Reducing air leaks in your plant can save tens and thousands of dollars annually. Compressed air is one of the most expensive kinds of power you should use in your plant, obviously, it is one of the most versatile, rapid and strong too.
When it’s “quiet time” in the place, walk around the equipment and listen. You’ll often hear the gentle (or perhaps not too gentle) hissing of air escaping from the exhaust port of your air valves.
The sound of compressed air “chewing up your dollars” as it wafts to environment can be quiet if your air valves have mufflers in the exhaust ports, but nevertheless, it can be heard.
Also, you can find commercially available ultra-sonic compressed air trickle detectors on the market. Investing in an ultrasonic flow detector can bring significant benefit in energy savings, if your plant does not have a “quiet time”, which will enable you to actually hear the leaks yourself.
Often you’ll have one air valve attached to one air cylinder. Usually that cylinder will be double acting – this means that it’ll have two air lines running to it, and air will instead move to the cylinder through one point or the other, as the air valve shifts back and forth. The other line is allowing the air at the other end of the cylinder to flow through the valve to exhaust, when it’s flowing into one line to the cylinder.
While an air valve and cylinder are carrying out work needless to say there will be air being exhausted continuously from the air valve exhaust ports.
It’s when the machine is down, when it’s doing number of good use – and hopefully money generating meet your needs – that air shouldn’t be escaping through the valve exhaust ports. At this point that loss of compressed air is merely that; loss – of earnings – of money.
Inside, the two ends of the tube are divided with a piston. The piston is what drives the rod out and back whilst the cylinder cycles.
Around that piston is going to be an seal that “crunches” between the side of the piston and the inside of the cylinder barrel, effectively preventing air from going by (bypassing) the piston.
With time that seal will wear, and air will begin bypassing into the other side. This ensures that this air now has an open path from the supply side down the other air line to the valve, and thence to the exhaust port. And a gentle (or not so gentle) hiss happens as your compressed air dollars exhaust to atmosphere.
Or….inside your air valve there is, too, a number of seals that usually prevent air from finding from the air supply side in to the exhaust side of the valve, and then out the exhaust port. And that air, since it gently (or not so….etc. ) is flowing your compressed air dollars from the plant air supply.
So, which will be it that’s leaking; the seal around the piston in the cylinder, or the seal inside the incoming air that is stopped by the valve from getting across to the exhaust port without going up to the cylinder?
Take a look at the cylinder. If the pole is out, air will soon be entering the air port at the back of the cylinder. The air is likely to be entering the cylinder at the rod end, if the cylinder is in – retracted.
Just take the air line that’s charged, that is, the air line that’s supplying air to the cylinder, and crimp it. Many air lines are made of polyethylene or polypropylene, and it is quite easy to create a bit of a bend in the air line, effectively shutting off air to the cylinder.
Listen at the device. If the air has stopped avoiding the valve’s exhaust port, then it is the seal in the cylinder that’s responsible.
If, after ensuring that the air to the tube is entirely stopped, air continues to exhaust from the exhaust port of the valve, then it is the seal inside the air valve that is responsible.
Regardless of which is at fault, the air valve or the tube, have it fixed….fast! Compressed air costs a bundle. That you don’t want to waste it.
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