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Pocket guide

to air distribution

Omsl_1266_01.indd 1

07-07-11 13.53.03

Introduction
Air tools and compressed air systems are used throughout industry. This
booklet has been produced by Atlas Copco as an aid to understanding the
operation of compressed air systems, to provide the basic information for
the correct design of these systems and to illustrate the drawbacks and
additional costs incurred with a poorly designed system.
It will be of value to engineers and designers concerned with the design,
installation and maintenance of compressed air systems.

2 POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

Content
Page
1. How can productivity be raised when working with compressed air....................... 4
1.1 Practical examples when grinding, drilling, assembling with screwdrivers,
nutrunners, impact wrenches and pulse tools.......................................................... 5
1.2 What pressure drop is acceptable?..................................................................... 10
2. How to choose airline accessories ............................................................................... 11
2.1 Key questions......................................................................................................... 11
2.2 Typical hose arrangements..................................................................................... 13
2.3 Airline accessories ................................................................................................. 15
Shut off valves, air preparation units, blow protectors, hoses, whip hoses,
spiral hoses, hose reel balancers, swivels, couplings and nipples, hose clamps,
balancers and torque arms .............................................................................. 15 23
3. Installation .................................................................................................................... 24
4. Maintenance.................................................................................................................. 26
4.1 Leakage .................................................................................................................. 26
4.2 Maintenance schedule............................................................................................ 27
5. Safety ............................................................................................................................. 28
6. What is compressed air?.............................................................................................. 30
7. Air distribution ............................................................................................................. 33
8. Actual case: cost savings with ErgoPulse tools ......................................................... 37
9. Relationship between tool pressure and air consumption ....................................... 41
10. Formulas for power cost calculation .........................................................................42

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

1. How can productivity be raised when


working with compressed air
Too low an air pressure greatly reduces
the performance of most air tools. Air
tools are designed to run at a pressure of
6.3 bar, if the pressure is lower, the efficiency drops radically and productivity
decreases. Many existing air installations
can be improved by choosing the correct
air line accessories. The pay-off time is
short, from as little as a day to 1-2 years.
On the following pages are a few examples:

4 POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

compressor.
The compressor discharge pressure will be
constant at the set level of say 7 or 7.5 bar,
and independent of the system pressure
drop. With low air consumption due to a
low pressure at the tool, the compressor
will operate at the same pressure but for a
longer time for a particular task to be performed. The additional power cost resulting from the high system pressure drop
may be calculated in the following manner:

Grinding
The working cost with a
grinder

A test was performed with an


LSS 64 S085, a 2 kW vertical grinder
with depressed centre wheel. Material was
ground off and the work piece was weighed before and afterwards, the results
were:
Working pressure

6.3

5.8

5.3 bar

Material removal

5.5

4.5

4.0 kg/ hr

A pressure loss of 1 bar leads to almost


30% less material removed. This means
that the operator has to work 40% longer
to do the job. A grinder is used efficiently
3 hours per day. If, for example, the cost
for a working hour is 20 Euro, the
additional 1.2 hours the operator has to
work in order to complete the job costs
the employer 24 Euro per day. In a month
this amounts to 480 Euro and per year
5760 Euro.
The compressor cost when
grinding
Additional losses also occur with the

The compressor cost when


grinding
An LSS 64 S085 normally requires
50 l/s but with 1 bar lower pressure the
air consumption is reduced to 80 %*),
so 50 l/s x 80% = 40 l/s. The working
time for the operator was 40% longer
which gives 140% x 3 hours = 4.2
hours. To compress 1 m3 requires
approximately 0.105 kWh
All formulas and this calculation are
carefully described on page 42 and 43.
Let us use the formula for extra power
per day required when working on too
low air tool pressures:
(40 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4.2 h x 0.105 kWh)
(50 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 3 h x 0.105 kWh)
= 6.8 kWh/day
The extra cost when working on to low
air tool pressures is 4.6 Euro/month
when 1 kWh costs 0.035 Euro
*) See page 41: relationship between tool

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

Drilling

The working cost when drilling


Working pressure

6.3

5.8 bar

Time to make a hole

2.0

3.2 sec

1.2 seconds extra per hole is 60% longer


time. If the efficient drilling time per day
is 1 hour, 36 minutes extra are required
per day, which means 12 Euro per day (at
a cost per hour of 20 Euro), 240 Euro per
month and 2880 Euro per year, wasted
money.
The compressor cost when
drilling
A LBB 36 H060 normally requires
16.5 l/s but with 0.5 bar lower pressure
the air consumption is reduced to 92 %*),
so 16.5 l/s x 92% = 15.2 l/s.

The working time for the operator was


60 % longer which gives 160% x 1.0
hours = 1.6 hours (1 hour and 36 minutes). To compress 1 m3 requires approximately 0.105 kWh
For further information are all formulas
carefully described on page 42.
Let us use the formula for extra power per
day required when working on too low air
tool pressures:
(15.2 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 1.6 h x 0.105 kWh)
(16.5 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 1 h x 0.105 kWh)
= 2.9 kWh/day
The extra cost when working on too low
air tool pressures is 2.1 Euro/month when
1 kWh costs 0.035 Euro

*) See page 41: relationship between tool


pressure and air consumption.
6 POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

Assembling with screwdriver

The working cost when


assembling with a screwdriver
When assembling with a screwdriver
Working pressure

6.3

5.8 bar

Maximum torque

248

240 Nm

Time

0.8

0.9 sec

Assume the cost for the operator is


20 Euro per hour and the efficient assembling time is 4 hours per day. This means
that the cost normally is 80 Euro per day.
12.5 % longer time assembling means
80 x 0.125 = 10 Euro per day unnecessary
work. This represents 200 Euro per month
and 2400 Euro per year.
The compressor cost when
assembling with a screwdriver
A similar calculation can be made for the
extra work of the compressor:
A LUM 21 SR 10-U normally requires
4 l/s but with 0.5 bar lower pressure the
air consumption is reduced to 92 %*), so
4 l/s x 92% = 3.36 l/s. The working time
for the operator was 12.5 % longer which
gives 112.5% x 4 hours = 4.5 hours
(4 hour and 30 minutes). To compress
1 m3 requires approximately
0.105 kWh
For further information are all formulas
carefully described on page 42.

Let us use the formula for extra power per


day required when working on too low air
tool pressures:
(3.68 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4.5 h x 0.105 kWh)
(4 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4 h x 0.105 kWh) =
0.21 kWh/day
The extra cost when working on too low
air tool pressures is 0.15 Euro/month
when 1 kWh costs 0.035 Euro
Stall type nutrunners
For a stall type nutrunner, a 0.5 bar
decrease of air pressure has a small
influence on idling speed while the torque
decreases 7 %.
When assembling with a stall type nutrunner LMV 22
Working pressure

6.3 bar 5.8 bar

Maximum torque

17.6 Nm16.3 Nm

Rotational speed

735 rpm 720 rpm

The compressor cost when


assembling with stall type
nutrunners
The compressor loss cost when assembling with stall type nutrunners is negligible
since the decreased rotational speed
(2 %) leads to only a 2 % loss in productivity.

