The pneumatic elements in the compressor are needed to prepare the air, which are essential for the operations of pneumatic components such as filtering for clearing the solid particles, condensed water and oil or lubricators to reduce moisture etc.
The preparation of compressed air is required to stabilize the pneumatic components and extend their life. The main elements used for the air preparation in the pneumatic system are:
Lubricators are used to provide a constant supply of oil lubrication in the downstream components such as valves and cylinders of the pneumatic system. This is however, done by introducing a small amount of oil to the compressed air stream. There is an adjustable visual indicator which lubricators use to measure the amount of oil downstream. Also, there is an oil reservoir bowl that is visually monitored to ensure constant supply of oil downstream. Keep a check on lubricator bowls for a steady and continuous supply of oil.
However, latest valves and cylinders use grease lubrication instead of a lubricator, thereby eliminating the need for constant oiling.
Filters are used to extract moisture and air-line contaminants. These filters can extract air-line contaminants literally down to 5 microns, and can get even smaller to 0.3 microns, depending on the type of filter used.
For effective filtering and optimum efficiency there compressed air filters require continuous maintenance and should be replaced every 4-6 months. Also, these filter are visible through the bowl or sight glass, thereby making monitoring of the downstream convenient for you.
Moisture extracted from the compressed air get collected in the filter bowl. While air preparation, filter bowl should be monitored and all the extract collected in the filter bowl should be evacuated time to time. This evacuation can be done manually or via auto-draining feature. Make sure to properly dispose off the drainage using tubing to avoid any kind of mess. The filter bowl should be viewed or checked periodically to monitor their condition and water accumulation downstream. Also, keep monitoring the filter bowl as it should not have any crack or damage. As, the damage can disrupt the proper filtration process.
After filtering the downstream of pneumatic systems, the next step it to control the pressure down-stream. It is usually done with a pressure reducing valve or a regulator. The regulator helps to dry air and control the pressure down-stream. Make sure you use regulator only to regulate pressure down-stream.
While air preparation, closing the valve manually can compress the regulating springs inside due to which greater pressure will be induced down-stream. Hence, it is recommended to use a simple on/off valve and a metering valve for on/off functionality, rather to use regulator as regulators should only be used for regulating the pressure down-stream.
For compressed air preparation using filter/regulator combination is recommended. As, filter/regulator combination unitize the filter/regulator system, and thereby saving space without compromising on control or filtering.
While preparing compressed air make sure you do not work on a live pneumatic system. As your safety is primary.