Integrating Flow Meter Data to Monitor Usage of Compressed Air

The generation and usage of compressed air requires enormous amounts of energy within a manufacturing facility. It is estimated in various literature that 10% to 30% of the total energy consumed in a typical manufacturing plant is for air compression. This translates to air compression requirements consuming a total of 3-9% of the total energy being consumed in the United States. With the growing relevance of energy management, it thus becomes imperative that process solutions be designed to render energy efficient compressed air systems that would produce ongoing savings for the US manufacturing base.
A preliminary step towards developing an effective process solution in this regard is to advocate an effective monitoring system for compressed air. The MTConnect standard has facilitated extensions to its XML tags to integrate sensory data along with other machine data. Hence, MTConnect adapters are developed with customized XML tags that will successfully collect flow meter data from the CNC shop floor. The MTConnect adapters will also offer the provision for integrating multiple flow meters at individual points on the shop floor with various monitoring applications and systems across the managerial hierarchy of the organization through the company network. The flow meter data thus obtained through MTConnect provides specific insights into the amount of compressed air being utilized during various stages of machining. By successfully integrating flow meter data from various points on the shop floor, an audit can be presented with specific emphasis on compressed air losses due to insulation as well as compressed air wastage during CNC downtime.
A case study is presented wherein the usage of compressed air across the shop floor is analyzed. Flow meter data is obtained through MTConnect integration from real locations on the TechSolve shop floor defined at the main air compressor reservoir source, at the actual CNC machine during various machining states (idle, tool change, active machining) and at the end of compressed air line. This data is analyzed to estimate losses due to piping as well as air consumption associated with various machining states.

Reference: Integrating Flow Meter Data to Monitor Usage of Compressed Air; Atluru S.; [MC]2 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference.