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When comparing electricity or gas compressed air and air receiver systems, you’d be forgiven for thinking that compressed air presents very little danger. However, the reality is that compressed air brings its own set of serious issues to deal with.
Air receiver tanks, in particular, present a lot of potential danger when not regularly serviced. While receivers are classified as having non-hazardous gas content, they present serious risks due to the pressure built up as stored energy within the vessel. With regular servicing and inspections carried out on vessels and associated safety valves in compliance with Worksafe requirements, the likelihood that a problem will occur is greatly reduced, therefore reducing the risk to you and those working near a receiver.
Problem areas of air receivers
There are several common problems that air receivers may suffer from.
Vibration can create cracks in the welds attaching a compressor system to the air receiver or the welded base below the air receiver. Damage can also occur when rigid piping is connected to the air receiver without allowing for an amount of vibration. If your 2-tonne receiver breaks off and falls on someone close by, it could result in serious injury or even death.
External damage to the air receiver can also be caused by vehicles, objects or machinery coming into contact with the vessel. Without any proper barrier separating the unit from these external dangers, the chance of an accident is increased.
Internal corrosion is another problem area that can affect receivers. If condensate is allowed to collect, its volume decreases which can lead to increased cycling by your air compressor. The condensate can also potentially carry over to the air distribution lines, resulting in problems with air powered tools. The most detrimental effect of the condensate is internal corrosion of the air receiver. Since it’s internal, the corrosion is likely never seen by the owner and the effects are usually ignored.
What are the risks of a compromised air receiver?
As mentioned, the results of a damaged or faulty receiver can be potentially fatal. One such example can be seen in a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. In an incident aboard a foreign vessel in Australian waters, an air receiver exploded due to a build-up in pressure, killing a nearby engineer. The ensuing investigation found that a poor standard of procedure resulted in the incorrect maintenance of the receiver.
Of course, not all breakdowns result in injury or fatality but they do have their own consequences. A broken machine could be potentially down for days depending on service technician availability. Depending on the size of your operation, this could cost you up to thousands in potential earnings. If you have to replace the receiver, you’re likely to face an even longer shutdown period. This is why it’s so vital to ensure you’re on top of receiver inspections.
Servicing your air receiver
As we’ve pointed out, it’s extremely important that your receiver is registered and you have a set inspection schedule. During an inspection, a technician will conduct a thorough assessment of the receiver and its parts, and offer solutions or recommendations if necessary.
At NPS, we have a fully capable team of technicians who during the inspection will check leaks, inspect for receiver mountings and generate an external condition report.