As we get around to putting a bow on our December issue each year, I tend to cast about for some holiday-esque theme to put smiles on your faces. This year, I thought you might be interested in my year-end plans… I’m outta’ here (Chicagoland) soon, bound for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to spend a couple of weeks with my little mamma and wonderful brothers.
With another year drawing to a close, I’ve updated my version of this holiday treasure by weaving in themes from my 2012 columns: Asset management, PAS-55, reliability, work instructions and training, to name a few. Keep in mind that the underlying story is a fantasy (despite many readers’ experiences with some of the incidents cited in it) and, as St. Nicholas points out in the end, that there’s hope for all of us.
When times are tight, it can be tempting to skimp on the maintenance associated with your compressed air system. Replacement of parts and consumables associated with compressor lubrication, filtration and belt-drives are items that are sometimes put on hold if budgets are stretched. Ignoring maintenance on your compressors, dryers and filters, however, can cost you more than you think.
The Compressed Air Challenge’s comprehensive Best Practices for Compressed Air Systems Manual discusses this subject, indicating that, like all electro-mechanical equipment, industrial compressed air systems require periodic maintenance to operate at peak efficiency and to minimize unscheduled downtime. Inadequate maintenance can have a significant impact on energy consumption through lower compressor efficiency, air leakage or pressure variability. This can also lead to high operating temperatures, poor moisture control and excessive contamination of any product that comes in contact with wet, contaminated compressed air. Fortunately, most problems are minor and can be corrected by simple adjustments, cleaning, parts replacement and elimination of the adverse conditions. Compressed air maintenance is similar to that performed on automobiles: filters and fluids are replaced, cooling medium inspected, belts adjusted and leaks identified and repaired.
All equipment should be maintained in accordance with its manufacturer’s specifications. OEMs provide inspection, maintenance and service schedules that should be followed strictly. In many cases, it makes sense from efficiency and economic standpoints to maintain equipment more frequently than the intervals recommended by manufacturers—which are developed primarily to protect the equipment.
One way to tell if a system is being well maintained and operating properly is to periodically baseline it by tracking power, pressure, flow and temperature. If power use at a given pressure and flow rate goes up, the system’s efficiency is degrading. This baseline will also let you know if the compressor is operating at full capacity and if the capacity is decreasing over time. On new systems all appropriate measurements should be initially recorded once the system is set up and operating properly to establish a reference against which all other baselines can be compared.
Proper maintenance is essential for compressed air system efficiency and reliability. The key is for compressor operators to be trained on the specific requirements for each piece of equipment, necessary resources and maintenance scheduling based on manufacturer recommendations and trend analysis of recorded data. All observations and meter readings should be recorded for compressors, dryers, filters and any other important components within the compressor room. A combination of equipment control-panel data backed up by frequent inspections and log sheets is mandatory for avoiding unscheduled system shutdowns and leveraging best-practice preventive and predictive maintenance. It’s critical to record the dates of all maintenance and repairs and to include a list of all parts that are replaced and/or all services that are performed.
An example of the cost of poor maintenance involves filter differential. On a typical system with a continuously operating 100 hp compressor, it would cost about $1500 per year in additional energy to overcome an extra 4 PSI of main-filter differential caused by poor maintenance. MT
If we had to pluck one theme from the recent elections and apply it to this month’s year-end review column, it might be the “Are you better off?” question. For the record, I didn’t ask our Reader Panelists to assess 2012 using this particular yardstick. If I had, it appears the predominant answer would have been “yes.”
Next-Generation, Extended-Life Contamination Control Products
Air Sentry® is a leading developer of contamination control products that keep particulate matter and excess moisture from the headspace inside vessels like gearboxes that hold lubricants, greases, hydraulic fluids and fuels. This extends the life of critical machinery and equipment, and significantly reduces lifecycle costs. The company’s innovative products have been the gold standard in contamination control since 1997. Its line includes nine series of desiccant breathers, anodized color-coded closed system adapter kits that prevent cross-contamination, manifold adapters and pressure-vacuum-indicating gauges.
