02
Sep
How Much Do Air Leaks Cost?

Air leaks prevent your compressor from operating at maximum efficiency, which can cost your facility money. You know it’s a problem, but your maintenance team is stretched thin and you don’t want to cover the overtime expense for them to do weekend repairs. 

We get it — the task just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. But how much are those air leaks actually costing you in the meantime? 

Below, we’ll do a deep dive into how much air leaks cost your facility, as well as how much it costs to fix them. 

How Much Are Air Leaks Costing My Facility?

If your compressor has an air leak, it’s costing you money in more than one way. Reduced pressure, wasted energy, and slower operation are all results of air leaks, and they all carry a price tag.  

The cost of an air leak depends on two main factors: the size of the air compressor and the size of the leak. While some air leaks are very small and could go undetected without a professional evaluation, others are big enough to hear without using special technology. And if you can hear a leak, it’s probably costing your facility at least $500 per year. 

When air compressor experts determine a more specific number regarding the cost of an air leak, they look at its size, as well as how many cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air flow are lost based on that size. Here’s a guide to help you understand how much air leaks of various sizes may be costing your facility, on average:

Average Yearly Cost of Air Leaks Based on Leak Size

  • 1/64″ diameter = .45 CFM = $47/year
  • 1/32” diameter = 1.6 CFM = $198/year
  • 1/16” diameter = 6.45 CFM = $800/year
  • 1/8″ diameter = 25.8 CFM = $3,208/year
  • 1/4″ diameter = 103 CFM = $12,812/year
  • 3/8″ diameter = 234 CFM = $29,113/year

Keep in mind that these cost estimates are for just one air leak. But, upon a professional evaluation, many facilities detect a number of leaks — increasing those estimates substantially.  

How Much Do Air Leaks Cost to Fix?

After reading through those estimated costs, you may have a newfound respect for your team’s time spent fixing them — but you might also be worried about how much the repairs will cost. The good news? In many cases, air leak repairs can be paid for through utility companies’ energy rebate programs

Utility companies know that air compressors use a ton of electricity, which is why they’ll reward you for any energy-saving efforts. These rebates vary in dollar amount but cover anything from prescriptive measures to custom repairs. By working with a compressed air supplier that understands and accepts these rebate programs, you can use your utility incentives and get the repair work you need for no out-of-pocket cost.

Fix Your Air Leaks and Save Your Money With TMI

At TMI, we’re the only air compressor manufacturer in West Michigan with a team that specializes in finding and fixing leaks, as well as working with utility companies’ energy rebates. As experts in energy efficiency, we understand these rebate programs and work with energy companies like Consumers’ Energy to help you make the best use of yours. 

How We Fix Air Leaks With No Out-of-Pocket Costs

Before we even head out to your facility, our team will connect with your utility provider to determine your rebate eligibility. Then, our team visits your facility to find, report, tag, and fix those air leaks. 

Our partnership with Consumers Energy and other energy companies means there are no purchase orders or proposals to sign. We simply come out and fix those air leaks for you. Once our report is submitted, our team is paid for their time with the rebates reserved through Consumers. 

If you suspect an air leak in your compressor, there’s no reason to wait on a fix. The TMI experts can help! Our find, fix, and save process is streamlined to ensure your facility operates at maximum efficiency. For more information, give us a call or contact us online today. 

09
Aug
Understanding Your Air Compressor’s Temperature Range

During winter’s cold streaks and summer’s heat waves, we field a lot of emergency calls about an air compressor’s temperature range. If temperatures get too hot, they overheat. If temperatures get too cold, they freeze. Finding a happy medium is difficult. 

But a system breakdown doesn’t need to happen. Here’s a guide to understanding your air compressor’s temperature range and some tips on how to keep it running efficiently in various temperatures.

What Is My Air Compressor’s Ideal Temperature?

Oddly enough, air compressors are a little bit like us humans in terms of temperature. If you’re hot and sweaty, your air compressor probably is too. If you’re stiff and shivering from the cold, your air compressor probably is too. 

That being said, your air compressor’s ideal operating temperature is between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Within this range, the mechanical components can run without risk of overheating or freezing. 

Most manufacturers design their machines to work at temperatures up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, but that’s usually a bit of a risk. Sticking to that optimal range will ensure you’re running your air compressor with optimal safety and efficiency

Can I Use My Air Compressor In Hot and Cold Weather?

Yes, but use caution. 

Extreme heat or cold can cause some serious damage to your compressor. However, we understand that weather conditions are uncontrollable, and that your facility doesn’t always have the flexibility to turn things off on a hot or cold day. 

For this reason, we’ll outline a few best practices for you to employ so that your equipment can run smoothly in most conditions. 

Using Your Air Compressor in Hot Weather

If your air compressor hits a temperature above its ideal temperature range, it’s at risk for overheating. Overheating can cause slower operation and equipment damage, which can in turn cause downtime waiting on shutdowns and maintenance. 

If you’re using your air compressor in hot temperatures, try the following best practices to keep it as cool as possible: 

  • Consider purchasing a larger (or secondary) cooler
  • Increase ventilation around the compressor wherever possible
  • Check and clean moisture drains frequently, especially if there is high humidity

Using Your Air Compressor in Cold Weather

If your air compressor’s temperature falls below 50 degrees, it’s at risk for multiple problems. Internal condensation can form and crack the air cooler, oil can thicken and cause lubrication issues, and rubber hoses and belts can lose flexibility and snap.  

If you’re using your air compressor in cold temperatures, try the following best practices to keep it from freezing up:

  • Use oil that is a suitable grade for low-temperature applications
  • Insulate any condensate traps and water lines
  • Check and replace stiff hoses and belts
  • Check and clean condensate traps frequently

Still Can’t Beat the Heat or Cold? Consider a Climate-Controlled Space for Your Air Compressor

If you’re worried about purchasing another air compressor because you don’t have space for it on the factory floor, there is another solution that keeps you from having to store it outside in unpredictable weather: building a climate-controlled space. 

At TMI, we often work with our clients to create a custom space to house their new air compressor — offering you all the space you need, without the worry of putting such an expensive piece of machinery outdoors. These spaces are equipped with climate-control and proper ventilation to ensure the compressor stays within its recommended temperature range and operates without trouble. And the best part? Our partnerships with high-quality modular construction experts ensure we can keep installation quick and prices low. 

Having trouble with an air compressor in extreme temperatures? Let the team at TMI help. Specializing in serving Michigan, we understand extreme temperature ranges. With 24/7 emergency service, we can come out to service your compressor at any time, and help you get your equipment back up and running.

15
Jul
How to Improve Air Compressor Efficiency

Air compressors are some of the most continuously run machines in manufacturing plants and are therefore accountable for a lot of energy consumption. In fact, an air compressor alone can account for up to 20% of a facility’s energy usage. That being said, optimizing your air compressor is critical when it comes to saving your facility some serious money. 

5 Ways to Improve Air Compressor Efficiency

If you’re looking to cut down on energy costs, the experts at TMI are here to help. Here are five of our best tips to help you improve your air compressor’s efficiency: 

1. Choose the Right Make and Model

The best way to maximize your compressor efficiency is to start off buying one that best suits the needs of your facility. There is no universal “best choice” when it comes to air compressors — it all depends on what your needs are and which application(s) it will be used for.

At TMI, we supply air compressors in a variety of makes and models. Our engineers and technicians are happy to help you determine which would be the most efficient and reliable system for your specific needs and applications. 

2. Install A Variable Speed Drive

If you haven’t already installed a compressor with a variable speed drive, doing so could be a game changer in terms of energy and cost savings. Air compressors with variable speed drives automatically regulate the compressor’s speed to match the output with the demand of the job. So, when you’re performing a low-demand job, the compressor will run at a reduced speed and save you some energy. 

A variable speed drive can be a good choice for anyone who uses air compressors but is especially helpful for facilities with various applications and cubic feet per minute (CFM) requirements.

