The answer to this month’s trouble shooter is provided by Andy Jones, MD at Mattei Compressors Ltd.
Published: 14 October, 2016
Why is it important to regularly service and maintain a compressed air system?
Firstly, if a compressed air system isn’t properly and regularly maintained it could end up posing a danger. In very extreme cases a compressor that isn’t looked after correctly might even catch fire or explode.
It is for this reason that written schemes of examinations are a legal requirement under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. The document contains a wide range of information, including the parts of the system that need to be examined, the nature of the examination required, the preparatory work needed and the maximum interval between examinations.
Worryingly, anecdotal evidence suggests that many organisations aren’t actually aware of this legal requirement - non-compliance can result in a fine of up to £20,000.
If they haven’t done so already, we would advise plant and factory managers responsible for compressed air systems to familiarise themselves with this regulation, and to have a written scheme of examination drawn up as a matter of urgency.
Secondly, a poorly maintained compressed air system will not run as efficiently as it should – ultimately increasing running costs and carbon emissions.
As well as checking the compressor(s), filters and any dryers regularly, it’s also important to assess the pipework. In many companies in excess of 30% of air generated is wasted through leaks in the system.
Damaged pipework can also affect efficiency. Steel pipework can rust and corrode, altering the efficiency of a system. If pipework needs to be replaced then for many applications aluminium could be considered a more preferable material; it has very good properties in terms of minimising friction and reducing energy losses, and is also generally easier and quicker to install.