Energy saving is currently one of the highest priorities in many businesses, who want to save as much money as possible on their energy consumption bills. No company can afford to throw away money where it is not necessary, but as it stands energy costs are one of the highest expenditures for most companies. Not to mention the strain energy consumption is outing on our environment.
Pneumatic systems are essential for many companies and are widely found across all manufacturing premises. For this reason, it is highly important that they run as efficiently as possible to ensure that energy costs are kept down as much as possible.
The energy costs of running a machine or robot accounts for 75% of the total cost of ownership, so should be a substantial consideration for most companies who use them.
However, pneumatics systems are renowned to be one of the most expensive operations to run, and therefore many businesses simply resign to paying the full costs, without much consideration that they may actually be able to reduce their costs.
Thus, for the system to be efficient, it is important to purchase equipments from specialist pneumatic providers.
We have put together a few ways in which you can increase the efficiency of your pneumatics systems to ensure your energy costs stay as low as possible.
- Correct sized components
When fitting and replacing parts of a pneumatic system, it can be tempting to purchase parts which are initially cheaper in cost to try and save money. For example, a small control valve may be a cheaper investment than a large one which is the correct size. However, don’t be fooled that you will be saving money in this way.
Although the smaller control valve will be initially the cheaper option, in the long run it will cost you a lot more money, as the improperly sized valve will affect the overall system in a negative way, altering the efficiency and costs of the machinery. In this particular scenario, having a smaller control valve will mean that the air compressor will have to work harder to get the needed pressure to the actuators.
This is true for the opposite way too. Whilst it is sometimes necessary to oversize some parts to make up for pressure fluctuations and such issues, largely oversized parts are the most energy draining oversights in a pneumatics system.
Installing the correct size parts in a pneumatics system will not only reduce the costs of the energy consumption, but will also mean increased efficiency of your machinery.
- Optimise pressure
As compressed air travels through the system, the air pressure levels drop due to many factors, such as changes in demand and resistance. However, some of the loss in pressure can be reduced, simply by decreasing the length between the air compressor and actuator. Typically, the length of these tubes should be 10 ft or shorter.
By decreasing the length the air has to travel, you are less likely to lose pressure, meaning that your pneumatic system will be able to run more efficiently with less wasted energy.
Another way to optimise the efficiency of the pneumatics system is to only use the amount of pressure which you really need for the machine to perform properly. A lot of the time, operators try to boost the performance of the machinery by increasing the pressure settings. However, if you go beyond the maximum parameters of pressure for the machine, you will just be wasting energy.
In order to stay within the optimum pressure specifications, a pressure switch, pressure monitor or regulator which can control the correct pressure can be an investment to ensure that your machine is always working at its most efficient.
- Minimise leaks
Leaks are one of the most common problematic occurrence in a pneumatic system. Not only can they occur regularly, but they are also responsible for up to 35% of compressed air loss. This can dramatically reduce the efficiency of your machinery, meaning that more money will be spent in an attempt to make up for a machine which is not working at its best.
If there is a leak between the compressor and the load, these leaks can be fixed fairly easily, and it is well worth doing. Valves and seals are the most common areas in need of improvement, so these are the ones which you should check. Replacing valves with soft seals can lower the leakage significantly.
It is also important to consider the environment in which your pneumatics system is placed, as this will affect the type of material which will be the best option for your machinery. In some instances, for example, expensive seals such as Teflon or Viton may be the most appropriate option for maximum efficiency.
- Turn machinery off
One of the most obvious ways to save energy is to switch off the pneumatic system when it is not in use. However, some machines can require pressure even when the machine is off, even if it is a much lower pressure.
Many machines have no automatic way to reduce air flow to machines which are not in use, and appointing staff to manually switch them off is not always an option. For these machines, investing in an automatic air reduction control will lower the air pressure to the machine, or shut it off completely when it is not in use. This is a small initial investment which, in the long term, will save you large amounts of money.
Author: Stephen Robinson
Thank you for reading my post, I have been writing and reviewing pneumatic systems for around 6 years now and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to be featured on OMG Lifestyle.