3. Check for and Fix Air Leaks

As the leading cause of energy loss in air compressors, air leaks can waste between 20-30% of a compressor’s energy. Not only do they waste air, but they also cause pressure drops that require longer runtimes to achieve the same output. 

Air leaks can be found anywhere in the system, but are most commonly found in pressure regulators, shut-off valves, disconnects, pipe joints, hoses, and tubes. There are a number of ways to fix air leaks, and some can even be fixed simply by tightening connections. Other times, they require part replacements. Either way, you’ll save energy and money in the long run by getting them fixed. 

4. Cool Intake Air

One thing many facilities overlook is the temperature of the air going into the compressor. Naturally, cold air is more compressed than hot air, so moving your compressor to a colder location would require it to use less energy to run. Something as simple as moving it to a basement or shaded area, or even bringing the temperature down in your plant could greatly improve your compressor’s efficiency. 

5. Change Filters

Changing air compressor filters is surely important in maintaining clean air outputs for your applications, but it’s also important in maintaining optimized pressure. When filters are filled with dirt, dust, and grime, they can clog and cause system pressure drops. Again, any pressure drops require the system to run longer and use more energy to achieve desired results. 

Air compressors are energy hogs. Anything you can do to improve air compressor efficiency can provide serious returns for your bottom line. At TMI we are air compressor efficiency experts. Contact us today and let us help you get the most out of your air compressor.

15
Jun
Advantages of an Oil-Free Air Compressor

While choosing an air compressor to best fit the needs of your business, you’ll have to decide whether to purchase one that is oil-injected or oil-free.

You may have heard that oil-injected air compressors are more durable and great for heavy-duty projects. They may also be the type you’re most comfortable and familiar with. So why might your facility need an oil-free air compressor?

Below, we’ll explain what oil-free air compressors are, outline five advantages of oil-free air compressors, and list some of the oil-free air compressors we carry here at TMI. 

What is an Oil-Free Air Compressor?

Air compressors need a form of lubrication in order to keep internal parts moving and functioning properly. Oil-injected air compressors, of course, use oil to lubricate the components inside the compression chamber. Oil-free air compressors, on the other hand, use self-lubricating materials or pre-lubricated and Teflon-coated cylinders instead of oil to keep parts protected and moving safely. 

5 Advantages of an Oil-Free Air Compressor 

There are many applications that benefit greatly from oil-free air compressors’ unique qualities. Here’s a list of five advantages that oil-free air compressors can bring to your business or facility: 

1. Eliminates Product Contamination

In certain industries, strict cleanliness standards must be met to ensure quality production. For applications like these, an oil-free air compressor isn’t just beneficial, it’s necessary. In order to ensure manufactured products are clean and safe, there can’t be any oil particles coming out of the machine and contaminating them. 

Some industries that have sensitive applications and could benefit from an oil-free air compressor include:

  • Pharmaceutical 
  • Food and beverage
  • Electronics
  • Textiles
  • Robotics
  • Automotive
  • Painting
  • Aerospace
  • Plumbing

Basically, if air quality and contaminant levels are important to your application, an oil-free compressor is what you need. You don’t want to compromise the quality of your products or hurt your reputation with below standard production. If your ISO requirements are Class 0 (100% oil-free) or Class 1 (oil concentration of 0/01 mg/m3 at 1 bar(a), 14.5psia, and 20° C), air quality is important enough for your facility to invest in an oil-free air compressor.  

2. Reduces Maintenance Requirements

Oil-injected air compressors require regular oil changes, usually after every 200-500 hours of use. They may also need air/oil separation and filtration treatments to remove oil aerosols. All of that maintenance can add up and cause your business time and money. 

Oil-free air compressors don’t need that regular maintenance. Instead, you’ll just have to drain the compressor tank to remove vapor, which is a much smaller commitment. 

3. Reduces Cost of Ownership

Most oil-free air compressors are less expensive to begin with, but that can of course vary depending on which product, size, or horsepower you choose. However, since oil-free air compressors require less preventative maintenance, they can offer a much lower cost of ownership. 

Also, some oil-free air compressors come with regulators that ensure the machine only uses energy when needed, which can save you money on fuel costs.

4. Increases Speed and Reduces Noise

Oil-injected air compressors require more power to heat up and start working because oil is viscous and difficult to get moving, especially in cold conditions. With an oil-free air compressor, that extra start-up time isn’t needed, so you can get production started without delay. 

Another advantage of oil-free compressors is their ability to operate quietly. Some have sound levels as low as 48 dBA. Although sound isn’t the most important consideration for most facilities, it’s a bonus if your engineers and technicians are spending a lot of time near the machine throughout their workday.

5. Reduces Carbon Footprint

Oil-free air compressors are more environmentally friendly than their oil-injected counterparts simply because they don’t release oil contaminants into the air. If you’re using an air compressor for multiple projects a day, and for extended periods of time, going oil-free could lessen your environmental impact dramatically.

Oil-Free Air Compressors at TMI

At TMI, we know the advantages of oil-free air compressors. As West Michigan’s only Sullair distributor, we carry a number of oil-free air compressors. Some of our most popular series include:

Sullair Oil-Free Scroll SRL Series

Built on Hitachi engineering, the Sullair Oil-Free Scroll SRL Series ranges between 2-44 horsepower and 5-129 cubic feet per minute. It also produces air pressures up to 145psig, while maintaining sound levels as low as 48 dBA. It’s a reliable, efficient system that is easy to install and maintain.

Sullair Oil-Free Rotary Screws DSP Series

Also built on Hitachi engineering, the Sullair Oil-Free Rotary Screws DSP Series ranges between 30-300 horsepower. It’s great for air needs between 117-1300 cubic feet per minute, and the DSP line comes with fixed or variable speed drives. These compressors also optimize energy efficiency and come with a three-year package warranty.

Sullair Oil-Free Centrifugal Air Compressors T and F Series

The Sullair Oil-Free Centrifugal Air Compressors T and F Series range between 175-4300 horsepower and 550-11750 cubic feet per minute. With high energy efficiency, exceptional cooling systems, low maintenance costs, and Class 0 air quality, they’re a great choice for plants that consistently need large amounts of clean, oil-free air. 

Is an oil-free air compressor right for your application? TMI can help match you with the right model for your facility. From sizing your air compressor to designing an efficient, leak-free system around it, we’re your one stop shop for any air compressors, parts, and components. Contact us today to learn more about your oil-free air compressor options.

 

15
May
4 Types of Industrial Vacuum Pumps

Industrial vacuum pumps are an essential component of any vacuum system. And while all vacuum pumps function to complete the same task, there are a number of technologies, classifications, and capabilities that get them there. This can make choosing a vacuum pump for your system a tricky business. If you’re trying to get a handle on the technology behind all of the vacuum pumps available to your system, this article should help. 

We’re going to define the basic function of an industrial vacuum pump and offer some insights into four of the industrial vacuum types most commonly used in industrial applications. Let’s start with an overview of what industrial vacuum pumps do. 

What does an Industrial Vacuum Pump Do?

All industrial vacuum pumps perform the same function — vacuum pumps work to remove air molecules and other gases from a vacuum chamber. As the vacuum pump removes those molecules, the pressure in the chamber changes, making it more and more difficult to entirely remove all of the molecules within the vacuum chamber. This is where your complete vacuum system comes in — it must be able to operate across a massive pressure range, spanning from 1 to 10-6 Torr of pressure. To accomplish this, your vacuum system uses several different styles and technologies in series to remove air molecules at each specific pressure range. 

What are the Pressure Ranges of an Industrial Vacuum System?