*) See page 41: relationship between tool


pressure and air consumption
POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

Impact wrenches
A) The working cost when
assembling with an impact
wrench with torque control
The torque increases with time on impact
wrenches. Torque levels high above marked torques can be reached. Impact wrenches with torque control, LTS 37, deliver
torque independent of working pressure.
The time to reach the torque increases
with declining pressure. Tests with the
tool show a 12.5% time increase at 0.5 bar
lower air pressure. At an operator cost of
20 Euro per hour and 4 hours of efficient
assembling, this gives 10 Euro unnecessary work every day, (200 Euro per month,
2400 Euro per year).
The compressor costs when
assembling with an impact
wrench with torque control
A LTS 36 HR 13 normally requires 10 l/s
but with 0.5 bar lower pressure the air
consumption is reduced to 92 %*), so
10 l/s x 92% = 9.2 l/s. The working time
for the operator was 12.5 % longer which
gives 112.5% x 4 hours = 4.5 hours
(4 hour and 30 minutes). To compress
1 m3 requires approximately
0.105 kWh
For further information are all formulas
carefully described on page 42.
Let us use the formula for extra power per
day required when working on too low air
tool pressures:
(9.2 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4.5 h x 0.105 kWh)
(10 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4 h x 0.105 kWh) =
0.53 kWh / day

The extra cost when working on too low


air tool pressures is 0.4 Euro/month when
1 kWh costs 0.035 Euro
B) The working cost when using
a non-shut-off impact wrench
For a non-shut-off impact wrench LMS 37
on the other hand, the torque is dependent
on the working pressure. Tests show the
following values:
Working pressure
Bar

Torque
Nm

6.3

333

5.8

316

5.3

310

The compressor costs when


assembling with a non shut-off
impact wrench
When assembling with a non shut-off
impact wrench there will be no extra
assembling time because the user will
most likely not be aware of the low
working pressure. This will of course
affect the quality of the work.

*) See page 41: relationship between tool


pressure and air consumption.

8 POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

Pulse tool
The working cost for a
pulse tool
Tests performed at Atlas Copco
Tools show that decreased working pressure significantly increases
tightening time and reduces the torque
obtained. Tests were made with an
ErgoPulse 8 XS. The following results
were obtained:
ErgoPulse 8 XS
Pressure

Time

Torque

6.3 bar

6.5 s

48.3 Nm

5.3 bar

10 s

44.3 Nm

4.3 bar

10 s

38.2 Nm

The above figures show that the consequences of too low a working pressure are
longer cycle times and that the torque is
not reached. A simple calculation made
for the cycle times in the best and the
worst cases:
ErgoPulse 8 XS:

worst 10 s
best 6.5 s
difference 3.5 s

The compressor cost when


assembling with a pulse tool
An ErgoPulse 8 XS normally requires
9 l/s but with 1 bar lower pressure the air
consumption is reduced to 80 %*), so 9 l/s
x 80% = 7.2 l/s . The working time for the
operator was 50 % longer which gives
150 % x 2.67 hours (2 hours, 40 minutes)
= 4 hours. To compress 1 m3 requires
approximately 0.105 kWh.
For further information are all formulas
carefully described on page 42.
Let us use the formula for extra power per
day required when working on too low air
tool pressures:
(7.2 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4 h x 0.105 kWh)
(9 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 2.67 h x 0.105 kWh) =
1.8 kWh / day

means more than 50% increased cycle


time. If the efficient tightening time is
4 hours per day and the wages are
20 Euro/hour, this means 40 Euro per day
(800 Euro per month, 9600 Euro per year)
can be saved by having the correct working pressure.

The extra cost when working on too low


air tool pressures is 1.25 Euro/month
when 1 kWh costs 0.035 Euro

*) See page 41: relationship between tool


pressure and air consumption.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

LMS37
LUM21

LBB36
LSS53

Reality
In practice many work sites work with
pressures of 3-5 bar which leads to significant wasted energy and productivity. Atlas
Copco can help measure the air supply
pressure with the air tool simulator.
The following calculation could be made
for a small workshop with, for instance, 3
screwdrivers, 2 impact wrenches, 2 drills
and 1 grinder working with 5.8 bar pressure instead of 6.3 bar pressure:
All figures are taken from the cases on the
previous pages.
It is interesting to see that the additional
working cost is always much higher than
the additional compressor energy cost.
The other conclusion is that a working
pressure lower than 6.3 bar is not acceptable. Already at 5.8 bar the additional
working cost and compressor cost are too
high.

1.2 What pressure drop


is acceptable?
Pressure drop depends on the volume air
flow, higher flow higher pressure drop.
Thus the pressure drop in an installation
depends on the flow required by the tool.
Losses in the air preparation units, coupling and hose should not be higher than
0.6 1.0 bar. It is reasonable to work with
7 bar system pressure and to obtain 6.3 bar
at the tool end. This will ensure an acceptable productivity of the tool.

Air tools at 5.8 bar

Additional
working cost / month

Additional
compressor loss cost / month

3 x LUM 21 SR 14

3 x 200 Euro

3 x 0.15 Euro

2 x LMS 37 HR 13

2 x 0 Euro

2 x 0 Euro

2 x LBB 36 H060

2 x 240 Euro

2 x 2.1 Euro

1 x LSS 53 S085-18

1 x 480 Euro

1 x 6.8 Euro

Sum: 1560 Euro

Sum: 11.5 Euro

10 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

2. How to choose airline accessories


The capacities of Atlas Copco air line
accessories have been measured and the
flow is stated with the corresponding pressure drop. This makes it possible for the
user to choose the correct accessories for
the application and to achieve an acceptable pressure drop.
Restrictions such as small size couplings,
too long and small diameter hoses create
pressure losses. Spiral hoses are, due to
their shape, very long and thus they create
a large pressure drop. The alternative, a
normal PVC hose should in every case be
considered with regards to the pressure
losses. Every coupling in an installation
creates a pressure loss. For example a
whip hose makes it easier to work with the
tool but the extra coupling and small bore
hose can create a pressure drop of 0.2-0.5
bar depending on size and air consumption.

does the tool need lubrication?


Air tool manufacturers make tools with
special vanes not needing lubrication.
Turbines do not need lubrication either.
Some tools do need lubrication and
those with short operating times require
direct lubrication, long operating times
require an oil-fog lubricator

distance between the tool and the offtake: the distance between the tool and
the offtake should ideally not be more
than 3-5 meters. Real life shows that in
many cases this is not possible, for
instance at shipyards, where distances
of 20 meters or more are quite common.

2.1 Key questions


When the tool of the correct size and
power for the application has been selected, the air line accessories of the right
size must be chosen. The parameters for
choosing are:

inlet thread dimension of the tool: the


connection between the hoses and the
tools vary in size, from 1/8 up to 1/2.
The correct nipple must to be chosen
for each tool.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

11

working environment: the choice of


accessories is influenced by the
working environment. Outdoor use or
rough environments like foundries
require more resistant air line
accessories than indoor benchwork
assembling light machinery.

allowable pressure drop: the tool


requires sufficient pressure to function
properly. The system pressure can be
set high if the system pressure drop is
large but in any case, the maximum
allowable pressure drop of the
accessories must be determined and
they should be chosen accordingly.

air consumption: the size of


accessories is determined by the air
consumption of the tool. Larger air
consumption results in larger size
accessories.

12 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

2.2 Typical hose arrangements


Typical hose installations for
assembly tools
Small couplings such as ErgoQIC 08 and
QIC 10 are suitable for assembly tools
which require low air flow rates. Large
impact wrenches require larger size
couplings.

A hose reel balancer is used for straight


screwdrivers, the need for couplings
depends on if the operator needs to
change tool or not.

