Is your compressed air system in trouble? How would you know? Fortunately, there are some common signs that may give you some hints. Here are six of them.
Low Pressure — Having adequate pressure is most important in an air system. If there is a constant low pressure, or periods of time where the pressure falls, only to recovery again a short time later, these are bad signs. Have your service professional check on the compressor settings to ensure they are set and coordinated properly, if this does not fix the issue then long-term monitoring with data loggers may tell you the cause. Often times, pressure differentials in filters or piping can cause pressure issues, or the lack of compressor capacity.
Hot temperatures — Is the ambient temperature in your compressor room noticeably hot? Is the discharge air pipe of the compressor too hot to touch? These are signs that there is a cooling issue that needs attention. Blocked filters, clogged coolers or even improper ventilation design can all be causes. High temperatures prematurely age compressor components and lubricants, and overwhelm air drying systems. If you have temperature problems, you should get them fixed.
High or low compressor amps — Have a qualified person check the amps of your compressors. If the input amps when fully loaded is significantly higher or lower than the nameplate rating of the main compressor motor this is a sign of a problem. Too high will burn out the motor and may be a sign of high internal pressures. Too low shows that the compressor may not be putting out full capacity, a sign of inefficiency or internal problems.
Long unloaded run times — Does one or more of your compressors spend many hours running unloaded? Check the compressor hour meters to find out. Long unloaded run times are a sign of poor compressor sizing (too big) or improper coordination. Sometimes this problem can be solved by simply placing the compressor in “auto mode” (a push of a button) — which may save thousands of dollars per year.
Water or oil in your pipes — Do you have free water or oil in your compressed air pipes? This contamination will it way into your expensive compressed air equipment and tools, or worse, it will ruin your finished products. Failed filters or drains, temperature problems, overloaded dryers or internal compressor problems can all cause these problems. Have a qualified service person look at the issue and repair.
Many audible leaks — Take a walk through your plant during a period of low production. Can you hear audible leakage? Typically, between 15 to 30% of the compressed air made by your compressors will be wasted due to leakage. If you have no leak management program this number could be above 50%, and in worst cases, more than 80% of the compressed air will be wasted. Save yourself some energy costs by declaring a ban on air leaks and taking action to fix all the one you can hear.