As mentioned above, any industrial vacuum system employs a few vacuum pumps to continue to remove air and gas molecules as pressure ranges change. Most industrial vacuum systems must address the following pressure ranges:

  • Rough/Low Vacuum: 1000 to 1 mbar / 760 to 0.75 Torr
  • Fine/ Medium Vacuum: 1 to 10-3 mbar / 0.75 to 7.5-3 Torr
  • High Vacuum: 10-3 to 10-7 mbar / 7.5-3 to 7.5-7 Torr
  • Ultra-High Vacuum: 10-7 to 10-11 mbar / 7.5-7 to 7.5-11 Torr
  • Extreme High Vacuum: < 10-11 mbar / < 7.5-11 Torr

Each of these ranges corresponds to a different vacuum pump in the system’s series:

  • Primary or backing pumps function in rough and low vacuum pressure ranges
  • Booster pumps perform in rough and low vacuum pressure ranges
  • Secondary or high vacuum pumps function in high, very high, and ultra-high vacuum pressure ranges

Two Main Categories of Industrial Vacuum Pumps: Wet and Dry

Before we jump into the different types of pumps used in an industrial vacuum system, it’s important to understand that vacuum pumps are available in two main categories — wet and dry. Similar to oil and oil-free air compressors, wet and dry industrial vacuums differ depending on whether the air or gas they are removing is exposed to oil or water during the compression process. 

Wet vacuum pumps use oil or water for lubrication or sealing. While wet vacuum pumps are a long-lasting and low maintenance option, this lubrication fluid can contaminate the air that’s pumped (or swept) from the chamber. This is typically fine for a number of manufacturing applications, but for those where air quality is critical, like food production or packaging, dry vacuum pumps are the better option. 

Dry vacuum pumps reduce the risk of system contamination and oil disposal. These pumps may use oil or grease in the gears or bearings but rely on tightly sealed clearances between the rotating and static parts of the pump to ensure that no fluid is present in the swept air or gas. 

4 Types of Industrial Vacuum Pumps

There is a wealth of industrial vacuum pump products on the market, each with a specific application, but most industrial vacuum pumps fall into one of four main types: gas transfer, positive displacement, kinetic, and entrapment. Here’s a simple overview of how each type of industrial vacuum pump works. 

01. Gas Transfer Vacuum Pumps

A gas transfer vacuum pump is any type of vacuum pump that transfers air or gas molecules by momentum exchange or positive displacement. In these types of vacuum pumps, the same number of molecules that enter a pump, leave the pump, though they are slightly compressed. Both kinetic and positive displacement vacuum pumps are types of gas transfer vacuum pumps. 

02. Positive Displacement Vacuum Pumps

Technically, positive displacement vacuum pumps are a sub-type of gas transfer vacuum pumps. They work by trapping a volume of gas mechanically and moving it through the pump. Positive displacement vacuum pumps are some of the most commonly used types and are employed in multiple stages of a vacuum system. 

Common types of positive displacement vacuum pumps:

  • Oil Sealed Rotary Vane Pump (Wet)
  • Liquid Ring Pump (Wet)
  • Diaphragm Pump (Dry)
  • Scroll Pump (Dry)
  • Roots Pump (Dry)
  • Claw Pump (Dry)
  • Screw Pump (Dry)

03. Kinetic Vacuum Pumps

Kinetic, or kinetic transfer pumps, use momentum transfer to direct gas towards the pump outlet. These vacuum pumps use either high-speed blades or an introduced vapor to direct gas towards the outlet. Kinetic vacuum pumps are unique in their ability to achieve high compression ratios at low pressures, but they typically don’t have sealed volumes.

Common types of kinetic vacuum pumps:

  • Turbomolecular Pumps (Dry)
  • Vapor Diffusion Pumps (Wet)

04. Entrapment Vacuum Pumps

The fourth type of industrial vacuum pump is unique in that rather than transferring gas molecules, it captures them. Using cryogenic condensation, ionic reaction, or chemical reaction, capture pumps can provide extremely high vacuum, though they do operate at lower flow rates. Because most entrapment pumps use a reaction of some sort, they are able to successfully create an oil-free vacuum.

Common types of entrapment vacuum pumps: 

  • Cryopump (Dry)
  • Sputter Ion Pumps (Dry)

While these are the four most common types of industrial vacuum pumps, you can see from the information in this article that there is a vast range of vacuum pumps available on the market. Most industrial applications employ a range of vacuum pump types within their larger vacuum system, which is why it’s always good to consult with an air system expert if you have any questions about your compressed air or vacuum system. 

If you’re having trouble determining what vacuum pump is right for your application, TMI can help. As air experts, we handle everything from air compressors to blowers, to industrial vacuum pumps. Whether you’re looking for a replacement part, a new vacuum pump, or an updated vacuum system, we can help you find what you’re looking for. Give us a call at 800-875-9555 or contact us online today.

15
Apr
On-Site Nitrogen Generation vs. Nitrogen Cylinders

In manufacturing, production, and packaging, nitrogen is an essential resource. From packaging produce to metal fabrication and even filling tires, nitrogen is used daily in a number of manufacturing facilities. If your facility uses nitrogen every day, when is the last time you thought about how you get that nitrogen?

You can use this article to help determine which nitrogen delivery method is best for your facility:

nitrogen tanks

On-Site Nitrogen Generation vs. Nitrogen Cylinders: The Breakdown

Cost Of Nitrogen Delivery

When it comes to choosing between on-site nitrogen generation and purchasing nitrogen cylinders, cost is likely the biggest deciding factor for your facility. While a nitrogen generator is indeed a large upfront cost, how does it compare to the regular costs associated with ordering, storing, and having nitrogen cylinders delivered?

On-site Nitrogen Generation

While a nitrogen generator costs more upfront, it’s good to know that most nitrogen generators pay for themselves in as little as two years. Most manufacturing facilities already have a compressed air system to supply the generator, which means your only costs are the purchase and installation of this new machine. From there, you have all the nitrogen your facility needs, on-demand and according to your application’s required purity levels.

Nitrogen Cylinders

Companies who opt for nitrogen cylinders pay for regular delivery. But, the cost of nitrogen (which fluctuates and is often uncontrolled by providers) and the cost of delivery aren’t the only fees to consider. In addition to paying for the cost of nitrogen, you also need space to store those nitrogen cylinders, which means additional facility space, and you’ll have to pay to have them returned. For facilities with very low, irregular nitrogen demands, this might make sense, but in most cases, you’ll end up paying considerably more to purchase, load, store, hook up, and then return nitrogen cylinders, than you would by simply installing a nitrogen generator on-site.

Convenience of On-Site Nitrogen vs. Nitrogen Cylinders

Your facility needs nitrogen for daily or weekly operations. When that’s the case, it’s important that your nitrogen supply is constant and invariable. So how does the convenience of on-site nitrogen compare to ordering nitrogen cylinders?

On-site Nitrogen Generation

When you have a nitrogen generator available on-site, you have access to all the nitrogen you need, whenever you need it. There’s no concern of running out or wasting time changing out cylinders. Your nitrogen generator is integrated into your manufacturing process, delivering the nitrogen you need at the appropriate purity level, exactly when you need it.

Nitrogen Cylinders

Nitrogen cylinders do present some concerns when it comes to convenience. First, there’s the issue of the delivery schedule. In the event that your delivery is postponed or held up somewhere, your facility could run out of nitrogen when you need it most. Another convenience concern comes when you need to change out the nitrogen tank. This puts a halt to your production process, as you wait for someone to go find a new tank, and swap it out. When it comes to convenience, nitrogen cylinders just aren’t as simple as having your own nitrogen generator on-site.

truck with nitrogen canisters

Safety of Nitrogen Delivery

Pressurized nitrogen is a dangerous gas. No matter how you’re procuring nitrogen for your manufacturing processes, it’s important to consider how having nitrogen on-site will affect the safety of your plant and personnel.

On-site Nitrogen Generation

Nitrogen generators are manufactured with one purpose — to produce nitrogen. In general, these machines work to produce nitrogen and direct it to wherever it’s needed most in your facility. Most nitrogen generators work on-demand, which means they’re only producing nitrogen when you need it and aren’t required to store considerable quantities of pressurized nitrogen. This helps reduce the safety concerns associated with storing and moving large quantities of pressurized nitrogen.

