The performance of compressed air tools and equipment is often limited by inadequate air pressure and flow due to a poorly designed compressed air delivery system.
Poor equipment performance can also be caused by contamination reaching the equipment due to ineffective separation in the piping system.
Here are the top ten tips for an efficient compressed air distribution system.
1. Main ringtone: In most cases it is advantageous to incorporate a “ring” or “closed loop” main pipe. Circular main systems allow air to flow in both directions to reach the point of demand through the path of least resistance. As a general rule, you can multiply the capacity of a straight line distribution line by 1.5 if the same size pipe is made into a closed loop line. For example, if a 50mm straight pipe is rated at 500 cfm at 125 psi, that same pipe in a main loop system would be rated at 750 cfm at 125 psi.
2. Supply pipe: Feed the circular line from a dry compressed air storage tank with a supply hose at least one hose size larger than the main line itself. This is important because the mainline system has 1.5 times the flow capacity of a straight length of pipe and a smaller feeder will create a flow restriction.
3. Quick couplings: Whenever possible, avoid quick couplings as they may unnecessarily restrict flow. Quick connects should only be used when quick disconnection from air tools, spray guns or other portable equipment is required. Any connection of fixed equipment should be by means of hard pipe or flexible pipe with straight barbed fittings and ball valves.
4. Elbows: Wherever possible, avoid the use of elbows as they can cause a pressure drop equivalent to 1 to 3 meters of pipe, depending on the type and size of fitting. Radius elbows have much less flow restriction than elbows. Try to keep the piping as straight as possible and avoid the considerable extra expense and loss of efficiency resulting from running the pipes around columns and roof beams.
5. Future expansion: If future expansion or additional demand is likely, it is much more cost effective to plan for it now versus the disruption and additional expense of increasing pipe sizes at a later date.
6. Leak: Any leak is unacceptable, but a completely leak-free system is often very time-consuming and expensive to achieve in an existing installation. However, an overnight leak test should not result in a pressure drop of more than 10%. In new installations, leak-free systems are generally much easier to achieve using aluminum, copper or stainless steel pipes compared to traditional threaded iron systems. Among these alternatives, mechanical joint stainless steel piping systems offer very cost effective, long lasting and leak free solutions.
7. Condensate evacuation: Any low point in the system must be provided with a condensate drainage system. Low points can cause blockages or restrictions in airflow due to a buildup of contaminants at that point.
8. Drip Pipe Drainage: All outlet drippers must have a main isolation ball valve accessible from ground level with a drain valve at the bottom of the drip leg for easy removal of contaminants that have passed the outlet point.
9. Isolation valves: Install isolation valves, tees, and caps throughout the main piping system so that future system extensions and modifications can be installed more easily and cost effectively.
10. Drip Tubes: Drip pipes do not need to exit the top of the main header pipe and the main header does not need to drop into a corner with a drip leg drain installed. This form of arrangement is only effective if the size of the header pipe is greatly increased to reduce air velocity and prevent air from pushing water down the pipe to its destination. It is more cost effective to have a drip leg drain at the bottom of each dropper to deal with condensate and contaminants at points in the system where they actually collect.
Pneutech Group can advise and quote on the supply and installation of complete compressed air piping systems as well as the maintenance or replacement of any component in existing systems.
1800 763 883