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Compressed Air Efficiency: 6 Key Principles

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If you want to keep your compressed air costs down, there are a half-dozen important key principles that you should adopt for your system. Following them will keep your system costs down for the long term and save you a bundle. They are: 1. Install efficient equipment — The most important decision affecting your system efficiency is to buy the right size of equipment to match your load … and to choose a type of air compressor that will operate in a control mode likely to maintain high efficiency through your characteristic load profile. Much has changed over the years with air compressors — you can now put your system on cruise control using variable frequency drives to gain significant savings over other compressor controls. And, if choosing fixed speed compressors for base duty, there are optimized designs now available. Ask your supplier to show you their Compressed Air and Gas Institute data sheets that list their compressor specific power numbers (specific power is like a gas mileage rating for compressors). Use this information to choose wisely. And get a compressed air assessment before you buy that next compressor, so you can size it correctly! 2. Purchase large storage — Almost all compressed air systems can benefit from larger storage receivers. If your main air receiver does not make visitors do a double take when they see it, it is likely too small. Installing between 5 and 10 gallons per cfm rating of the largest trim compressor is a good rule of thumb. And installing secondary receivers downstream where needed to balance fluctuating pressures or service high flow transient loads is a very good idea. Air receivers don’t contain any moving parts and don’t use electricity, but they significantly increase the efficiency of a compressor by simply being there. 3. Dry the air efficiently — There are many choices when it comes to drying of air; the two most common are refrigerated and desiccant drying. The choice of a desiccant type will increase your air drying costs by a factor of at least 3 times. If you want to keep your costs down, don’t over-dry your compressed air. Use refrigerated where appropriate, and purchase more efficient cycling styles that turn down the power consumption with reduction in moisture loading. If you must use desiccant dryers, only dry the portion of the air that needs very low dew points, and purchase the dew point controller option to reduce wasteful purge costs. 4. Keep the pressure low — High pressure in a compressed air system increases the operating costs twofold; the compressors consume more power for every psi increase in air pressure (about 1% more per 2 psi increase) and secondly, the system leaks and unregulated compressed air uses waste more air at higher pressure (about 1% per psi increase). You can minimize this energy waste by keeping your pressure low and ensuring any major pressure losses across air dryers, filters, piping, connectors, and hoses are greatly reduced by proper design, often requiring oversizing. If the pressure at your end use is more than 20 psi lower than the compressor discharge pressure setpoint you likely have a pressure loss problem. Optimum systems have pressure loss of less than 10 psi. 5. Minimize waste — Compressed air is a very expensive way to transfer energy, usually costing about ten times that of a direct drive electrical device, so always be sure the any equipment that consumes compressed air is appropriate — not something that can be better supplied by other energy sources. Major wasters in any system are timer style or manual condensate drains, continuous blowing devices and of course leaks. If you want to cut costs from your system always remain diligent and watch for system waste that can pop up at any time. 6. Monitor your system efficiency — The old saying “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is true for compressed air. Very few managers can answer the question “how much is your compressed air system costing?” The cost of energy and flow measurement devices has come down a lot over the years, consider installing an efficiency monitoring system on your air compressors to ensure your system is running at reasonable specific power (a level of under 20 kW per 100 cfm produced is excellent) and the leak levels are low (less than 10% of average flow is best practice). To operate without these measuring devices is like operating blind. PNEUMATICTIPS more

