How To Increase FRL Efficiency?

Post By: Tom Rowse On: 14-12-2023 Read Time: 4 minutes - Guides - Pneumatics

When air leaves a compressor it’s hot and contains moisture, which causes condensation and in turn damage to valves and cylinders. For this reason, air must be purified and moistened before it leaves the air compressor, to maintain optimal working conditions.

To achieve this, an FRL unit is used to filter (F), regulate (R), and lubricate (L) the systems for clean air production. FRL units combine these essential steps to process air in one component, but individual units can also be used separately. Each part of an FRL unit is responsible for a different purpose:

Filters remove moisture (water and oil) and debris from the system by straining the air and trapping solid particles such as dust, dirt, and rust. This is the first part of the process of improving air quality. 

Dust and dirt can block airflow and impact the system’s power, leading to higher-than-necessary air consumption. Blockages can build up because of dirt, rust and other contaminants. This results in wear on the system’s mechanisms, creating downtime and repair costs during production. 

Filters are installed in the airline upstream of other pneumatic components like regulators, valves, cylinders and air motors.

Regulators control and adjust the system’s air pressure to ensure that downstream components don’t exceed their maximum pressure capacity. Pressure regulators are mainly responsible for maintaining constant output pressure regardless of fluctuations in input pressure and downstream flow demands. 

Regulators are used to control pressure to air tools, blowguns, air cylinders, air motors, fluidic systems, air gauging equipment and most fluid power applications.

Lubricators release an internal oil mist to reduce internal wear on air tools. This step is often the last in the process. The majority of air-driven equipment, including cylinders, valves and air motors, need lubrication with oil to maximise their life cycle.

When air-operated equipment is supplied with an accurately measured quantity of oil, periodic maintenance is only required to refill the lubricator reservoir. It’s important to analyse airflow usage to determine the type of lubricator.

What Are The Advantages Of An FRL Unit?

How To Increase FRL Efficiency

The main advantages of installing an FRL are the consistent supply of quality air and reducing the risk of moisture and particles in air lines. It has the added benefit of maintaining a well-oiled air system.

Also, using an FRL to filter out contaminants from pneumatic air systems prevents equipment wear and damage to internal components. By reducing pressure and wear on components, FRLs also reduce the likelihood of production losses caused by contaminant-related downtime. Costly downtime often results from unmaintained and poorly run compressed air systems.

FRLs are also essential to ensuring downstream components run efficiently, by reducing over-pressurisation and the power waste it causes. They also have the following advantages:

Easy To Install

FRL units have many advantages. They are easy to install because they only require the corresponding type of filter equipment to operate – and provide a range of functionality. 

Ready To Run 

Units are pre-assembled, so they can be installed right away. Pre-assembled units are typically fitted with wall brackets for the unit to be easily connected to the inlet and outlet pipes.

Flexible Size Range

FRLs are available in various sizes and for different environments. For instance, factories and harsh offshore plants. With this flexibility, it’s possible to find a solution for different application requirements. 

How To Choose The Right FRL

Because FRL units are combination devices designed to filter compressed air, manufacturers need to choose FRLs carefully to make the most out of them and properly maintain the unit.

Selecting a correctly sized FRL unit is the first step because an incorrectly sized unit will increase energy costs. Filters should be sized for minimum pressure decreases and for maximum flow levels. Sizing up is best if requirements are unclear because a unit that is too small in design will increase pressure drop. It also leads to quicker wear, because smaller units have less capacity to trap and remove debris.

The environment where the FRL is going to be installed is also significant. Assessing the environment and other components is necessary to ensure that all parts of the FRL are compatible with the materials required for their use. Taking into account ambient temperatures can also help determine the type of FRL needed, especially for more challenging environments like offshore plants. Harsher environments need more corrosion-resistant and seal-tight designs. The FRL should be selected based on these specific needs. 

When choosing an FRL, the location of the installation should also be taken into account. This will help prevent overuse, so they are only used where and when air needs to be filtered.

Filters need to be installed as close as possible to tools, and before the lubricator and regulator. They also need to be fitted in the correct direction of airflow.

Since FRLs have combined regulators and lubricators, operators should consider the regulator element’s requirements. Regulators have the important task of ensuring operating pressure is kept at its optimum for maximum efficiency. Regulators are housed downstream from the filter and upstream from the lubricator. Taking these steps into account will ensure the right filter is selected for use.

Selecting the right lubricator oil is also important, as well as checking its levels regularly. It’s possible to use non-fluid oil and turbine oils, but automotive oil should be avoided because it lacks the correct lubricating qualities.