In the last ten years, the design of pneumatic systems has changed dramatically, mainly due to developments in the technologies that create them. Pneumatic manufacturers’ online tools for sizing components have evolved, the fieldbus systems are ever-changing, component designs are constantly improving, and network devices such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have reshaped the industry. All these advances play a large role in optimizing the efficiency of pneumatic systems, but the age-old practice of routine maintenance must not be overlooked. This article will focus on proper air compressor sizing, proper pneumatic component sizing and predictable preventative maintenance.
The heart of any compressed air system is the air compressor itself and the related components such as the receiver tank, aftercooler and dryer. A qualified air compressor vendor should be consulted for the specific type of components required based on environment, duty cycle, pressure and required cubic feet per minute (cfm) and safety factors for future expansion. Each of these factors will be considered when a system analysis is performed. If a particular machine function requires a higher pressure than the rest of the required function, a storage receiver tank and air amplifier can be an efficient way to provide the added pressure to that leg of the system versus increasing the pressure of the air compressor.