No matter what the outside temperature, air leaks are your compressed air system’s worst enemy. Your air compressor may be free of any debris (think condensation or oil) and have incredible filtration functionality, but an air leak will take it down. Air leaks can exist anywhere from your machine to the end of your distribution network, and leaks can waste as much as 20-30% of the compressor’s output.

If you know you have a leak, but can’t find out where it is – don’t just crank it up! Some choose to simply turn the pressure higher to try and locate the leak. This can damage your compressed air system and is not advised. Finding these leaks is one of the key benefits of regular inspections. When you’ve located the leaks in your compressed air system, fix them so you can ensure your shutdown goes smoothly and safely. Remember, unsupervised leaks can result in decreased service life, increased maintenance of supply equipment or the need for air compressor repair.

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  1. Perform Routine Maintenance

This may seem like an obvious suggestion but you’d be surprised how many plants don’t schedule or perform routine maintenance given the prime opportunity a shutdown provides. Consider these tasks at your shutdown:

  •      Change oil and oil filter
  •      Change air filter
  •      Change filters on dryers
  •      Take oil samples

In our experience, the simple act of changing the oil and discovering any contaminants can give insight into other issues the machine might be having before they become serious! Next, clean the oil cooler and aftercooler, which allows the compressor to maintain peak efficiency and lower outlet temperatures so your compressor doesn’t have to work as hard. The problem with dirty aftercoolers is they send hot air and unnecessary condensation downstream to your dryer.

  1. Inspect Dryers

Dryers tend to underperform if the air coming into them is too hot or full of moisture. This brings us to our next bit of advice – inspect your dryer. Dryers use massive amounts of energy to perform a critical role in one of your plant’s most important utilities. However, there are slightly different processes based on the type of dryer you have.

For desiccant dryers, start by ensuring the dryer is cycling properly

  •      Test the quality of the desiccant

For refrigeration dryers:

  •      Is the unit hitting target dew point?
  •      Is the Compressor outlet temperature low enough to allow the dryer to run optimally?
  •      Have a technician familiar with refrigeration check the refrigeration compressor if the dryer isn’t hitting setpoint, is overheating or freezing up
  •      Clean the condenser fins

Just like your air conditioner, dryers should be checked and cleaned regularly, but this is a commonly overlooked aspect of a utility plant’s preventative maintenance schedule. Consider adding your air dryers to your maintenance plan today.

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  1. Check the Distribution System

By now it’s clear that moisture is your air system’s worst enemy. Unfortunately, the distribution system is another great place for unwanted moisture to hide. To combat this, start by opening and inspecting all drains and Zero Loss Traps for proper function. Verify that no condensation is backed up in your air system, including wet and dry storage tanks. Next, make sure your drain valves aren’t stuck in an open or closed position. If your condensation drains happen to be on a timer, consider changing them to the more efficient zero loss drain valves. As the name suggests, these valves combat leaks further to save your system valuable compressed air. Condensation build-up is a common culprit of issues in the distribution system, making routine maintenance a necessity.

  1. Add a Tie-In Connection

It’s no secret that compressed air plays a key role in the smooth operation of your utility plant. Have you ever thought of what might happen if your compressor fails? In the event of compressor failure, you need to get a backup compressor up and running as quickly as possible. Even if your plant has backup compressors, a catastrophic failure could have you scrambling at the last minute during minor outages. Save yourself the time and headache by considering the addition of a tie-in point for continuous compressed air during a regularly scheduled compressor outage. Tie-ins make bringing in a new or rental unit a seamless process.

  1. Stock Up on Spare Essentials

Planning ahead for your next shutdown is the greatest way to stay ahead and maintain smooth operation of your mechanical equipment. Having all of the essentials on hand is the best way to do this. Keeping a sufficient amount of these items in stock at all times is a crucial aspect of successful shutdowns:

  •      Oil
  •      Oil Filters
  •      Air Filters
  •      Oil-Water Separators

When done right, shutdowns prove to be an essential component of your plant’s longevity and can increase profit margins going forward. Contact us today to discuss the many ways we can partner with you in the execution of a safe and productive plant shutdown.

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