Nitrogen Cylinders

Safety is a major concern when you consider opting for nitrogen cylinders. Nitrogen cylinders contain pressurized nitrogen, and these cylinders must be transported to your facility, then system. This presents a significant risk to the safety of both your facility and to anyone handling these cylinders.

The Environmental Impact of Nitrogen Generators vs. Nitrogen Cylinders

The final concern to consider when deciding between on-site nitrogen generation or nitrogen cylinders is the environmental impact of your choice. Manufacturers and production facilities across the country are looking for ways to improve their sustainability, reduce their impact on the world, and better align with key consumer concerns. This is a factor that is relevant to every decision you make for your facility, including what method of nitrogen delivery you choose.

psa nitrogen generator

PSA Nitrogen Generator

 

On-Site Nitrogen Generation

When it comes to sustainability, on-site nitrogen generators use air your facility is already producing, and take up very little space in your plant. Once installed, their effects on the environment are minimal, and newer, energy-efficient nitrogen generators only help reduce your facility’s environmental footprint. What’s more, these generators are built to last for decades, meaning that just one investment and installation provides you with years upon years of pure, commercially-sterile nitrogen — no transportation required. On-site nitrogen generation is a great way to continue to reduce your facility’s environmental impact.

full feature nitrogen generator

Full-Feature Nitrogen Generator

Nitrogen Cylinders

Unfortunately, nitrogen cylinders simply can’t compete when it comes to sustainability. Regular transportation to and from your facility means significant carbon emissions, and the need to bleed off or vent tanks before returning is both wasteful and negatively impactful. If you’re looking for the most sustainable method of nitrogen delivery, on-site nitrogen generation is the clear winner.

On-Site Nitrogen Generation vs. Nitrogen Cylinders: Which is Best For Your Facility?

For any application that demands a regular supply of pure nitrogen, an on-site nitrogen generator is the most cost-effective, convenient option. It’s also safer for your facility, for personnel, and for the environment as a whole. While on-site nitrogen generation may not be right for the shop that uses just one or two nitrogen cylinders a quarter, for most manufacturing, production, and packaging facilities, a nitrogen generator is the best option. A nitrogen generator will often pay for itself in less than two years and offers non-tangible benefits like improved facility safety and sustainability that also go a long way.

membrane nitrogen generator

Membrane Nitrogen Generator

If you’re considering your nitrogen delivery options, and think a nitrogen generator might be right for you, talk to the experts at TMI Compressed Air. We supply a range of nitrogen generators to suit facilities in manufacturing, food & beverage packaging, and much more. We’d be happy to match you with a nitrogen generator that fits your existing compressed air system, and can deliver the nitrogen you need, efficiently and cost-effectively. Give our team a call at 800-875-9555 or contact us online for more information today!

15
Mar
What is Air Compressor CFM?

Putting together an effective, efficient compressed air system that can power your entire factory or facility starts with understanding and keeping a close eye on your air compressors’ key performance indicators. One key air compressor performance indicator is CFM. Not only do you need to understand CFM to choose the appropriate compressor for your application, but understanding your air compressor’s desired CFM is also essential to ensuring your entire compressed air system is running as it should. 

Here’s a basic introduction to what air compressor CFM is, what it means, and how you determine how much CFM you need from an air compressor. 

What is Air Compressor CFM?

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. For air compressors, CFM is a measure of the machine’s output — it tells you how much air a compressor can produce at a given pressure level. CFM is an important indicator of performance. The more CFM your air compressor is capable of, the greater its output. 

It’s good to remember that your air compressor’s CFM is related to its PSI (Pound per square inch). An air compressor’s CFM is measured at a specific PSI. If that pressure goes up or down, your CFM will change, too. 

Does Higher CFM Mean A Better Compressor?

The higher an air compressor’s CFM, the more air it is able to put out at a specific pressure level. A higher CFM can support larger, heavy-duty applications, but it’s important to know that higher CFM doesn’t necessarily mean a better air compressor — it just means a bigger one. 

While it’s important to pay attention to an air compressor’s CFM, you shouldn’t just pick a compressor with the highest available CFM. Air compressors come with a range of capabilities, and CFM is just one performance indicator. Instead, choose an air compressor that’s output matches the needs of your application. This will help ensure you’re buying the most efficient air compressor for your application, and not overspending on air you’ll never use, or under pressurizing your compressed air system, causing production efficiency issues. 

How Much CFM Does My Air Compressor Need?

One of the most challenging aspects of purchasing an air compressor is finding the appropriate size for your facility’s air needs. If you’re brand new to choosing an air compressor, this blog on How to Size an Air Compressor Accurately should help. 

If you’re just looking for a little help figuring out how much CFM you need from an air compressor, we’ve got answers. 

The best way to determine how much CFM you need is to take a look at the tools that require air. 

How many tools need air, and how many of those tools will be running at the same time?

Any air tool, from small nail guns to large industrial pneumatic equipment, will list a required CFM, either on the machine or in the machine’s manual. You’ll need to add up the required CFM for each machine you plan to power with your new air compressor. 

Take that total number, and multiply it by 1.5.* 

This is the minimum CFM you’ll need to power all of those tools. 

*While this equation is a good general guideline, it’s always best to speak with an expert before you make a final purchasing decision. A range of factors, from required PSI to how many machines you plan to run, and at what duty cycle, can all impact what CFM you’ll ultimately need. 

Want to Know More?

This is a very basic guide to understanding air compressor CFM. There are so many factors in your facility that can affect your air compressor’s performance — its rated CFM is just one performance indicator. 

There’s a lot to know here, from figuring out how much CFM you need, to getting more out of an existing air compressor. While we can’t cover it all in one article, the TMI Compressed Air team is here to answer any question you might run into.

If you’re looking for help determining which air compressor is best for your application, or if you’re looking for ways to increase your existing compressor’s performance, the TMI team can help. As air compressor experts, we’ve got the training and the tech to help you get the most out of your compressed air system. Give us a call at 800-875-9555 or contact us online today!

 

15
Feb
How to Size an Air Compressor Accurately

Air compressors are big machines. Not only do they cost a lot to buy, but they’re also expensive to run. Choosing the right size air compressor is important to ensure you’re making the right investment upfront and running your shop or factory efficiently. An air compressor that’s too small won’t put out enough air, or you’ll run it to death well before the end of its lifespan. An air compressor that’s too large will carry a hefty price tag and will be costly to run. With all of that in mind, how do you size an air compressor accurately?

As you might guess, we always recommend you talk to an air technician or an experienced engineer before you make a final decision, but if you’re trying to gauge generally what size air compressor is right for your facility, here are the basics you need to know to size an air compressor the right way:

How Much Air Do You Need?

First things first — how much air do you need? To get the right size air compressor, you have to know how much air you need first. 

To determine how much air you need, take inventory of your shop or factory. 

  • What tools need air? 
  • What is their CFM (cubic feet per minute) demand, each?
  • Will all of those tools be running at the same time? 
  • If not, which tools will run at the same time? How much CFM will they need collectively?

Once you have a solid estimate of how much air you’ll need to run all of the tools in your facility, it’s a good idea to go ahead and add 30% to that total CFM number you came up with. This will help add a bit of a buffer for any air leaks and peak air requirements (we’ll talk about this more a little later). 

How Much Pressure Do You Need?

Every machine requires a certain level of air pressure — identified as psig (pound-force per square inch gauge). Each of your tools may require a different psig, so it’s best to figure out what tool requires the highest psig. That number is the maximum pressure needed to run your tools. You’ll want to find an air compressor that can match that psig. 

What’s Your Duty Cycle?

In other words, how often are you using your air compressor? For an in-depth definition of what a duty cycle is, and how to determine your needed duty cycle, check out this blog. The point of determining your duty cycle is to help you determine how much air you need, and for how long, so you can choose the appropriate air compressor control system. 

