A common complaint from those who troubleshoot compressed air problems is the lack of information. A machine will be going down, caused by low compressed air pressure, but nobody knows what went wrong, why or even when.
The first thing a compressed air assessor will do in solving the problems is go look at measurement instruments on your system or past system data. But it is rare to find enough information to be able to solve a complex system problem. Often temporary time-based data logging instruments must be placed on important points in the system for a significant period of time.
Here are some items that should be measured:
- Air pressure — The purpose of any compressed air system is to make pressure, but is that pressure suitable for your production machines? Is it stable enough to keep things running? Are there excessive pressure gradients across air dryers, filters, pipes, connectors and hoses? Measuring a pressure gradient will give you the answers to these questions.
- Compressor amps/power — Measuring the input to air compressors can tell you a lot about how they are running and what they are doing when associated pressure problems are encountered. System efficiency and reliability can also be easily seen if the compressor input amps or power is logged over time and plotted with pressure.
- Flow — Compressed air flow meters have become affordable and can easily be installed on any system to measure the output of the compressor room. Analyzing the flow patterns can tell you if the cause of pressure problems is lack of capacity, and if you have excessive system leakage or waste.
- Temperature — Many compressed air reliability problems are temperature related. High discharge temperatures can overload air dryers and cause air quality problems. High temperatures due to lack of adequate ventilation can lead your compressors to early failure.
- Dew point — Dew point probes have also come down in price through the years. Measurement of your system dew point can ensure you are producing dry air for your production machinery and that it stays that way even in worst case conditions.
A properly managed system must be measured and tracked!