Archive | Compressed Air

272

7:42 pm
April 13, 2017
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Top Tips For Maintaining Air Compressors

Use these tips to improve air-compressor performance and increase uptime.

Use these tips to improve air-compressor performance and increase uptime.

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.

randmSample oil.

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.

128

9:28 pm
February 9, 2017
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Ensure Clean, Dry Compressed Air

randmWhen it comes to compressed-air systems, equipment performance is only as good as the quality of the air itself. Unfortunately, the high-pressure air that these systems produce is wet and dirty. Air dryers and filters keep a compressed-air system operating efficiently, but only if they are properly maintained.

All atmospheric air contains some moisture and dirt. No matter how small the amount of contaminants initially, they are concentrated when the air is compressed. As the air heats up, its ability to hold water vapor increases. When the air begins to cool as it travels downstream, the vapor condenses into liquid.

Possible consequences of that condensation include, among other things, leaking seals, rusty or scaling pipelines, premature wear of moving components, and similar problems that can lead to subpar operation, equipment failure, and even damaged finished product. Plant personnel can prevent many of these headaches by selecting the right types of air dryers and filters to remove the liquid and particles and by performing regular maintenance on these
components.

Compressed-air experts at Mazeppa, MN-based La-Man Corp. (laman.com) offer several tips regarding air dryers and filters. Keep them in mind.

—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Types of dryers

Most compressors incorporate an aftercooler to reduce the temperature of the compressed air. Air dryers are often installed to further reduce the moisture content. There are four major types of air dryers:

• refrigerated

• chemical or deliquescent

• regenerative or desiccant

• membrane or mechanical.

Condensation in compressed-air systems can lead to a multitude of ills, including equipment failure and damaged finished product.

Condensation in compressed-air systems can lead to a multitude of ills, including equipment failure and damaged finished product.

The simplest, most economical dryer is the membrane or mechanical type. It uses a textile filter made up of thousands of individual fibers to trap large particles and cause moisture to form large droplets (coalesce). These particles and droplets collect at the filter’s base and are drained off. Water vapor passes through the filter to a sweep chamber, where it is vented.

Mechanical systems are typically installed at the point of use (unlike desiccant-type dryers that are placed near the air compressor to capture water vapor). At this point, air temperature has cooled sufficiently to permit water droplets to form and be captured by the system.

Impact of air filters

Mechanical filters work with compressed-air dryers to remove water and other contaminants from the compressed air and prevent component contamination. Three types of filters are typically used:

• particulate

• coalescing

• adsorption.

Particulate filters are typically made of a fine mesh glass fiber, plastic fiber, or woven wire cloth. They remove large particles using centrifugal force, while smaller particles are strained out. The filter is rated by the largest-size particle it will allow to pass. These types of filters work hand in hand with coalescing filters.

Coalescing filters are high-efficiency filters that use a fine stainless-steel mesh or woven fiber cloth (such as a cotton co-knit) to remove water and lubricants from the compressed air. They are often installed downstream of a particulate filter.

Adsorption filters use activated carbon to remove gaseous contaminants from compressed air. They adsorb the oil vapor into the pores of the carbon granules and must be replaced once saturated with collected oil. They are point-of-use filters, which should be supported upstream by a coalescing filter. Typical uses for adsorption filters include sanitary environments, such as paint spray booths, clean rooms, and food and beverage manufacturing.

Bottom line: Using—and maintaining—filters dramatically improves the performance and extends the life of compressed air systems. MT

For more information on solutions that remove water, oil, and contaminates from compressed air systems, visit La-Man Corp. at laman.com.

76

3:39 pm
December 2, 2016
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FS-Elliott Expands Distribution

elliotFS-Elliott Co., LLC, Export, PA, a manufacturer of oil-free, centrifugal compressors, has reached new distribution agreements with Dynamic Compressor Services, Rockwood, MI, CDA Systems, Livermore, CA, Power Equipment Co., Memphis, TN, and Rasmussen Air & Gas Energy, Waterloo, NE.

Joining a network of more than 75 distributors and representatives worldwide, the four new distributors are staffed with factory-trained sales representatives and service technicians, providing full support for local FS-Elliott customers. Services include installation and startup assistance, maintenance training, operator training, and remote or on-site technical support. These distributors maintain extensive inventories, providing immediate access to quality OEM parts for emergency or planned repairs.

“The caliber of distributors that we have added this year will allow us to reinforce our commitment to delivering quality products and services to our valued customers,” stated Will Collett, Director of Global Industrial Sales. “Delivering this level of quality to customers is something we are known for, and we are thrilled to bring our newest distributors on board to continue that strong reputation together.”

To locate your nearest FS-Elliott distributor, please visit www.fs-elliott.com/locate-distributor.

