Improving the efficiency of your pneumatic system is central to minimising your manufacturing costs. Improving compressed air efficiency can cut electricity consumption by up to 50%: a significant saving for manufacturing companies! However, many operators are unaware that their pneumatic systems are performing inefficiently, even though a series of simple steps can make a significant difference.
1) Ensure Proper Sizing
In a pneumatic system, the size of the components can have a significant impact on its overall efficiency. Smaller valves, for example, may be cheaper to install initially but, in the long run, will reduce efficiency as the compressor will work harder to supply the correct pressure to the actuators. Oversized cylinders, while necessary to compensate for air losses and pressure variations, are responsible for significant energy loss if they are too large.
Conversely, most pneumatic systems perform more efficiently with a larger storage receiver; aim for 5-10 gallons per CFM rating for the largest of the trim compressors.
2) Eliminate Dirt & Moisture From The System
The air that a compressor draws in from the local environment contains moisture and debris, which, if deposited in the pipes, will affect the efficiency of the pneumatic system. Moisture can cause corrosion in critical components, while the accumulation of dirt can decrease airflow through the pipes.
Taking proactive steps to keep the pneumatic system clean and dry is vital to ensure it operates at maximum efficiency, even if the end tools do not require clean air. Installing filters, dryers, aftercoolers, and regulators correctly and to the specification of the pneumatic system will prevent the build-up of moisture and debris, enabling the compressor to operate more efficiently.
3) Ensure Effective Air Drying
Of the various options for air drying, refrigeration is the most cost-effective, offering low running costs and simple maintenance. Refrigerated compressed air dryers may be cycling or non-cycling; those that offer efficient cycling moderate the cooling capacity in line with air use, meaning they are more energy-efficient.
If your pneumatic system uses a desiccant dryer, install a dew point controller to cut down on energy waste, and only dry the air that requires a low dew point, to avoid expending energy unnecessarily.
4) Decrease Artificial Demand
When air pressure becomes too high – known as ‘artificial demand’ – air is forced through gaps or leaks in the system, causing it to operate excessively even though the end tools are not being used.
Decreasing artificial demand is essential to reducing operating costs, extending the lifespan of the system (as components won’t be under stress), and increase efficiency. Methodically working through the system to identify leaks will reduce artificial demand, while installing an air saver unit can help maintain a constant pressure.
At Hydrastar, we are experts in pneumatic systems. We can provide you with the high-quality components and specialist advice you need to sustain highly efficient pneumatic systems. To find out more, please call 01353 721 704.