Counting the cost of compressed air leaks

Paul Boughton

Compressed air leaks are costing UK industry thousands of pounds every year, according to one of the country’s industrial services providers.

The warning from Flexion, part of ERIKS UK, comes in the wake of increasing concerns over compressed air costs and its environmental impact.

“UK industry is literally leaking money with its failure to accurately detect and deal with compressed air leakages,” says Mark Stone, Product Manager at FLEXION. “Big leaks, such as a drain cap on a filter regulator can cost up to £5,000 every year. Even small leaks on equipment, emanating from a gas control panel, main air drop or push fit connection can cost hundreds of pounds in compressed air every year.”

He continues: “The concern is that the cost of repairing a loose connection on an isolation valve could be as low as £25, but the leak is all-too-often not being detected or rectified.”

Mr Stone says that the average industrial plant leaks 30% of the total amount of compressed air produced with some sites losing as much as 60% of the total air generated.

“The problem is that this produces an even greater demand for compressed air to keep up with the losses,” he says. “Compressed air is produced by air generators which run on electricity, which means leakage has an enormous impact on both energy efficiency and the environment. The problem is that it is regarded as a low or no cost item, particularly by machine or plant operators who don’t have to pick up the bill themselves.”

To aid industry, Flexion has introduced its Compressed Air Savings Programme which includes an application audit, full report and first fix capability for customers. Mr Stone concludes: “Detecting leaks is a fairly straightforward matter when you have the right equipment and you know where to look. A survey of a medium sized plant by an experienced team can be achieved in around three hours with the use of an ultrasonic detector that is specifically designed for the task.”


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