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  1. 1. AV Technology helps companies prevent profits evaporating into thin air There is no doubt that energy sustainability is one of the ‘hottest’ topics on the political agenda around the world. In an era of soaring energy costs, reducing energy consumption in industrial operations is vital, not just for the environment, but also for bottom line profitability. However in many industrial plants energy is simply ‘leaking away’: often unnoticed, sometimes ignored. For plants using steam or compressed air in their processes, energy wastage through leaks can be significant. Although typically small in nature, collectively over 12 months these leaks can cost companies tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds. In addition to increased energy costs, such leaks can cause accelerated corrosion and equipment failure as well as presenting unacceptable health and safety risks. Detecting leaks by normal visual or audible methods can be ineffective, especially for small leaks in noisy environments. The condition monitoring engineers at Stockport based AV Technology (AVT) have considerable experience in leak detection using ultrasonic detection techniques across a broad spectrum of industries. This complements their portfolio of other condition monitoring disciplines, which include thermography, vibration and oil analysis. During a leak, a fluid (liquid or gas) moves from a high pressure to a low pressure and as it passes through the leak site, a turbulent flow is generated. This turbulence has strong ultrasonic components and typically the larger the leak, the greater the ultrasound level. Both steam leaks and air leaks can be detected using the same instrument. Ultrasound is a high frequency, short wave signal and therefore the intensity of the ultrasound produced by a leak drops off rapidly as the sound moves away from its source. For this reason, the leak sound will be loudest at the leak site. Ultrasound is considered to be relatively quot;directionalquot; and therefore locating the source of the leak in many applications is fairly straightforward using a handheld portable ultrasonic detector. The instrument converts the high frequency sound signal into an audible sound which is also registered on the instrument’s meter. 1
  2. 2. Air Leaks In a typical plant that has not been well maintained the air leak rate may equate to between 20 and 30 percent of total compressed air production capacity. By comparison, pro-active leak detection and repair can reduce leaks to less than 10 percent of compressor output. In addition to being a source of wasted energy, leaks have a knock on effect on overall operational efficiency. Leaks cause a drop in system pressure, which can make air tools function less efficiently, adversely affecting production. In parallel by forcing the equipment to run longer, leaks shorten the life of almost all system equipment (including the compressor package itself). Increased running time can also lead to additional maintenance requirements and increased unscheduled downtime. While leakage can come from any part of the system, the most common problem areas are: • Couplings, hoses, tubes, and fittings • Pressure regulators • Open condensate traps and shut-off valves • Pipe joints, disconnects, and thread sealants. Steam Leaks Steam leaks are typically found at valve stems, pressure regulators, connection flanges and pipe joints. If leaks are ignored, they can cause a drop in system pressure, resulting in heat loss and lower operating efficiency. At a pressure of seven bar (100psi), an orifice of just 3 mm can cause the loss of 25000 kg of steam per annum. This multiplied by the steam production cost per kilogram gives some measure of the annual cost implications. Other contributory factors are boiler efficiency but this is largely dependant on boiler type, usage and maintenance regime. Addressing steam leaks will have a similar impact to that of installing loft insulation in the home where the cost is recouped over a period of time as opposed to an immediate benefit attributed to the routine condition monitoring. 2
  3. 3. Summary AVT have developed proprietary methods to measure and quantify the losses arising from both air and steam leaks. With energy conservation gaining momentum across all industry sectors, AVT’s experience in ‘leak management’ is bringing significant cost savings to a growing number of companies. In particular AVT have seen a strong emphasis on energy conservation within the Food and Beverage sector, with steam and air losses at the top of the agenda. 3
  4. 4. AV Technology Ltd is a leading multi-discipled consultancy with over 30 years’ experience. Our portfolio includes: Consultancy: Services: Products: • • • Condition Monitoring Condition Monitoring Acoustic Emission Sensors • • • Facilities Lubrication Management Condition Monitoring Systems • • • Maintenance Maintenance Solutions Lubrication & Filtration • • • Noise & Vibration Noise & Vibration Silo Weigh • • • Structural Integrity Strain Gauging Structural Monitoring Systems • • • Training Structural Monitoring Vision Systems • Visual Inspection AV Technology Limited AVTECH House Birdhall Lane Cheadle Heath, Stockport Cheshire SK3 0XX Tel: 0161 491 2222 Fax: 0161 428 0127 AV Technology operates an ISO 9001: 2000 QA system and applies a strict health and safety policy. 4