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Fix those leaks for energy savings – Maintenance Tips!

Author : Malcolm Crossley Parker Hannifin

21 December 2012

Leakage:
A major contributing factor to energy wastage in compressed air systems is air leakage. Unlike a leaking water pipe, leakage in a compressed air system can be hidden and thus difficult to track down and fix. 

Unlike a leaking water pipe, leakage in a compressed air system can be hidden and thus difficult to track down and fix. Image: stock.xchng

In pneumatic systems we tend to accept a low level hiss in the background as normal, but in reality it’s bleeding energy and is therefore costing companies money.  According to the Carbon Trust “an average leak rate for a well maintained system should be around 5 to 10% of air generated to leakage. However it is noted that in unmanaged systems it can be as much as 40 to 50% of the generated output”.
 
 Leaks can occur in multiple places for numerous different reasons. A quick win for maintenance personnel is to simply walk the line and use their natural senses.  Listening for the line hissing will give maintenance people instant opportunities for quick fixes and rapid energy reduction.
 Look for leaks in obvious areas such as:
? Pipework
? Fittings, flanges and manifolds
? Hoses, couplings and tubing
? Worn out system components.
? Misaligned tubing
 
 Maintain system components for leak free operation
 It’s also worth noting that preventative/scheduled maintenance on system components, which may leak, is absolutely necessary.  Look for worn out seals on cylinders and valves.  Utilise the spares kits that most manufacturers supply and change the seals on system components as part of routine action.  As to new installations, specify manufacturers that are placing emphasis on developing system components with the latest seal technology to reduce leaks

Maintenance departments are setting targets for leakage reduction as part of their planned preventative maintenance schedules and then they publicise their achievements. They are not only using the listening technique but introducing flow meters and pressure transducers to more accurately achieve leakage reduction.  Whatever techniques are employed, the emphasis on fixing leaks should be paramount.


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