Kaishan USA | October 11, 2023 | Uncategorized
Monitoring your air compressor data can help you save money, reduce downtime and improve the efficiency of your compressed air system.
Like so many parts of your operation, your air compressors can now generate a lot of information.
Unfortunately, we all know the feeling of being inundated with data. Often, we get too much. And what we get isn’t very helpful.
But air compressor data can play an essential role in keeping your plant running smoothly and efficiently. It helps you monitor and control your compressed air system, often called the fourth utility (in addition to electricity, gas and water). Let’s talk about the reasons why you should monitor your air compressor data.
Newer data monitoring systems give you 24/7 remote access to your air compressor data, tracking system performance and identifying readings that are out of spec. That’s an important step in fixing a problem before it starts.
Most monitoring systems allow 24/7 remote access to air compressor data, whether working in the plant or in a home office.
Your system can be set up to notify you if your pressure drops, temperature increases, electricity consumption rises too abruptly, or air quality begins to drop. Giving you time to take corrective action.
The data will help you identify issues that are limiting system performance. Perhaps your pressure band is set too high. Or your system is rapid cycling, wasting energy and shortening equipment life. Monitoring your air compressor data and tracking changes in performance will help you identify those kinds of issues.
By notifying you about irregularities or shortfalls in performance, a monitoring system enables you to do preventive maintenance before an issue becomes a problem.
Imagine having all the relevant data right in front of you. And working with your air compressor professional to tweak system operation and get everything running according to design. That’s the goal of a good air compressor data monitoring program.
Identifying equipment issues such as rapid cycling. Notifying you when oil changes and oil sampling are required. Alerting you when your compressor is not operating within its design parameters. Good air compressor data monitoring helps you keep your air compressor running as designed, ensuring a long, productive life.
A solid air compressor data monitoring system will identify most equipment issues well before they reach the breaking point. And avoid accidents that result in damage, lost production and even injuries to your staff.
Many state and local regulators require periodic system checks such as tank inspections. Plus, most manufacturers require regular maintenance procedures (e.g., oil sampling) to keep warranties in force. A monitoring system will issue notifications and alerts when it’s time to perform these required procedures.
Seeing the data right in front of you reminds you that “fix it and forget it” does not apply to industrial equipment. As with all the other equipment in your plant, your air compressor needs attention occasionally. And your data monitoring system will issue alerts and notifications when maintenance is required. Good maintenance, in turn, more than pays for itself in improved performance, greater reliability and reduced downtime.
Staying on top of system performance will improve the reliability of your air compressor and all the related equipment like receiver tanks, dryers and coolers.
Better monitoring of your air compressor data gives you the opportunity to optimize operations, maintain your system to its highest level of performance and avoid costly breakdowns that damage equipment and shut down your plant.
Last but certainly not least, a solid air compressor data monitoring program will save you money. Tons of it. By optimizing your system. Cutting downtime. Increasing equipment life. Creating a safer environment for your team, to name just a few.
You’ll find our thoughts about the most critical measurements to monitor below.
The specific data points you should be monitoring your air compressor data are even more important than the reasons.
Pressure, of course, is one of the outcomes your air compressor system delivers. So, you’ll want to measure your compressor’s output and the pressure at the various end uses in your system. An abnormal pressure drop may indicate that you have a leaking problem. The larger the gap, the more money you’re wasting.
In North America, pressure is measured in PSIG, which stands for pounds per square inch gauge and measures the system pressure, the force your end-use application needs to perform a task. Having more PSIG available enables you to do more work with less effort. Globally, the most commonly used measurement of pressure is kilopascals (kPa).
Pressure is set by the highest use. If you have ten tools needing 80 PSIG and one drawing 90, you’ll need 90 PSIG of pressure. You’ll want to set the pressure to match the tool with the highest operating pressure, allowing for a modest pressure drop (5-10 PSIG) for treatment, filtration and piping loss. Then you should equip the rest of your devices—those requiring less pressure—with pressure-reducing valves or regulators. But you shouldn’t set your operating pressure higher than you need it. That wastes energy, causes leaks, generates heat and increases wear.
