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Pneumatics don't have to be a pain in the neck

Posted January 22nd 2011

Pneumatics leak, air gets dirty and oily, and compressors need to be run and maintained. These are the challenges facing those that maintain pneumatic systems in their buildings. It would be much easier if everything were digital and the pneumatics could go away. The problem is ripping out and replacing the pneumatics is too costly and invasive for most people to consider. So the question becomes: How can pneumatics be improved?

Leaks are a nuisance because they are hard to find. Once their locations are identified, repairs are straightforward. Traditionally, pneumatic systems in buildings were not installed with pressure transducers that could be used to identify the location of leaks. However, the Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat has a built-in pressure transducer that measures branch pressure and reports back to the BAS. Operators running buildings equipped with the WPT are able to identify leaks quickly and fix them as they occur.

To be sure, dirt and oil are enemies of a well operating system. Dirt and oil can interfere with a WPT just like any pneumatic thermostat. Again, the difference is information. With traditional thermostats, the operator will only know if his lines are dirty or oily by proactively checking them manually. With the WPT, the operator will be informed by the BAS if a thermostat is not working properly and he can address the issue before other areas are affected.

Fixing leaks and keeping oil and dirt out of a system are very important to the maintenance of a compressor. We have come across several clients that run pressures as high as 30 or 35 psi to compensate for unknown issues in their system. In another situation, one client was running his compressor for 55 minutes out of an hour. With the WPT, these clients were able to improve their systems so they could reduce pressure to 18 psi and run time to 20 minutes per hour.

When there is no information, fixing pneumatics can be daunting. How do you even know where to look for problems without information? With the WPT, operators gain knowledge of their systems that they never had before. As a result, the overall system improves dramatically and the running of the pneumatics is no longer a pain in the neck. As evidence of this improvement, we often see maintenance costs reduced by more than 50% when buildings are retrofitted with the Wireless Pneumatic Thermostat.