17 June, 2019

Standardising the compressed air industry

25 September, 2015

Chris Dee, executive director of the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), discusses how new standards in the compressed air industry will improve energy performance and safety.

Compressed air is often regarded as the fourth utility, yet, despite being a pivotal component of many manufacturing and industrial processes, its safe use can sometimes be overlooked.

A vital part of safely and efficiently managing a compressed air system is in the installation, servicing and auditing – all of which have varying amounts of regulation.

Just like other items of industrial equipment, the compressor needs to be installed and maintained correctly to ensure it operates safely. If a system isn’t properly and regularly maintained it could end up posing a danger, and in extreme cases, catch fire or explode.

Formal accreditation

There is continuing concern that despite the risks, there are currently no formal accreditation schemes for designing, installing and maintaining compressed air systems, so end-users could well be receiving poor advice and safety could be compromised.

Every compressed air system, virtually without exception, should have a Written Scheme of Examination in place, which the system should be regularly inspected in accordance with.

Written Schemes of Examination are legal requirements under the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. The document contains a wide range of information, including the parts of the system that need to be examined, the nature of the examination required, the preparatory work needed and the maximum interval allowed between examinations.

The Written Scheme of Examination has been in place for over 14 years and carries a potential fine if you are caught without one. However, the worry is that many businesses running compressed air systems either ignore this or are simply not aware of it, as there is no thorough policing.

The British Compressed Air Society offers courses for those involved in the installation and maintenance of compressed air systems. However, these are voluntary, and so there is a real need to introduce recognised training programmes and an official accreditation scheme for service engineers working on compressed air systems, as well as for designers and installers that can work in support of the Written Scheme of Examination.

Energy audits

It is advisable to have regular energy audits taken out on all aspects of the compressed air system as they don’t always run to their best potential, with incorrectly specified equipment, leaks, poorly sized pipework, long distance, excessive bends, fittings and improper use all affecting energy efficiency levels.

For some years responsible compressed air equipment manufacturers and suppliers have been offering energy audits as part of their service offering, along with data logging exercises and leak detection surveys.

However, standardised energy audits by compressor manufacturers and compressed air equipment suppliers have only recently been implemented.

On the 19th March 2015, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) made EN ISO 11011, the International Standard for compressed air efficiency, an approved European Standard.

Prior to EN ISO 11011, individual manufacturers and suppliers had to decide for themselves how to measure compressor energy consumption, and what recommendations to make to their customers. With the introduction of EN ISO 11011, companies can now offer advice and carry out assessment and auditing procedures on a level playing field. Like for like energy audits can only benefit the end-user and make it easier for them to decide what action to take.

BCAS would strongly encourage end-users to see the value in assessing their compressed air usage within a standardised framework. It is likely that many businesses don’t know how much compressed air they use, or how much it costs them. EN ISO 11011 should deliver sustainable results for the businesses that take it on board, saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

Both the Written Scheme of Examination and EN ISO 11011 are in place to protect end-users of compressed air. Legislation offers a standardised service that can be trusted and used across the industry. However, there is much more to be done.

Buyers' Guide Search
Search for UK supplier by name
Browse by Product Group.
Latest Issue To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Hydraulics & Pneumatics Magazine, click here.

For a FREE subscription please click here

Previous IssueTo view a digital copy of the MARCH 2019 issue of Hydraulics & Pneumatics Magazine, click here.

January/February 2019 IssueTo view a digital copy of the January/February 2019 issue of Hydraulics & Pneumatics Magazine, click here.

For a FREE subscription please click here

Buyers Guide - July/August Issue 2018To view a digital copy of the Buyers' Guide issue 2018 issue of Hydraulics & Pneumatics Magazine, click here.

July/August 2018 Annual Buyers Guide Issue
BFPA YearbookTo read the latest BFPA Yearbook, click here
BFPA Training AcademyClick the image to go to the BFPA Training Academy website
Compressed Air & Vacuum Technology Guide 2018To read the official BCAS Compressed Air & Vacuum Technology Guide 2018 click here
Smart Machines & FactoriesSmart Machines & Factories Magazine - the UK's first dedicated journal focusing on the fourth industrial revolution and transforming to a smart manufacturing era.
Offshore Europe JournalOEE
SPE Offshore Europe
Hy-Pro FiltrationWEB LOCATOR