6 Reasons To Implement Compressed Air System Measurement

by Eric Lunsford
May 1, 2017

Up until very recently there have been two very good reasons why compressed air systems weren’t monitored beyond temperature and pressure.

  1. It was expensive to buy instruments capable of accurate measurements
  2. Cheap instruments were inaccurate

Thankfully, technology has come to the rescue and there are now lots of inexpensive instruments that are very accurate. Which means there is no excuse not to measure how your compressed air system performs – it pays to be tracking flow, power energy, dew point and key temperatures over time but this is very rarely done.

Stop and think about it for a second – here is a vital system to your operation. When your compressed air system goes down for planned or unplanned maintenance, the whole plant grinds to a halt or at best you’ve got a fraction of the productivity when it’s running.

On top of this – you are talking about one of your largest single energy cost centers in your plant. Surely you’d like to know if it is running efficiently or you are literally flushing perfectly good money down the toilet, as it runs inefficiently hour after hour, day after day.

All that needs to be done is logging of your data. Which is quite straight forward nowadays too.

“If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It.”

Lord Kelvin.

The main purpose of measuring and recording data is so that you can improve performance. If we have a baseline we can see if the system is at least holding steady or if it is becoming less efficient i.e. its specific power is rising.

Having access to logged data over time will give you access to performance trends and valuable feedback when you make changes – did it make your system for efficient?

Identify Maintenance Issues

Just because the compressor controls say ‘everything functioning properly’ doesn’t mean they should be taken as gospel. Having a measuring system in place it means you can verify that what your compressor controls say is true.

Ensuring Pressure Stability

One of the common goals of a compressed air system is to provide a steady supply of compressed air at the right pressure – again, this is hard to monitor without data logging. Compressed air systems can take some wild swings in pressure. Some are just part and parcel of life and some have underlying causes. With data it can be possible to identify reoccurring pressure problems and pinpoint the causes.

Troubleshoot Problems.

When you have a problem, the best thing you can do is go back and review the actual data of what happened rather than rely on the memories of those involved. It’s easier to correct what actually went wrong rather than what you think may have gone wrong.

Verify Your Savings

If senior management is going to spend money improving your equipment they generally want proof that your project is going to pay off. Data logging systems give you that proof. Unfortunately it can mean that if your project fails you’ve got proof of that too. But we know you’re smarter than to recommend a project that won’t improve the operation.

Sizing Equipment

Data on the performance of your compressed air system is a big benefit when working with vendors. Firstly, it means they can’t sell you an over-specked system by exploiting your ignorance. Secondly it means you can have a more informed discussion based on hard data about what you can do to actually reach your goals for your system – be it around energy efficiency, flow rates, or air quality.

It also means you’ll know very fast if your investment was the right one or it wasn’t.

If you’d like to start monitoring the performance of your compressed air system the best thing to do is start with a compressed air audit. As part of the audit Pye-Barker’s team of engineers can design up a robust and inexpensive data monitoring system to suit your compressed air system. To get the process started call 404-363-6000 or drop us a line sales@pyebarker.com

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