5 Tips for Optimizing Compressed Air With the IIoT

Air compressors pressure pumps .

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can improve every aspect of operations, including those dealing with compressed air. Maintaining compressed air is as critical as keeping up with energy use, so don’t let this oft-used utility go neglected. Be sure to connect it to the rest of your facility through the IIoT, and give yourself some peace of mind surrounding your shop’s compressed air.

Here are five easy tips to get you started.

1. Monitor Air Compressor Performance Remotely.

Air compressor performance may decrease before a unit breaks down. As the performance drops, you’ll see a decrease in production from an unknown cause. Real-time IIoT compressor monitoring provides valuable insight, showing you exactly which compressors are exhibiting even a slight drop in operation. This real-time monitoring allows you to address problems immediately, before you experience a breakdown or equipment damage.

For instance, a cereal manufacturer making use of real-time temperature monitoring noticed a change in the operating temperature of a compressor during an unexpected cold snap. Rather than letting the problem continue until the condensation drains froze and damaged the compressor, service personnel got an alert to heat the compressor. This simple, quick notification may have saved the company from having to replace or repair a broken compressor. Such a situation would have severely curtailed operations.

2. Manage and Reduce Energy Use.

IIoT software gathers energy-use information. In the future, governments will look closely at this information to determine how well companies are conserving energy. Some of today’s connected compressors record information in data reports that are compatible with the international standard ISO-50001. To be prepared for the day when these reports are mandated, install ISO-50001-compatible IIoT equipment in advance.

This standard helps you to monitor and control energy use, and with the valuable information collected about pressure and temperature, you’ll be able to easily discern the energy efficiency of your compressors. A decrease in efficiency indicates a compressor that’s wearing out and in need of repair.

3. Prevent Downtime With Predictive Maintenance.

When a compressor goes down, you may lose productivity. Preventative maintenance is the current repair model. While this is good for keeping air compressors maintained and well-oiled, it still results in work stoppages from broken compressors. Predictive maintenance is the ideal solution. Through the monitoring and data collection capabilities offered by the IIoT, your compressor will be able to tell your maintenance personnel when it will need to be fixed — before it breaks down and causes real problems.

With this method, the downtime for IIoT-connected air compressors drops by 25%. And whenever a problem occurs, your maintenance personnel will get an immediate alert — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even small, unexpected drops in pressure or temperature can still allow operations to continue, all the while hinting at a near-future breakdown. These problems would likely go ignored without the sensors and data collection capabilities offered by an IIoT compressor.

4. Gain the Ability to Make Automatic Adjustments.

All compressors, even those connected to the IIoT, require a human operator. However, future applications of this technology could allow compressors to automatically make the adjustments that an operator would. These automatic adjustments can take place faster than a human could make them, leading to improved productivity. And while a human worker controls the programmable logic controller (PLC) that runs the compressors, it’s not hard to imagine a computer eventually taking over, preprogrammed to optimize operations.

Humans no longer have to be near all the machines they control. In the future, they may not even have to control equipment at all. Connectivity is a huge part of Industry 4.0 and the IIoT, allowing machinery to easily communicate with other equipment and components. If one machine is running slower than average, for example, it can send a signal to other equipment up and down the line to slow production.

5. Gather Easy-to-Understand Data.

The IIoT is all about data, but that information is useless unless you can make sense of it. The software that runs your compressors and collects data also generates the reports you assess and act upon. This valuable information allows you to adjust your compressors or order service as needed.

So don’t neglect the data that your IIoT-connected compressors produce. This information will be critical when making key decisions regarding your compressors and their performance — and the productivity of your facility as a whole.

The IIoT and Compressed Air

Compressed air serves as a crucial energy source in countless industrial applications. Making compressed air more efficient can go a long way toward improving your facility and enhancing overall productivity. So, to prepare for the future and make your facility as efficient as possible, be sure to integrate your compressed air into your IIoT system.

Greater connectivity will give you more control and reduce downtime, leading to higher profits and streamlined operations. Any information you gather throughout the process will allow you to make the most of your facility and your business, ensuring continuous improvement throughout all aspects of operations.

 

Image Credit: NavinTar/Shutterstock.com

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