulence has strong ultrasonic components, and, usually, the larger the leak, the greater the ultrasound level. “Ultrasonic” simply means that these sound waves are higher in frequency than our ears can hear. However, there are devices that can not only detect these ultrasonic sound waves, but discern them from the industrial din that surrounds them. And we have such a device: the EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector.

I recently had the pleasure of working with a gentleman who was installing a refrigeration system in an ice rink floor. As you can probably imagine, it takes miles of refrigerant tubing to make enough ice to play hockey on. Regardless of the skills and attention to detail of the installers, the sheer number of joints means that there’s a good chance a leak will develop somewhere. This was on the caller’s mind, so he wanted to know if this might be a good application for our Ultrasonic Leak Detector. After I explained the theory behind the device, he agreed to give it a try. All construction leaks were detected when they applied test pressure (air) to the system. After fixing these initial construction leaks, the system was filled with refrigerant, and was started up, leak-free.

Leaks can be costly – do the math.  Or better yet, EXAIR Corporation President Bryan Peters already has.  Whatever’s leaking- steam, pressurized gas, refrigerant, or compressed air – it can be easily located with the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, even in noisy industrial environments.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Blog: https://blog.exair.com/
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