For example, if you’re intermittently using your air compressor to power a few small air tools in an auto garage or paint shop, you can choose from a number of smaller air compressors with simple start/stop or load/unload control systems. 

If you’re using your air compressor constantly, and at fairly high speeds, then you’re probably going to need a larger compressor (or two) with a variable speed drive or variable displacement controls. 

Duty cycle is an important indicator of the size air compressor you’ll need as well. Even if you’re only running your air compressor for short periods of time, if you need a ton of air in those 30 minutes, you’ll still need a bigger compressor.

Look At Air Compressors That Match Your Air and Pressure Requirements

With answers to the three questions above in hand, you’re ready to start looking at air compressors. Remember that there are a few different types of air compressors, so make sure you’re looking at an air compressor type that suits your facility. For example, a small machine shop won’t need a centrifugal air compressor. You will likely be looking at smaller reciprocating compressors. 

You’ll also need to determine whether you need an oil or an oil-free air compressor. That choice will depend more on your application than the size of your compressor, but it’s an important distinction to make. 

What About My Air Compressor’s Horsepower?

Here at TMI, we get questions about air compressor horsepower all the time. It is an easy way to categorize and talk about different sized air compressors, but you shouldn’t use horsepower to determine the right air compressor for you. We won’t get into the nuts and bolts of it all, but here’s the basic breakdown: 

More efficient air compressors can do more with less horsepower. 

The best judge of your air compressors’ ability is air pressure and flow, or psig and CFM. Those two numbers tell you everything you need to know about an air compressor’s capacity. Horsepower is an easy way to talk about different models, but it’s not a factor when you’re sizing an air compressor for your application.

Don’t Forget to Consider Peak Air Demand Requirements

And finally, before you go out and call up your air technician, there’s one last thing to consider — peak air demand requirements. Up until now, we’ve talked about how much air and pressure you’ll need in an everyday situation. But, as you know, not every day at your facility is the same. Sometimes it’s seriously hot in your facility. Sometimes you need to run some machines longer or harder than usual. It’s important to factor in peak air demand requirements when you’re sizing your air compressor, so you don’t run out of air when you need it most. We added on 30% of the estimated CFM in the first step for this exact reason. 

Depending on your air system, you may need to size up slightly, or even consider implementing a smaller backup air compressor to relieve your main compressor during peak use. This consideration can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to talk with an engineer or air compressor technician to get a confident solution for your unique facility. 

Sizing an air compressor takes a bit of math and a bit of research, but the effort is well worth it. Purchasing the right size air compressor for your facility means you save money upfront, and through the lifespan of your compressor, as you choose the most efficient option for your facility’s needs. If you’re stuck on any part of sizing an air compressor for your facility, the TMI team is here to help. No matter what you need, what size air compressor, or what type, our expert technicians can walk through your air requirements to match you with the most efficient air system for your facility. Give us a call at 800-875-9555 or contact us online today.

17
Jan
3 Types of Air Compressors

For many industrial applications, air compressors are a necessity. But choosing the right air compressor for your facility is a little easier said than done. There are a number of air compressors on the market, all designed to do things a little differently. The first step to choosing the appropriate air compressor for your application is understanding the three main types of air compressors most used today. Here’s a comprehensive look at 3 types of air compressors, how they work, and what they’re used for.

01. Reciprocating Air Compressors

The most common air compressors are positive displacement machines. While there are a few different types of positive displacement air compressors, they all work in generally the same way. A cavity inside the machine draws in and stores air. Then, the working components of the air compressor slowly compress the air in that cavity, increasing air pressure and potential energy.

A reciprocating air compressor is one of the most popular types of positive displacement air compressors. Reciprocating air compressors use a piston with a cylinder to compress air in its confined space. As air volume is reduced, pressure increases.

Reciprocating air compressors are:

  • Available as air or water cooled
  • Available in both lubricated and non-lubricated configurations
  • Available in a vast range of different pressures and capacities

Applications for reciprocating air compressors include:

  • Smaller construction sites
  • Workshops
  • Applications where they are not used continuously

Reciprocating air compressors are not designed for continuous use. They are best suited to smaller work sites and applications that have longer cycle times.

02. Rotary Screw Air Compressors

Another popular type of air compressor is the rotary screw compressor. This is another positive displacement air compressor, but it compresses air a little differently than the reciprocating compressor. A rotary screw air compressor has two internal rotors that turn in opposite directions. As they turn, the air is trapped between the rotors, which builds up pressure within the compressor’s housing.

Rotary screw air compressors:

  • Are available in many configurations. Spiral lobe oil flooded and single-stage helical are the most popular options.
  • Are oil cooled with either water-cooled or air-cooled oil coolers.
  • Designed for continuous use
  • Range in power from 5hp to 350hp

Applications for rotary screw air compressors:

  • Large manufacturing plants
  • Large construction sites
  • Any operation that needs a continuous supply of compressed air

Rotary screw air compressors are ideal for larger industrial applications because, unlike the reciprocating air compressor, they are designed for continuous use. They are not well suited to smaller applications as constant starting and stopping is damaging to the machine.

03. Centrifugal Air Compressor

The third type of air compressor is a centrifugal air compressor. This air compressor is a dynamic air compressor, rather than a positive displacement compressor. Centrifugal air compressors rely on the transfer of energy from a rotating impeller to the air.

An impeller is a disk with radial blades that spins forcefully inside the cylinder. As the impeller spins, air within the compressor gains velocity and is then pushed through a diffuser where it builds up pressure and is moved into a condenser. This method of compression means that centrifugal air compressors are most efficient when they are running at high speeds or near full capacity.

Centrifugal air compressors:

  • Deliver a continuous flow of compressed air
  • Are oil-free by design. The oil-lubricated gear is separated from the air by shaft seals and atmospheric vents.
  • Are relatively low maintenance, as they do not require much contact between internal and rotating parts.
  • Can deliver large amounts of compressed air with a relatively small machine
  • Can reach around 1,000 hp

Applications for centrifugal air compressors include:

  • Sensitive applications that require the highest standard of oil-free air
  • Large industrial applications that require continuous large amounts of compressed air

Centrifugal air compressors deliver a continuous flow of air through the compressor. For this reason, they are best suited to applications that require a higher air capacity. As mentioned above, these compressors are more efficient at greater capacities, so it’s best to opt for a centrifugal air compressor when you have large, continuous air demands.

While these are the three most common types of air compressors, there are a number of compressor configurations within each of these types,  all delivering different levels of air at varying capacities. If you’re new to air compressors, the TMI Compressed Air team is here to help. Our experts would be happy to match you with the right air compressor or compressed air system for your application.

If you’re feeling confident about which type of air compressor is right for you, we’d suggest you move onto Selecting the Appropriate Air Compressor Control System. It’s the next step in choosing the right compressor for your facility.

10
Dec
Selecting the Appropriate Air Compressor Control System

If you’re looking into a new air compressor for your company or facility, there are many considerations to make, from the type of compressor you choose to its size. Another important decision to consider is how your air compressor will be controlled. Your air compressor control system determines how much air you get, at what pressure, and when. It’s also a key factor in your air system’s overall efficiency.

If you’re new to air compressors and their control systems, this article takes a look at each available air compressor control system, breaks down its advantages and disadvantages, and gives you insight into which air compressors and applications that system is right for. Read on to discover the appropriate air compressor control system for your application:

Start/Stop Air Compressor Control System

The simplest control available, start/stop air compressor control systems do exactly what you’d imagine. They start when the machine’s pressure switch indicates that air pressure has fallen below the minimum discharge pressure, and they stop when the system has reached desired pressure.

In general, this air compressor control is best for applications with very low duty cycles. It is not well-suited to applications with frequent cycling; the constant starting will cause the motor to overheat.

The advantage of a start/stop air compressor control system is that you’re only drawing power when the compressor is needed. For low duty-cycle applications, this can contribute to significant energy savings.

The disadvantage of a start/stop air compressor control system is the compressor will have to compress a higher receiver pressure to allow air to be drawn from the receiver while the compressor is stopped.