The Importance of CAD Models for Metal Fabrication Projects

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It’s not an area that gets a lot of coverage with the general public, but when it comes to design and manufacturing, in a lot of ways, “the future” arrived a couple of decades ago, and has been heavily relied on ever since. Prior to the use of CAD models in many industries, the ways that engineers, architects, designers and many other experts came up with ideas was through the use of schematics and blueprints. CAD models changed all that for the better.  The Mind’s Eye Made Real The importance of CAD systems comes through because of two primary reasons; speed and versatility. CAD stands for “computer assisted drafting,” and what it means is that computers were introduced into the most crucial part of any industrial endeavor, encouraging human imagination to come up with new ways to build things. Before a car, phone, surgical instrument or building becomes a reality that people actually use, it starts out as an idea in one person’s head. In order for that idea to become an actual, real world, physical object, a clear plan for how to create that object, right down to precise measurements, must be committed to a format that other people can read so they can follow those directions. Before CAD, people did this the hard way, on paper, with pencils and rulers, requiring that paper to be photocopied and disseminated to others if many people were required to follow the plan. Going Digital The incorporation of CAD into design and manufacturing was a huge productivity boost for many industries. Mistakes no longer required an eraser and redrafting to fix a tiny error. Because the file was digital, it could easily be duplicated and transmitted wherever it needed to go, or be kept in digital format until a printout was required. CAD was also much faster for the designers to use. Basic geometric shapes such as squares, circles, spheres and straight lines could all be created instantly by the computer, rather than requiring a ruler, a steady hand, and evenly applied pressure on a drafting pencil in order to create these images. Because objects and repeating patterns could be easily duplicated, designers no longer had to redraw the same pattern or design over and over again on a schematic, a simple “cut and paste” would do the job rapidly. Another great asset that CAD models provided was much better visualization. In the 20th century, if an architect, for example, designed a building, there would need to be blueprints for constructing and engineering to follow. But if people wanted to see what the building actually looked like, that would require concept art to show, or models to be built. Today, the CAD design itself can be viewed in three dimensions within the computer, and if that’s not enough, new technologies like virtual reality allow people to view environments—or cars, or manufacturing components—as fully realized 3D, virtual objects they can interact with, or walk around in. Not Just For Planning Perhaps the biggest innovation came with CAD models for metal fabrication and other industrial requirements. Because of the precise measurements included in a CAD design, industry experts eventually realized there was no good reason to not simply have sophisticated hardware—such as CNC systems that followed precise directions anyway—go straight to the source. Why input a series of measurements for the creation of a part or component second time when the original measurements were already stored in a CAD file? Because of this, CAD models eventually moved over to manufacturing as well. From a building standpoint, this has made the creation of objects much easier. The mechanical precision of a CAD model is now married to the mechanical precision of manufacturing hardware, for precise, repeatable results that can even be transferred to a mass production scale. CAD models are, in many ways, responsible for letting designers, engineers and architects run wild with their ideas while still making it possible to bring these complex imaginings back into the real world. CAMM METALS more

The Main Reasons of Hydraulic Cylinder Seals Failure

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As we have looked at before, a failure in hydraulic cylinders is quite often related to a seal failure. Although the price of a seal is not particularly high, domino effects can make this a very expensive occurrence. The financial costs of loss of production, engineer downtime and / or calling in engineers can soon add up. It’s for these reasons that it’s important to look at what is causing the failure of the seal first. The key issues behind seal failure are: Bad installation of seal. When the seal is installed, the following facts need to be considered as this is something that can easily go awry: · Is the equipment and the room clean enough to insert the seal? · Protect the seal from cuts or any damage that may prevent it from working at its optimum performance. · Lubrication needs to be correct · The seal gland should not be overtightened. · The seal must be placed the right side up. Contamination of the hydraulic system. Another primary cause of failure of hydraulic seals. Dirt, mud, dust or grit or even internal contamination through metal chips circulating can have a devastating impact on hydraulic seals. Once hydraulic fluid starts to breakdown it can turn to sludge. Another entry point for contamination is the rod retraction cycle. This is why it’s important to install a rod wiper and why the fluid system needs to be well filtered. Incorrect material. Seals manufactured with unsuitable materials can lead to chemical breakdown. This can occur due to the changing of hydraulic fluid also. Watch for discolouration of your seal to identify when it’s undergoing chemical attack. Degradation from heat. Once you see the seal change colour and go hard or brittle then there could be heat degradation going on. This can lead to loss of seal. It could be that you need to change the material of the seal, or even increase lubrication. Summary. Sometimes seals fail because they aren’t the right size or the conditions for them are not optimal. If you cannot change the conditions, at least ensure that you have the right size seal, made from quality material and you should see some improved results. HLEHYDRAULICS more

What’s the Wrong Way to Install A Piping Bypass?

