There are some useful habits that always keep compressed air systems running smoothly. It pays to develop these and exercise them on a regular basis to avoid problems that may cause unplanned shutdowns, lost production and other challenges:
- Keep it clean — Compressor rooms are like vacuum cleaners, the flow of air into the compressor cooling systems and intakes draws in dust and debris. Smoothly running compressors rooms are always kept clean, tidy and free of unrelated equipment.
- Keep it cool — Air-cooled compressors need a good supply of cool and clean air to keep the machine temperatures down. Excessive temperatures cause compressor lubricant to break down faster and leads to early machine failure if not addressed. Hot compressors are less efficient, fail more often and sent overly moist air to the air dryers, which can overload them. Operators of smoothly running compressed air systems always check compressor room and machine temperatures and take action where there are problems.
- Drain it — The condensate drains in a compressed air system are very important. Failed drains can cause dryer overloading, causing wet air to contaminate downstream piping, processes and machines. Smooth operators always regularly check the drains at the compressor after-coolers, wet receivers, dryers and filters.
- Measure it — Poor systems have no way of measuring compressed air flow and compressor power consumption. Smooth operators always have flow, pressure, power and dew point meters installed and they regularly check the readings for issues with energy efficiency, transient pressure problems, leakage, moisture problems and unexpected changes. The coolest operators always have these readings available on their computers or smartphones.
- Maintain it — Smooth operators always maintain their compressed air equipment to the manufacturers recommendations. Changing out lubricants, filters and other consumables in a timely manner heads off problems. This maintenance also extends to related system like cooling fans, drains, system leakages, lubricators, instrumentation and other items that are important to correct system operation.
By Ron Marshall