Type of Compressor: Both reciprocating and rotary screw compressors can use start/stop air compressor controls.

General Application: Best used for applications with low duty cycles and intermittent use. Not an ideal option for a frequent cycling application.

Load/Unload Air Compressor Control Systems

Load/Unload air compressor control systems are also known as constant speed control. This type of air compressor control system allows the motor to run continuously, while unloading the compressor when discharge pressure is adequate.

The advantage of a load/unload air compressor control system is that you can eliminate the concern of overheating the compressor’s motor. Unlike the start/stop option, the motor keeps running, so you don’t have to worry about constant starts affecting the machine’s performance.

The disadvantage of a load/unload air compressor control system is that the system is constantly running. While this takes pressure off the motor, it’s not great for your facility’s energy bill. You might find that your compressor draws only slightly less power unloaded as it does loaded, while delivering no useful work.

Type of Compressor: Load/unload air compressor control systems are used for both reciprocating and rotary screw compressors.

General Applications: Can be used for a wide range of applications, but may not be the best option for large, industrial compressors that draw too much energy to justify the cost of their constant power draw.

Modulating Air Compressor Controls

Also known as throttling or capacity control, modulating air compressor controls work to progressively reduce air compressor output to match flow requirements. This is typically achieved by throttling or closing the inlet valve, reducing air to the compressor.

Modulating air compressor controls cannot be used on reciprocating or oil-free rotary screw compressors, and isn’t particularly efficient for oil or lubricated rotary screw air compressors.

The advantage of modulating air compressor controls is that you can vary output of your compressor to meet flow requirements. As pressure drops to a specified minimum, the compressor is unloaded.

The disadvantage of modulating air compressor control systems is that they’re not widely applicable. They’re best used for centrifugal air compressors, where they are both effective and efficient.

Type of Compressor: Modulating controls are best suited to centrifugal air compressors. They can also be used with lubricated rotary screw compressors, but are not the most efficient control option.

General Applications: Most often seen in large, industrial applications that must meet stringent air quality requirements. These applications typically require a centrifugal air compressor.

Dual/Auto Dual Air Compressor Control Systems

A dual or auto dual air compressor control system provides a greater range of control options for small reciprocating air compressors and for lubricant-injected rotary screw compressors.

Dual control air compressor control systems are used in small reciprocating compressors, and enable the operator to select either start/stop or load/unload controls, depending on the compressor’s application.

Auto Dual air compressor control systems are applied to lubricant-injected rotary screw compressors. They function to modulate the compressor to a pre-set reduced capacity. If the compressor has been running unloaded past a certain set period of time, the auto dual controls will stop the compressor.

The advantage of a dual or auto dual air compressor control system is flexibility. It allows the operator to select the control option that best suits the application. In the case of auto dual systems, it also protects your facility from excessive energy use, without putting stress on the motor of your air compressor.

The disadvantage of these systems is their limited application. They are not a control system that can be applied across a wide range of compressor types or applications.

Type of Compressor: Small reciprocating compressors and lubricant-injected rotary screw compressors.

General applications: Small industrial applications that do not need constant compressed air.

Variable Displacement Air Compressor Control Systems

Variable displacement air compressor control systems enable the compressor to adjust output pressure without starting or stopping, or loading and unloading. Generally, variable displacement air compressor control schemes combine a sliding or turn valve in conjunction with a modulating inlet valve to deliver more accurate, efficient pressure control.

The advantage of these systems is that they respond much better to changing output pressure requirements, without adding stress to the compressor with constant starting and stopping.

The disadvantage of a variable displacement air compressor control system is that it requires multiple control systems to function simultaneously. Pressure switch, variable capacity valve, and inlet valve must all be functioning together and properly for effective pressure control.

Type of Compressor: Variable displacement is applied to both reciprocating and rotary screw air compressors of various sizes.

General applications: Any industrial application, but is especially useful for compressed air systems that operate a compressor in two or more partially-loaded conditions.

Variable Speed Drive Air Compressor Controls

A variable speed drive is undoubtedly the most efficient air compressor control system available today. These control systems can hold compressor discharge pressure to +/- 1 psi ensuring your compressor is only working as hard as it has to. Air compressors with a variable speed drive make use of an electric motor that adjusts motor speed in response to system signals, to deliver the right amount of air, at the right time.

The advantage of a variable speed drive air compressor control system is that your air compressor only works as hard as it has to. This preserves the lifespan of the compressor while reducing its energy draw, helping to keep your facility at peak efficiency.

The disadvantage of a variable speed drive comes in the application. If your facility is only using the compressor with variable speed drive at lower speeds, you may not see the same energy savings as a compressor that’s used more constantly and closer to full capacity.

Type of Compressor: Variable speed drive air compressor control systems can be applied to a wide range of air compressor types, including reciprocating and rotary screw compressors.

General applications: Best used in mid-to-large-sized industrial applications, but can provide significant energy efficiency even to smaller applications that require constant compressed air.

Not sure which air compressor control system is right for you? Let the TMI team help. As compressed air efficiency experts, we’re always working to match our clients with the most efficient compressed air components. We can help you find the right air compressor control system for your application, that delivers you the best performance with high efficiency.

10
Nov
4 Common Air Compressor Problems [With Solutions]

Air compressors are an expensive, integral component of most facilities’ everyday operations. When your air compressor starts acting up, you lose time in production, which means a loss in profits. Like any piece of machinery, there are a few problems that we tend to see often with air compressors, and that have easily accessible solutions. Here are the solutions to 4 common air compressor problems you might experience often at your facility:

Problem #1: Compressor Is Constantly Leaking Air

If your air compressor is leaking air, it’s an issue. Air leaks are a top cause of excessive energy usage, and it also means your compressor isn’t able to function properly. You’ll know your air compressor is leaking when you shut it down and see that the pressure gauge indicates a drop in pressure. You might also have problems with the air compressor failing to shut off and stay off, because it’s compensating for the consistent loss of pressure.

To solve a constant air leak, you have to find the source of the leak and fix it. The best way to find air leaks in your compressed air system is to either:

  • Listen for air leaks. When your air compressor is running, take a walk around your plant. Any hissing sounds you hear are indications of an air leak. Connection points are a common culprit, but you may also find leaks along hoses.

OR

  • Look for air leaks. If you’re having trouble hearing your air leak, take a few minutes to apply liquid soap to the connections, couplers, and pressure switch, while the compressor is unplugged. When you start it again, keep a close eye to see if you notice any bubbles forming. Those bubbles indicate a leak.

If neither of these methods turns up air leaks, take a look at the tank check valve. If it’s failing to close completely, it could be the cause of your drop in pressure. Inspect the tank check valve — it may need to be cleaned or replaced.

Once you’ve located the source of your compressor’s leak, take steps to fix it. We’ve written an article about How to Stop Air Compressor Leaks to help guide you through it.

Problem #2: Air Compressor Won’t Start

While problem #1 often causes air compressors to run constantly, another common problem is when you can’t get your air compressor to start at all. There are a few reasons this can happen, so it’s easiest to run through this troubleshooting list from the simplest to most difficult fix.

  • No Power. Make sure the compressor is plugged in and power is on. If it’s still not working, push the reset button.
  • Low Oil. It’s easy to forget to change the oil on an air compressor, but the results can be dramatic. (That’s why we always recommend a regular service schedule.) If your air compressor won’t start, and power isn’t the problem, check and change the oil.
  • Power Switch Failure. If your air compressor won’t turn on, there could be an issue with the power switch itself. A simple adjustment to the pressure switch should be able to fix any lack of contact between the pressure switch and the inner circuitry.
  • Pressure problem. Your air compressor also won’t turn on if the tank pressure is too low in relation to the cut-in pressure. This is easily fixed by either adjusting the pressure switch or replacing it with one with a lower cut-in PSI.

