Compressed Air for Body Shops

By: Kaeser Compressors, Inc.

A reliable supply of clean, dry compressed air at stable pressure is vital in collision repair. Understanding air pressure, flow and quality requirements will help you extend tool life and get the best possible results in the paint booth to eliminate costly re-work caused by contaminants in the compressed air supply.

Watch the webinar below for best practices for compressed air systems in body shops. If you’re attending SEMA 2019, stop by one of the Kaeser booths to discuss how you can decrease downtime and comebacks…and increase productivity and profit.

Topics include:

  • Key design factors for evaluating a compressed air system
  • Common types of contaminants and how to remove them
  • Air treatment components to ensure clean, dry air for paint and body work
  • Types of dryers and tips on selecting the right one
  • How piping material selection impacts air quality

Additional resources:

Tier 4 Final Engines: Fuel, DEF, Exhaust After-Treatment, and Regeneration [White paper excerpt]

By: Alex Shields

EPAAs most people are aware, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed the final rule introducing Tier 4 emission standards back on May 11, 2004. This government mandate was phased in over the period of 2008-2015.

The Tier 4 mandate was designed to reduce two key pollutants: particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) compounds. NOx is known to contribute to the formation of smog and ground-level ozone. All of these have been shown to have adverse health effects on the respiratory system.

Clearly, the goals of the regulation are designed to preserve and improve health, but the rules also impact businesses making, selling, servicing, and purchasing portable air compressors and a wide range of other equipment with affected diesel engines. Rental and construction companies have seen equipment prices rise dramatically and in many cases these businesses have experienced overall increases in operating and ownership costs. With sluggish movement in rental rates increasing to offset the rising costs associated with Tier 4 final engines, profit margins are compressed.

The impact the Tier 4 final engines have on these businesses and their operations are profound. In some cases, the new engines cause outright panic to adapt to what some end users find to be complex technology but these changes impact many commonly used machines. The complications are not limited to air compressors and encompass just about every diesel engine driven product/piece of equipment in the rental store’s fleet or equipment yard of construction companies including excavators and other construction equipment, farm tractors and other agricultural equipment, forklifts, and utility equipment such as generators, pumps, and compressors.

In an effort to help educate and hopefully ease some fears, Kaeser has written a white paper to provide some basic facts and information on Tier 4 final engines. Keep in mind, however, that for a specific engine, the engine manufacturer should be the source for definitive technical information about their product.

Download the full white paper here.

Five Tips for Receiving Commercial Freight [Infographic]

By Kaeser Compressors, Inc.

Most commercial freight is delivered via third party carriers , and even with the best of carriers, sometimes shipments are damaged. Your freight may shift, get dropped, or even be in a traffic accident. Damage may also occur at logistics centers en-route, where items are transferred from one truck to another.

Like most other suppliers, Kaeser’s freight terms are usually “FOB shipping point” –which means that once the item leaves our possession, we cannot ensure safe handling or monitor the condition the freight arrives in. In most cases the buyer is paying the freight, and has the obligation to inspect the shipment. Kaeser will assist you in case of damage, but accepting a damaged shipment without comment will limit your ability to make a claim. Here’s an infographic with some tips for receiving commercial shipments, whether from Kaeser or any other supplier.

We also have a new video with all of these tips on our YouTube channel! Click here to watch our Freight Tips Video.

That’s Classified

Cost effective options for compressed air in classified areas

By: Michael Camber

A few posts back, we wrote about removing compressors from a bad environment for their health (away from excess heat, dust, etc.). This time we’ll talk about moving them for the safety of people. Specifically, we are talking about hazardous areas where the presence of flammable gases or liquids, combustible dusts or easily ignited fibers exist in sufficient concentrations to cause a fire or explosion, given a source of ignition (such as electricity running through a compressor).   

Obviously, this might apply to parts of (or entire) chemical, oil or gas processing plants.  But it could also apply in other industries we don’t think of as handling hazardous materials. Fine powders or fibers from grains, wood, etc. can create fire hazards. We’re not trying to raise the fear factor. This is not a common concern, and if it does apply in your plant, you are probably are already well aware.  

