Pneumatics & Hydraulics

Use compressed air efficiently

Technews Industry Guide: Sustainable Manufacturing 2021 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

Is your business sustainable into the coming years? To attain sustainability, one of the areas that needs great attention is compressed air efficiency within the plant. By focusing on this, plant owners can dramatically reduce their compressed air costs, leading to lower emissions, higher profits and a more sustainable operation.

With air compressors being one of the bigger consumers of energy in many plants, it pays to keep tight control of compressor station power costs. Focus points include:

• Compressor performance testing.

• Elimination of air leaks.

• Compressed air quality across the plant.

Performance testing

Accurate compressor performance testing is now readily available. Artic Driers has a portable package to benchmark an air compressor’s air flow performance vs. its power consumption. By measuring the pressure, flow rate and power simultaneously, an accurate measurement of m3/kW can be obtained. This can then be compared against CAGI (Compressed Air and Gas Institute) results, or the supplier’s data sheet.

This information can be used to determine if a compressor needs an overhaul. Performance levels before and after overhaul can also be measured to compare the air flow performance pre- and post-service. For anyone considering purchasing a preowned compressor, it can also serve as proof of a compressor’s ‘health’ status.

Air leak detection

Using the S531 leak detector, air leaks can be quickly identified. Finding and repairing air leaks is vital to prevent the waste of expensive compressed air. With compressed air costing around R0,13 per m3, losses due to leaks can cost a company hundreds of thousands of Rands per annum.

To illustrate, it is estimated that the average factory has a leak rate equal to 20% (or more) of the produced air volume. A 160 kW air compressor with a simple service plan, when running 24/7/365, can cost up to R1,5 million per annum to operate. A 20% leak loss will easily cost some R300 000 every year.

The use of ultrasonic leak detection and flow meters will quickly identify leaks. The S531 ultrasonic leak gun locates the leak, grades the severity, and provides an accurate cost of the air being wasted, all at the same time. It can even write the management report.

Compressed air quality

Poor compressed air quality inevitably affects production. The efficiency of robotics and pneumatics suffers, while automation systems are impaired and equipment lifecycles shortened. Appropriate compressed air quality is essential to avoid debilitating outages. Compressed air contamination will also increase wastage because drain traps and drain legs get left open to purge water and oil from the air distribution system. It is therefore essential to:

• Remove water oils and other contaminants from the airlines with a suitable air dryer.

• If a twin-tower chemical air dryer is used, fit it with a dewpoint controller to reduce purge air wastage.

• Do not run compressors at higher pressure than necessary – it wastes power.

• Design the ring main with a view to easy expansion, minimal corrosion and adequate condensate drainage.

• Reduce airline pressure drops.

• Fit inline filters sparingly, they can cause pressure drops. Rather concentrate on decontamination in the compressor room.

• Ensure air speeds are kept low to reduce pressure drops.

• Perform an air leak audit every three months.

• Benchmark production lines with flowmeters to ensure proper use of air.

Artic Driers can test compressed air quality to ISO 8573 standards, with portable or fixed base station equipment, and offer compressed air leak audits, dew point and flow tests.

The newly imported S600 portable Air Purity Analyser from SUTO-iTEC is perfect for clients that need to monitor and prove the quality of their compressed air supply and system to ISO 8573 standards.


Efficiency, minimising waste, reducing downtime and preventing unplanned outages are the keys to compressed air cost reduction and long-term company sustainability.


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Festo at the heart of absolute automation
July 2021, Festo South Africa , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Festo is renowned as one of the leading pneumatic automation suppliers. Over the years, the company has also set the pace in both Process and Electric Automation. This is backed by its proven record of ...

Parker’s High Performance Flange system
July 2021, Parker Hannifin - Sales Company South Africa , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Parker Hannifin has announced that its mechanical flange system for machines and plants with working pressures of up to 420 bar has gained DNV GL approval for marine applications.

Compressed air purity analyser
July 2021, Artic Driers International , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Compressed air treatment using filters and dryers is an effective barrier to airline contamination. Until recently, auditing the compressed air quality in a system was difficult, but clients and professional ...

BMG’s Hydraforce valves and solutions
April 2021, Bearing Man Group t/a BMG , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
BMG, distributors of the Hydraforce range of proportional valves in southern Africa, works closely with Hydraforce engineers and customers in diverse industries to design and manufacture customised hydraulic ...

Highly flexible pick and place with digitised pneumatics from Festo
February 2021, Festo South Africa , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Motion Apps are revolutionising pneumatics by increasing flexibility, energy efficiency and accelerating production processes.

An easier way to connect
February 2021, Hydrasales , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Quick-release hydraulic couplings on agricultural equipment have enabled Faster Couplings to provide innovative solutions to meet this sector’s needs.

Protect machines with soft-start valves
February 2021, SMC Corporation South Africa , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
A slow increase in air pressure into a machine at startup helps facilitate a soft start of all downstream components.

Gimatic expands product range with launch of vacuum product offering
January 2021 , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
New offering gives customers greater flexibility in designing optimal automation systems that aim to increase efficiency & productivity.

Fibertex offers advanced solutions in filtration for a cleaner environment
November 2020 , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Fibertex Nonwovens, a leading manufacturer of a comprehensive range of nonwovens and performance-based materials used in diverse industries, has developed advanced filtration solutions that contribute to a cleaner environment.

Monitoring oil with the power of connectivity
November 2020, Hydrasales , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
The latest innovation in the MP Filtri range of condition monitoring products helps system engineers with the digitalisation of their monitoring processes. It identifies contaminants early in the service ...