Optimizing Compressor Reliability in Manufacturing Plants

In manufacturing settings where companies depend on compressed air systems to maintain their operations, the reliability of these systems is of the utmost importance. System failures are costly mishaps that can derail production and have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

That’s why at Case Controls, we implement certain system redundancies and automation systems that are designed to keep your business up and running even in the event of a compressor failure. Before we describe the specifics of these reliability improvement options, let’s define a few basic reliability concepts.

Serial Reliability

In a compressed air system with serial reliability, each compressor in the system must run in order for the system to run. In the event of one compressor failure, the whole system will come to a halt.

Parallel Reliability

In a compressed air system with parallel reliability, individual compressors run in tandem with one another to prevent total system failures. In the event of a compressor failure, the other compressors in the system can pick up the slack to keep your operation up and running.

Serial/Parallel Reliability

As its name implies, this reliability concept amounts to a hybrid of our first two concepts. In a system with serial/parallel reliability, like compressors are grouped together in series. In the event of a failure, each series can start and load like an individual compressor. Furthermore, the compressors in each series can be automatically rotated to level runtime.

So how do these reliability concepts work in practice? Let’s consider the compressed air system in an automotive plant, for example.

In this plant, we can begin to improve reliability by grouping like-sized compressors to establish redundancy within each group. Furthermore, we can use a system controller to implement load sharing within the groups.

In addition to improving the redundancy of the compressor system, we can also add high-pressure storage for emergency response. This high-pressure storage can be used to level out the system during periods of high demand without starting an additional compressor.

Finally, we can use the system’s processor and controller to automate the system so that it can quickly and effectively respond to compressor failures and periods of high demand. In the event of a compressor failure, the system’s processor can automatically bring other compressors online to compensate.

Not only can we automate the compressed air system itself, we can also implement automated email and messaging applications that quickly alert technicians to system alarms and faults. This can allow maintenance personnel to better predict issues and minimize the plant’s MTTR.

Another effective but considerably more complex option for improving reliability involves implementing 2 of 3 voting, or triple modular redundancy into the compressed air system.

This type of modular redundancy uses three distinct processors to govern the function of a compressed air system. For any given function, a majority voting system evaluates the results of the three processors to produce a single output. If any one of the three processors fails, the other two can seamlessly correct for the fault. This concept of triple modular redundancy is also commonly employed in fault-tolerant computing systems.

As you can see, there are several effective ways to improve the reliability of a compressed air system, both at the hardware and software level. From introducing compressor redundancies to automating failure alert systems, we can work with you to make your company’s compressed air infrastructure as reliable as possible. To learn more about the many support services we offer, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today!