Many industries depend on compressed air to provide power to vital tools. Air compressors power drills, drive impactors, and a host of other equipment that industrial companies use for their operations. To ensure your operations run smoothly and costs are at a minimum, your air compressors must continue to function at optimal levels.
Constant use coupled with improper maintenance, air compressors can become a liability instead of an asset. Read on to find out how to maximize the efficiency of your air compressor system.
Factors that Can Affect Air Compressor Performance
It’s important to take note of the factors that reduce the capacity of your air compressor to deliver power to intensive applications. The following factors can make air compressors become less efficient over time:
- Humidity – It takes more energy to heat water. In addition, water can build up inside your air compressor system, increasing the rate of rusting on its interior parts. Incoming air has to be kept dry and cool so it won’t produce moisture and interfere with your air compressor’s efficiency.
- Hot Air – Naturally, hot air is of lower density compared to cold air. This is why cold air is more ‘compressed’ than hot air, which means pumping cold air into your trusty air compressor is more efficient. This helps maximize the efficiency levels of your air compressor. An efficient compressor contributes to your overall productivity.
- Impure Air – Contaminated air that carries dust can produce gunk buildup inside an air compressor. Too much dirt can wear off air compressor parts and it can result in costly and repetitive maintenance jobs.
Engineers and plant operators can lower operational costs and prevent power expenditure from blowing up by optimizing the operating conditions of their compressors.
7 Ways to Ensure Compressed Air System Efficiency
- Select the Appropriate Air Filter and Inlet Location
Lowering your compressor running costs begins with your inlet selection. Cool air requires less power to create line pressure. Position your air intake at a strategic location, ideally at a clean, dry, and shaded spot that’s set 1.8 meters above the ground.
Reducing the pressure drop by using intake ducts when running at maximum capacity is also a great way to keep operating costs low. Make sure to choose an air filter that has the right capacity for the compressor. This allows for more time between filter changes and a reduced load, leading to more savings.
- Use the Right Lubricants for the Right Conditions
Compressors work best when they receive sufficient lubrication according to their operating conditions. Lubricants should also be stored in the right location and dispensed in appropriate quantities.
Maintaining the right lubricant feed rate is essential for reciprocating air compressors. Extremely high or low feed rates put cylinders and rings at increased wear. Inversely, this results in overheating and increased oil consumption.
There are rotary screw compressors that need oil lubrication for their dry screws and bearings. Other compressors have wet screws that need cooled oil so they can absorb the heat produced during compression, have their rotors lubricated, and create a nice seal. Water-to-air or oil-to-water heat exchangers help keep air supply at a suitable temperature and minimize carbon deposits.
- Ensure Optimum Operating Temperature
To optimize the operating capacity of reciprocating compressors, maintain the cooling water temperature at around 5.5ºC above the temperature of the inlet air. This prevents condensation from happening inside the water-cooled cylinders. Keep the temperature at the outlet below 49°C.
Ensure that the cooling water isn’t flowing when you start or shut down the compressor. Clean and inspect the water jackets at regular intervals. Air-cooled compressors also need regular cleaning and inspection to prevent the fins and fans from clogging. Drain off condensed water properly.
- Remove Unwanted Moisture
Moisture can damage compressed air systems. Damage repair can cost as much as 5 percent of a plant’s maintenance costs, this is why it’s important to eliminate water from your system right at the start.
Consider using dryers and after-coolers to remove moisture from the air that comes out of the compressors. Doing so rules out the possibility of condensation within the air distribution process.
You can also cut down costs and boost energy efficiency by ensuring there’s no pressure loss in the compressor and point of use. You want to maintain a pressure beyond 620.5 kPa at point of use.
- Fix Leak Issues and Store Air Reserves Properly
Leak problems can jack up compressed air operating costs. This is because compressors need to process more air as opposed to a leak-free system. You might want to use an ultrasonic leak detector, an equipment used to detect, identify, evaluate, track, and repair sources of air leaks. Checking for leaks and the factors that restrict air suction in your system is vital to make sure your air compressors are functioning as they should.
Engineers and plant workers should also ensure the safety and efficiency of reserve air storage. It would be best to arrange air receivers to allow oil or condensed water to drain completely from the compressor. The spring-loaded safety valve found at the receiver is a helpful safety measure that must be tested regularly to make sure it’s in good working order.
- Ensure Your System Is Installed Properly
Installation is a huge factor that affects the efficiency of your air compressor system. One essential factor that defines the efficiency of a system is the airflow to the compressor. Air must travel to the system without restrictions and must be cool, clean, and free from contamination. Make sure all the pipes are in the appropriate size to facilitate good air delivery. Pipes should be bent every few times as well.
- Stick to a Routine Maintenance Schedule
Regular air compressor maintenance is crucial in maximizing the efficiency of your system. Considering your compressor has several moving parts, is used heavily at certain times, and constantly receives air, it’s necessary that yours receive regular tuning. Otherwise, dirty filters and condensation will eventually bog your system down, resulting in expensive repairs.
Every maintenance inspection should aim to detect leaks or possible factors that may cause leaks. The leading cause of air and energy efficiency issues is leakage. Even the tiniest leak can waste vast amounts of energy in a compressor. It can strain the motor and may cause premature wear.
Consequently, air pressure drop causes your tools to work harder, which means it will take longer for your tool to perform the same job.
Considering the possible losses defective compressors can cause, it’s important to follow the steps outlined above to make your air compressor system as efficient as possible. Some steps you can take include sticking to regular maintenance schedules and abiding by best practices in using air compressors.
Contact Commercial Air Compressor for Your Air Compressor Needs
Well-designed air compressor systems make your operations run smoothly. At Commercial Air Compressor, we provide you with the right compressors to optimize your system at cost-effective rates.
Contact us and we’ll help you get the compressor equipment and accessories you need. We also offer other services to help you evaluate, analyze, and improve air compressor system efficiency and performance in your business.
We’re always at your service 24 hours, 7 days a week. Call us at 1-905-415-7744.