## Why is it important to understand the difference between gauge and absolute pressure?

Pumps and similar systems are built in a way so as to generate and retain pressure. In gas-based systems such as air compressors, the pressure is fairly low. This is because gasses when compressed incessantly makes air molecules huddle nearer to each other in the application of energy. This pressure doesn’t extend to the tubes or chambers of the compressed air systems.

In brief, pressure can be defined as a force acting over a certain area. It’s most commonly measured in pounds per square inch (psi).

There are multiple systems to measure pressure. Two of the most common ones are absolute and gauge pressure. There are quite a few differences between the two that have considerable impact on their use and measurement. Once the purpose behind measuring pressure is identified, the next step involves choosing which system to use: gauge or absolute pressure. This is a crucial decision since choosing the wrong system can severely impact the accuracy of measurements.

The pressure inside a compressed air system is comparatively lower. Hence, even minor deviations such as 10 psi or 20 psi can lead to major operational issues.

## Here are the differences between the two systems in great detail:

### Gauge Pressure

It’s one of the most commonly used systems of measurement and uses atmospheric pressure as its base value. So, any chamber will equalize based on the atmospheric pressure, when vented. This makes it easy for calculations and tests since the atmospheric pressure doesn’t have to be subtracted.

Also known as effective pressure, gauge pressure is signified by BARG or BARE and PSIG or PSIE.

### Absolute Pressure

Comparatively, absolute pressure is used less frequently, since it signifies zero pressure or a perfect vacuum. A good example of the measurement of absolute pressure can be that of barometric pressure.

Absolute pressure is commonly signified by BARA and PSIA.

### Choosing the right system: gauge or absolute pressure

The most fundamental difference between gauge and absolute pressure is that gauge pressure uses atmospheric pressure as its base or zero point whereas absolute pressure uses absolute zero as its base or zero point.

So, if the idea is to measure a type of pressure influenced by atmospheric pressure, it’s best to use a gauge pressure. It will help measure the pressure minus the atmospheric pressure. This is the system used to measure the output of pressure of air compressors.

Again, if the idea is to measure a type of pressure not influenced by atmospheric pressure, absolute pressure is used as a reference. An example of this can be leak testing a sealed container.

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## 5 benefits of regularly changing compressed air filter elements

Compressed air is indispensable to a vast number of manufacturing and industrial applications including pneumatic tools, petrochemicals, and food processing, among others. Most compressor systems are fitted with a filtration system to optimize the movement of the air and minimize the risk of contamination. To keep the system functioning smoothly, it is necessary to conduct regular maintenance and replace the components that have become worn out. Parts of the air filtration system in the compressor have a limited shelf life and in order to keep working effectively, they must be checked and replaced periodically. Let’s take a look at five benefits that changing the compressor’s air filter elements regularly provides:

## 1. Maintain a high quality of compressed air

Changing the air filters regularly makes for a safer, cleaner work environment without the risk of undesirable contaminants that can cause damage to your staff and equipment. To keep the air filtration system unclogged and functioning at peak efficiency, you need to change the air filters as often as required. Check with the manufacturer to know what the recommended frequency of your filters is.

## 2. Protect adsorption dryer beds

In some systems, using fresh new filters enables the adsorption dryer beds to operate at their most efficient levels. With reduced particulate matter present in the airflow over these, they are going to remain healthy more easily and offer maximum advantage.

## 3. Decrease operational costs

Changing the air filter parts regularly cuts down on the risk of running into problems with the entire system which can result in downtime, costly repairs, and all-around inefficiency. Without proper maintenance of the air filtration system, the compressor has to work harder to deliver the required airflow. This puts a burden on the compressor and makes it consume more energy and be susceptible to damage and lowered durability.

## 4. More productivity and profitability

An outcome of conducting consistent maintenance and changing the air filters is that you will benefit from a boost in efficiency, thereby resulting in increased productivity as well as profitability for your business.

## 5. Sense of assurance

Changing the air filtration parts of your compressor system keeps everything operating much more smoothly than if you did not. It is a habit that gives you peace of mind and a sense of assurance that your system is running at the best of its ability in the safest way possible. It reduces the anxiety and inconvenience of unexpected downtime. This in itself is invaluable when it comes to the daily operation of your business or factory.