Problem #3: Air Compressor is Too Loud

Air compressors, depending on the kind you have, are inherently loud machines. But, if you notice your air compressor is making a lot more noise than usual, know that this is a common problem you can probably troubleshoot. Here are a few reasons your air compressor is making an excessive amount of noise, and how to fix it:

  • Loose parts. Any loose component in your air compressor will contribute to louder noise during operation. Take a minute to tighten any loose components like the pulley, flywheel, belt, belt guard, cooler, clamps, or any other accessories. Then, check to see if the noise is gone.
  • Pistons hitting valve plate. If the air compressor’s piston is hitting the valve plate, you’ll hear a whole lot of noise. Take out the cylinder head and check for any dirt or debris on the piston. Once it’s clean, replace the gasket and reattach the head.
  • Crankcase problems. The crankcase is another common culprit for a noisy machine. Check the crankcase. Does it look old and worn out? Replacing the oil or bearings can help, or it may just be time to replace the crankcase outright.
  • Improper floor mounting. If your air compressor isn’t properly and tightly mounted to the floor, it’ll make all kinds of noise. Check to see how vibration pads are weathering. If they’re worn, replace them. Tighten the bolts on the compressor as well to make sure it’s securely mounted to the floor and can’t move around.

Problem #4: Excessive Oil in Compressor Discharge Air

This is a common air compressor problem that can seriously affect your daily operations. When too much oil is aerosolized by the compressor’s discharge, it can damage pneumatic tools and accessories, or negatively affect the quality or your production. Luckily, this is a common problem that’s easily solved. Here are a few reasons you might have too much oil in your compressor’s discharge air:

  • Restricted intake. When intake filters wear out, they can restrict the compressor’s air intake, causing oily discharge. This is easily fixed by simply cleaning or replacing intake filters.
  • Worn piston rings. Piston rings should be replaced periodically. When they’re not, they can cause a range of problems, one of which is oil in your compressor’s discharge air. Replace those piston rings to fix the problem.
  • Overfilled oil tank. If there’s too much oil in your compressor, some of it can seep into the discharge. Never fill your oil tank over the “full” mark displayed on the gauge. If this is the problem, just reduce the oil level to that “full” mark.
  • Wrong oil viscosity. Your compressor’s oil viscosity should match the requirements of your compressor. If it doesn’t, it’ll end up in your compressor’s discharge air. If this is the problem, empty the oil tank completely, and refill with a different oil of the proper viscosity.
  • Inverted piston rings. Upside-down piston rings indicate that the crankshaft is starting to go. They also contribute to oily discharge. Check the piston rings. If they are inverted, it’s probably time to replace the crankshaft.

All four of these common air compressor problems are items our service team sees every day on the road. If you keep running into problems with your air compressor, especially common problems like these, you might benefit from a regular maintenance program that checks for and troubleshoots all of these issues on a regular basis.

If you’d like to get ahead of common air compressor problems and avoid the expensive troubleshooting time that goes with them, the team at TMI can help. Our trained, certified technicians can put your compressors on their schedule to service regularly, so issues like these are far less common. And if you do experience a problem, our team of engineers is available to diagnose your system’s problem 24/7. For maintenance programs or emergency service requests, get in touch with TMI Compressed Air Systems today.

12
Oct
5 Benefits of Aluminum Compressed Air Piping

For decades, engineers have used black iron, galvanized steel, copper, or stainless steel for compressed air systems. And while many of these options, notably black iron, have performed decently and remained favorites in the compressed air community, they are no longer the most practical or cost-effective solution. Though black iron piping does feature a low upfront cost, the costs associated with installation, maintenance, and repair quickly add up.

For manufacturers and plant managers looking for a better solution, aluminum piping is quickly becoming the most sought-after compressed air piping material on the market. Here are 5 benefits of aluminum compressed air piping that make it the best choice for any compressed air system:

01. Low Installation Costs

Steel or iron pipe installation is hard work. The material itself is heavy and grimy to deal with. The installer needs to thread each length of steel pipe, often overhead. Because of the weight and cumbersome nature of iron and steel, they often require more than one expert to complete the installation.

Aluminum compressed air piping, on the other hand, is lightweight, durable, and simple to install. Key features that make aluminum piping installation easy include:

  • Lightweight means only one technician is required for installation
  • Simple push-in lock-and-seal installation doesn’t require threading, welding, gluing, or crimping.
  • No special preparation or equipment required, other than standard cutting and deburring.

All of these features of aluminum compressed air piping work to drive down the total cost of installation, making it the most affordable option on the market.

02. Aluminum Compressed Air Piping is Less Likely to Leak

Given that aluminum compressed air piping doesn’t require threaded connections, it is much less likely to leak over time. The biggest problem with piping materials like iron and steel is that threaded connections will inevitably leak air. Air leaks are a costly problem that can significantly drive up your energy use.

By installing aluminum compressed air piping, you avoid the concern of leaks due to threaded connections altogether. The solid connection of aluminum piping also contributes to the overall longer lifespan of the system.

03. Exceptional Durability

Though aluminum is lightweight, that doesn’t mean it’s not durable. Aluminum can be expected to hold up just as long, if not longer than steel or iron piping systems. Systems like the one offered by Infinity Aluminum Piping provide marine-grade all-metal systems that can deliver exceptional durability for decades.

04. Aluminum Compressed Air Piping Doesn’t Corrode

Steel and copper pipes do eventually corrode over time. Even if your compressed air system makes use of a moisture trap, there will always be some moisture in the system, which will eventually lead to the corrosion and rusting of pipes. Even galvanized pipes, which are not typically galvanized on the interior, will begin to rust and corrode. This corrosion eventually leads to airflow restriction and can present air cleanliness problems.

Aluminum piping is naturally corrosion-resistant. Over time, your aluminum compressed air piping system will retain optimal airflow, providing better air quality and reduced energy costs overall.

05. An Affordable, Long-Term Investment

Perhaps the greatest benefit of aluminum compressed air piping is that it is an affordable, long-term investment. Though the cost for materials may be slightly higher than black iron or galvanized steel pipe, you’ll save as much as 50% on installation costs, and you’ll have installed a piping system that’s designed to last for years to come. With no threat of corrosion or leaks through threaded connections, there’s little maintenance that’s necessary for aluminum piping systems.

When you opt for a universal system like Infinity’s aluminum air compressor piping, you reap the added benefit of compatible pipe and fittings that can be reused again and again across your system.

Whether you’re looking to install a new compressed air system or upgrade the system you already have, aluminum is the best material for the job. A long term investment that’s quick and easy to install, aluminum will hold up without leaks or corrosion for years to come.

Interested in aluminum air compressor piping? TMI is a proud distributor of Infinity aluminum piping. With leak-free guaranteed connections and fittings that can be reused again and again, Infinity is the brand you can trust to eliminate air leaks in your system and provide long-term returns. For more information about Infinity or installing aluminum piping in your air compressor system, get in touch with the experts at TMI Compressed Air.

16
Sep
Oil vs. Oil Free Air Compressors

If you’re new to the air compressor purchasing process, one of the biggest distinctions you’ll come across in the industry is oil vs. oil-free air compressors. For any company, an air compressor is a big investment — and a necessary one. In most manufacturing facilities, if your air compressors are down, you’re not working.

Purchasing the right air compressor is a big decision and one that can require a bit of research. In this article, we’re going to break down the differences between the two and help you decide which option is right for your application.

Oil vs. Oil-Free Air Compressors: What’s the Difference?

The difference between oil and oil-free air compressors is the lubrication method used to keep an air compressor’s air-end moving smoothly. Most industrial air compressors use oil-injected compressors because they are less expensive and tend to last longer than their oil-free counterparts. An oil-free air compressor is just what it sounds like — an air compressor that does not use oil to lubricate components in the compression chamber. Although they require a larger monetary commitment, an oil-free air compressor may offer your facility priceless benefits.

Why Would You Use an Oil-Free Air Compressor?

