(The first article in a series of money saving preventative maintenance tips)
Over the life of your equipment it is possible to spend a lot of money in repairs in addition to lost production time, because of "compressed air" related problems which can be avoided with proper maintenance.
Compressed air can carry impurities
Compressed air can carry all of the impurities in the air being compressed some of which include: water, oil and grit. Your air-operated equipment is not designed to operate on "dirty air" any more than your car is designed to operate on dirty gasoline. Eliminating these impurities will improve the operation of your equipment and reduce the number of air related problems in your equipment.
Under ideal conditions, compressed air leaves the compressor pump at about
3000 F. A typical laundry or dry-cleaning plant does not have an ideal atmosphere. High ambient temperatures of intake air and high humidity multiplied by the effects of the compression results in temperatures in the 400°-500° F range. This air is then pumped to the receiver (tank) and then to the equipment via un-insulated headers, allowing the air temperature to drop to 115 F, at which point the air saturated with moisture condenses to water that is carried over into the air system of the equipment, washing away lubrication and resulting in excess wear to air components, sticking valves, erratic operation of the equipment and air leaks!
Moisture can be eliminated from your system by means of either water cooled
heat exchangers or refrigerated "air coolers" which rapidly drop the temperature of the air, condensing most of the excess moisture, which is then eliminated by a trap or moisture removing device. This cooling system can be installed between the compressor pump and the receiver (recommended) or after the receiver and before the air is distributed to the plant, however, additional small moisture removal devices are required for all air operated equipment.
A second problem is oil. A compressor that is properly sized and maintained will pass only a small amount of oil into the compressed air system, however, older compressors that are worn or overworked as a result of being undersized, will pass a large amount of oil. This is extremely harmful to the various types of "rubber" components, gaskets, hoses, diaphragms, piston cups, etc. Replacement of damaged rubber components can cause expensive repair, which can be avoided by the installation on an oil separator after the air-cooling and water removal system.
by Jimmy Goulet National VP Sales with over 30 years experience in the dry-cleaning industry