May 24, 2024

Maintaining air compressor systems will save money

It doesn’t matter what type, size, or brand of air compressor is being used, keeping it and the entire system in prime condition should be a priority and a vital program for efficient business operations.

Don’t wait for a breakdown because the smallest malfunction can result in unwanted, costly downtime. Inspection, adjustment, consumables replacement and prediction of evolving problems are a far better investment than emergency repairs and part replacements will ever be.

Neglected compressors gather dust, dirt, moisture, and other airborne contaminants that impede operational and output efficiencies, and these in turn denigrate the operating efficiency for application processes. This means that, while you are paying for the power to run the compressor, your energy efficiency is decreasing and so is your output.

Without regular system checks, air leaks can and will also cause pressure drop and underperformance in application.

Air leaks

Air leaks can be a significant source of wasted energy in an industrial compressed air system, sometimes wasting up to half a compressor's output. A plant that has not been well maintained will typically have a leak rate of around 25% of total compressed air production capacity.

The bigger the compressor and system, the more possible points of leakage. Yet proactive leak detection and repair can reduce leaks to less than 10% of compressor output.

As well as wasting energy, leaks can also contribute to other operating losses. Leaks cause a drop in system pressure, which can make air tools and process machinery less efficient, adversely affecting production. In addition, by forcing the equipment to cycle more frequently, leaks shorten the life of almost all system equipment (including the compressor itself).

Increased running time can also lead to additional maintenance requirements and increased unscheduled downtime. Finally, leaks can lead to adding unnecessary compressor capacity.

Compressed air leaks are ongoing issues in any part of the system and require an ongoing air leak detection and repair program. While leakage can come from any part of the system, the most common problem areas are:

Leak detection

Since air leaks are almost impossible to see, other methods must be used to locate them. Trained operators use ultrasonic acoustic detectors to recognise the high-frequency hissing sounds to pinpoint leaks throughout the system.

The advantages of ultrasonic leak detection include versatility, speed, ease of use, the ability to perform tests while equipment is running, and the ability to find a wide variety of leaks.

How to fix leaks

Fixing leaks can be as simple as tightening a connection or as complex as replacing faulty equipment such as couplings, fittings, pipe sections, hoses, joints, drains, and traps.

As leaks can also be caused by higher than required pressure output from the compressor, a further problem can be increased pressure on the system components. Reduced air pressure means reduced leakage rates.

Preventative programs

A comprehensive compressed air system leak repair program is very important in maintaining the efficiency, reliability, stability, and cost effectiveness of the system.

A good leak prevention program will include the following components: identification (including tagging), tracking, repair, verification, and employee involvement. A leak prevention program should be part of an overall program aimed at improving the performance of your compressed air system.

There are specialised compressed air services offering leak detection and repairs. It is advised that compressed air operators investigate and compare the cost of preventative maintenance programs against actual and potential down time and application damage.

Routine maintenance

Regular maintenance of the compressor and compressed air system is vital for application efficiency, operating life and energy consumption. Daily maintenance should include:

Most industrial air compressors come with a recommended maintenance program, however for total peace of mind, many operators use professional compressed air technicians providing custom maintenance programs that ensure the entire system is maintained in peak operating condition.

Kaishan Compressors operates a fleet of highly trained, mobile technicians to customise maintenance programs. Assigned technicians are totally familiar with client systems and operational requirements, taking the onus off customer personnel and ensuring warranty conditions are met.

Air leaks