Compressed air is regarded as the fourth largest utility in the manufacturing industry behind electricity, natural gas and water. It is used in a wide variety of pneumatic, mechanical and maintenance applications in every manufacturing facility. However, very little efforts have been made in trying to monitor and optimize the utilization of compressed air. Hence, a project was conducted to study and analyze the utilization of compressed air under various scenarios that are typical during metal cutting operation in a manufacturing facility.
PneuViz application was developed using LabVIEW programming package to monitor and analyze the results. PneuViz was seamlessly linked with the MTConnect data being broadcasted on the corporate network. PneuViz provides drill down capability to analyze cost of compressed air on a per part, per machine, and per customer order. Monitoring the utilization of compressed air by a stand-alone Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine as well as the overall utilization on the shop floor was facilitated by the use of a sensor system comprising of a flow meter, Data Acquisition Device (DAQ), and a power sensor (load meter). MTConnect was used to enable plug-and-play functionality across the various machines on the shop floor. This was implemented by developing a system of MTConnect adapters that were able to capture the raw sensor data and broadcast it over the Ethernet network.
Subsequently, analysis was carried out over various scenarios to determine the cost, energy and carbon footprint impact of the compressed air usage on the manufacturing shop floor.