Southern Cross Compressors Australia National Sales & Marketing Manager Mark Ferguson observes that air leaks can significantly increase running and energy costs.
However, a proactive leak detection and repair program can ensure air leaks are reduced considerably, saving several thousands of dollars per year for the company.
Air leaks not only waste output but can also affect production by causing system pressure drops; impacting plant and equipment efficiencies; shortening life of equipment through more frequent cycling; increasing running time leading to additional maintenance; and adding unnecessary compressor demand.
Air leaks can come from any part of the compressed air equipment including couplings, hoses, tubes and fittings; pressure regulators; open condensate drains and shut-off valves; and pipe joints, disconnects and thread sealants.
Most leaks are difficult to find; for instance, an air leak of only 1.6mm in diameter is not even audible to the human ear, yet it would cost approximately $450 per year in wasted energy costs. The best way to detect leaks is to utilise an ultrasonic leak detector, which recognises the high frequency hissing sound associated with air leaks.
Fixing leaks can be as simple as tightening a connection or as complex as replacing faulty equipment. Installing high quality equipment and fittings and using a professional installer will dramatically reduce the likelihood and occurrence of air leaks over time. Leaks can also be minimised by reducing the operating pressure of the system.
A comprehensive leak prevention program is the best way to ensure air leaks and increased operating costs are kept to the minimum.
A leak prevention program should include components such as identification and tagging; quantifying; tracking; repair; verification; and employee involvement.
A leak prevention program should be high on the compressed air maintenance agenda with the objective of maximising compressed air system efficiency and keeping operating costs at a minimum.