These benefits far outweigh the consequences of not changing the air filter parts regularly as required. So, keep them in mind when maintaining your air compressor system!

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## Understanding The Cost of Compressed Air

Compressed air is an indispensable part of most industries. Without it, entire sectors of production would be defunct! It is so essential that it is referred to as the ‘fourth utility,’ after electricity, water, and gas. However, there is a significant cost attached to it. In fact, about 10% of the electricity consumed industrially goes to generating and using compressed air.

Keeping industrial units supplied with compressed air costs a substantial amount of money. So, it would be prudent for businesses to focus on the consumption of energy, which makes up the majority of the cost of generating compressed air. Energy consumption costs are much higher than the initial cost of air compressors or their maintenance. A whopping 80% of the total cost of the compressed air system will be from the electricity it uses up. Because this is such a huge percentage, determining the cost of compressed air becomes important in order to minimize waste heat and electricity bills.

To identify the ways that you can save such costs, take a look at your business’s requirements of compressed air as well as the components of your compressed air system, along with all the associated costs. When you do this, make sure to account not just for your business’s current system, but also for the one you envision to be in place in the future. Plan for the longer-term demands rather than just the current ones.

Here’s an overview of the components in a compressed air system that you need to look at:

### Air compressors

Aim to have an energy-efficient air compressor rather than one that just carries a lower price tag. As mentioned earlier, the initial cost is just a small fraction of the total cost.

### Dryers and filters

Compressed air has contaminants that, depending on the application at hand, need to be filtered. There is an additional cost and equipment to this process, so be mindful of that.

### Drains

Drains remove the collected condensate of the compressed air system as required.

### Piping

A good piping system is crucial for smooth movement of the air and eliminates air restrictions, leakages, and pressure drops.

### Ventilation

Ventilation is key to cutting down heat circulation to subsequently reduce energy consumption.

### Air leakage

It is of paramount importance to detect and fix any air leaks because these can have a heavy cost otherwise. Monitor your air compressor constantly to prevent this from occurring.

### Central controller

In systems that consist of more than one air compressor, a central controller may play a big part. It can decrease the average pressure band (a pressure reduction by one bar reduces energy usage by 7%), regulate the compressor speed, and control compressor capacity.

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## Top 5 Ways To Minimise Your Compressed Air Costs

Air compression if not done with proper checks, maintenance, and energy audits could turn out to be a fairly costly affair. To control costs of air compression effectively, you must follow a checklist of critical factors. While most of these factors fall under your regular maintenance procedures, some require your special attention. In this blog, we take you through the most important measures meant to control costs while you compress air at your facility.

• Avoid unnecessary running: The biggest overhead cost associated with air compressors is the energy cost. There is one simple trick that you can use to tackle this upfront: turn it off! Air compressors at most facilities are used during the business hours and yet these are often found running until late evening. This wastes precious hours of electricity and adds to your energy bills.
• Look for leakages: Leakages in the piping can cause loss of air pressure although the energy expended on compressing the air might remain the same. This means that you are using the same amount of energy but getting lesser work done. It is extremely important to look for leakages due to corrosion, pipe breakage, sludge, and dust particles in the piping regularly. Keeping the piping clean reduces the likelihood of leakages caused by corrosion.
• Use the right pressure levels: Using the compressor at pressure levels beyond your requirement can cause wastage of energy. One reason for turning up the pressure could be compensating for the loss of pressure due to leakages, clogged filters, and other piping problems.
• Use proper piping infrastructure: Using the right piping infrastructure that determines the direction and pattern of flow of compressed air is essential. A variety of factors play a role in this regard. Getting the compressed air to the focal point through a short pipe can optimise pressure and reduce energy use. Similarly, reducing the diameter of the pipe can help increase air pressure, work on the focal point effectively, and reduce energy consumption significantly.
• Recover heat: The heat generated as part of the compression process can be used for a number of productive purposes. These include warming the rooms or producing hot water in washrooms. This could indirectly reduce the energy that would otherwise be consumed by geysers and radiators, especially in colder regions.
• Ensure proper maintenance: By and large, proper maintenance helps reduce operational costs in more ways than one. In fact, preventive maintenance is less expensive than breakdown maintenance which could result in halting of operations and loss of business.

These insights can help keep a check on the energy, operations, and maintenance costs of compressing air at your facility.

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