The hose sizes for an assembly tool can in


most cases be between 6 to 13 mm and
the length is usually 3-5 m. In some few
cases the hoses are larger and longer.
a spiral hose with a nipple to the
FRL and a coupling/nipple.

a simple hose with a nipple to the FRL


on one end and a coupling/nipple on
the other.

The most usual way of using a small


spiral hose is with a straight screwdriver
together with a balancer. Another way is
to use a larger spiral hose with pistol grip
tools. The need of couplings is dependent
on whether or not the operator needs to
change tool.

The installation above is the most


common when working with pistol grip
assembly tools with low levels of
vibrations.

a main hose with two hose nipples.

Lubrication can be from an oil fog


lubricator or a one point lubricator. No
couplings should be used with direct
lubrication (one point lubricator) as there
is a nylon capillary tube inside the air
hose.

a hose balancer with a nipple on one


end and a coupling/nipple in the other.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

13

a main hose together with a short whip hose next to the tool.

A main hose together with a short whip


hose is recommended where there are
hard impacts on the couplings (impact

wrenches) or when the tools are very


heavy and the weight of the tools can
break the couplings.

Typical hose installations for


material removal tools

A main hose together with a short whip


hose is recommended where there are
hard impacts on the couplings (percussive
tools and some grinders) or when the
tools are very heavy and the weight of the
tools can break the couplings.

Couplings of larger size must be used as


air consumption is higher than on assembly tools, (ErgoQIC 10, OIC 15 and
CLAW). Smaller couplings are used for
smaller grinders such as LSF die grinders.
The hose sizes for a material removal tool
can in most cases be between 10 to
20 mm and the length is usually 5 - 10 m.
In some few cases the hoses are larger
and longer.

an extra hose, a main hose together


with a short whip hose next to the tool.
a simple hose with a coupling on both
sides.

This installation is common when working with material removal tools with low
levels of vibrations.

a main hose together with a short


whip hose next to the tool.

An extra hose can be used where there is


long distance to cover. Remember to keep
the dimensions large on the extra hose.
Atlas Copco has in its range, ready made
hoses with couplings and a hose clamp
suitable for use in suggested installations.
By looking up the tool type or the air
consumption required a correctly sized,
ready to fit hose kit may be ordered. The
installation proposals are included in the
Air Line Accessories catalogue, the leaflet
Atlas Copco Air Installations and in the
catalogue Atlas Copco Power Tools for
Industrial Applications.

14 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

2.3 Air line accessories


Shut off valves
Since the shut off valve has a significant
effect on air tool performance, a ball
valve type that guarantees a negligible
pressure drop should be chosen. To avoid
sudden pressure surges, its design should
enable the operator to open and close the
ball valve slowly. Ball valves are required
when servicing air preparation units.
When claw couplings are used, ball valves are the only way to shut off the air
flow.
There are two types of ball valve available: BAL and BAL-1A. Both are lubricated with silicon free grease which is particularly important when spray painting as
silicon drops destroy a painted surface.
BAL type valves can be used in any position from fully open to fully closed. This
type can also be used for air motors where
varying the flow throttles the motor and
thus regulates the speed.

Air preparation units


Atlas Copcos range of air preparation
units MINI, MIDI, MIDI + DOSOL and
MAXI encompasses three levels of air
consumption. Choosing the correct size is
simplified by using the following guidelines.
Highest recommended air flow:

Pa

=1M

Pmax
I FIL
M

25A

1,6MP

Pmax=
L 15

I BA

MID
a

1,6MP

ax=

Pm
I FIL

08B

MIN

As a shut off valve is closed, the pressure


remains on both sides of it. If a tool is
connected on the downstream side of the
valve the hose needs to be vented before
the tool is disconnected., This may be
done by pushing the tool trigger while the
valve is closed so that the remaining air is
discharged. Alternatively, a special kind
of ball valve called a relieving valve (or
venting valve) can be used. Venting valves are ball valves with a relieving port.
As the valve is closed, the stored pressure
in the hose is slowly vented. The advantage is that by depressuring the hose the
risk of an accident is avoided.

MINI up to 12 l/s
MIDI up to 43 l/s (MIDI in combination with
DOSOL can also be used for air flows up to
43 l/s)
MAXI up to 80 l/s

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

15

When to choose MIDI:


MIDI is suitable for most assembly tools,
percussive tools, drills, nibblers, saws, and
small grinders (in fact, approximately
90% of all applications). MIDI units can
be used up to 43 l/s. MIDI has a 1/2
threaded connection.

How to mount air preparation


units

When to choose MIDI + DOSOL:


When operating times for the tool are
short or when the tool has very small air
consumption there is a need for direct
lubrication. A drop of oil is delivered to
the tool as soon as the trigger is pushed.
Typical cases are some assembly tools.
MIDI + DOSOL can be used for tools
with air consumption from 2.3 l/s up to
43 l/s.
When to choose MAXI:
MAXI is a perfect compliment to MIDI,
particularly when major air consumers,
such as large grinders, are used.
MAXI has a 1 threaded connection.
When to choose MINI:
MINI can be used as a complement to
MIDI when using tools with a low air
consumption of approximately 10 l/s, such
as small screwdrivers. MINI is especially
popular for use with pneumatic components. MINI has a 1/4 threaded connection.
How many tools can be connected to a
filter-regulator-lubricator unit?
When using lube-free tools, such as
screwdrivers, it is possible to connect
several tools to the filter FIL and regulator
REG unit. When lubrication is required,
one lubricator DIM or one point lubricator
DOSOL is necessary for each tool.

The assembly kits are used to join units


together. Between two units there must be
an assembly kit.
The mounting bracket kit can be
screwed to any of the units. One mounting
bracket is sufficient for each set of units.
Atlas Copco combination units are always
delivered with assembly kits, mounting
bracket and gauge.

16 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

drops below 0.2 bar (requiring the air


supply to be switched off regularly).
With automatic drainage the bowl is
emptied when the accumulated water
reaches a certain level.

Air filters
The filter separates impurities such as
water and solid particles. Not using filters
in combination with air tools leads to
shorter service life, higher maintenance
costs and a lower efficiency. Old air
systems with cool dryers, for instance,
generate a lot of rust and running tools
without installing a filter could damage
the tool in less than a week. Well
maintained air systems supply clean air.
Although the difference might not be
obvious, the tiniest rust flake can damage
a tool. Intermediate air quality will result
in shorter service intervals with higher
costs. For instance, the service cost for an
LBB 45 drill is 60 Euro.
Atlas Copco filters separate up to 98% of
the water when operating within the
design working range. All three types
(MINI, MIDI and MAXI) have a very low
pressure drop.
Filters are usually equipped with a semiautomatic drain. All filters come with a kit
enabling simple conversion from semiautomatic to manual drainage.
Semi-automatic drainage takes place automatically when the pressure in the bowl

A metal bowl guard is used when there is


a possibility that there are solvents in the
environment. Solvents which make the
polycarbonate bowl brittle are chemicals
containing acetone, benzene, glycerine,
some hydraulic and some synthetic oils,
chloroform, methyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride and similar solvents, carbon
disulphide, perchlorethylene, toluene,
trichlorethylene, xylene (nitrocellulose
thinner) and acetic acid. If the standard
bowl breaks, a metal bowl should be used.
Metal bowl guards are standard in some
markets.