Temperature readings can tell you whether your compressor is overworked. Or, conversely, whether it is under-performing.
Air that is too hot will damage end-use tools and equipment, degrading lubricants and seal materials. Sudden spikes could point to problems with the cooling system or lubrication.
In addition, the water vapor in hot air will cause corrosion and scale buildup and may even result in freezing in colder climates. Not to mention the quality problems water vapor-laden compressed air would cause in applications like automotive painting, semiconductor and healthcare and medical device manufacturing. A recent article by the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (CAGI) spells out the hazards of moisture in compressed air—including rust, corrosion, freezing and increased wear in most applications. And problems with color, adherence and finish in painting applications.
Inadequate cooling would allow water vapor to remain in compressed air flow, compromising sterile conditions in a life sciences or pharmaceutical application.
We consider oil the lifeblood of your system. Because oil plays such a crucial role in compressor operation, it’s essential to check fluid levels, change filters and replace oil regularly.
Fluid sampling is even more critical to the life of an oil-flooded rotary screw compressor. We recommend sampling oil every 2,000 hours (1,000 hours for food-grade lubricants). We also shorten the time interval in demanding site conditions.
Oil sampling will help you learn whether your compressor is being exposed to excessive heat or is taking in contaminants. Plus, it can also detect excessive bearing wear, allowing you to be proactive when you uncover a problem, perhaps even avoiding an unplanned shutdown.
That’s why we consider oil sampling the most important maintenance procedure for our compressors. You should set your air compressor monitoring system to provide alerts when it’s time to draw an oil sample.
Your energy consumption readings can help you understand the supply side of your operation, telling you what your compressor is doing in various circumstances. You might see that you don’t have enough storage to account for a sudden increase in demand. And that, rather than one large-sized compressor, you can use a combination of backup and trim compressors to increase the performance and reliability of your system. Those are the kinds of issues you might uncover by watching power consumption.
You’ll want to check sound levels and vibrations, which can indicate leaks or other problems with your system.
Leaks are a constant concern, of course. Compressed air systems lose between 30% and 50% of their volume to air compressor leaks, with poorly maintained systems running as high as 80%.
But remember, monitoring for sound leaks and other vibrations is only the start since 80% of leaks are not in the audible range. For those leaks, you’ll need leak detection equipment. For more information on the topic, go to our recent blog, “Air Compressor Leaking? How to Find and Stop Leaks”.
With a clear idea of what to monitor, let’s review how we can capture and analyze your air compressor data.
There are three main ways to take advantage of the data your air compressor is generating. They include the following choices.
At the simplest level, you can pull alarms and warnings off your compressor controller as well as a pressure transducer for system pressure and monitor some basic parameters like air pressure. The cost is small, and the demands on your IT department are minimal. Plus, in the event of a power failure, your measurements will come back online at the same time as your automation program.
You can also connect the parts of your air compressor system, including compressors, dryers and other equipment, using a Modbus interface.
Our most advanced connection is through our AirWatch system, which uses a wireless-based cellular modem to allow real-time monitoring of your air compressor data through any connected device, from a desktop to a cell phone.
You can customize alerts about warnings and shutdowns and format logging and trend analysis according to your preferences. You can even give your local distributor or air compressor professional access to the system so that they can respond if you choose.
With our AirWatch system, you can even give a consultant access to your air compressor data.
The result is you will have 24/7 access with 360° visibility into your air compressor’s status, allowing you to optimize its performance and efficiency.
A future blog will provide more details on integrating your air compressors into your smart factory.
Need help deciding why, when and how to monitor your air compressors? We can help. Kaishan USA works with a nationwide network of independent distributors, who can provide on-site help and consultation as needed. These factory-trained air compression experts have an investment in their local communities and can help you find the best air compressor monitoring approach for your application.
Your air compressor professional can help you select the right air compressor data monitoring system for your needs.
Monitoring your air compressor data is critical to the operation of your compressed air system and all the processes that rely on that system. If you need help selecting the right approach for your system, get in touch with the experts at Kaishan. Contact us today.
Air compressor data can play an essential role in keeping your plant running smoothly and efficiently.
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