404

2:30 pm
August 10, 2016
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Who Cares About Compressed Air?

gun for compressed airBy Ron Marshall, For the Compressed Air Challenge

Compressed air is one of the most expensive sources of energy in an industrial facility. Consider the amount of energy that goes into air compressors, compared with the actual useful work returned at the compressed-air tool or machine.

Training courses on the fundamentals of compressed air include details on the high cost of producing this valuable resource for a point of use. Participants in such classes are usually amazed when they learn about the inefficiency of the energy transfer. The realization that compressed air isn’t free and, in fact, is quite pricey compared with other forms of energy, can mark a turning point in the attitudes of many users—and, for the health of their companies, they finally start to care.

randmHuman nature is a funny thing. If we don’t know the cost of something, it’s easy not to care about it—which results in waste. For example, people in my Canadian hometown are quite familiar with effective means for staying warm in cold weather. Yet, in the dead of winter, it’s not unusual for us to see wide-open windows in occupied apartment buildings around the community. To my eye, this is a sign of poor temperature control caused by faulty heating systems. In an attempt to keep their living spaces from becoming overheated, the residents resort to controlling the temperatures by the brute-force method of opening windows. After all, they don’t have to pay the heating bill; the building owner does. In short, it’s evidently easier for these apartment dwellers to continue wasting heat than to pick up the phone and call the building superintendent to fix a problematic thermostat.

A similar situation persists in industry when it comes to compressed air. Those of us who have spent much of our careers preaching about energy efficiency continue to see it time and again: a lack of caring from the plant floor on up. That can be changed, though. A good way to do it is to make people aware that what they are doing (or not doing) reduces their sites’ profitability, and could ultimately affect their job security.

Since compressed-air systems typically aren’t equipped with electricity meters, it’s easy for users to believe their compressed-air utility comes at no charge. This misconception leads to all types of inappropriate applications, i.e., using compressed air for cooling, mixing liquids, or cleaning dust. Proper training for all personnel is required to drive home the fact that what users are doing may be costing the plant a fortune in lost profits.

Installation of permanent power- and flow-measuring instruments on compressed-air systems is another way to make operators of this equipment aware of the actual costs. It also proves to them the positive effect of energy-efficiency measures that are implemented to save costs. Measuring, in turn, leads to effective management of a costly resource. These instruments can then be used to assist a company in setting up systems such as those described in the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard. MT

For more information on compressed-air topics and related training through the Compressed Air Challenge (CAC), visit compressedairchallenge.org, or contact Ron Marshall directly at ronm@marshallcac.com.

172

4:07 pm
May 16, 2016
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Don’t Ignore Compressed Air Filters

Men during precision work on production line

By Ron Marshall, Compressed Air Challenge (CAC)

Compressed air filters are often-forgotten items that can affect the quality of your air supply and—surprisingly—the efficiency of your overall system. You can’t afford to overlook them.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.02.07 AMAir compressors ingest atmospheric air from the compressor room, pass it through an inlet filter, and compress it to a space about 1/7th the original size. This process generates large amounts of heat that must be removed by some type of cooler. When this is done, moisture is squeezed and condensed out of the air and mostly eliminated by a water separator. While it’s inside the compressor, though, the air also picks up small amounts of the equipment’s lubricant. Any dust in the air as it passed the inlet filter remains, but in a denser form due to the reduction in volume.

Water, lubricant, and dust particles that aren’t filtered out before they reach the air dryer will travel to points unknown throughout the system. Among other things, such contaminants could then ruin your product or clog the internal pneumatic circuits of expensive production equipment. That’s why compressed air filtration is so important.

Fortunately, there are many different types and styles of filtering solutions in the marketplace, ranging from very coarse elements that remove large particles to very fine ones that remove tiny dust particles and minute traces of lubricant and water. Unfortunately, all filters present a restriction to the flow of air that leads to the development of pressure differential.

Contaminants, among other things, that aren’t filtered from your compressed air system could clog internal pneumatic circuits of expensive production equipment.

Contaminants, among other things, that aren’t filtered from your compressed air system could clog internal pneumatic circuits of expensive production equipment.

Pressure differential consumes energy in compressed air systems. About 1% of additional power is required for every 2 psi higher compressor-discharge pressure. Thus, filters need to be chosen wisely. Note, too, that there’s usually a balance between the need for clean air and the cost of compressor operation. In general, the finer your filtering, the higher your energy costs.

That said, who chooses your filters and why? Frequently it’s the compressor supplier—who might have somewhat of a vested interest in supplying your operations with filter elements for years to come. Often, you’ll find a train of multiple filters installed in a compressor room, from coarse to fine, sometimes in multiple groups before and after the air dryer. These types of units can represent the biggest pressure differential in a plant.

For more information on compressed air topics and related training through the Compressed Air Challenge (CAC), visit compressedairchallenge.org, or contact Ron Marshall directly at ronm@marshallcac.com.

