Almost all manufacturing plants have a compressed air system that control parts of the assembly line operation. The cost of compressed air is quite expensive, as it requires 7 to 8 horsepower of electricity to produce merely 1 horsepower of air tool. In addition, statistics show that the average system wastes anywhere from 25 to 35% due to leaks. Understanding your system and the tools that are available can help you reduce operation costs.
Understanding Air Flow
Contrary to belief, Sullair air compressors do not push air through a system and are not responsible for airflow. In order to achieve efficient airflow, various low pressure points must exist in the compressed air system, as air naturally flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure in order to reach an equilibrium balance. The pipes and fixed volume vessels within the system are most responsible for conducting airflow. Since these vessels and the pipes have a fixed volume, raising overall pressure within the entire system becomes necessary when attempting to increase the stored energy potential. This results in an increase in air consumption and more waste.
Storage Solutions to Combat Unique Problems
The most recommended solution is to strategically place several air receivers throughout the entire system. These storage solutions are responsible for reducing overall pressure by releasing stored air. There are various storage solutions available, but this article will focus on the four most common recommendations and their different uses. They include:
- Offline high pressure storage. This solution is recommended for manufacturing plants that require a demand event management system. It involves a large receiver that is pressurized by a small compressor to obtain a pressure level that is much higher than the plant's main system. During large intermittent demand events, the storage will help the system sustain the pressure needed. Offline high pressure storages are installed on the side, so that they do not necessarily interrupt the airflow of the main compressed air system. These storages are also ideal for providing a compressed air supply for a pre-determined amount of time in order to allow the system to shut down safely in the event of an unanticipated air supply failure.
- Dedicated storage. This type of storage is used to combat unacceptable pressure fluctuations throughout the entire compressed air system. The receiver of the storage is responsible for ensuring that the pressure levels stay within an accepted range under all types of dynamic load conditions.
- Secondary storage receiver. This type of receiver is most popularly installed to mitigate transmission times involved with airflow. It refines the compressed air system's speed, thrust and torque of application to improve overall efficiency. The receiver satisfies intermittent demands to save air usage and reduce overall operation costs.
- Metered storage. If your compressed air system will need to handle short bursts of high volume loads that are similar to pulse jets, then metered storages are the solution that you are looking for. These high volume loads will dislodge dust and debris in dust collection and bag house processes, which may affect the effectiveness of the system. Metered storages are installed directly into the airline responsible for supplying the assembly chain, and are responsible for removing any dirt and dust that may collect within the system.
Depending on the type of assembly line that you have set up in your manufacturing plant, installing a combination of these storage solutions can help streamline production, reduce air waste and also improve overall efficiency. It is important to speak with a professional to determine the type of storage solutions that will be most effective based on the blueprint and setup of the piping and the fixed volume vessels, as well as the type of workload that is expected.