Advantages and disadvantages of pneumatic systems

A pneumatic system is one of the most commonly used types of instrument powering a variety of tools and equipment. From dentist tools, automatic doors, paint sprayers, to massive factory machines, pneumatics offer a practical solution to automation. The principle of pneumatics is simple. It uses pressurized air to transfer force and energy. Hydraulics is a similar technology, but instead of compressed air, it uses water or fluid to transfer power and force.

What are the components of a pneumatic system?

pneumatic system

Credit: caifas

Basic pneumatic instrumentation consists of five components. These components individually function to make compressed air, store it, control its release, and move it from storage to create movement.

  1. Compressor
  2. Tank or reservoir
  3. Valves
  4. Circuit of tubes
  5. Pneumatic motor or actuator

All power needed for a pneumatic system to function comes from compressed air. All these essential components make the system efficient and reliable.

Advantages of using pneumatic systems

There are many advantages to using a pneumatic instrument, which is why it remains popular in many applications.

  • One of the reasons why a pneumatic system is commonly used in industrial equipment is that it is intrinsically safe. It does not derive power or energy from electricity; hence, a pneumatic system will not produce sparks that could ignite gases and cause fires or explosions. Mining equipment, factory equipment, and other similar hazardous working environments benefit from using pneumatic systems.
  • Atmospheric air is abundant and readily available, which makes the power source an infinite resource.
  • A pneumatic system purges compressed air, automatically keeping the instrument clean and free from contaminants that can damage or prevent the system from working.
  • A pneumatic system is easy to maintain and easy to use.
  • Pneumatic systems are suitable for working environments exposed to radiation and high temperature, which makes pneumatics immune to most elements present in nature.
  • A pneumatic system can also use other types of compressed gases. This is beneficial for applications where natural gas is the power source. Compressed natural gas may be used as an alternative power source for pneumatic instruments.

Most importantly, pneumatic systems are practical because of the transmission speed and efficient power source.

Challenges of working with pneumatic instruments

Although there are many advantages to using pneumatic systems, there are still disadvantages to consider.

  • A pneumatic device is sensitive to extreme changes in temperature as well as vibration.
  • Compressed air is more expensive than electricity
  • It is essential to ensure that there are no leaks in a pneumatic system because compressed air escaping leads to energy loss.
  • Pneumatic systems are known for making a loud noise. As a solution, you can install a silencer in every dump line.
  • Installation cost increases when the instrument requires speciality pipes.
  • Pneumatic systems are not upgradable to become compatible with smart electronics

Despite these disadvantages, however, modern machines still use pneumatics because it is reliable. Many facilities that have been using pneumatic systems for many decades now prefer to do so because it is a significant expense to replace the instruments, and the benefits of using another system are yet to be proven.



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