Unlocking ROI and compressed air system capacity with acoustic imaging

Leak detection
In compressed air, gas, and vacuum systems, maximizing capacity is better than adding, according to Jason Dupriest, Industrial Systems Analyst/Designer, of ADG Concepts out of Fort Worth, Texas. Starting from consultation to design and carrying on through to implementation, ADG projects range from single equipment installations to large, multiple equipment and central systems, at some of the largest manufacturing and production facilities.  

Inspecting compressed gas lines in a natural gas plant. Image courtesy of ADG ConceptsInspecting compressed gas lines in a natural gas plant. Image courtesy of ADG Concepts

ADG specializes in compressed air, vacuum, nitrogen, and processed water solutions for a variety of manufacturers, including food and beverage, cement, heavy industrial, plastics and blow molding, and… While ADG doesn’t manufacture the equipment in these systems, their job is to make sure they work for their customers. “Every customer has an ROI they need to meet – our goal is to make sure they achieve that.”

Improving capacity one fixed leak at a time 

Only 20% of ADG’s projects are for new systems, which is always preferable because they get to start with a blank slate and design to the specifications of the company’s needs. But the remaining 80% of their projects are for customers with existing systems. Jason explains that the majority of their customers with existing systems are looking to add capacity, usually unnecessarily. “What they really need to do is maximize the capacity they have,” said Jason. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a single 1/8” (3mm) leak in a compressed air line can cost upwards of $2,500 a year. They also estimate that an average U.S. plant that hasn’t been well maintained can waste 20% of its total compressed air production capacity through leaks. 

In their initial system assessment, ADG performs an audit using a Fluke ii900 Acoustic Imager and measures power using a Fluke 1735 Power and Energy Logger. With the ii900, ADG is looking for leaks in the system that could artificially reduce capacity. “Before the ii900, we used ultrasound detection, which was not efficient,” shared Jason. “We can definitely get through more, faster with the ii900.”  

With so much of the existing systems out of reach, Jason explained that it was “hard to get to all of the lines and still stay within safety guidelines. With the ii900, we can find these leaks that were 100% ignored before.”

More capacity is not always necessary

Jason explained that many customers come to them with the belief that if they need 10, then 20 is better, but the reality is that adding unnecessary capacity adds costs that don’t get recouped in the long run. At the same time, convincing customers that they have significant leaks in their systems was once based purely on the word of the inspector performing the audit. Today, ADG has tangible images acquired from the ii900 to share with customers.

This natural gas power generation plant uses compressed gas systems to fill large tanker trucks. Image courtesy of ADG Concepts This natural gas power generation plant uses compressed gas systems to fill large tanker trucks. Image courtesy of ADG Concepts

“Now I have something visual to show them. When I can show customers pictures, it’s an amazing aid,” said Jason. “It puts more weight toward fixing those leaks to maximize capacity.” 

While Jason explains that their new leak detection program is still in its infancy, he has 100% confidence in the accuracy and efficiency the ii900 has brought to ADG Concepts’ auditing process. “When we can turn around an audit quickly, we can help get our customers to a more efficient use of their systems faster—maximizing capacity and meeting their own goals.”

About ADG Concepts

ADG’s journey began in 2007 when it launched into commercial construction by executing general contracting projects in hotels, schools, and hospitals. In 2011, ADG began offering “Design+Build” projects. In 2015, ADG further developed its design services to include industrial systems MEP design. In 2017, ADG refocused its operations on only the design and installation of industrial compressed gas, air, vacuum, and process water systems. 

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