Air pressure regulators


The air pressure regulator ensures that the
pre-set working pressure remains constant
regardless of pressure variations in the
intake air and minor variations in the air
flow rate. By preventing unnecessary consumption of air, the air pressure regulator
improves overall operating economy. For
example, a pressure of 1 bar higher than
necessary results in a 16% increase in air
consumption. If the air consumption is
20 l/s, this means 3.2 l/s extra = 12 m3/h.
An Atlas Copco GA90 screw compressor
needs 1.3 kWh input power to deliver

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

17

12 m3/h at 7.5 bar. 1.3 kWh costs 0.035 x


1.3 = 0.04 Euro / hour; 4 hours effective
running per day is 0.18 Euro per day, 3.64
Euro per month, 43.7 Euro per year.
Tool pressure

Air consumption

6.3 bar

100%

7.0

110%

8.0 bar

125%

See page 41 for the complete table:


relation between tool pressure and air
consumption.

Piston regulators use the air to regulate


and therefore react more slowly. On the
other hand, they have improved regulating
characteristics, such as maintained outlet
pressure over a wide range of air flows.
Piston regulators should be used in air
flow operations where precision is essential and slow response can be accepted,
typically for air motors.
Spring controlled regulators are quick
acting and therefore should be used for all
types of air tools. This type of regulator is
also the most common.

output of a grinder decreases by 15-20%


after 20 minutes when not lubricated.
The most common type of lubricator, the
oil fog lubricator, supplies drops of oil to
the air hose. It is used to lubricate air tools
which have a normal operation time and is
the standard method of lubricating air
tools. Metal bowls should be used when
there is an aggressive environment, (see
filters). A glass sight dome can be used
with units with a metal bowl.
For air tools that are started and stopped
at short intervals or have a very low air
consumption, an one point lubricator
should be used. This supplies oil in drops
through a capillary tube in the hose directly to the tool and is controlled by the tool
starting frequency. Many assembly tools,
but not those with lube free vanes, can be
used in combination with a direct lubricator. Typical tools used with DOSOL are
the LTV series and the LMP/LTP series.
When using long hoses it is easy to get a
dip (i.e. a hose loop forming a low point
where the oil is collected). In this case it
is better to have, if possible, a portable oil
fog lubricator or manually drop some oil
drops into the air tool inlet every hour.
F/R units
F/R units are combined filter / regulators
assembled together. F/R units are recommended in every case where both filters
and regulators are needed. Filtering and
regulating and lubricating properties are
almost the same as for individual units.

Lubricators

T-outlets

If lubricators are not used the vanes have


to be changed more often. The life of the
vanes may decrease to as little as 1/10th
of the normal working time. Tests in Atlas
Copco laboratories showed that the power

In some cases there is a need for nonlubricated air from the units. In such cases
a T-outlet is mounted before the lubricator,
which provides a tapping point for clean
air.

18 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

Hoses

Blow protector
When a fitting comes loose from a pressurised hose, the hose starts to blow compressed air in an uncontrolled way, whipping around. This can injure people,
damage the work-piece and destroy the
environment. A way to ensure this does
not happen is to use an blow protector.
Normally air hoses must be sized according to air flow, hose size and hose length.
Couplings with a low pressure drop must
be chosen, or the blow protector will not
work properly. Care must be taken in
selecting blow protectors for use with
impact wrenches and pulse tools. The air
flow under load must be increased by 50%
to obtain the design air flow rate or the
fuse will shut off at free running.

Hoses should be chosen to meet the


demands of the working environment. The
hoses should have a length of 3-5 m to
ensure sufficient mobility at the workplace
and limited pressure drop. For light air
tools, CABLAIR, a soft light-weight PVC
hose is recommended. It is 30-50% lighter
than conventional PVC hose, and should
be used for clean bench operations. PVC
hoses are suitable for general applications,
from simple grinding to heavy assembly.
Rougher applications require rubber hoses
of which Atlas Copco supplies two types
RUBAIR and TURBO. TURBO is lighter
and very strong while RUBAIR is even
more resistant to a rough environment and
can be supplied in a larger range of
dimensions. To avoid too large a pressure
drop, the hose size should be increased by
one size for a length of 5-10 m, two sizes
for a length of 20 m and three sizes for
lengths of 20-40 m.

Hose recommendations:
Cablair

PVC

Rubair

Turbo

Pliable

Very good

Good

Good

Very good

Flexible

Very good

Good

Very good

Very good

Indoor / outdoor

Indoor

Indoor

In / out

In / out

Spark resistant

Bad

Bad

Good

Good

Rough treatment

Bad

Good

Very good

Very good

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

19

The table below can be used to obtain


the maximum air flows (l/s) through
different size hoses.
Hose
Model

Max length
5m

10 m

20 m

40 m

03

0.7

05

2.1

0.7

06

2.1

0.7

08

7.5

2.1

0.7

10

13

7.5

2.1

13

21

13

7.5

16

43

21

13

7.5

20

75

43

21

13

25

125

75

43

21

General rules are to keep hose diameters


large, to use high flow rate couplings, to
use air preparation units with low pressure
drop. All these measures make the overall
pressure drop in the installation low and
thus productivity is increased and energy
saved.
Whip hoses
Percussive tools and impact wrenches tend
to destroy the coupling if it is directly
connected to the tool (due to the percussive action and impacts). Also, if the tool
weighs more than 3 kg (large grinders or
nut runners) the coupling can break if the
tool is dropped and hits the coupling.
A short whip hose is therefore recommended for these types of tools. It is
important to note that air flow decreases if
you split the hose in two. If for instance a
13 mm, 5 m long hose which has a capacity of 21 l/s, were to be split into whiphose + hose, the capacity would decrease
to 16 l/s (to 80%). A typical length for
whip hoses is 0.3-0.7 meters.

Spiral hoses
A spiral hose together with balancers is
ideal for vertical applications. Spiral hoses
are, due to their shape, very long and thus
have very high pressure drop. To avoid
big losses, choose a short spiral hose.
There are spiral hoses of three materials
available in the Atlas Copco range: nylon,
Pebax and polyurethane. The following
are the significant properties:
Material

Keeps
measurements in
length

Spiral
size

Directly
connected
to tool

Nylon

Best

Big

No

PEBAX

Better

Medium Yes

Polyurethane Good

Small

Yes

Many manufacturers offer small size


spiral hoses but do not state the pressure
drop. As the length leads to a large
pressure drop, the size should be reasonable. Atlas Copco always states the
recommended air pressure and pressure
drop for all equipment.

Hose reel balancers


In some applications, (preferably vertical),
a hose is suitable in combination with a
balancer. A typical application is a straight
screwdriver.

20 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

In this case a hose reel balancer is used.


The air line is connected to the balancer
block and led through the wound hose
which can be pulled out to a suitable
length. Hose reel balancers are chosen
according to the required air flow and the
weight of the tool.

Material removal tools


Material removal tools require a lot of air
and the application is rough. It is therefore
of vital importance to choose large couplings for them to function correctly.
ErgoQIC 10, QIC 15 and CLAW provide
sufficient flow capacity. Smaller grinders,
as for instance die grinders, require small
couplings such as ErgoQIC 08.
Recommended maximum air flows are as
follows (pressure loss 0.2 bar):

Swivels
For screwdrivers, pulse tools, drills or
small die grinders the hose is sometimes
clumsy and in the way when working, for
instance sitting at a workbench. In such
cases a swivel, allowing a certain angle
tolerance between the hose and the tool, is
used. Swivels should not be used in applications where there is a pulling force on
the hose or high levels of vibrations, since
the hose will wear out quickly and start to
leak.

