It’s interesting to me that a lot of compressed air systems are allowed to grow organically.

Pumping systems are precisely engineered. Requirements are specified exactly. The system is evaluated on paper, future-proofed. Those designs are evaluated and double checked… Compressed air systems are not specified per se.

Compressed air system components are specified.

A lot of compressed air systems aren’t anywhere near as well engineered. Frankly far too many systems are a built out of a mish-mash of components, often with customization and often there are oversights in integration.

Eli Goldratt wrote a lot of books about using Theory of Constraints in business settings. Initially he was famous for optimizing the production of manufacturing systems. The big mistake he saw in a business was ‘optimizing each step of the process.’ He called it striving for ‘local optima.’

Independently specifying the best compressor, best drying system, best storage tank won’t produce the most overall efficient system.

Ultimately there will be one component that is the constraint on the system and it will determine the overall performance of the system. Kind of like a chain only being as strong as it’s weakest link.

The capacity of your compressed air system will be limited by the ‘weakest link.’

If I was to design a compressed air system from the ground up I would be looking at

Then I’d specify a system based around those criteria.

We know that most systems are already up and running and now many plant managers are having to add capacity or improve air quality or sometimes doing both to their existing compressed air systems. However, when there is no overall system consideration you can end up creating something like Frankenstein’s monster.

For example: if you add a new compressor with a Variable Speed Drive to an existing compressed air system. Say that new compressor runs at 50% speed and power. Say the system’s existing modulating compressor has cut its output and is now running at 20% capacity. That modulating compressor could still be using 75% of its full power load.

The new VSD operated compressor might be able to handle the base load at about 70% capacity and consuming 70% power. Instead, in this example, two compressors are running at 125% of the necessary power.

That’s obviously not optimal.

For a start you’d want is to update the controls for the system so that the VSD compressor handles the base load and the modulating compressor comes on to handle demand over a threshold and it is shut down when demand is below that threshold.

That’s really only the beginning of system optimization.

If your compressed air expenses are climbing (or if you can’t measure them accurately) or you think you need to expand your system, the first thing to do is to take stock of the system as a whole. If you don’t have the necessary expertise in-house, we will audit your compressed air system for you and guide you to getting the performance you need. To get started with a no-obligation discussion call 404-363-6000 or drop us a line sales@pyebarker.com

Getting  The Longest Possible Life Out Of Your Air Compressor

 

Air Compressor Service

Speaking from YEARS of compressor service experience

A good air compressor should only be noticed when it isn’t working. The rest of the time it hums away doing its job so that all of your factory’s vital functions can continue on, as expected.

Downtime is frustrating not only because something you expect to work isn’t but also for many businesses we service, an air compressor being down means no product is going out the door.

The downtime is costing you in maintenance and profit as well as upsetting the guys on the floor.

Here are the questions we get asked over and over again about air compressor oil maintenance. Following this advice will save you a fortune in both downtime and repair bills.

Can I top off the existing compressor oil with another oil?

When you mix two different oils is you create a third oil. The resulting third oil’s chemical properties may vary significantly depending on the mixing ratio, 50/50, 90/10, 10/90, etc. The suitability of this new oil for your compressor is anyone’s guess.

Additionally, these different mixtures have never been tested in operating conditions for extended periods of time so the expected oil life is not predictable – so this just results in a need for more monitoring that could be avoided by using the right oil in the first place.

You place your compressor at even more risk if you mix your oils. Don’t do it.

What do you mean mixing your oils?

Mixing oils with different chemistries or mixing a PAO base oil with a Petroleum base oil can cause varnishing.

Varnishing can cause your compressor to run hot often leading to costly repairs and expensive downtime.

Mixing oils can cause solubility problems between base fluids. They could emulsify and/or lose viscosity. If soluble, the oil will behave as well as the worst lubricant, mineral lubricants shorten the life of synthetics. Which creates another unnecessary expense – faster oil change.

Will I invalidate the compressor warranty by using aftermarket oils?

It is recommended that you use the compressor manufacturer’s oil thru the warranty period. If there is a problem and you make a claim against the warranty, the oil will be tested. Contaminating one oil with another is typically grounds to invalidate a warranty.

How long will the compressor oil last?

This depends on several factors, including application, cleanliness of air and type of oil used. Use the following table to estimate how often you need to change your compressor oil

Discharge Aeon 4000 Aeon 6000FG  Aeon 9000SP Aeon 9000TH
Up to 180F   4000 Hours 4000 Hours 8000 Hours 8000 Hours
180F to 190F 3000 Hours 3000 Hours 6000 Hours 8000 Hours
190F to 200F 2000 Hours 2000 Hours 4000 Hours 8000 Hours
200F to 210F 1000 Hours 1000 Hours 2000 Hours 6000 Hours

 

Why do I have to change the oil anyway?

