Restarting your Compressed Air System
With many shutdowns in place of manufacturing deemed non-essential due to the corona virus, there will need to be restarts to factory compressed air systems when the factories are started back up. Many of these operations will have sat idle for a significant period of time. For the idle air compressor, it is akin to storing a car for a long period of time. And in addition, the entire system attached to the air compressor system must also be considered.
It is important to check that it is in good shape before starting up the system. Things to check:
1. Do a walk around and check for possible oil leaks and check hoses and fittings. When hoses and fittings cool down they can become brittle and hoses can easily crack on startup. If there is any oil where oil should not be, check for any degradation in parts of the piping, hoses and fittings and repair/replace as necessary.
2. While doing the walk around, check all filters in the system and check for any stuck auto drains, and ensure all filters are drained of collected moisture and dirt. Open all manual drains to
remove any condensed moisture that occurred during the shutdown. This is also a good time to inspect and do maintenance on any filters which may need them such as replacing saturated
3. While the system is down, condensed moisture in the piping may leak out through leaks. This is a good way to identify any leaks in the system for repair prior to startup. Very large plants may have manual or auto drains at many low points to collect condensed moisture and dirt. These are especially important to check and drain as a significant amount of condensate may have been collected during the shutdown.
4. For end use, check the startup procedures for pneumatically operated equipment and whether they need to be isolated prior to providing it compressed air, and solenoid valves in particular
need to be checked as they may stick after sitting inactive for a long time. The solenoid supplier can advise on what do in the case of a startup after sitting inactive for a long time.
5. Back at the compressor, check the oil if the shutdown has been for a long time. Just like a car in storage, the oil can degrade and may need changing. Belt driven compressors should have the drive belts checked as well for proper tension.
6. In warm climates, for large horsepower air compressors, it may be wise to perform an insulation test on the motor to make sure moisture has not collected on the inside.
7. Check air tools, and any blow off nozzles, air knives and any vortex coolers to make sure they are clean prior to startup. Remove, clean and replace as needed. The point of use filters for
these items especially should be checked to make sure any moisture and dirt collected is removed to avoid carryover to the tool or nozzle and then possibly onto the manufactured product.
Much like anything left idle for a long time, one needs to consider the factory environment and local climate conditions that can have any deleterious effect on the system that may need to be dealt with – much like a car left in storage for an extended period.