Pneumatic systems requiring clean air rely on the integrated capabilities of Filters/Regulators/Lubricators (FRLs). A single location may require different types of FRLs. Since they consist of three separate functions, suppliers have a considerable amount of latitude in specifying the final product. To address a variety of applications, new air prep products are flexible and provide configuration options of one type or another to the user.
FRL COMPONENTS AND COMBINATIONS
With six port sizes from 1/8 through 1-inch NPT, Fabco-Air FRLs have a polycarbonate bowls as standard on all models. Individual components and multiple combinations operate over a temperature rating of -23 to 125F (-5 to 52C) and address air service to 145 PSI with a minimum recommended operating pressure of 8 psi. The regulators indicate psi with a square embedded outlet pressure gauge. A flush-fitting gage and bowl guard are standard and options include a coalescing filter mist separator and three-way lockout/tagout valve.
POLYMER AIR PREP UNIT
The modular design of the Bosch Rexroth's AS2 series FRLs allows the replacement of individual parts while the system is fully assembled. A patented oil filling system directly feeds oil into the system through a hose from the reservoir protecting the maintenance unit from oil contamination. A polyamide protective guard with a large inspection window, makes seeing the oil level easy on the lubricator portion. Made using a polymer, the FRLs are lightweight and have a surface that is easy to clean and resists damage from most cleaning agents. Metal connection threads (available in NPT and ISO-G) allow higher tightening torques. Design choices include filtration at 5, 0.3 or 0.01 micron and a condensate drain valve that is normally closed or normally open without pressure. The drain valve allows larger systems to build up operating pressure faster and without leakage.
MINIATURE AIR PREP UNIT
The Wilkerson Pneumatic Division of Parker Hannifin designed its miniature 03 Series FRL products for point of use applications with small pipes and low airflow. Units have a deflector plate that creates a swirling air stream for maximum water and dirt separation. Liquids settle at the bottom of the element and do not re-enter the airstream. Designed for easy servicing without tools, the FRLs use a 5 micron rated element. With 22 SCFM for the 1/8-inch and 24 SCFM for the 1/4-inch, the high flow units efficiently remove water as well as liquid aerosols and submicron particles. The .01 type “C” element allows a flow rate of 17 SCFM for the 1/8-inch and 20 SCFM for the 1/4-inch versions. The FRLs provide oil-free air for air gauging, pneumatic instrumentation and controls. Target applications include conveyors, packaging machinery, automotive manufacturing, machine tools, medical and dental equipment, home compressors, and automated-assembly equipment.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.