Air Sentry has recently introduced a revolutionary new line of desiccant breathers called Guardian™. These “next-generation” contamination control products are the first breathers constructed of Tritan™. This patented material provides the most chemical-, temperature- and impact-resistant casing on the market. Guardian also is the first desiccant breather to incorporate an isolation check valve that protects the adsorbent from exhaust air and volatile splashing fluids. This lengthens the desiccant’s service life and reduces replacement frequency. Learn more about how Guardian increases fluid life, improves lubrication and lowers maintenance costs by visiting
A Division of Whitmore
It’s an area where the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.
“Dear Dr. Lube, we’re looking for ways to reduce the significant purchase and disposal costs of lubricants used in our plant. Can you suggest some strategies for extending lubricant life?
If a lubricant is to lead a long, productive, healthy life, it must combat dirt, heat, moisture and apathy.
Heat directly affects the oxidative (useful) life of the lubricant, and for every 18 F degree temperature rise, the oil life expectancy is halved. Moisture attacks the base oil and prematurely strips out the additive package, causing sludge and oxidation. Dirt clogs filters, creates sludge and destroys machined surfaces. The prescription below can enhance your lube program, reduce operating and maintenance costs and improve your energy efficiency and carbon footprint.
- Work with a Lubricant Management Specialist and perform a Lubrication Operation Effectiveness Review (LOER) to establish improvement opportunities in the applying, purchasing, storing, transferring, dispensing/metering and disposing of your lubricants.
- Work with your supplier to implement a Lubricant Consolidation Program that reduces/optimizes the number of lubricant SKUs used in your plant.
- Use professional-grade, dedicated transfer and delivery equipment to combat cross-lubricant contamination and dirt contamination.
- Implement a condition-based approach to managing lubricant application (engineering your lubricant delivery, i.e., when and how much?) and changeout requirements (performing oil analysis, i.e., how often?)
- Implement a Machine Cleanliness Program to quickly identify leaks and moisture invasion, and to prevent dirt from contaminating the lubricant and forming a thermal blanket that raises lube temperature.
- Review your filtration methods and look for opportunities.
- Take a 5R approach in tuning up your methods and systems to ensure that the Right person applies the Right amount of the Right lubricant in the Right place at the Right time.
- Train and certify your maintenance personnel, engineers and lube technicians to recognize the impact and cost of poor lubrication practices. MT
Lube questions? Ask Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister, author of the book Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication section of the 28th edition Machinery’s Handbook. He’s also a contributing editor for Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motors drive industry and, ultimately, drive the success of corporations and organizations all over the world. Maintenance professionals need to ensure that the motors their companies depend upon are running optimally. To make good decisions about maintenance or repair, they need the best information they can obtain about their motors’ condition.
Baker Instrument Co. (an SKF Group Company) designs, manufactures and markets electric-motor-testing equipment that helps maintenance professionals, repair shops and motor-manufacturing operations maintain and repair equipment at a minimum of cost and effort.
For example, the Baker AWA-IV and Baker DX seriesof instruments perform a comprehensive array of insulation and circuit tests on off-line (powered-down, or static) motors to discern any problems that would cause motor failure and unplanned downtime. The SKF Dynamic Motor Analyzer – EXP4000 is the latest in a line of motor-monitoring equipment pioneered by Baker in the late 1990s. The EXP4000 helps troubleshoot motor/machine systems by monitoring the quality of power fed to a motor, the unit’s performance and the quality of the load placed upon it. Another example, the SKF Online Motor Monitoring System – NetEP/iNet, provides continuous visibility into motor/machine health 24/7/365 from the comfort ofan office or any location with an Internet-accessible computer.
For rock-solid quality assurance and condition monitoring of the electric motors and generators that your operations depend on, there’s an electric-motor test or monitoring instrument to acquire and analyze vital information. Baker Instrument and SKF have just what you need to keep your equipment up and running properly.
Baker Instrument Co.
An SKF Group Company
4812 McMurry Ave.
Fort Collins, CO 80525