869

3:58 pm
May 16, 2016
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Select The Right Pneumatic Tubing And Hose

Remember these important dimensions when specifying pneumatic tubing and hose.

Remember these important dimensions when specifying pneumatic tubing and hose.

When it comes to today’s pneumatic applications, industry has a variety of options for connecting air-preparation systems, valves, and cylinders. Most users turn to flexible pneumatic tubing or hose rather than rigid tubing—and many different types of both are available. A recently released eBook from Cumming, GA-based AutomationDirect (automationdirect.com) offers the following advice on selecting the right tubing and hose solutions for your needs.

Tube or hose

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 10.50.05 AMFlexible tubing is the most common way to connect pneumatic valves to cylinders, actuators, and vacuum generators in modern automated equipment, with hose coming in a close second. Despite tubing type, be careful to not confuse outside diameter (OD) with inside diameter (ID), and be aware that flexible and rigid tubing reflect very different materials of construction. Remember, too, that tubing is specified by outside diameter and hose is specified by inside diameter.

Most tubing used in pneumatic systems is less than 1-in. OD with common pneumatic main supply circuits in the 1/4–in. to 1/2-in. tube OD range, and pneumatic control circuits in the 1/8-in. to 3/8-in. tube OD range. Pneumatic tubing is available in metric and English sizes, which, clearly, shouldn’t be mixed on the same machine.

In automated equipment and machine-shop applications, the outside diameter drives the selection and specification process, matching the tubing to the push lock or other fitting.

If more airflow is needed, larger diameter stock is the obvious choice. Keep in mind, however, that the inside diameter of tubing is affected by the tube-wall thickness, with thick walls reducing ID and airflow.

Hose is sometimes manufactured by adding a nylon braid between the inner and outer layers of tubing and attaching a rigid and a swivel fitting. Whether the hose is made of rubber or lighter-weight polyurethane or other materials, it is strong, flexible, and kink resistant—and, therefore, an easy way to connect shop air to blow-guns or other pneumatic tools.

Hoses are commonly available in diameters of 1/4-in., 3/8-in., and 1/2-in. with national pipe thread (NPT) or quick-disconnect fittings (QD). To ensure proper airflow for an application, check diameters carefully.

Material types

Several materials are used to produce extruded-plastic pneumatic tubing including:

Polyurethane tubing is strong and has excellent kink resistance compared to other types. With a working pressure of 150 psi or higher, it’s the most commonly used tubing material. It also has tight OD tolerance, and a wide range of available push-to-connect fittings. Note that a number of tubing colors and diameters are offered to help identify pneumatic circuits. UV stabilization is an option for outdoor use.

Polyurethane and PVC tubing are the most flexible materials available. Polyurethane tubing is very durable with outstanding memory, making it a good choice for coiled, portable, or self-storing pneumatic hose applications. PVC is not as tough as polyurethane, but can be specified for food-grade applications. It’s also a good choice when high flexibility and low cost are required.

Nylon and polyethylene tubing use harder plastics and, thus, are less flexible. This makes these material types a good choice for air distribution and straight-run piping applications. Notable nylon-tubing properties include high working-pressure capability (to 800 psi), a temperature range to 200 F, and excellent chemical resistance.

PTFE tubing has several notable properties of its own, including high heat resistance, excellent chemical resistance, and good dielectric properties. PTFE tubing can handle temperatures as high as 500 F, is chemically inert, and can be used in applications sensitive to static electricity. MT

To learn more about this topic and download a free copy of the referenced Practical Guide to Pneumatics eBook, as well as access a wealth other useful automation-related information, visit library.automationdirect.com.

72

2:47 am
March 9, 2016
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Kaeser Rolls Out New 20 – 500 SCFM Compressed-Air-Filter Offering

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.09.31 PMKaeser Compressors (Fredericksburg, VA and Coburg, Germany) has expanded its air-treatment offering with compressed-air filters in flows from 20 – 500 scfm. According to the manufacturer, these rugged products deliver reliable air quality with exceptionally low pressure drop that translates to year after year of energy savings.

This comprehensive line includes liquid separator, particulate, coalescing and oil vapor adsorbing filters to meet a wide range of air quality needs.

  • Particulate and coalescing filters incorporate deep-pleated filter elements wrapped in stainless steel cages for superior filtration and increased efficiency.
  • Vapor filters use high-efficiency carbon matting to prevent channeling, reduce pressure drop, and prevent particles from escaping.

Robust, aluminum housings feature treated interiors and powder-coated exteriors for extra durability and corrosion resistance.

Kaeser notes that the products are designed with larger flow areas to ensure the lowest pressure drop and provide easier installation, operation, and maintenance.

For more information on Kaeser Compressors’ complete portfolio, CLICK HERE.

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