Air compressors and their output are valuable assets on which countless plants depend for efficient daily operations. Regular attention to and proper management of the health of these critical equipment systems can save time and money in all manufacturing systems.
John Skalka, service manager for Sullair (Chicago) offers several tips for maintaining your site’s air compressors. According to Skalka, following these procedures to help monitor and maintain air-compressor performance can result in reliable equipment and reduced downtime.
—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor
Maintain filters and separators.
Proper maintenance of a compressor’s consumable filters and separator elements will not only help to ensure maximum unit uptime, but also maximize its efficiency and performance.
Air intake and oil-filter maintenance should be conducted every 2,000 hr. Monitor the oil filter for contamination and wear metals, leading indicators that air-end maintenance is required.
Air/oil separator elements should be changed every 8,000 hr., along with compressor fluid. Proper air/oil separator maintenance will ensure oil carryover stays within the manufacturer’s specifications.
Remember that use of OEM service parts and lubricants in compressor maintenance will help ensure optimal equipment performance.
Regularly acquiring and analyzing oil samples helps monitor the condition of the compressor lubricant, as well as the unit itself. A robust oil-sampling and monitoring program will alert the user to fluid degradation resulting from increased viscosity, ingestion of chemicals or particulate, and high water content. It can also identify the presence of wear metals, which is a sign of bearing degradation, prior to catastrophic failure.
Oil-condition monitoring makes it possible to change the lubricant only when necessary to maintain peak performance. Samples should be drawn quarterly, during routine service maintenance on a compressor.
Remember to always draw your samples through a clean oil-sample port or from the center of the oil sump. Doing so will ensure that the results are free from particulate contamination.
Keep variable-speed drives clean.
Many of today’s compressors are equipped with a variable-speed drive (VSD) that increases efficiency and reduces energy consumption. While VSDs are electrical components, they are not completely maintenance free.
Most VSDs contain cooling fans and heat sinks that can accumulate dust and dirt during regular operation. Maintenance activities will help them run cooler and prolong their service life.
Eliminate the guesswork.
For plants that are unable to ensure regular compressor maintenance with in-house resources, outside support is available. Check with your local air-compressor sales and service center about plans that allow skilled, factory-trained technicians to routinely service your compressor(s) and related air-system equipment.
Finally, keep in mind that proper maintenance will help you realize years of reliable service from your compressor. MT
Sullair, part of Accudyne Industries (Luxembourg and Dallas, accudyneindustries.com) has been developing and manufacturing air compressors since 1965. For more information, visit sullair.com.