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Bypass connections are required for pneumatic components that are in continuous use applications, so that the flow of air is not interrupted when the component is maintained or taken out of service. Typically, shut-off valves are installed before and after the component and a piping loop with a shut-off valve routed around the component for bypass purposes. The photograph at upper right shows a bypass installed in a food processing plant. The plant uses lubricated compressors that introduce a small amount of lubricant into the air steam. The plant is finding, despite coalescing filters installed on the dryer, that a small amount of compressor lubricant remains in the air and this passed downstream. Because the bypass line is lower than the component (a precision pressure regulator), the lubricant forms droplets at flow into the section of bypass line both before and after. There is no drain installed from which to drain any contamination. Drop by drop, over time the small amount of lubricant eventually fills up the bypass lines. Nothing really happens until the bypass line is opened — then, a large slug of compressor lubricant, collected through years of operation, flows into the plant, contaminating downstream piping and mechanisms, and in extreme cases, food products.The photograph at lower left shows a similar installation involving two bypass valves around inlet and outlet filters to an air dryer. The wet airstream before the dryer fills the first bypass mostly with water, the second, filtering dry air, fills mostly with compressor lubricant. Again, no drains are installed, when these filters are serviced, and the bypass valve opened, slugs of liquid pass into the plant. Bypass piping should be installed so there is no way to collect liquid in the bypass piping. The air flow should be straight through to the component being bypassed, with the bypass loop going up and over, or to the side of the component. Make sure that you follow this sort of setup in order to avoid problems in the future. PNEUMATICSTIPS more

Why Are Photometers Used for Air Filter Testing?

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Although photometers don’t count particles, measure mass or give size resolved (fractional) efficiency results, they are still widely used as detectors for testing air filters. Why? The reason has as much to do with the limitations of other techniques as it does with advantages of using photometers. All counting techniques are limited by problems associated with measuring high concentrations. Coincidence (multiple particles being detected at the same time) causes under-counting of particles, and with optical particle counters it also results in sizing errors. When coincidence is ignored it is not unusual for negative efficiencies (penetrations over 100%) to be reported. To have a measurable concentration downstream of a filter, especially a high efficiency filter, a high concentration upstream of a filter is desirable. When measuring with a particle counter, this often requires a diluter or a long sampling time downstream of the filter. It is important to remember that because of the different detection techniques, and the different effective size ranges, that the efficiency and penetration values will be different for different techniques. Photometers measure total light scatter and have a very large dynamic range. While photometers are very sensitive for low concentrations, high concentrations also can be measured easily. A high concentration results in a larger upstream signal. Since penetration is downstream signal divided by upstream signal, having a large upstream signal allows for measurement of lower penetrations (and higher efficiencies). At the particle concentrations typically used when testing with Photometers, efficiencies up to five nines (99.999%) and beyond are possible. In addition, these tests can be performed fast and used in production inline testing. Measuring high concentrations with photometers is also an advantage for loading tests. Loading a filter is important when trying to determine the usable life of a filter. Loading sometimes improves the filter efficiency but can also have the opposite effect. As this can be different for different types of particles (liquid droplets or solid particles), media material (woven or non-woven), and charge effects (such as electrostatic), the loading behavior must be studied and is typically part of certification criteria. Air filter efficiency varies with particle size. Of particular interest is the efficiency in the region of the MPPS (most penetrating particle size). Filter testers that use photometers as detectors use polydisperse particle distributions generated by atomizers as their source of particles, and these are in the general size range of the MPPS of typical air filters. This size range is also similar to outdoor ambient particle size distributions, so testing in this size range gives a good indication of how filters will work in the real world. TSI more

Why Do Companies Outsource Metal Fabrication Projects?

