Sometimes you don’t need an expensive leak detector to find leaks. There are often clues scattered around the facilities that show you where costly compressed air is escaping from your system.
Consider an automotive manufacturer where a variety of common leaks were found during a recent compressed air audit:
- Various leaking regulators were found in paint boots. The lubricant from the compressed air leak causes dust from sanding to stick to any surface the leaking air contacts.
- Personnel were under the impression a good layer of tape could repair cuts and holes in rubber hosing. This left bright markings where leakage was occurring under the tape.
- Masking tape was used to kink the hose where the end had been cut off by accident. This is not only unsafe, but also a poor way of stopping the compressed air flow because some leakage still occurred.
Figure 2. Masking tape is an unsafe way to seal off an open hose.
It was obvious the personnel in this plant had little respect for the cost of compressed air. Some awareness training was the correct solution, along with some enhanced management oversight.
Not only were a substantial number of leaks repaired, but also some additional savings were gained by reducing the duty cycle of the air system. The plant only operated eight hours per day, yet the compressed air system was pressurized 24 x 7.
Simply turning off the compressed air system when nobody was in the plant saved 70% in leakage costs and substantially reduced the operating hours of the compressors, saving maintenance costs.