Pneumatics & Hydraulics


How air leak detection equipment prevents downtime

October 2023 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

One of Fluke’s customers is a manufacturer that literally helps keep the wheels of commerce moving. As one of the world’s foremost aftermarket manufacturers of wheel-services equipment, the company designs, builds and markets products under trusted and distinguished brands. Many of this manufacturer’s processes rely on compressed air to run around 400 tools in its 14 000 m2 plant, all from a 150 kW compressor. “We use compressed air everywhere in the plant − for pneumatic drivers, robotic welders, the laser cutter, and powder coat equipment,” says the manufacturer’s COO. “With compressed air comes noise and air leaks.”

Controlling energy waste

Air leaks cause compressed air driven equipment to work harder, leading to wasted energy. The potential for air leaks in the plant is further increased by the presence of older equipment accumulated over the last few decades from various plant consolidations. Hearing air leaks can be challenging in a noise-filled environment, so most leak detection activities are conducted after hours.

“Usually, we wait until the building’s very quiet during an off-shift or a maintenance shutdown, and we just try to hear air leaks as best we can,” says the maintenance supervisor. “We also use bottles of soapy water to spray on an area that we think may have a leak, and then we look for bubbles.” This spray and watch method requires maintenance team members to be close enough to the potential leak to hear and spray the solution in the correct area. The other method for finding compressed air leaks is to use an ultrasonic leak detector. This method requires a highly trained individual and significant time to locate all leaks. Small leaks can be difficult for the human ear to hear, and not all leaks are in easily accessible areas. It can be a daunting task.

See the sound you can’t hear

When Fluke approached this manufacturer about testing its Fluke ii900 Sonic Industrial Imager acoustic imager, which can pinpoint leaks from 50 metres away in a noisy environment, they were sceptical but more than willing to try it.

The testing process included the maintenance lead and the maintenance technician, who alternated throughout eight hours, surveying the entire plant for leaks with two Fluke Industrial Acoustic Imagers. With these they could problem areas as they scanned hoses, fittings and connections for leaks. The results of their leak survey surprised the manufacturing team. In a single workday they found approximately 143 leaks, both large and small.

“I questioned some of the leaks the tool was finding, so I sprayed those spots with soapy water and saw that the tool was right − there was a leak exactly where it said there was,” says the maintenance technician. The maintenance manager was particularly impressed by the ii900’s ability to find even the smallest of leaks. “Small leaks are very difficult to find,” he says. “I noticed there were some leaks that the ii900 found that we would never have found by spraying with soapy water.”

The ii900’s built-in acoustic array of tiny sensitive microphones generates a spectrum of decibel levels per frequency. Based on this output, an algorithm calculates a sound image known as SoundMap that is superimposed on a visual image. The SoundMap is automatically adapted, depending on the frequency level selected, so that background noise is filtered out. The SoundMap is updated on screen 10 to 20 times per second.

Long-range air leak detection

The team quickly identified a leak eight metres up in an overhead airline. Besides helping to find very hard to detect leaks, the manufacturing team believes the ii900 offers a substantial potential for saving time and costs. “Once we find and fix most of the leaks for the first time, we can do follow-ups and scan the whole plant in an eight hour shift,” says the maintenance supervisor. “This will help save overtime costs because we can scan for air leaks during the regular day shift rather than after hours. It also will save energy, and wear and tear on the equipment.”

“Air leaks just draw money out of the company,” concludes the maintenance manager. “They are tough to locate, so it’s hard to direct the maintenance team to the correct spot. The ability to take a photo of the leak with the Fluke Sonic imager and send it to our maintenance teams as part of the work order is extremely valuable. We think it’ll save us a ton of money, both in labour and energy costs.”

Product: https://bit.ly/3P5fwu9


Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Prioritising arc flash safety
Comtest Electrical Power & Protection
Comtest has developed a range of thermal imaging and wireless testing tools from Fluke, designed to ensure safety is the top priority for engineers working in potentially dangerous arc flash zones.

Read more...
Hydraulic connectors with residual pressure
Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Hydraulic connections are vital in both outdoor and indoor industrial machinery. However, the hydraulics lines frequently require connecting and disconnecting for maintenance or changeover. The goal is to enable quick, easy swaps to enhance machine flexibility and productivity.

Read more...
Ten considerations for optimum use of vacuum technology
Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Vacuum technology plays a huge role in the packaging of foodstuffs and other products. Here are ten considerations to help you use vacuum technology as effectively and efficiently as possible, so that you can optimise processes and cut operating costs.

Read more...
Versatile cylinder monitoring
ifm - South Africa Pneumatics & Hydraulics
This IO-Link cylinder sensor from ifm, with two configurable hardware outputs, will upgrade your machine in no time.

Read more...
Oil-free beer and wine processing
Pneumatics & Hydraulics
The food and beverage industry depends on superior quality, 100% oil-free compressed air to eliminate the presence of unwanted oil vapour throughout the production line.

Read more...
Choosing a pneumatic knocker
Neu Matics SA Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Pneumatic knockers are a valuable tool in minimising buildup of materials and preventing disruptions in material flow in silos, rotary dryers, coolers, granulators and coating drums. This helps plant managers improve production efficiency and product quality.

Read more...
Easy couplings for extreme conditions
Bearing Man Group t/a BMG Pneumatics & Hydraulics
BMG’s Timken Quick-Flex couplings, which require minimal maintenance, are able to withstand extreme applications, including hydraulics, pumps, gearboxes, compressors, vibrator screens, and fans.

Read more...
Innovative solutions to boost energy efficiency and cost savings
Pneumatics & Hydraulics
As a leading manufacturer of high performance cartridge valves and integrated packages, Sun Hydraulics has gathered a collection of innovative solutions proven to significantly boost and improve energy efficiency, reduce fuel consumption, and ultimately provide cost savings for the end-user.

Read more...
Create and recover energy all in one check valve
Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Energen is a new, high-efficiency check valve from Sun Hydraulics that allows free flow from inlet to outlet, and blocks flow in the opposite direction. Composed of an integrated generator that converts ...

Read more...
Create and recover energy all in one check valve
Motion Tronic Pneumatics & Hydraulics
Industrial automation group Inovance Technology Europe, in partnership with its distributor Motion Tronic, has announced the release of the MD800 – an AC multidrive designed to meet the demands of South ...

Read more...