Kurz Instruments, Inc.

Gas monitoring for the manufacturing industry - Manufacturing, Other

Kurz Insertion Mass Flow Meters provide precise monitoring for compressed air and gas applications resulting in increased efficiency and decreased overall operating costs.

Compressed Air and Gas Overview

Many commercial, industrial, educational and medical facilities use compressed air and gas for a variety of applications. These applications include cleaning systems, pneumatic tools, pneumatic transportation of materials, paint and coating, bottle manufacturing and capping, product driers and packaging, to name just a few. Compressed air and gas offers a number of advantages. It is readily available and is easily stored and transported. Control is accomplished through simple on-off methods and the pneumatic systems tend to have long operating lifetimes and require little maintenance.

But the ease of use and access to compressed gas is not without challenges. The compressors used in the process require large amounts of electrical energy to operate and in fact, it is estimated that 10% of all electricity used by industry is used to produce compressed air. Additional costs are required for equipment maintenance of the compressor, regulators and water traps in the piping itself. Also, the massive weave of compressed gas delivery lines throughout large facilities offer many opportunities for leaks along the piping network, forcing compressors to work harder and use more electricity. The need therefore, to monitor and manage compressed gas applications is a key area to decreasing operational and energy costs, which can be substantial in large facilities.

Customer Application and Performance Issues

A large auto manufacturer with over 40 plants in North America used compressed air within their electrically operated painting coves. A robotic paint spray gun was used, in which an electric potential difference is established between the atomized paint particles and the auto body frame being sprayed. As a result, the paint particles are attracted to the frame, thereby providing a quality paint finish. Surface optics and body paint quality are critically dependent on the precise ratio of the compressed air and paint to apply a consistent coat of paint to the frame. Too much air or too much paint is not a large problem when painting a single car, but in plants that are painting thousands of cars in 40 different plants at one time, losses can add up.

The Kurz Solution
Kurz 454FTB and 504FTB Insertion Mass Flow Meters were installed immediately off the air compressor tanks. The flow meters were used to measure, monitor and control the flow for the entire system. The system was established to monitor and track the gas usage for different departments in order to make comparisons between departments, and identify any unusual amount of paint or air usage.

The system was monitored 24/7 for baseline data that included the ratio of paint to the number of cars being painted. Using measurement data and productivity trends, the company was able to reduce the amount of paint being used in the process saving tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, systematic shutoff of the engine lines helped track leaks throughout the entire pipeline and the sensitivity of the Kurz meters assisted with locating large and small leaks along the line. As a result, not only was there a cost savings in paint, but the Kurz Mass Flow Meters also allowed the company to identify leaks within the system, saving electricity and preventing catastrophic system failures.