ErgoQIC 08

18 l/s

ErgoQIC 10

47 l/s

Couplings and nipples

QIC 08

11 l/s

Assembly tools
Assembly tools normally have a limited
air consumption and smaller quick couplings are therefore suitable. ErgoQIC 08
and QIC 10 can be used. Big impact
wrenches should be used with bigger size
couplings and a whip hose.

QIC 10

20 l/s

QIC 15

37 l/s

CLAW

290 l/s

If a DOSOL direct lubricator is used, only


hose nipples and/or CLAW couplings can
be used as the capillary hose runs inside
the air hose.

Atlas Copco air line accessories with the


highest recommended air flows with only
0.2 bar pressure drop. This is of vital
importance when comparing with other
makes. A fair comparison should refer to
the same pressure drop.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

21

Single lugged, medium pressure clamps


are recommended for use with CABLAIR
and small PVC hoses. Medium pressure
clamps (worm drive) are recommended
for PVC hoses and smaller rubber hoses
up to 16 mm diameter. For rubber hoses
above 16 mm, heavy duty clamps should
be used.
Safety nipples
When the hose is longer than 3 meters, the
pressurised air left in the hose could create
such a bang when the hose is disconnected, that a safety nipple should be used.
The safety nipple lets the air out very
slowly when the hose is disconnected.
When using safety nipples, the air flow is
reduced by 20%. When for instance a 16
mm, 5 m hose is used with safety nipple
and a whip hose the following will happen: The normal maximum air flow rate
of 43 l/s is reduced to 80% because of the
safety nipple => 35 l/s, and further reduced by 20% due to the whip hose => 28
l/s.
Balancers

Hose clamps
Hose clamps are available in three types:
pleated type for hoses with outside diameters of 7-27 mm, screw-strip types for
hoses with outside diameters of 8-65 mm;
and two-part cast iron clamps with a galvanised bolt and nut for hoses with outside diameters of 22-40 mm.

Balancers can provide important ergonomic and safety benefits for the operator.
They provide a constant wire tension that
makes the tool virtually weightless (COL
balancers). Conventional balancers, like
RIL, have a varying spring load and an
adjustable rest position. Balancers which
work on the constant force principle retain
the tool in the position in which it is released. The choice between COL and RIL is
left to the user. If it is important to be able
to leave the tool at a specific height, COL
should be chosen. RIL is cheaper, has a
longer service life and contains fewer
parts.

22 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

These parameters are enough to choose an


arm from the catalogue. The questions to
be answered are: which working area has
to be covered by the tool/arm configuration? What does the workplace look like?
Are there any picking boxes to consider in
the working process? Should the tool
attachment be firm or flexible?
Further, should the tool be attached at the
upper or lower part of handle? If the
attachment is on the upper part, the tool
length must be added to the needed pillar
height. Should an adapter be used?
Should an extra spring be used, (if the
tool is lighter or heavier than the standard
range)?

Torque arms
The gripping force of the human hand is
limited to 500 N for men and 300 N for
women. Therefore it is recommended that
men should not take up more than 4 Nm
torque (2 Nm for women) when working
with a straight tool. A torque arm is useful when working with straight tools with
higher torques. Long working days with a
repeated grip to counter the torque lead to
fatigue and a torque arm is necessary.
Atlas Copco offers a range of arms for
different torque levels. The choice of arm
should be made as follows:
First determine which tool is going to be
used, what torque it will exert, the weight
of the tool, whether it will be straight or
pistol grip and the grip diameter.

The torque arm can either stand on a foot


with a pillar arrangement or be attached to
the wall with an attachment set. The foot
may have to be held to the workbench by
clamps.
Knowledge needed to choose
air line accessories
The above information is needed to make
an optimum choice of air line accessories.
Atlas Copco provides two catalogues,
Atlas Copco Air line Accessories and
Atlas Copco Airline Installations. The
first is detailed sales literature comprising
all the related products, technical specifications and diagrams. The second catalogue is a selection of alternative installations for specific tools, as well as a guide
to the principles for choosing air line
installations.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

23

3. Installation

The picture above shows an air preparation unit with shut off valve, blow protector, a hose, tool and balancer.
The shut off valve can be mounted with
the handle upwards or downwards according to choice. The BAL 1-A handle can
be restricted by the air preparation unit
when mounted upwards so either a
BAL 1, (butterfly handle) should be chosen or the valve should be mounted upside
down.
The direction of air flow is marked with
arrows on the air preparation units and the
blow protector. The mounting order for air
preparation units is:
FILTERREGULATORLUBRICATOR
which can be seen in the picture above.
The filter and regulator can be replaced by
a filter/regulator combination unit.

When using installations with DIM lubricators it is important to avoid dips in the
hose, (i.e.. a hose loop forming a low
point where the oil could collect). If a low
point is created, the oil will not be used
for lubricating the tool but remain in the
hose.
Air preparation units should be placed
1 1.5 m above the workplace. This is
especially important with a lubricator
DIM. Filter, regulator and DOSOL
injection systems can be placed low for
better water separation.

24 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

If a blow protector is installed with normal hoses the blow protector shall be
installed between coupling and FRL unit
according to the picture above.

If a blow protector is installed with spiral


hoses or hose balancers and an extra normal hose the blow protector shall be
installed between the spiral hose (or hose
balancer) and a 16 mm normal hose with
a maximum length of 5 meters according
to the picture above. If the 16 mm hose is
not needed the blow protector shall be
installed between coupling and FRL unit
according to the picture at the top of this
page. The direction of flow is marked
with arrows on the blow protector.

Hoses should preferably be cut with a


hacksaw. This gives a secure and straight
cut. Knives and razor blades can be used
but will risk an inclined cut and injury.
The most secure way to join a coupling or

a nipple to a hose is to use a vice. As the


coupling or nipple is fastened in the vice,
some soap and water should be applied to
the coupling/nipple end. This makes it
easier to slip the hose on the coupling/
nipple end. The hose clamp should then
be applied. When using worm drive
clamps, use a wrench or a hexagon screwdriver to avoid injuries.
A clean cut is more important than just the
looks. The hose is made of layers of rubber or plastic. Damage to the end of the
hose might enable air to enter between the
layers and thus cause leakage and/or
restrict flow in the hose.

Atlas Copco installation recommendations


use hydraulically pressed aluminium rings
as hose clamps. This is a very safe solution as no sharp edges are present to hurt
the operator.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

25

4. Maintenance

Leakage translates into a loss of air capacity. This means increased utilisation of
the compressor as it works to compensate,
which in turn leads to significantly higher
energy costs.
Remember that a leakage is often
continuous, 24 hours a day!

4.1 Leakage
A well-designed and properly maintained
air distribution system has a leakage of no
more than 5% of the capacity of the installation. Unfortunately, 15-20% leakage is
quite common.