The short answer is oil oxidizes. Oxidization is the chemical reaction between oxygen in the air and the oil being forced together by mixing at high temperatures. Oxidation is the number one reason why the fluid must be changed out.

Oxidation of any PAO based fluid (Many compressor lubricants are PAO based) can lead generation to varnish formation in the fluid is allowed to run through the compressor without the presence of antioxidants. Oxidation by-products can accumulate in the fluid, become insoluble and collect on the surfaces of the compressor as varnish.

If the varnishing is bad enough if you turn the compressor off long enough for the oil to cool down – say for the weekend, the varnished oil will become a thick dense mass causing the compressor to lock up and not restart once the oil cools down to room temperature. Once the varnished oil has cooled down it turns into a thick mass and it cannot be cleaned out. Any piping containing varnish as well as the air end will need to be replaced.

As long as the varnished oil stays hot and in a liquid from the unit can be cleaned out using the Comp Clean product.

Obviously this can all be avoided with regular oil changes – so don’t let them slip through the cracks.

Oil Testing and Oil Analysis Reports

Pye-Barker Supply has free oil testing with a detailed analysis reports thru Gardner Denver Oil Services Laboratories, to get an analysis for your compressor just call 404-363-6000 or ask your technician the next time he is on site for a service.

Gardner Denver AEON Lubricants

Don't mix your lubricants

I had a customer call and had a positive displacement blower that needed oil. He said “I have some compressor oil – can I use that in the blower?” I have had others call stating they had a rotary screw compressor using mineral base oil (typically ATF or equivalent), and wondered if he could top-off with synthetic lube. Both are recipes for disaster.

In the first case, positive displacement blowers require a higher viscosity oil than rotary screw compressors. Typically, they will require a viscosity index of ISO 220 oil (40W SAE). Rotary screw compressors will typically require an ISO 46 (for synthetic lubricants). The ISO 46 is much too thin to provide proper lubrication to the gears and bearings of a positive displacement blower. Conversely, the ISO 220 blower oil will be too heavy and thick for use in the rotary screw compressor, starving the maintenance and greater reliability compressor for oil.

In the second example, the two oils are not compatible. The two different base stocks, when combined, can cause detrimental interaction with polymers within the compressor (seals, etc.). If oils are inadvertently mixed, a complete flush and fill procedure should be followed. The contaminated oil must be completely drained from the compressor, filters and separator must be replaced, and the unit partially filled (1/2 charge) with the new lubricant or flushing fluid. The unit must then be run until normal operating temperatures are reached, and then shut down. Oil must again be drained completely from the unit, and oil filter replaced again. The compressor can then be filled with a complete charge of new oil. This procedure is costly and time-consuming and can be avoided by not mixing lubricants.

Compressors and blowers both have very specific lubricant requirements, which are generally spelled out in the operator’s manual furnished with the equipment. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations will help keep your compressor or blower operating satisfactorily for a long time.

Compressor Lubrication

Oil Free versus Lubricated Compressors

If you are not using the correct oil in your air compressor you can significantly damage your compressor parts leading to costly repairs and down time. To reduce the risk of a compressor malfunction, keep the oil reservoir and compressor components clean by sampling and changing the oil on a regular basis. Be sure you always use the proper weight and grade oil specified by the manufacturer.

 

                                     Service Hours vs Temperature

Often I get the question “How long will my compressor oil last?” This really depends on several factors including application, cleanliness of air, and type of oil used.

 

Discharge Temp      Aeon 4000        Aeon 6000FG       Aeon 9000SP         Aeon 9000TH

Up to 180F                 4000 Hours       4000 Hours           8000 Hours           8000 Hours

180F to 190F             3000 Hours       3000 Hours           6000 Hours           8000 Hours

190F to 200F             2000 Hours       2000 Hours           4000 Hours           8000 Hours

200F to 210F             1000 Hours       1000 Hours           2000 Hours           6000 Hours

 

                     Frequently Asked Questions about Mixing Oils

 

Can I top off the existing compressor oil with another oil?

Mixing two different oils is not recommended. When you mix two different oils you actually create a third oil. This resulting third oil may vary significantly depending on the mixing ratio, 50/50, 90/10, 10/90, etc. Additionally, these different oils have never been tested for extended periods of time so the expected oil life is not predictable.

 

Will I invalidate the compressor warranty by using aftermarket oils?

It is recommended that you use only the compressor manufacturer’s oil thru the warranty period. Oil manufactures can tell when their oil has been blended with something else. Contaminating one oil with another is typically grounds to invalidate a warranty.

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Savannah, GA 31415
TEL: (912) 238-0303
FAX: (912) 238-5214
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Forest Park, GA 30297
TEL: (404) 647-0986
FAX: (404) 361-8579
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Orlando, FL 32824
FAX: (321) 282-6424
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(404) 647-0986

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