If they’re more expensive to purchase and maintain, why would a manufacturing facility choose an oil-free air compressor over an oil-lubricated air compressor? It has to do with the air compressor’s application.

An oil-injected compressor is very effective at delivering compressed air quickly and consistently. The oil lubrication can help extend the life of the compressor, but the drawback is that during the compression process, oil particles or oil mist can get into the air that’s being compressed. This can lead to oil contamination in the compressed air you’re getting out of your system.

For many parts manufacturing workshops and industrial applications, a bit of oil contamination isn’t a problem. For sensitive applications, however, oil contamination is unacceptable. In these situations, an oil-free air compressor is necessary. Since these air compressors don’t use oil in the compression chamber at all, they can deliver a cleaner, oil-contaminant free compressed air end-product.

What Applications Can Benefit from an Oil-Free Air Compressor?

Since most applications do use an oil-lubricated air compressor, it’s easier to define the industries that do not. The following industries require a certain standard of air purity that means an oil-free air compressor is necessary:

    • Pharmaceutical applications
    • Food and beverage manufacturing
    • Electronics
    • High-tech manufacturing
    • Textile manufacturing
    • Robotics development
    • Paint applications
    • Some automotive manufacturing applications

The easy answer to the oil vs oil-free air compressor question is this: if air quality matters to you, you need an oil-free air compressor.

Understanding Air Purity Requirements for Oil vs. Oil-Free Air Compressors

If you’re not quite sure if air quality is important enough to your application to warrant an oil-free air compressor, check your ISO Class requirements. Compressed air has its own set of ISO standards, ranking air purity from ISO Class 0-5. If your application requires an air purity standard of either Class 1 or Class 0, you’ll need an oil-free air compressor. These two standards are often misunderstood, so we’ll break them down a bit further.

ISO Class 1 – Mostly Oil-Free Air

Compressors that meet a Class 1 ISO are considered to produce “mostly clean air”. That’s to say, an air compressor that provides air that meets Class 1 ISO standards must have an oil concentration of 0/01 mg/m3 at 1 bar(a) 14.5psia and 20° C (68°  F). It’s important to know that this standard doesn’t mean the resulting compressed air is totally oil-free.

ISO Class 0 – Oil-Free Air

If you’re looking for totally oil-free air, choose an oil-free air compressor that delivers air according to ISO Class 0 standards. These compressors can guarantee 100 percent oil-free air, a claim that ISO Class 1 compressors cannot make. With an ISO Class 0 compressor, you can be absolutely certain that no contamination will reach your resulting product or end consumer.

In Conclusion: Oil vs. Oil-Free Air Compressors

Choosing an oil vs oil-free air compressor comes down to your application. If you need clean, oil-free air, an oil-free air compressor is right for you. If the air quality doesn’t matter as much for your application, an oil-lubricated air compressor is a durable, high-performance option that will deliver the air you need at a more affordable investment level.

Whether an oil or oil-free air compressor is right for your application, TMI has the brand and model you’re looking for. As air compressor experts, we can design the system that’s best for your facility, and install and service your new air compressor. With reasonable rates and convenient maintenance programs, never worry about your air compressor again. Give our team a call at 800-875-955 or contact us online today for a personalized quote.

01
Sep
How to Stop Air Compressor Leaks

Air leaks are one of the most common operating concerns for air compressors. On average, about 10-20% of all plant electricity goes to the air compressor room. If your compressed air system is leaking, you’re spending a lot of energy on air you’ll never use.

While air compressor leaks can feel like an inevitable problem that just comes with the equipment, it’s good to know that there are ways to prevent and stop air compressor leaks. The team here at TMI always advises system optimization and preventative maintenance, but if your system has already sprung a few leaks, there are ways to fix them. Some of these fixes take just minutes to complete, and can contribute to significant savings for your plant. Here are a few key ways to stop air compressor leaks.

How to Stop Air Compressor Leaks

The best way to find air compressor leaks is to listen for them. A quick walk around your plant while your compressor system is on should reveal some of your biggest problem areas. If you hear a hissing sound as you go past hoses or connection points, you’ve got an air leak. Here’s what to do about them:

#1 Tighten Connections

Anything that can loosen is a prime spot for an air leak. It’s worthwhile to go around your compressed air system and tighten any connection points regularly. If you see or feel any loose components, tighten those as well. The more secure your system, the less compressed air you’ll lose.

#2 Repair or Replace Parts

Old, replaceable parts are another key spot where you’re likely to find a few air compressor leaks. Old filters, lubricators, regulators, flanges and leaking drains are common air compressor leak points. If you can, repair or replace those old parts as soon as possible. Even a small repair, like changing the filter, can go a long way to ensuring your air compressor is running as efficiently as possible.

#3 Swap Out Hose and Tube Sections

Air hoses and tubes are another common spot for air compressor leaks. These leaks might be a little harder to identify, but if you hear a leak, and can’t quite place it, apply a bit of soap to the area where you suspect a leak. When your compressor comes on, you’ll see bubbles popping up around the air leak. Swap out that leaking section of hose or tube for a new one, and your air compressor will be in good shape.

#4 Replace O-Rings and Valve Seals

Any rubber part on your air compressor is likely to harden and crack over time. Heat and pressure take a toll, especially on parts like O-rings and valve seals. Even though these are small components of your compressed air system, as they wear out and harden, they’re unable to maintain a good seal, and will start to leak air. Replace these parts regularly, and you should be able to stop a number of air compressor leaks.

#5 Tighten Fasteners

While this last method to stop air compressor leaks might take a bit more time, it’s still a worthwhile fix that will help increase the lifespan of your compressor as a whole. Internally, air compressor motors can destabilize if screws and fasteners in internal components begin to shake loose. If you notice any shaky components or extra noises coming from the motor, tightening those internal screws and fasteners can help fix the problem, and stop air leaks while you’re at it.

Proper, Regular Maintenance is the Best Way to Prevent Air Compressor Leaks

Air compressor leaks lead to costly inefficiencies. While many can be stopped or fixed, the best way to avoid air compressor leaks altogether is to schedule and complete regular maintenance. Air compressors are big-budget equipment. The better you take care of them, the longer they’ll last and the less they’ll cost over time. Here are a few ways you can keep up on air compressor maintenance to stop air leaks from happening in the first place.

Establish a Maintenance Schedule

Air compressors should be serviced regularly. Just like you’d change the oil in your car, an air compressor needs regular oil changes and maintenance. The easiest way to stay on top of maintenance and prevent air compressor leaks is to set up a regular maintenance plan or service schedule with your air compressor supplier. That way, their service technicians just come out to your plant and complete any necessary maintenance. This is a set-it-and-forget-it option that ensures your air compressor gets the service it needs, without adding much hassle to your schedule.

Regularly Inspect Compressors

In addition to a regular service schedule, it’s also a good idea to have one of your own maintenance or facilities staff inspecting your compressors regularly. Even a simple weekly walk around your compressed air system can go a long way to identifying air leaks early on. And the faster you stop air compressor leaks, the more you save.

Complete a System Audit

Smart, energy-efficient compressed air systems are the best way to keep your plant running efficiently and at peak productivity. System audits can help you get there. If you suspect your system has air leaks, or might not be running efficiently, a compressed air system audit can help you get to the bottom of it. TMI’s technicians use kW and pressure loggers to accurately and comprehensively measure your system and benchmark it against industry averages. From there, we can identify any problems, and provide recommendations to help you get your system running at peak efficiency.

Air leaks are a big concern for any plant with a compressed air system, but they can be prevented and stopped. With a bit of regular maintenance, and few simple repairs and replacements, you can minimize or stop air compressor leaks, helping your plant to function at peak efficiency.

Have a leaking air compressor, or a compressed air system with leaks? Either way, TMI can help you out. We are compressed air system experts, and we would be happy to help you troubleshoot your leaking system. From air system audits to emergency maintenance, we can fix your compressed air leak, now. Give our experts a call today at 800-875-9555 or contact us online for more information.