Pneumatic systems & components


How the latest pneumatics can reduce plant costs

Third Quarter 2019 Pneumatic systems & components

Growing demand for greater functionality and capability means that the latest pneumatic components are becoming increasingly complex. Plant engineers seeking cost-effective solutions need to know the optimum products available. Making wise selections when it comes to pneumatic components can pay huge dividends. To help avoid expensive mistakes, a variety of different pathways can be considered when looking to optimise the performance of pneumatic components.

Preventative maintenance

Regular and correct maintenance extends the working life of pneumatic equipment. Lubricators must not be left to run dry, while filters need cleaning, and contaminants such as water, unwanted oils, metal shavings and corrosion must be removed. A good visual indicator here is a yellowing of the filter elements, suggesting that compressor oils are causing an issue.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance avoids the cost of both reactive and scheduled preventative maintenance by only deploying maintenance routines when needed, namely shortly before a pneumatic component is predicted to fail. The route to predictive maintenance is via sensors. For instance, a flow sensor that sits in line with a filter, regulator, lubricator unit can indicate a blocked filter that might otherwise go unspotted. If a blocked filter is allowed to continue serving a pneumatic system, several problems can result. Air supply can become restricted, contamination levels can rise, and extra heat can be generated that might compromise a system and ultimately lead to its complete failure. The cost implications of such an outcome are significant. Today, sensors have been developed for use on almost all pneumatic components, for example continuous position sensors on cylinders. This type of sensor can indicate whether heat or wear is being generated to the point of becoming a problem.

Reduce energy usage

Modern pneumatic components can help plants save money via reduced energy consumption. Many plant engineers fall into the trap of oversizing, thinking they are playing it safe. However, a correctly sized pneumatic component is perfectly safe and avoids the extra costs associated with larger pneumatics and wasted energy. A key tip here is to use pneumatic zoning on a manifold to mix pressures, add vacuum to the application, or manage the use of supply pressure. Pneumatic zoning allows the user to section the manifold via a gasket, thus creating different pressure zones or changing the flow, or even making one zone a vacuum. A further alternative to oversizing is to use pressure boosters, which amplify the pressure or serve as a simple reservoir to store compressed air in the system for later use.

Be safe, not sorry

There is a cost associated with ensuring machine/system safety, but workplace injuries will almost certainly cost more. A simple risk assessment can add significant value to a pneumatics project. Any potential hazards identified can be designed out or protected against using solutions such as light curtains, interlocks, machine guards or safety exhaust products. When incorporated into an air preparation system, a safety exhaust valve lets users safely and reliably shut off the pneumatic energy, stopping the flow of compressed air to the machine and allowing downstream pressure to exhaust. There are, however, a number of criteria associated with the optimum specification of a safety exhaust valve, including fast exhaust time to faulted condition; fast switching time; utilising series-parallel flow so that both valve elements (redundant design) shift to supply air downstream; and high B10 value (life expectancy in switching cycles).

Consider system changes

Low cost Ethernet-based shop floor connectivity is the future for manufacturing industries, and many are shifting in this direction.

In stark contrast, numerous plants still rely on hard-wired solutions. However, the shift from long runs of wire trunking to a simple Ethernet port is not as daunting as it sounds, particularly with the advent of IO-Link. This is fast becoming the next significant industrial network protocol as it can provide the perfect local extension to a superior industrial Ethernet network. It is the first I/O technology for communication with sensors and actuators to be adopted as an international standard (IEC 61131-9), meaning that devices can be integrated in the same way in all commonly used fieldbus and automation systems, right up to ERP level. The opportunity to save money with IO-Link is substantial as users can run field level devices back to the IO-Link master, which saves in time, wiring, component costs and troubleshooting. What’s more, today’s advanced network nodes come with many advantages, such as prognostic data for predictive maintenance, as well as built-in sensors for shorts, over-current, thermal management and cycle counting.

For more information contact Lisa de Beer, Parker Hannifin SA, +27 11 961 0700, lisa.debeer@parker.com, www.parker.com/za



Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Compressed air purity analyser
Second Quarter 2021, Artic Driers International , Pneumatic systems & components
Compressed air treatment using filters and dryers is an effective barrier to airline contamination. Until recently, auditing the compressed air quality in a system was difficult, but clients and professional ...

Read more...
Critical compressed air on platinum mine
Second Quarter 2021 , Pneumatic systems & components
The mining industry is a vital cog in the economic workings of South Africa, in particular platinum mines, of which the country has significant reserves, that are among the largest worldwide. Yet, if ...

Read more...
Tectra Automation contracted for PG Bison’s MFB press upgrade
Second Quarter 2021, Tectra Automation , Pneumatic systems & components
Tectra Automation has provided all the pneumatic and vacuum equipment required for the installation and commissioning of PG Bison’s sixth melamine-faced board (MFB) press. The press, which came online ...

Read more...
Festo at the heart of absolute automation
Second Quarter 2021, Festo , Pneumatic systems & components
Festo is renowned as one of the leading pneumatic automation suppliers. Over the years, the company has also set the pace in both Process and Electric Automation. This is backed by its proven record of ...

Read more...
Forklift products and technologies
Second Quarter 2021, Parker Hannifin - Sales Company South Africa , Hydraulic systems & components
The lift truck industry is growing not only in volume, but in sophistication. The demand for friendly interfaces, predictable performance, increased productivity, IIoT connectivity and environmental safety ...

Read more...
Highly flexible pick and place with digitised pneumatics from Festo
First Quarter 2021, Festo , Pneumatic systems & components
A wide range of products, functions and complete solution packages are integrated into the Festo Motion Terminal. One of these products is Motion Apps, which heralds a new Industry 4.0 era. Motion Apps ...

Read more...
Smart positioners of the future
First Quarter 2021 , Pneumatic systems & components
SMC’s new range of smart positioners was designed to pair perfectly with a variety of process control valves and actuators.

Read more...
New range of couplings
First Quarter 2021, Parker Hannifin - Sales Company South Africa , Shaft power components
Parker Hannifin is expanding its FlatFace offering with the SCFF series of couplings. This series offers users a number of benefits ranging from low leakage decoupling to the avoidance of air entrapment ...

Read more...
Next generation particle contamination monitor
Fourth Quarter 2020, Parker Hannifin - Sales Company South Africa , Hydraulic systems & components
Parker Hannifin has launched the icount LaserCM30 particle contamination monitor, a user-friendly field diagnostic device that allows service personnel to quickly and easily assess the cleanliness of ...

Read more...
Locally built air dryers for hospitals
Fourth Quarter 2020, Artic Driers International , Pneumatic systems & components
Artic Driers recently partnered with an NGO (non-governmental organisation) called Save-P to develop a locally designed compressed air dryer and filter bank providing breathing-quality air for hospitals ...

Read more...