Analysis Non-Destructive Testing Reliability & Maintenance Center Ultrasound

‘Hear’ Problems And Reduce Costs

Jane Alexander | December 20, 2017

While ultrasound technology has become a leading ‘early indicator’ in the battle against premature equipment failure, it can also help sites save energy. Photo courtesy UE Systems Inc.

As awareness of predictive technologies in manufacturing facilities has grown, ultrasonics has taken its place as one of the leading “early indicators” in efforts to eliminate premature equipment failures.

Ultrasound technology can also help personnel “hear” problems and reduce operating costs in other ways. Compressed air systems are a case in point.

Compressed air is one of the most costly utilities in any manufacturing facility. According to Paul Craven, CFPHS, of Motion Industries (, Birmingham, AL), a simple program of leak detection and repair can dramatically reduce a plant’s overall energy costs. The manager of Motion Industries’ Repair Shop in Pensacola, FL, he cites a study of a chemical plant by the U.S. Department of Energy (, Washington) that showed how correcting just 10 compressor leaks (1/4-in.) resulted in annual energy savings of $39,967.

Craven listed these best-practice steps in using ultrasound technology to help mitigate your site’s compressed air costs:

1. Conduct an initial walk-through of your facility using an ultrasonic detector to help identify leaks (or contract with a third-party to do so). Record the location of each leak, along with its decibel (dB) reading or flow (CFM) estimate.

2. For consistency, start at the compressor  (supply side) and work your way to the   working component (demand side).

3. Create inspection zones to cover all sections of your facility.

4. When you identify a leak, mark it with a red tag to make it easy for maintenance to see and correct. Note every aspect of the leak including department, machine or asset number, pneumatic component leaking, flow estimate or dB reading, tag number, and picture number to ease the job for maintenance to get back to the leak. When the leak is corrected, mark it with a green tag to show it has been addressed.

5. Conduct a final walk-through and re-check the tagged items to make sure they were corrected. Sometimes fixing a leak will inadvertently cause another leak in a different location to grow.

6. Take dB readings by zone and calculate the savings.


Compressed air/gas leak detection is just one of many uses for ultrasound technology in a plant. As Craven noted, other systems and applications include, but aren’t limited to:

• hydraulic and pneumatic systems (checking for internal leaks around pistons seals in cylinders)

• centrifugal pumping systems (checking for cavitation on the inlet of the pump)

• electric motors (checking inboard and outboard bearings for early stages of peeling or spalling of the inner or outer race)

• steam-trap condition evaluation

• machine-vibration analysis. EP

Based in Pensacola, FL, Paul Craven is certified by the International Fluid Power Society as a fluid power hydraulic specialist (CFPHS), and has worked in the field for more than 25 years. For more information, visit, or view the MI Energy Services video here.



Jane Alexander

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