Four keys to an efficient compressed air system

Posted: May 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

“What is the key to maintaining an efficient compressed air system?” The best reply would have to be — Preventive Maintenance.
According to “Wikipedia”: Preventive maintenance (PM) has the following meanings:
“The care and servicing by personnel for the purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in satisfactory operating condition by providing for systematic inspection, detection, and correction of incipient failures either before they occur or before they develop into major defects. Maintenance, including tests, measurements, adjustments, and parts replacement, performed specifically to prevent faults from occurring.”

*Source: from Federal Standard 1037C and from MIL-STD-188 and from the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms
Preventive maintenance activities include partial or complete overhauls at specified periods, oil changes, lubrication and so on. In addition, workers can record equipment information and deterioration so they know to replace or repair worn parts before they cause system failure.

The ideal preventive maintenance program would prevent all equipment failure before it occurs.

-Improves system reliability and helps keep equipment working and/or extend the life of the equipment.
-Decreases system downtime and actively helps prevent unbudgeted maintenance expenses from cropping up.
-Decreases the cost of having to replace equipment as often.
-Records operational data that can help you troubleshoot an emerging problem (called “Data Trending”)
Data trending is the recording of basic operation parameters including pressures, temperatures, and electrical data. For example, a slowly increasing temperature indicates a variety of maintenance requirements including cooler core cleaning, overloading of system and possible mechanical problems. Another example might include slowly decreasing pressure, indicating increased system flow requirements, reduced compressor performance or increased system leakage. Make sure someone is looking at this data on a regular basis. If the data is never reviewed then the benefit is lost.

To determine how valuable regular air compressor PM is to you and your business… you need to know what your “down-time” is worth. In some operations, down-time can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars an hour.
There are many misconceptions about preventive maintenance…one being that it costs too much.

This line of thinking says regularly scheduled downtime for maintenance costs more than operating the equipment until repair is absolutely necessary…or until the equipment breaks. This may be true for some components, but don’t forget to consider the long-term benefits and savings associated with preventive maintenance that have been previously mentioned.

If regular Preventive Maintenance can help reduce unexpected downtime that results in loss of production, time and materials or the ruining of an expensive plant process–then it is well worth the investment. Not to mention that unscheduled shut-downs can be extended if the correct equipment parts or repair technicians are not readily available.

“How effective is your PM program?”
The answer is: “If your PM program isn’t finding problems, it isn’t effective.”

Corrective maintenance, usually called “repair”, is conducted to get equipment working again or fix any problems found during Preventive Maintenance.
The primary goal of maintenance is to avoid or reduce the consequences of failure of your compressed air equipment. PM is designed to preserve and restore equipment reliability by replacing worn components before they actually fail.

Key #3: ASSESSING YOUR EQUIPMENT: When to maintain and when to replace.
Here are several factors to consider when assessing your compressed air equipment:
-How critical is your compressed air equipment? If equipment fails, what is the impact on production or safety.
-What is the age & history of your equipment.
Equipment histories will prove that most failures occur during infancy (newly installed or recently overhauled) and old-age (self-explanatory).
How many times has this equipment failed in the past?
-How much do you trust this equipment to perform as designed when scheduled to run?
-Do you need newer technology on your equipment?
Assessing the answers to these questions will help you determine when your older equipment needs fixing or replacing. Preventive Maintenance will help your equipment last longer, run better, and save you loads of money in the long haul.

-Every piece of compressed air equipment should come with a set of MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTIONS and some type of operations& parts manual. Your operators should review the equipment information and keep it handy for future reference. If you purchased used equipment and don’t have the manuals, contact your equipment distributor for a copy.
– Follow the maintenance guidelines for your equipment.


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