Approximately 70% of all manufacturers use a compressed air distribution system. If you have any experience with the process, then you know that establishing the most effective compressed air system design is essential to the productivity of your plant. When it comes to your compressed air piping design and the layout of the system as a whole, there are eight basic elements to consider.
Determining your system’s demand is one of the most essential and challenging elements of creating your compressed air piping design. Air demand tends to change and fluctuate well beyond the predetermined average. However, you can accurately determine demand by monitoring current airflow using a flow meter. But remember, artificial demand and leakage often represent a significant portion of the total demand. Artificial demand is created when an end use is supplied air pressure that is higher than what is required for the application. You can use pressure regulators at the end use to minimize artificial demand and cut waste.
- Air Quality
The quality of the compressed air is dependent upon the application. There are six levels of application, and with each level, the cost to produce the air increases. In order to be cost-effective, your system must meet, but not exceed, the level required by your application.
As you might have guessed, the air supply must meet the air demand. You can achieve this by providing sufficient storage and accurate distribution. This is where size matters. Properly sized air compressors will allow you to match supply with demand.
The storage system includes any and all devices containing compressed air. The air receiver tank makes up the majority of the overall storage capacity, and if it is accurately sized, you won’t have to worry about excessive cycling. Strategically located receivers can also come in handy when abrupt demands rapidly drain the air from surrounding areas.
The distribution system links demand, storage, and supply; it allows air to flow with minimal drop in pressure. If it is working properly, the distribution system will supply an adequate amount of compressed air and the appropriate pressure to the proper locations.
For the system to function efficiently, the layout of the room must be considered and the appropriate compressed air piping materials must be used. All compressors should be stored in a separate clean and cool room. The piping needs to be durable enough to withstand existing work conditions and provide as little pressure loss as possible.
Maintenance is arguably the most important component of your compressed air piping design. Compressed air system leaks can be costly. For instance, a one-eighth inch diameter hole in a 100-psi system can cost you more than $1,200 per year in wasted energy. It is worth the effort to identify and perform maintenance on leaky pipes.
- Condensate Control
The compressor system can become less efficient and may require maintenance if condensation and contaminants are not removed. Devices that provide condensate control include the coalescing filter, drain valve, and air dryer.
If you have any questions about air compressor system designs, installation, or maintenance, feel free to post in the comments section below or contact us directly.