Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Compressed Air Systems

Compressed air is an important component in the transfer of energy for use in industrial process. When designed properly, a compressed air system can reduce energy consumption dramatically, often resulting in energy saving of 10% or more. A poorly designed system, however, can lead to unnecessary downtime, loss of productivity, out-of-budget maintenance and repair costs, and lost revenue, not to mention increased headaches and stress!

An efficiently-operating compressed air system consists of a number of subsystems and components that must function smoothly together to achieve the desired results. Companies making the move to compressed air should be on the lookout for systems that are reliable, work with and improve their existing processes, and utilize the latest technology, without breaking the budget. To achieve these goals, here are the top ten mistakes to avoid in an air compressor set up:

Mistake 1 – Compromised Compressor: Trying to cut costs on compressor size, or choosing the wrong type of compressor for the job, can lead to higher maintenance costs or overall system failure. Calculate the volume of air required under peak operating conditions, for both minimum volume in cubic feet per minute, as well as minimum pressure, and make your compressor choice accordingly.

Mistake 2 – Plummeting Pressure: You can’t just think in terms of the pressure your compressor is capable of delivering. Look at the pressure your tools will need at the end of the piping run. Piping must be of an adequate size to competently meet volume requirements for all departments. It should be designed and installed so as to eliminate sharp angles, minimize pressure drops, and maintain air flow throughout. Using threaded joints will also help to reduce leakage commonly found with quick-disconnect fittings.

Mistake 3 – Dwindling Demand Capability: Your system must be able to respond quickly as demand rises, by allowing additional air into the piping. This requires the use of a demand expander controller to minimize pressure drops and ensure continued delivery of pressure to each piece of equipment.

Mistake 4 – Subpar Storage: The air reservoir must be of a sufficient size to meet compressed air storage requirements, and then have the capacity to immediately deliver it at peak periods when needed.

Mistake 5 – Lack of Control: The control mechanisms for your air compressor set up are as important as the equipment itself. Control accessories include filters, cooling systems, circulation pumps, pressure switches, separators, dryers, drains, after-coolers and dust enclosures.

Mistake 6 – Rotten Recovery: The system will lose efficiency if there is no heat recovery system in place. Instead of just exhausting air, engineer in duct work that can redirect heat throughout the facility as needed.

Mistake 7 – Botched Back-up: The air compressor system needs to be able to operate continuously, so operations can continue uninterrupted. To avoid breaks in capacity, be sure to design in redundancies and backup systems that will accommodate maintenance and repair requirements.

Mistake 8 – Dirty Air Delivery: The air compressor system needs clean air to function at maximum efficiency. Include specifications to provide air that is clean, dry, filtered, and free of oil and other particulates.

Mistake 9 – Messy Maintenance Protocols: Think ahead about the routine maintenance that will be required for your air compressor set up, including:

  • Leak checks
  • Pipe maintenance
  • Air demand monitoring
  • Watching for pressure loss
  • Establishing a schedule to proactively replace parts before they wear out.

Mistake 10 – Cheap Equipment Choices: When it comes to such a crucial part of your plant productivity, don’t try to save a few dollars by choosing lower-grade equipment that could cost you big bucks in the long run. Here at JHFOSTER, we offer a comprehensive and extensive suite of products from the top suppliers in the compressed air industry, such as: Aerzen USA, Control Devices LLC, Dekker Vacuum Technologies, Gardner Denver, Gardner Denver Thomas Pump, Nano Purification Solutions, Parker, Powerex, Quincy, Rogers Machinery Company, Samuel Pressure Vessel Group, Sauer Compressors USA, Solberg and Zeks.

An air compressor set up can be a complicated and fraught process, but it is not one you have to experience alone. From start to finish, the experts at JHFOSTER have the knowledge and experience to help you easily navigate your journey towards maximizing the efficiency of your air compressor system. We also maintain the JHFOSTER Compressed Air Library, which is full of free compressed air resources. Our library includes product specifications and solutions for various industries.

Headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota, JHFOSTER is a leading distributor and service provider of automation and compressed air systems. We are committed to providing successful solutions that exceed production demands, reduce costs, and increase overall efficiencies. Contact us online, request a quote, or call 855-688-0043 for more information on compressed air systems.