In the oil & gas and petrochemical markets, there are suppliers who specialize in engineering and modifying air compressor systems and other motor-driven equipment to be “explosion proof.” This gets very expensive, very fast. It also takes time for these systems to be designed, built, installed, and certified to operate. This is specialized work and these suppliers (rightfully) charge a premium for it.

A natural gas processing plant

In the case of a compressed air system, however, there may be an easy cost-saving alternative: Move it. Move it to another part of the plant that is not in the “classified area” and pipe the compressed air in. Usually, the air is not the source of risk. It’s the motor, starter and electrics. Sometimes it just takes a little out-of- the-box thinking to find another spot for the compressed air source. But sometimes there simply isn’t a safe place or enough space for the compressors somewhere else in the plant. In these cases, compressor system enclosures set outside at a safe distance are viable options. 

Compressed air production was moved a few hundred yards away

This solution presents the increased costs of packaging the air system up and of piping the air longer distances. But they may compare favorably to the engineered explosion-proof system. Further, they usually offer faster design, build, install, and commissioning. Not to mention lower maintenance costs by using standard compressed air equipment and less downtime when service is due (think about procedures to get outside personnel into restricted areas).

Weather-proof enclosure with complete compressed air system pre-installed.

Visit our website and download the white paper: Hazardous Area Classification Considerations for more on this subject and check out this ThingLink to see what one of these enclosures looks like on the inside.

Compressor Purchasing Criteria for Energy Efficiency

By: Michael Camber

During the purchasing decision process, it is common for prospects to compare compressors with some sort of utility criteria. In other words, how much air will they get for their money. Below, we address some common approaches we encounter:  

Compressor cost per horsepower 

This is a quick comparison that can be done using basic product literature, but it is a very superficial metric for comparing compressors. Since the requirements of air tools and equipment are not rated in compressor horsepower, and since the flows among compressors of the same nominal hp can vary by 20% or more, this doesn’t tell you how much air (cfm) you are getting or whether a compressor will meet your air demands (assuming you know them). Our experience with hundreds of thousands of systems has shown that without knowing your actual system needs, you are more likely to oversize your system, which leads to higher power and maintenance costs and reduced longevity (see our blog post on oversizing).    

Compressor cost per cfm

This can also be done with literature and is a step forward for basic comparison, and if you know your actual flow demands it will help avoid sizing mistakes. Like the first method, its shortfall is that it only considers initial cost. It does not reflect energy efficiency, so it is not a predictor of the largest component of compressed air life cycle costs:  electricity usage.

Compressor cost and specific power (kW/100 cfm)

Specific power is the true measure of a compressor’s efficiency, so combining this with unit cost is a better indicator of compressor value. Keep in mind, however, that specific power is based on a fixed set of conditions and assumes the compressor is running at maximum capacity, which they rarely do.  Nonetheless, when choosing machines it is very useful to compare the specific power (AKA “specific performance) of the compressors. Most major manufacturers provide this information in CAGI data sheets on their websites or by request (see our blog post on how to read them).  

System specific power

Because most compressors run partly loaded for a variety of reasons (demand fluctuation, oversizing, changes in production), the best metric for energy efficiency (and therefore compressor selection) is system specific power. This metric reflects the ability of the total system to maintain efficiency throughout the full range of production demand and is a far better metric for operational efficiency. This is not easy to assess for new plants (unless there is a similar sister plant in operation), but it is easily done for upgrades on existing systems with tools like ADA/KESS that data log  parameters including compressor run time, system pressure, power consumption and flow, and then select the best mix of machines to meet the need. We strongly recommend assessing system performance anytime you are adding or replacing compressors — even if you plan to simply replace a compressor with another of same size. This is an ideal time to baseline the system and identify inefficiencies in pressure drop, storage, sizing, and controls.

Because compressed air demand changes as plants increase or reduce production levels or upgrade pneumatic equipment, it can be a challenge to maintain optimal system performance. The best approach in multi-compressor systems is a combination of proper sizing of compressors and the use of adaptive smart controls. These learn system dynamics and switch compressors on/off in the most efficient manner while maintaining desired system pressure, balancing load hours and minimizing idle time.