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Compressing compressed air installation times

Reducing the time needed to install compressed air systems will not only bring down installation costs, but also minimise disruption to sites, building work, and follow-on projects. Jack Braisher, national business development manager for compressed air and telecoms at RWC, explains how to reduce compressed air installation times in commercial and industrial applications, as well as how to modify existing systems to reduce leaks and the need of costly repairs. Often referred to as the fourth utility, compressed air is used by multiple industrial facilities across a variety of operational functions. From powering pneumatic tools to automation equipment and conveyors to controls and bulk movement, of course most industrial facilities and manufacturing plants use compressed air. Installing compressed air systems can be a complex task, depending on the size of the site and the customer needs, with installers often under pressure to keep installation times to a minimum while ensuring safety and precision are met to reduce the risk of costly leaks further down the line.

In turn, reducing installation times for compressed air systems is often accompanied by a reduction in costs, as well as minimising the disruption to building sites, limiting potential delays to projects, and increasing productivity. So, what can engineers do to ensure they install a compressed air system with the maximum safety measures in place, while compressing installation times? 

Minimising compressed air leaks 

One of the main challenges during installation lies in the complexity of ensuring that pipes are connected securely to reduce the risk of leaks and the subsequent need for expensive repairs and continued maintenance. When air escapes from a gap in the pipe installation, often nobody is aware of the leak until it becomes large enough that it makes a sound – that recognisable whistle of a leaky pipe.

Compressed air leaks can cause a financial nightmare for any operation – depending on the size of a site, small leaks throughout a pipe installation add up. And with rising energy costs, these leaks become increasingly expensive. However, the risk of leaks is not only a costly matter, but also a great safety issue. Pipe systems are essentially a pressure vessel, and traditional galvanised steel applications carry the risk of eroding after several years leading to the integrity of the pipe to fail. To avoid this problem, installing aluminium pipes is recommended as they don’t rust, offering improved air flow, and preventing scale from building up.

Traditional compressed air systems also come with the challenge of ensuring the correct torque is applied at point of connection. And RWC’s SharkBite air and pneumatics heavy-duty metal push-fit system was developed with this challenge in mind, engineered to offer a fast, easy, and reliable way to connect pipes. Anodised aluminium pipe and brass fittings combine design aesthetics with high performance, as the system operates at up to 20 bar, exceeding the industry standard which is usually 16 bar. 

Compressing compressed air installation times while reducing leaks

Reducing energy costs by minimising the risk of leaks is only one aspect of the benefit of rethinking compressed air installations. Engineers looking to offer cost-effective services for their customers will also need to reduce the time it takes for them to install compressed air systems.  When it comes to reducing installation times, RWC’s push-fit solutions are easy to use, making the installation process up to 50 per cent faster compared to other conventional systems. Using a simple push-fit action, pipes are instantly joined together, with no need for unsafe tools, or the need to glue, solder, or screw the fittings together.  Maintenance and servicing of conventional installations is also a challenge and comes with lengthy downtimes, as the pipes and fittings need to be threaded, crimped, soldered or glued together. With the SharkBite air and pneumatics range, the engineer simply needs to push the connecting piece in until it reaches the pre-marked section on the pipe to ensure a secure fit. This means pipelines can be reconfigured in just seconds, rather than hours or days. A simple tool is required to dismantle the connection, meaning the installation can’t be accidently tampered with.

Maintaining secure connections for a lifetime 

Efficiency, safety and performance are essential to manufacturing operations, but sometimes change is needed to ensure these needs are met. This boils down to two considerations: compressed air installation design and use of shut-off valves. Both bring huge benefits when it comes to the ease of modification.  The first consideration is the design of a compressed air installation, identifying the quickest route for the pipework to take and ensuring the system has decent air flow. The layout is crucial, with ring main the favoured design. However, it’s also fundamental to ensure there are enough ball valves installed appropriately – by ensuring that a sufficient amount of ball valves are installed in the system, engineers will be able to shut off certain sections of the system when repairs need to be carried out. Ball valves are a good preventative measure to enable quick and easy modification, as well as cost and time efficient long-term maintenance.

Compressed air solutions for every application

Pipe diameter is another crucial aspect of effective compressed air systems – the SharkBite range comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from 10mm capacity to that of 15-54mm for medium and larger sized compressed air applications. Part of RWC’s wider compressed air product portfolio, featuring the 3mm to 28mm John Guest air and pneumatics push-fit range, the SharkBite system adds further installation capabilities in terms of size and pressure resistance.  This allows installers and customers complete freedom of choice to install exactly the solution their respective applications require. On top of easy installation, the SharkBite push-fit system comes with an added advantage compared to other solutions – its brass fittings and blue anodised aluminium pipe give an aesthetically pleasing finish where workshop pipework is exposed.  RWC provides support in the design and specification of the company’s compressed air systems, leveraging their knowledge of fluid dynamics for best practice advice and installation guidance.

Reliance Worldwide Corporationâ (RWC) is a family of innovative brands that transform performance and efficiency for plumbing and heating, smart homes, and specialist industries around the globe.? 

Headquartered in Atlanta, USA, RWC has a strong global foothold with the business divided into three key regions: Americas, APAC and EMEA. The RWC group is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX: RWC) and employs more than 2,000 people in over 40 locations worldwide.?