The operation of the air system requires not only the a […]
The operation of the air system requires not only the ability to turn the correct switch. One of the most important aspects of the overall operation is the maintenance of the compressor and various other components as this ensures long life and high efficiency of the air system. Unfortunately, compressed air maintenance errors are usually made by operators who are familiar with the basic workings of the equipment.
Common mistakes in compressed air maintenance include failure to assess energy costs and the effects of pollution and condensation. These errors alone can lead to inefficiencies and part failures, which can result in tens of thousands of losses in a given year. Further compressed air maintenance errors include a lack of attention to secondary components and a failure to properly train all members on the nuances of compressor operation.
For obvious reasons, there is a significant risk in maintaining a compressed air system. Read on to learn how to avoid the most common mistakes in compressed air maintenance.
1. Do not know the cost of compressed air energy
One of the biggest compressed air maintenance errors is underestimating or miscalculating the energy used by the compressor in a year. In fact, in just 12 months, the price of operating the air compressor can equal or exceed the purchase cost of the machine. The biggest problem in this regard is the wasteful use of compressed air systems, which typically occurs when the operator does not know the total energy cost.
On average, the retail price of industrial air compressors will range from $30,000 to $50,000. When you multiply the hourly operating costs by the number of hours of use per day for 12 months, the cost of running the machine in the first year alone may exceed the initial price, even without accounting for any possible maintenance costs.
A reliable way to estimate annual energy costs is to take the horsepower of the compressor and multiply it by .746, then multiply by the hours of use, then multiply by the power, and finally divide the sum by the motor efficiency.
In order to best ensure efficiency, it is important to accurately calculate the annual energy cost of an air compressor and to ensure that all operators understand how daily data works. In this way, wasted system usage can be suppressed.
Limit inspection of air compressors
In some air system operators, simply assume that the compressor is showing signs of condensation and dirt at the beginning and end of maintenance. For operators who ignore the broader maintenance steps, the consequences can be confusing. After all, you can have a perfectly functional air compressor, but the entire system still has problems.
Although the compressor is the main component of interest in the air system, it is not the only component that requires routine maintenance. Equally important in any maintenance inspection is the other components that promote air supply. The most important of these components is the air receiver, which maintains compressed air as air demand increases and also reduces system wear and contamination.
The air receiver keeps the compressor running at a lower level and saves energy during this process. However, if the air receiver is too small for the system, it will not work properly because the compressor must run longer than necessary to meet the air demand. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the air receiver is either large enough or used to assist the receiver.
2. Ignore air leaks
Air leaks waste up to half of the air generated in the compressed air system. In terms of the operation of the air compressor, some of the greatest savings can be achieved through regular air leak maintenance.
To understand the cost of air leaks, imagine a waste of only one small leak in the system. For example, in a 100 psi system, only a 1/4 inch leak will pass approximately 100 cfm. In a system running 0.07 kW 24 hours a day, the leak could waste approximately $12,000 per year of compressed air. It sounds surprising that a leak that is small enough to avoid the naked eye can actually lead to losses, which will extend to thousands.
Of course, the process of air leak maintenance does not end with a pipe. It is also necessary to monitor all components in the system to ensure that there are no air leaks throughout the process. Other components that should be inspected regularly include valves, connections and accessories. However, if compressor control and air delivery components are also functioning properly, air leakage maintenance can only be truly effective in preventing excess costs.
Ignore pressure loss in the piping system
A major problem that arises in compressed air systems is the pressure drop, which is characterized by a pressure loss between the compressor and the end point. Although a certain amount of pressure drop is unavoidable, in a given application, the pressure loss should not exceed 10%. Otherwise, higher pressure requirements are eventually placed on the compressor, which results in faster wear of the entire air system.
For each pound of pressure increase or decrease, power is required to be added or subtracted by 0.5%. For example, reducing 10 psig can save 5% of power. On a 100 hp compressor, you can save $1,740 annually.
Pressure drop is usually caused by pipe failures and weaknesses in filters and dryers. Unfortunately, system operators often compensate for pressure losses by increasing system pressure, resulting in more expensive operations. The correct way to handle this is to check the filter and dryer for problems and replace some items as needed.
3. Failure to clear pipeline pollution
For air system piping, it is kept clean and free of dirt, and rust or other contaminants are critical. After all, compressed air passes through these pipes to the end. When there is a contaminant, the air pressure is weakened and the problem is gradually accelerated when uncorrected. The pipe should always vent air from the top of the air line or the contaminants will enter the pneumatic tool.
