Compressed air systems can be highly effective for power tools in many industries, such as automotive care, carpentry, construction, and metalworking. Tools that are powered by compressed air do not have to have a motor and are, therefore, lighter and easier to work with. They are also less likely to break since they have fewer moving parts. Additionally, these tools are more powerful than similar tools powered by other means. All of these benefits make compressed air systems standard equipment in many industries.
One downside to compressed air systems is that they can be expensive to power. However, there are ways to improve the efficiency of a compressed air system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), over 50% of compressed air systems at small and medium-sized industrial facilities could decrease their energy costs. Here are some ways to do that.
Choose The Correct Piping Material
Although many materials can be used as piping in compressed air systems, some are better than others. Iron, black MS pipe, and galvanized pipe are vulnerable to corrosion, which can lead to obstructions in the pipe that reduce airflow. Anti-corrosion coatings can flake off, clogging the system. Better options include copper, stainless steel, and aluminum, which naturally resist corrosion.
Inspect Pipes Regularly
Looking inside the piping system is a great way to detect problems early. Pipes should be clean and dry. Dusty pipes indicate that the filter needs to be cleaned or replaced. Too much condensation in pipes suggests the compressor is not drying air and this buildup of water can lead to corrosion or mud that will obstruct airflow. Addressing these problems early on will save time and money down the line.
Connect Joints Correctly
Depending on the type of piping used in a compressed air system, joints may have to be connected differently. For instance, iron pipes can usually be joined using fittings commonly found at hardware stores, whereas copper and stainless steel pipes require threading and soldering. If pipes are not joined and sealed correctly, air will escape, decreasing the output of the air compressor.
Air compression systems work by creating pressure, but when leaks form it takes more energy to create the same amount of pressure in the system. That leads to wasted energy. Even a tiny hole in an air compression system can be expensive. A quarter of an inch tear at 100 PSI can cost $2,500 in a single year. Some leaks are obvious, but up to 80% of leaks are silent, making them hard to detect. For this reason, routine maintenance by a professional is a great way to make your system more efficient.
Use Zero-Loss Drains
Drains are a necessary way to remove moisture from air compression systems, however, opening drains decreases the pressure in the machine. Many systems use timer drains. Sometimes these drains become stuck open, greatly reducing the efficiency of the compression system. Using zero-loss drains is a much more efficient and affordable way to take care of an air compression system since they avoid that loss in air and pressure altogether.
Use The Correct Pressure
It can be tempting to simply turn on an air compression system and get to work, but it’s important to know what the correct pressure is for the job being done and the compression system being used. Exceeding the recommended pressure for a compressed air system can put undue stress on the system, damaging joints, exacerbating leaks, and straining the motor.
Compressing air creates heat. In many cases, that heat can be used for something else, such as heating open spaces like warehouses or heating water for kitchens or bathrooms. Reusing this heat can create cost savings in some areas that help offset the cost of running an air compression system.
Turn The Air Compression System Off
Most machines can only be efficient for a certain length of time, and air compressors are no different. Simply turning the system off during non-working hours can increase it’s efficiency a great deal the next time it’s turned on. This is because turning it off allows the system to cool and dry out. It also provides an opportunity to those who use the machine to inspect it and perform any necessary maintenance.
To learn more about compressed air systems and how to optimize efficiency, contact Rapid Air Products today.