Leakage rates and equivalent hole diameters


Hole diameter
Air leakage at 6.3 bar
Additional compressor
mm
L/s
power required, kW

Typical energy
cost per year *

0.3

91 Euro

10

3.1

937 Euro

27

8.3

2510 Euro

10

105

33.0

9979 Euro

* 1kWh = 0.035 Euro


** Calculation based on 24 h/day
For example, a hole with a diameter of 5 mm results in a leakage of 27 litres of air per
second from the air distribution system. To compensate for this loss of air flow capacity, 8.3 kW of additional compressor power is required. With an average price per kWh
of 0.035 Euro, this relatively small hole results in an additional, annual energy cost of
2510 Euro.
26 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

4.2 Maintenance
schedule
Regular maintenance should be carried out
on the air system.
Once every day:
Manual drainage filters should be drained every day.
Once per week:
The area closest to the workplace
should be checked for leakage once per
week. Joints between tools and nipples,
in couplings, hoses and air preparation
units should be checked. Lubricators
should be filled with oil.
Every two months:
The whole air system should be checked every two months. First, listen for
leaks after working hours, feel by hand
on suspected areas. A soap and water
solution can be used to detect the exact
point of leakage, (bubbles). Take the
necessary measures to repair the leak.

Every workplace should be checked


with the air tool simulator every two
months. The air tool simulator should
be connected to the hose and the required air flow (given in a table enclosed
with the air tool simulator) should be
set by a certain number of revolutions
of the knob. The pressure has to be
6.3 bar at the hose end for the tool to
function properly. Take the necessary
measures by changing FRL, hose
and/or coupling.
Every six months:
Filter elements should be cleaned with
a blowgun every 6 months. This is to
avoid increased pressure drop.
The relief valve of the blow protector
should be blown clean every 6 months.
This is to avoid disturbances of the
automatic resetting of the blow protector.
Atlas Copco offers to provide a maintenance schedule for a site and, if
required, to implement it.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

27

5. Safety
Ball valves: When not working, shut off
the compressed air with the ball valve.
Open all ball valves slowly in order to
discover improperly tightened devices.
Air preparation units: Be aware of solvents which can change the structure of
polycarbonate bowls making them brittle.
When using aggressive solvents special
equipment is required.
Polycarbonate has good chemical resistance to all solvents except chemicals containing acetone, benzene, glycerine, some
hydraulic and synthetic oils, chloroform,
methyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride (and
similar solvents) carbon disulphide, perchloroethylene, toluene, trichlorethylene,
xylene (nitrocellulose thinner) and acetic
acid.

Claw couplings: Claw couplings are


always open and must be used very carefully. The following order should be followed:
When opening
1. close the ball valve
2. run the tool so that air vents
3. release the claw coupling

A simple way to eliminate this risk is to


use a metal bowl guard on MINI and
MIDI units. The MAXI unit has a metal
bowl as standard. If the bowl breaks,
change to a metal bowl. It is important to
check that the bowls are properly tightened and all units are assembled together
before turning on the compressed air with
the ball valve.
Quick couplings: Quick couplings are
normally very safe devices. Extra care,
however, should be taken when working
with hose diameters larger than 16 mm or
hose lengths longer than 3 m.
In these cases a safety nipple which vents
the air from the hose in a controlled way
is recommended.

When closing
3. make sure that the two couplings are
mounted together properly
1. open the valve slowly

28 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

Clamps and connections: Check that


the clamps are properly tightened.

A wrench is to be preferred when tightening clamps using a screwdriver can


lead to slipping and injuries. If a screwdriver must be used, place the clamp in a
vice to prevent injuries.
Hoses: We recommend applying soap
and water when joining a hose to a nipple.
This makes it easier to slip the hose on to
the nipple. Do not use oil since it does not
dry out afterwards. Leaking hoses should
be removed a small leakage can easily
become a large hole!

Blow protector: When a fitting comes


loose from a pressurised hose, the hose
starts to blow compressed air in an uncontrolled way, whipping around. This can
injure people, damage the work-piece and
destroy the environment. A way to ensure
this does not happen is to use a blow protector.
It is also recommended to use a blow protector when working with claw couplings
since this minimizes the risk of free blowing.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

29

6. What is compressed air?


As we all know, air is vital to life on earth
and we breathe it all the time. By definition, air is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas mixture consisting mostly of
nitrogen, oxygen and some water vapour.
Air is always contaminated with solid particles, such as sand, soot and salt crystals;
its composition is relatively constant from
sea level to an altitude of 25 km.
When air is compressed, it becomes a
safe, versatile medium for transmitting
and storing energy. But what is compressed air? Quite simply, the atmosphere at
work.
Gravity at sea level
All material, including small air particles,
is attracted to earth by gravity. The gravitational force exerted on an object is
determined by its distance from the earth the further away from earth, the less the
gravitational force.
Imagine an area of one square centimetre
at sea level and travelling away from earth
to form a column of air to the edge of the
atmosphere. Imagine gravity pulling the
atoms within the column to earth.

Difference between gas and


liquid
Measured in Newton, the force exerted on
one square centimetre at sea level is about
10.13 N. Therefore the absolute atmospheric pressure at sea level is approximately
10.13 x 104 N per square meter, which is
also called 1 Pa (Pascal), the SI unit for
pressure. The most common unit for measuring pressure is, however, the bar. The
atmospheric pressure at sea level is thus
105 Pa or approximately 1 bar, an air pressure which is referred to as the absolute
pressure.

30 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

Since air is a gas, it is made up of relatively free molecules. When it is squeezed or compressed by gravity, the force
is not only towards earth but in all directions. If air, or any other gas, is compressed further mechanically or by temperature changes, the pressure obtained is
measured as the one bar at sea level plus
the extra pressure.
It is important to distinguish between a =
absolute pressure and g = gauge pressure.
Typically used to measure pressure in an
air distribution system, gauge pressure is
defined as the absolute pressure in the sys-

tem minus the absolute pressure outside


the system. In other words, absolute pressure is used in making calculations. Gauge
pressure is the value read from a pressure
gauge or manometer on e.g. an air preparation unit.
If you compress a gas (such as air) the
volume decreases and the free oxygen and
nitrogen molecules are squeezed together
into a smaller volume, (higher pressure).
A liquid on the other hand, does not occupy a smaller volume at a higher pressure.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

31

Flow

Flow

Pressure

Pressure drop
Working pressure is generated in the compressor and fed through pipework and
hoses to the user (tool). When transporting
air at pressure, the pressure is reduced by
obstacles such as restrictions, bends, narrow passages etc.) This reduction in pressure is called the pressure drop. Pressure
drop always occurs in the supply of compressed air, and the losses increase if the
supply length is very long or if the supply
system passage is very small.
Definitions:
a) static pressure: is the pressure obtained
in a closed system when no air is used.
b) dynamic pressure at offtake: is the
pressure obtained at the offtake tapping
point from the main line or header
when air is used at a tool or other user.
c) dynamic pressure at FRL-unit: is the
pressure obtained at the FRL unit,
(pressure gauge on regulator) when air
is being used.
d) dynamic pressure at tool inlet: is the
pressure when the tool is in operation,
this pressure needs to be 6.3 bar for
the rated performance.

The pressure shown on the pressure gauge


on the regulator is not the same as the
pressure at the tool. First of all, the pressure at the gauge is higher when the tool is
not running, then there is a pressure drop
in the hose leading to the tool. To obtain
the dynamic pressure at the tool a pressure
gauge with a T-inlet has to be used.

32 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

7. Air distribution

Air distribution is the critical link between


the compressor installation and the machine or tool. It is based on an effective system of air lines and accessories. The performance of air power tools is largely
dependent on the ability of the system to
supply an adequate quantity of air of the
correct quality and the right pressure. The
design principles for an air distribution
system are best understood by first considering what happens to compressed air as
it flows through a pipe.
The system
The main line distributes the air from the
compressor and the equipment to the ring
main, i.e. to the premises in which the air
will be used. In a large, compressed air
system serving several premises or departments, the main line should be arranged
so that each unit can be shut off without
affecting the rest of the system.