Air flow pollution increases with speed, which in turn increases with pipe size limitations. Basically, the speed of the pipe reaching the end point should be 50 seconds or less, while the speed of the interconnecting pipe and the main header should be in the range of 20 to 30 feet per second. The system speed can be calculated by dividing the flow in cfm by the compression ratio of the pipe divided by the pipe area divided by 60.
4. Failure to manage condensation
Poor management of condensation can cause many problems with the compressed air system. Condensation occurs during cooling because moisture is drawn from the air. When droplets accumulate inside the air compressor, the following problems are apt to occur:
Lubricating oil loss in pneumatic tools as condensate washes away oil
End point air quality is inconsistent
Excessive rust or scale distributed in the air
Water accumulates in the machine and destroys the circuit
In addition, the condenser may overload the air dryer and damage the inline filter. The problem of condensation is often particularly pronounced in rotary screw air compressors where the compressor oil sometimes diffuses into the air system when mixed with the condensate. The combination of oil and water can cause dirt to deposit, eventually clogging the drain and pneumatic tools.
Another factor affecting condensation is the ambient temperature around the facility. In short, as the temperature rises from the average to the humidity, the level of condensation increases. For example, a 200 hp compressor will produce approximately 50 gallons of condensate during a 60 degree process. However, if the temperature is 30 degrees higher, the amount of condensed water in the same machine will exceed 5 times.
Further inefficiencies may stem from problems with system drains, which are designed to handle condensation. Drain pipes are placed along strategic points of the air compressor system, such as water tanks, dryers and aftercoolers. When the drain pipe is not working properly, the problem arises, and the sludge accumulates in the mixture of water, oil and dirt along the drainage point.
System operators often expect drains to handle these issues automatically, but this is a big mistake. If the problem that causes condensation is not regularly monitored and corrected, condensation can result in a huge waste of system resources.
5. Failure to review air demand in individual departments
In a decentralized plant, the compressed air demand of one department may be different from other departments. While the pressure requirements of most facilities may reach a uniform level, in reality this sector may require higher pressures. However, when the entire air system is operating at higher pressures, the pressure is inevitably wasted to meet the needs of a department.
In a multi-sector plant running a large number of air compressors, it is critical to assess the needs of each department to determine if one or more departments have higher demand than others. For those sectors, smaller compressors should be installed in these areas to meet the specific needs of the sector. In this way, the rest of the device can be operated under uniform pressure without wasting air pressure.
6. Failure to train air system employees
In some facilities, machine operators do not understand the overall complexity of the air system as managers do. Problems arise when you consider that you only need a small amount of daily inefficiency to accumulate costs each year. Therefore, local board staff only accept training in basic protocol for machine operation, which is not enough, but lacks a broader understanding of how air compressors work.
The operation and management of the air system requires in-depth knowledge that goes beyond the simplicity of the machine. In order for the air compressor to operate efficiently, everyone on the team must understand the operating costs. To this end, all staff should be informed of the energy savings in the air system and the relationship between the various components.
7. Do not compile troubleshooting data
When you understand the behavior of a full-featured air system, it's easier to spot problems before they suddenly get out of hand. Some of the most serious problems with air conditioning will begin to slow down and gradually lead to higher cost issues, but when you find these problems faster, you can save time and money. The trouble is that the management of some facilities is unable to record and evaluate data on system operations. Without this knowledge, it is difficult to find inconsistencies in system patterns.
The secret here is to periodically collect system performance data to determine the range of behaviors that characterize a full-featured air system in a given environment. Readings should be taken at various points in the system, including compressors, aftercoolers, receivers, filters and pneumatic tools. Once an acceptable model is established, performance bias becomes a red flag for potential system problems. Most importantly, information should be collected about how the compressor will function properly at full load.
The most important sign of the problem is when the temperature in the air system rises above a predetermined level. By monitoring the temperature over time, a baseline can be established to make it easier to detect deviations. An easy way to read this data is to use an infrared thermometer that collects data one by one as it points to each component along the air system. Although this only reads the surface temperature, it still provides useful data for future troubleshooting.
Obtaining a new air compressor from Linsheng compressor
If air system workers know how to properly maintain the equipment at hand, some of the most common errors in compressed air maintenance are easily avoided. From the compressor itself to the various components that make up the air system, critical areas must be routinely inspected to determine if there are signs of wear, condensation, and dirt deposits.
In addition, readings must be taken and modes established so that the operator can easily identify signs of irregular behavior from the air compressor. In addition, everyone in the air system staff should understand the finer details of maintenance and machine efficiency.
For many years, Linsheng has provided a wide range of air compressors and pneumatic tools, which have been widely used in various industries. To learn more about how our machines and tools can improve your operations, contact us today and visit our sales and service locators to find local distributors.