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Opting to outsource your custom metal fabrication project means that you don’t have to worry about investing in costly equipment or maintaining a workforce who can produce your materials. Outsourcing can dramatically decrease your costs in these areas, however there are many secondary reasons to consider outsourcing with a reputable metal fabricator. This blog post provides an overview of three common reasons why companies typically outsource their metal fabrication projects. A Metal Fabrication Partner Can Help Define Your Brand Think over the main reasons for choosing to outsource your metal fabrication project needs. Often, the reasons for outsourcing include the opportunity to minimize your capital investment and price. However, shouldn’t quality be a critical decision point? If the lowest price means that you’ll receive substandard parts, dissatisfied end users and damage to your brand, how happy will you be with the price? An outsource supplier is ultimately an extension of your company’s image and your brand. It’s crucial that you partner wit ha company you are comfortable with.  The Need for Design and Engineering Assistance Leveraging a fabricator’s engineering skills is an underrated method for reducing cost. Consider this: Customers often bring projects to their fabrication partner and submit the projects as orders to be fulfilled. Yet, clients infrequently bring project designs to the fabrication engineer ahead of placing the order, neglecting to realize that their fabricator has likely seen many projects and designs similar to theirs. Requesting your fabrication partner to review your project ahead of placing the order may lead to a reduction in cost based on the fabrication engineer’s recommendations on the material to be used, or innovative design modifications. Allowing a manufacturer to help, will allow their works to look at things through a different perspective, offering you room for improvement in areas that could have been previously missed. Is your company on its own when it comes to design or engineering, or would it be better to seek out a metal fabricator who offer these value-added services? Partnering with a fabrication company who is constantly looking for ways to improve quality and processes on your behalf can make a huge difference. On-Time Delivery Let’s face it: metal fabrication is a competitive space. To stay competitive, some companies will unfortunately push the limits on production schedules. This may be fine in some instances, as long as there aren’t any unforeseen issues; however, you will ultimately be left behind if a fabricator can’t deliver on time. It’s crucial that you pause and consider a company’s reputation for delivering their products on time when you’re considering outsourcing metal fabrication projects. CAMM Metals | CT Metal Fabrication Company It's crucial to do your research when choosing a metal fabrication, as not all companies are capable of completing the same quality of work. CAMM METALS more

What are the Key Advantages of Fiber Laser Cutting Machines?

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All laser cutting processes have their own inherent advantages and disadvantages, but it appears that the benefits of fiber laser cutting machines far outweigh that of any of the other processes. It’s one of the newest forms of laser cutting, as it’s only picked up traction in the last couple decades or so. However, the benefits that fiber laser cutting machines provide, which we will discuss below, have been quickly realized by metal fabricators all over the country. Fiber laser cutting machines can easily and seamlessly adapt between industries for a huge range of applications. Continue reading to learn more about the other benefits of these powerful machines. What are the Benefits of Fiber Laser Cutting Machine?Fiber lasers offer several primary advantages. The light propagating in the fibers is well shielded from the environment, and fiber lasers tend to be very compactly designed. They offer a large gain bandwidth, wide wavelength tuning ranges, and have the capacity to generate ultra-short pulses. Operating at high power with great efficiency, they are suitable for many types of cutting procedures. Fiber lasers can cut through thin materials at very high speeds. They also have the ability to cut reflective materials without risk of reflections causing damage to the machine, which allows metals such as copper, brass and aluminum to be cut without issue.  No Heat Damage to Objects The laser that is emitted from a fiber laser cutting machine is incredibly powerful, which is why it can so easily cut through thick materials like steel. Yet, one of the great benefits of fiber lasers is that they can be so precise that the beam won’t cause any damage to the surrounding material of the object that they are working in. Many industries can benefits from this. Consider the electronics industry, where the beam needs to work at incredibly small sizes without damaging any of there components essential in having those electronic devices working correctly. Superior Performance You’ll also find that fiber lasers offer a superior performance over many of their counterparts. Fiber lasers provide a much higher level of beam quality which can be highly focused to achieve extremely accurate levels of precision, as well as increased power densities. This also means that tasks can be completed at a quicker rate and at a much lower power consumption rate. Why Is It Beneficial to Use Parts Cut With a Fiber Laser? The main reason to employ fiber laser cutting techniques is to reduce the mechanical stress that a sheet metal form experiences while being cut. Lasers help to eliminate the impact stress that can adversely affect sheet metal products during cutting, and beyond that, the heated zone is incredibly small. This means that the rest of the work piece is exposed to little or no heat, preserving the properties of the material being handled, which is incredibly important. Also, it’s important to consider that since laser cuts can be made incredibly close to one another without negatively impacting the sheet metal, they help to minimize waste— closer cuts allow you to make more parts per square foot of sheet metal you use. How to Maximize the Advantages of Laser TechnologyOne of the goals when designing for manufacturing is to achieve a simple solution rather than a complex one. After all, complex designs are more difficult to manage, increase the chances of errors and generate waste in the form of materials, energy, labor and time. Laser cutting technology is a suitable tool for creating all shapes and sizes of components and is one of the most efficient and cost effective fabrication methods. Complex cuts with superior edge quality can be accomplished with accurately on laser cutting equipment. Precision laser beams are capable of creating close tolerance components in a quick, clean and efficient manner with minimal operator intervention. Sophisticated software and minimal kerf allow tight nesting of parts to maximize yield and minimize material waste. CAMM METALS more
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