Ten tips to optimize pneumatic performance

Pneumatics is considered extremely simple, convenient, and flexible. With just a few tricks, engineers can save time and optimize system performance. Here are ten practical tips.
By Franco Stephan, AVENTICS December 1, 2015

Pneumatics is considered extremely simple, convenient, and flexible. With just a few tricks, engineers can save time and optimize system performance. Here are ten practical tips:

1) Use the correct configuration: When planning energy efficiency in pneumatic systems, the right dimensioning plays the decisive role. When selecting the optimal cylinder and tubing diameter as well as suitable compressed air preparation, the online air consumption calculator provides valuable support.

A technician uses specialized sound detection equipment to locate compressed air leaks on a machine. A comprehensive Festo study showed the elimination of leaks at the machine level decreased energy consumption on average by 12%. Courtesy: Festo

2) Get customized pneumatic component packages online: With online tools such as product configurators, engineers can conveniently choose functions and create custom solution packages. They provide immediate access to product data, including CAD models, prices, and delivery times.

3) Use short tubing lengths: Long tubing, tubing connections, and returns cause loss of compressed air. Valves mounted on the cylinder prevent these losses. In addition, this decentralization shortens cylinder response times.

4) Use a needs-based degree of filtration for air preparation: A filter that is too fine decreases compressed airflow and leads to energy loss. On the other hand, a filter that is too coarse causes pneumatic components to wear faster due to larger particles.

5) Reduce installation effort with valve systems: Pneumatic solutions featuring multiple single valves are coupled with a high degree of effort. Combination into valve systems reduces assembly effort.

6) Provide intelligent connection to the control: Valve systems communicate via multipole, standard fieldbus systems, or Ethernet connections to the machine control. Feedback of diagnostic and sensor data expands machine function and reduces servicing requirements.

7) Ensure demand-based pressure: With insufficient pressure, machines are unable to reach optimal performance. On the other hand, excessive pressure wastes more energy than necessary. Manual or electropneumatic pressure regulators ensure optimal pressure.

8) Find the perfect level of cushioning: Individual cushioning adjustments in pneumatic cylinders often reduce system costs while extending service lives. Engineers can select smaller cylinders and shorten cycle times. This also lowers the noise level.

9) Get up-to-date information on machine safety: Pneumatics offers a wide variety of products for safe solutions that are in line with standards, such as in explosive environments and safety-relevant functions. The latest information is always available online.

10) Benefit from specialist knowledge and application expertise: Users who aren’t consistently involved in laying out pneumatic systems effectively have to begin the learning process from scratch each time.

Franco Stephan is manager of product management for AVENTICS.