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Why We Ignore Leaks
Compressed air is a misunderstood utility. As such, it tends to be misused and even abused. Leaks continue to be the biggest problem; often overlooked because they are difficult to detect, don’t smell bad, don’t make a mess on the floor, and rarely stop production.

The Real Cost of Leaks
One of your factory’s highest operating expenses is the energy consumed by your compressed air system. Only 25% of the cost of a compressed air system is capital cost and maintenance. The remaining 75% is energy, and as much as 35% of that energy is wasted satisfying leaks.

Additional Impacts
Compressed air leaks create fluctuations in system pressure, which negatively impacts product quality. Compressors work overtime to compensate, leading to early degradation of the asset. Eventually, the compressor system can’t keep up with demand. What can you do? Buy yet another compressor for more capacity? Or optimize the capacity you already have by finding and fixing leaks?

With so much at stake, why are compressed air leaks managed so poorly, and why doesn’t every organization have an air leak management program?

Where to Look for Leaks
Every component has the potential to leak, but we can hasten our search by focusing on common failure points. Usual problem areas are branch line connections, automatic drain traps, desiccant filters, regulators, coalescent filter assemblies, quick couplers, valves, hoses, fittings, pneumatic cylinders and thread sealants. Most leaks occur at points of use, so begin your search there.

How to Find Leaks
Locating air leaks in a loud factory floor is next to impossible with a human ear. The best, and easiest, way to find air leaks is with an ultrasound leak detector. Ultrasound detectors allow you to hear the minute hissing noise produced by leaks, despite the roaring noise of a production area. Ultrasound detectors are portable, easy to use and require little training to get started.

How to Manage Leaks
It’s not enough to just find leaks. Fixing and documenting savings is a necessary part of the program. One way to justify the labor costs and capital expense is to track them with SDT’s LEAKReporter, a mobile smartphone App available for iOS and Android. LEAKReporter is focused, simple and free. It saves inspectors time and money by documenting leaks in pictures, estimating their cost impact and creating fast comprehensive leak reports.

Being competitive has never been more important than it is today. Energy costs directly impact your bottom line. There is no easier way to reduce energy waste than to tackle the “low hanging fruit” in your compressed air system.

by Tristan Rienstra

Compressed air is one of the three highest cost utilities in use at your plant. It is also one of the least maintained in terms of system leaks. Leaks are expensive and wasteful, but most often ignored.

Finding and fixing leaks is an easy way to reduce energy costs but finding them is not easy because of background noise.

  1. Why we don’t find and fix air leaks?
    Leaks are often considered an unavoidable cost of business. Many of us simply don’t realize the high cost of compressed air leaks.
  2. Air leaks cost you real money
    Compressed air leaks are one of the leading expenses in the industrial world to this day. Leaks are a source of wasted energy, but they also contribute to other operating losses.
  3. How much air is being wasted?
    Air leaks are wasted energy. An industrial compressed air system loses up to 40% of its compressor’s output to leaks if left unchecked.
  4. The best way to find leaks
    SDT’s ultrasound technology provides you with the ability to check vast areas for air leaks quickly and effectively. The SDT270 hears high frequency sounds created by leaks, while ignoring low frequency plant noise.
  5. How to fix compressed air leaks
    Finding the leaks presents a solution to the problem. But only fixing the leaks nets cost and energy savings. Without a follow-up to ensure found leaks were actually fixed, leak detection is just another expense.
  6. Air leak prevention program
    Implementing an Air Leak Prevention Program into your facility is essential for energy and cost savings. Proactive leak detection and good organization will reduce leaks to 10% or less of system demand.

Download our Leak Surveyors Handbook

by Allan Rienstra - SDT Ultrasound Solutions