Setting up shop

Setting up shop

Chicago Pneumatic fills in CVW on how to correctly setup an air line system to improve efficiency within your workshop.

A workshop with a well set-up air line system for its compressed air tools is far more likely to perform to specification and reduce downtime on tool repairs than a workshop that has not invested the same time and effort into its air
line system.

When it comes to compressed air pressure, higher isn’t always better. A good starting point is to check if you have the correct sized filter regulator lubricator (FRL) for the tools you are using. Check the tool’s airflow requirements from the manufacturer’s guides to ensure that the FRL chosen is greater than the tool’s requirements. If you use a high accuracy, non-impact nutrunner with pre-set torques of around 900Nm that require high accuracy, your maximum air consumption could be around 19L/s. However, on smaller applications such as those within the engine compartment, you are likely to be using a small compact impact wrench with a lower max air consumption of 9L/s.

CP air line

The purpose of the FRL is as follows:

  • The filter separates impurities – such as solid particles that often appear in older air line installations – that can contain rust particles and water
  • The regulator ensures that the pre-set working pressure remains constant regardless of pressure variations in the
    intake air, or minor variations in the air flow rate
  • Finally, the lubricator supplies air line oil in an oil mist to the air hose being used, which lubricates the tool in a controlled way, subsequently prolonging its operating life and ensuring its efficiency in use

It’s recommended that one FRL unit is used per tool, so in the case of commercial vehicle workshops, a portable metallic free standing FRL would be a good choice, as it’s robust, and also provides flexibility in terms of where you’re working within the workshop. For a busy workshop with commercial vehicles moving in and out, the addition of an air fuse fitted directly after the FRL would be prudent. The fuse shuts off the air flow with immediate effect in the event of any damage to the hose. Without the fuse, a hose could present a serious hose whip hazard within the work area whilst it’s fully charged with compressed air.

Chicago Pneumatic’s three simple steps to air line setup

1. Calculate if there is a pressure drop between the FRL and the tool inlet by reading the FRL gauge value and measuring the dynamic pressure at the tool’s inlet. If there is a difference, then it’s a pressure drop, which is most often found between the pipe and the end of the tool.

2. Identify where pressure is being lost by checking that your accessories have been selected and installed properly. There are various points to inspect, including at the tool inlet, the couplings/nipples and hose connections, as well as the FRL. In order to avoid pressure drops, ensure that accessories have the correct diameters and thread sizes/types, the hose used is not longer than required, and that hose clamps are correctly tightened.

3. Once you are confident that all accessories have been selected and installed correctly, measure the dynamic pressure at the tool’s inlet again. You can then adjust the FRL regulator to ensure you get a reading of 90psi/6.3bar at the tool inlet.

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