Restarting Operations: How to Maintain Your Compressed Air Equipment after a Shutdown
Posted on July 15th, 2020
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the wake of COVID-19, many businesses are now restarting their operations and production is returning to normal levels. However, for those who work with compressed air systems, operating at reduced or zero capacity for extended periods of time can lead to significant damage to machinery when systems are turned back on and production is ramped up, if they have not been properly maintained. Whether you are getting ready to return to normal production, or are still waiting for things to pick up again before you do so, there are a few key checks and actions that you can take now to ensure the smooth operation of your compressed air system, allowing it to be ready to go when needed.
What to do when you restart?
Check the Oil
Oil leaks are a common problem in systems which have been restarted after long shutdown periods. This is due to the degradation of the materials within hoses and fittings during cool-down, resulting in these pieces becoming weak, brittle, and prone to cracks when exposed to operating pressure. Check for wear and tear both before and during operation to ensure that you are not damaging your system.
If your oil has been stagnant for an extended period of time, there is a chance that it will need replacing. Stagnant oil can become dirty, discoloured, and contaminated, and running this through your system can greatly affect the efficiency and operation of your compressed air line, and in extreme cases, can cause severe internal damage to machinery.
Check Seals and Rubber Components
Like hoses, when left idle, rubber can become dry and brittle. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly check rubber components such as drive belts and O-rings for visible cracks and/or distress. This should be done while machinery is switched off, stationary, and safely isolated from any power source.
Check Filter Elements
Excess moisture, oil and particulate resulting from extended periods of lockdown can lead to faster degradation of your filter elements. To make sure your filter element has not deteriorated and that it isn’t saturated with oil, if possible, remove the filter bowl or casing to visually inspect the integrity of the filter element within. Again, this should only be done while the filter is safely isolated from your compressed air line. Once finished, remove any isolations that were placed and close any manual condensate drains which were opened.
Once the compressor is up and running you should also ensure that there is a low-pressure drop across the filter. If the pressure difference is high the energy consumption of the compressor and your operating costs will increase dramatically. You can read more about the risks of not servicing your filter element here.
Check your Dryer
There are a few essential checks that you must make before restarting your desiccant dryers. The timer and actuation valves should be checked to ensure proper functioning. Condensate drains and filter cartridges should be checked for obstructions, and desiccant cartridges should be replaced if needed. Please consult your equipment handbook to help you evaluate if your desiccant requires replacing.
Keep in mind that your desiccant dryer should never start up against an empty air-system. When starting up, first close the outlet valve behind the dryer and pressurise the system. Then slowly open the outlet valve to pressurise. This is to avoid high air speeds damaging the desiccant and potentially the dryer. Together, these checks should enable your Dryer to restart smoothly and run problem-free. If unsure follow all guidelines for start-up in the user manual. To learn more about the proper servicing of your Regenerative Compressed Air Dryer, read our blog here.
If you have any questions about restarting your compressed air system after lockdown, please contact our technical sales team at email@example.com.