In order to separate water from the compressed air, water traps are built into the
system. Pipes are installed with a fall and a
container (water trap) is installed at the
lowest point.
The advantages are many:
when working on the piping system,
only the unit involved has to be cut off;
leakage may be decreased by cutting off
non-running units;
finding a source of leakage is facilitated;
it becomes possible to have the most
important unit supplied with air if the
compressor capacity is insufficient for
the whole system.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

33

If a compressor station is to supply air to


several different premises, a separate main
line must be run to each of the premises.
This makes it possible to adjust air quality
and air pressure according to the demand
of each unit.
Ring main and offtakes
The ring main which distributes the air
within the working premises should be
installed so that the air reaches the workplace, i.e. the tool, without excessively
long offtakes. Usually, the ring main is
run as a ring line round the premises,
hence the name. This means that if an
unexpectedly large air usage occurs in any
service line, air can be fed from two directions.
This will reduce the pressure drop and
provide a level, more stable air pressure in
the entire system.

The service line


The offtake, or service line, is the final
part of the permanent installation and
should be run as close to the workplace as
possible. This is to avoid a long hose to
the tool which would result in a greater
pressure drop. If there is any risk of condensation in any part of the system, the
offtake should be connected to the top of
the main or distribution line
Air users (tools with their air
line accessories)
The users in an air distribution system are
the air tools together with their air preparation units or any other equipment consuming compressed air. In other words, everything installed after the ball valve. To
prevent leakage and to maintain the correct pressure, the air line accessories, just
like the tools and the compressor, should
be of high quality. The air line accessories
required depend very much on the type of
tool and its air requirements to meet the
needs of the application.

34 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

Typical air line accessories include: a filter combined with a water trap, pressure
regulator, oil fog lubricator or direct lubricator system, hoses and quick couplings.
For a more detailed description, refer to
chapter 1.5, Air line accessories.
Compressed air treatment
All atmospheric air contains water vapour
more at high temperatures and less at
low temperatures. When air is compressed, the concentration of water increases.
For example, a compressor with a working pressure of 7 bar and a capacity of
200 l/s that draws in air at 20C with a
relative humidity of 80% will produce
80 litres of condensed water in the compressed air line during an eight hour working day.
The amount of water in pressurised air
does not present a problem - as long as it
remains in a vapour state. But if it condenses, the result can be corrosion in the
pipes, interference with the lubrication of
air tools, and a constant risk of freezing in
pipes and tools. Thus, water should be
separated as soon as possible - directly
after the compressor and before entering
the air distribution system.

Air receiver
An air receiver stores the air after the
compressor. When the hot compressed air
is cooled in the air receiver the condensation water is collected and separated out
in the bottom of the air receiver. An air
receiver is used in combination with
water traps in the pipes. This is the cheapest way and an old method, which also
gives lowest degree of water separation.
Aftercooler
Uses water or air cooling to cool off the
hot compressed air. An aftercooler removes 6575% of the condensation water.
An aftercooler is used in virtually all
stationary compressor installations, in
modern compressors an aftercooler is
built into the compressor as standard.
Refrigerant dryer
Refrigerant drying means that the compressed air is cooled, whereby a large
amount of the water condenses and can be
separated. After cooling and condensing
the compressed air is reheated to around
room temperature so that condensation
does not form on the outside of the pipe
system. Refrigerant dryers are used with
dew points between +2 to +10C.

Removing the water from compressed air


can be done in different ways:
POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

35

Adsorption drying

The need for water traps and


filters

There are two types of adsorption dryer:


cold regenerative and hot regenerative.
Hot regenerative dryers are best suited to
large air flow rates. Hot regenerative
adsorption drying regenerates the desiccant by means of electrical heat or when
using oil-free screw compressors only the
by compressor heat. Very low dew point
20C or lower can be obtained.
An adsorption dryer with a capacity of
1000 l/s only requires 120 W.
Guaranteed separation and drainage of the
condensation water shall always be arranged before the adsorption drying. If the
compressed air has been produced using
oil lubricated compressors, an oil separating filter should also be fitted before the
adsorption dryer. In most cases a particle
filter is required after adsorption drying.
Other methods
Other methods are over-compression,
which can be used for very small air flow
rates and absorption drying which has a
high consumption of absorption material.

Some methods described above give a


very good result in providing dry air.
However it is always recommended to
have water traps and filters installed in the
air distribution system. A small drop in
performance or a stand-still results in
water and particles in the pipes which
must be separated by filter if a tool service
is to be avoided. Small amounts of water
can also be converted to rust flakes and
particles in the pipes which needs to be
removed by a filter.
Cost of pipework
Installing a new air distribution system is
an investment which pays off with the
improved productivity obtained from low
weight, small size tools. Heat recovery
makes the compressor installation more
efficient. Below is a table of costs for
installing new pipework. The prices are
based on medium size contracts, and are
valid in a city area; VAT, travel costs and
expenses are not included.
The prices are based on the normal frequency of bends (18 / meter), supports and
one test. Installation height is 1.5 3 m.

Pipe size
In

Outlet
mm

Steel pipe Price 1)


Euro

Copper tube Price 1)


Euro

25

26

1 1/4

32

34

1 1/2

40

50

26

2 1/2

65

34

80

40

100

51

125

74

37

1) Prices per meter including wages and material.


2) Steel pipe refers to galvanised steel pipe.
36 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

48

8. Actual case: cost savings with


ErgoPulse tools
A spiral hose is creating more pressure
losses than a normal hose.
A small restriction (3/8 FRL) is
creating more pressure loss than a
(1/2 FRL).
A coupling with low capacity is
creating more pressure loss than a high
capacity coupling (ErgoQIC has
highest air flow capacity on the market
compared with other couplings of the
same size).

Old installation
An Atlas Copco customer had the following installation:
Offtake 1/2
FRL 3/8
Y-piece (3 way)
Brass couplings (2x), Straight Bore 7.2 mm

New installation

Spiral hose Bore 6 mm, 1.8 m

The customer used 50 pieces of ErgoPulse


EP 8XS HR and had the following pressures

Atlas Copco proposed the following


alternative:
Offtake 1/2
FRL 1/2

Static pressure

8.5 bar

Flow pressure on FRL unit

7.1 bar

Atlas Copco couplings (2x) ErgoQIC 08 Bore


6.4 mm

Flow pressure at tool

3.7 bar

Cablair 08 1.5 m.

The pressure at tool was measured with


the air tool simulator.
The pressure drop between the FRL and
the ErgoPulse was 3.4 bar and the free
speed was 6000 rpm (7000 rpm nominal).

This would give the following system


pressures:
Static pressure

8.4 bar

Flow pressure at FRL unit

8.2 bar

Flow pressure at tool

8.0 bar

What is causing the big pressure drop?


