Compressed air systems don’t exist in a vacuum, so to speak. They’re only as effective as the accessories that help them push the right amount of clean dry air to the right places at the right pressures.How often have you seen a compressed air system not working the way it should? Chances are it had more than a few components in fine working order. And chances are it had at least one or two components in need of some attention — a clogged filter, an undersized aftercooler, an ill-suited pressure regulator, or no air dryer where an air dryer should be. Unfortunately, an air compressor is only as strong as its weakest component.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure to outfit your compressed air system with all the accessories it needs to function the way it was meant to. The right accessories will increase your energy efficiency and minimize the need for maintenance over the life of the compressor. Here, we break down the most important accessories you should consider.
Filters remove atmospheric contaminants from air at the intake to keep your compressed air system clean, and the air output pure. Cleaner machines work more efficiently, keep components from degrading, and reduce the frequency of maintenance required. As filters do their jobs, they accrue particulate matter naturally, so they need to be cleaned and replaced regularly depending on the operating environment.
It’s critically important to have the right filter for your particular application. Some applications will require specialized oil removing filters, and others will require dust and pre-filters. Take the time to figure out what those specifics are and design an appropriate filtration system to match.
If your air compressor operates at a higher pressure than you require, then you’re wasting energy — and wasted energy is money down the drain. But you’re also putting needless pressure on the hoses, fittings, and tools, causing undue wear, and shortening the lifespan of your system components. If a tool is rated for 120 psi, then that’s the pressure at which it’s meant to function best, so if you’re feeding it 150 psi, you can expect suboptimal performance.
That’s where regulators come in. Regulators adjust air pressure levels from the machine to match the tool’s requirements. Almost every compressed air application will use tools with disparate pressure ratings, so regulators are a must-have in a majority of cases.
But there’s also the regulation of the entire system to consider. Advanced air compressors will have intelligent monitoring systems that read and react to air distribution pressure and air demand, using on/off controls, modulation, and variable rotational speed control in order to achieve a maximum efficiency relationship between air demand and energy consumption.
Hoses are the veins that connect your compressed air system’s heart (the compressor) to it’s organs (tools). Hoses can wear over time, bending, kinking and developing leaks, so they should be checked often and replaced when needed. But that’s not the only reason to invest in new hoses.
If you’re using a hose that’s too long, you’re wasting energy. Too short? You’re reducing your workers’ productivity. The gauge of the hose also impacts energy efficiency. Some hoses are more durable than others. Some require extremely high heat capacities. And retractable or recoil hoses can provide spatial flexibility and storage that are, in some applications, nearly indispensable. It’s important to ensure that your system’s hoses are appropriate for your application — otherwise, it’s more money down the drain.
4. TOOL ATTACHMENTS
The final link in the chain, and the reason for compressed air in the first place. If you don’t have well-maintained tools, or the right tools, it doesn’t matter how well-designed your compressed air system is.
Nail guns, blowguns, paint sprayers, drills, sanders, grinders, air knives, and food filling machines — there’s a veritable smorgasbord of tools out there both for generic and highly specific applications (see: chocolate pan-coating sprayer). There’s nothing more important than making sure you’ve got the right tools for the job(s) you’re doing.
5. AFTERCOOLERS AND AIR DRYERS
The process of air compression naturally creates vapor content. Aftercoolers and Air Dryers are needed to eliminate moisture from compressed air before it reaches the tool tip.
Air dryers like desiccant dryers use silica gel, activated alumina, or molecular sieves to de-vaporize air. Aftercoolers, on the other hand, use temperature control to remove water content from the air. Cooler air is also denser (more pressurized) air, so aftercoolers serve the additional function of increasing efficiency.
Water content in your compressed air system can cause contaminated air piping, sticking air cylinders, stuck air valves, plugged orifices, corroded transmitters, and contaminated processes. So any initial benefits derived from not investing in the proper air treatment equipment for the air compressor will be offset by the excessive maintenance, repairs and damage that wet, dirty compressed air can wreak on a facility.
At the end of the day, the most important link in the chain is the air compressor itself — and no one offers more advanced, more energy-efficient, or more durable machines than Mattei. With over five decades of manufacturing our patented rotary vane air compressors, Mattei delivers machines with unparalleled volumetric efficiency, pressure stability, and longevity.
But getting the most out of your compressed air system means getting the best — and the right — accessories to go along with it and Mattei offers a broad range of quality accessories designed specifically with Mattei compressors. Using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts from your local Mattei distributor will keep your machine running the way it was meant to run — smoothly, quietly, and efficiently.