Everything that works as a restriction.
We know from this booklet that:

The pressure drop is now 0.2 bar. Tool


speed is nominal 7000 rpm.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

37

Old compressors costs


In order to see the effect on the compressor side, data were collected for two
weeks. The customer had two compressors
with dryers and coolers:

Compressor 2

Compressor 1
55 kW output => 78 kW input
Running 1.89 hours per day at full load 155 l/s output
1.11 hours per day free running

110 kW output => 137 kW input


4.50 hours per day at full load 314 l/s output
2.50 hours per day free running

100% of power is used when running at


full load and 25% at free running. The calculation of the time the full capacity is
used per day is as follows:
Compressor 1 1.89 h x 1.0 = 1.89 h (load)

Compressor 2 4.50 x 1.0 = 4.50 h (load)

1.11 h x 0.25 = 0.28 h


(free running)

2.50 x 0.25 = 0.63 h


(free running)

Total = 2.17 h/day

Total = 5.13 h/day

The cost for compressor 1:

The cost for compressor 2:

Energy input

78 kW x 2.17 h/day
=169 kWh/day

Energy input: 137 x 5.13 h/day


= 702 kWh/day

Energy costs

169 kWh/day x 0.136 Euro


/ kWh* = 23 Euro/day

Energy cost:

*) Energy cost in Germany

38 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

702 kWh/day x 0.136 Euro


/ kWh* = 95.50 Euro/day

What cost savings can be made


from this new installation?
1) The reduction of working cost
The tightening time with the ErgoPulse
tools was estimated to 3 hours/day for
each operator.

Cost before: 150 hours x 20 Euro =


3000 Euro / day
New cost by time saving: 3000 Euro /
150 % = 2000 Euro / day
This represents a reduction of working
cost of 1000 Euro /day or in other
words 50 hours every day for other
tasks.
2) Reduced consumption of pressure by
1.7 bar
The new installation gives a tool pressure at 8.0 bar but it is better to turn
down the regulator so the tool is working at 6.3 bar and save the enargy.

As can be seen on Page 8 of this


pocket guide, when working with an
ErgoPulse tool a reduction of pressure
of 1 bar results in approximately 50%
longer tightening time. Let us use this
figure even though the actual figure is
probably higher in the case we are
looking at.

Turning down the flow pressure at


FRL unit from 8.2 bar to 6.5 bar gives
a reduction of 1.7 bar. With the new
pressure drop at 0.2 bar the ErgoPulse
will work at 6.3 bar.
Please see pocket guide at page 17 for
costs savings, the pressure was 1.7 bar
higher than necessary this resulted in
25% too high air consumption.

Time before: 3 hours x 50 operators =


150 hours /day

Old cost

New cost

Compressor 1:

23

Euro a day / 125%

18.4 Euro a day

Compressor 2:

95.5 Euro a day / 125%

76.4 Euro a day

A reduction of air pressure with 1.7 bar means a saving of 23.7 Euro/day.

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

39

3) Reduced working time for the compressors


The tightening time with the ErgoPulse
was from the beginning 50% longer.
This means that the compressors also
have to work 50% longer.
A 1 bar lower pressure results in 80%
air consumption. See page 41 for the
complete table: relationship between
tool pressure and air consumption and
page 42 for formulas for extra power
required/day when working on too low
air tool pressures

Sum up on cost savings


In this case with ErgoPulse tools the reduced operator time was a very important
factor, equal to 1000 Euro/day, the lower
FRL pressure and lower running time for
the compressor contributed with (23.7 +
15.8) 39.5 Euro/day.
The total cost for the 50 new installations
was 6400 Euro, made up of 4600 Euro for
air line accessories and 1800 Euro for
installation wages.
The pay-back time then working with
pulse tools is just 7 or 8 days for the
whole installation (the same short payback time is valid for grinders).

Compressor 1: 80% air consumption x


(100% normal time + 50% extra time) =
100% air consumption x 100% normal
time =18.4 Euro/day*)
Compressor 2: 80% air consumption x
(100% normal time + 50% extra time) =
100% air consumption x 100% normal
time =76.4 Euro/day*)
Compressor 1: optimal cost =
18.4 Euro a day / (150% x 80%) =
15.3 Euro a day
Compressor 2: optimal cost =
76.4 Euro a day / (150% x 80%) =
63.7 Euro a day
The savings from reduced working
time for the compressors is 15.8
Euro/day

The savings from the lower FRL pressure


and lower running time for the compressor of 39,5 Euro/day are easily forgotten
but a calculation gives 6400 Euro/39.5
Euro = 162 days, a pay-back time of 162
days. Which is also a very short period of
time.
For many other tools the savings on the
operator side are just 10 20% and in
these cases the lower FRL pressure and
lower running time for the compressor are
a much more important part of the
calculation.
The best way to be sure that your compressed air installation is optimised is to
only accept an air tool pressure of 6.3 bar
and a low pressure drop from the compressor to the air tool and this is achieved
by choosing airline accessories
from Atlas Copco.

*) When all regulators are turn down to 6.5 bar


40 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

9. Relationship between tool pressure and


air consumption
Tool pressure
(bar)

Air consumption
(%)

Action

8.0

125

Turn down regulator

7.0

111

Turn down regulator

6.3 bar

100%

6.0

96

Increase pressure; change airline accessories

5.0

77

Increase pressure; change airline accessories

4.0

61

Increase pressure; change airline accessories

3.0

44

Increase pressure; change airline accessories

Optimal performance!

POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

41

10. Formulas for power cost calculations


Formula for extra power required/day when working on too low air
tool pressures
The compressor discharge pressure will be constant at the set level of say 7 or 7.5 bar, and
independent of the system pressure drop. With low air consumption due to a low pressure
at the tool, the compressor will operate at the same pressure but for a longer time for a
particular task to be performed. The additional power cost resulting from the high system
pressure drop may be calculated in the following manner:

Tool air consumption


in m3/h at low pressure

Working time in hours


a day at low tool
pressure

Power required in kWh


for compressor to make
1 m3 at 7.5 bar

Tool air consumption


in m3/h at 6.3 bar

Working time in hours


a day at 6.3 bar tool
pressure

Power required in kWh


for compressor to make
1 m3 at 7.5 bar

)=

Extra power in kWh / day

Formula for transduce l/s to m3/h


1 l/s = 1 dm3/s = 0.001 m3/s = 0.001 x 3600 m3/h = 3.6 m3/h

Power requirement to produce 1 m3 at 7.5 bar


Rule of thumb: to make 1 m3 requires 0.105 kWh

Formula for the extra cost when working on too low air tool
pressures
Extra power in kWh/day X cost /kWh = cost/day
cost/day X working days a month = cost/month
cost/month X number of month = cost/year

42 P O C K E T G U I D E T O A I R D I S T R I B U T I O N

Cost calculation of compressor cost when grinding (see page 5)


An LSS 64 S085 normally requires 50 l/s at 6.3 bar but with 1 bar lower pressure the air
consumption is reduced to 80 %*),
so 50 l/s x 80% = 40 l/s .
The working time for the operator was 40% longer which gives:
140% x 3 hours = 4.2 hours
To compress 1 m3 at 7.5 bar requires approximately 0.105 kWh
Let us use the formula on page 42 for extra power/day required when working on too low
air tool pressures:
(40 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 4.2 h/day x 0.105 kWh)
(50 l/s x 3.6 m3/h x 3 h/day x 0.105 kWh) =
6.8 kWh/day
Let us use the formula on page 42 for the extra cost when working on too low air tool
pressures:
6.8 kWh /day x 0.035 Euro /day = 0.23 Euro/day
0.23 Euro/day x 20 days = 4.6 Euro/month
4.6 Euro/month x 12 = 55 Euro/year

*) See page 41: relationship between tool pressure and air consumption
POCKET GUIDE TO AIR DISTRIBUTION

43

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