Pneumatics – more than just hot air

While pneumatics systems do not have the force that hydraulic systems have to offer, they still have an essential role to play in many industrial applications. 

Walk through any industrial facility and you are almost guaranteed to see a compressed air system somewhere.

Due to its simplicity of design and control, machines using compressed air are easily designed using standard cylinders and other components, and operate via simple on-off control.

Pneumatic systems generally have long operating lives and require little maintenance, and because air is compressible, equipment is less subject to shock damage, plus there is a very low chance of fire compared to hydraulic oil.

Pneumatics is a very clean system, suitable for food and medical manufacturing processes and other processes which require no risk of contamination. Blackwoods offers customers a wide range of air compressors and air tools for industrial applications.

Air compressors

Craig Salmon, Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety, Global Source Brand Development Manager (Tools & Hardware), says customers buy air compressors for a wide range of reasons.

“Mainly it is to operate air tools, which are generally cheaper than electric tools and last longer.”

The JBS brand, which is part of Salmon’s portfolio, now has six different types of compressor models to cater for customer needs; direct drive compressors, single phase compressors, three phase compressors, petrol compressors, diesel compressors and rotary screw compressors.

However Salmon warns that the direct drive models should only be used in light duty and hobby applications.

“For example, they are not designed for pumping up truck, tractor or high pressure tyres, or for spray painting, and if continually run, they can overheat and burn out.”

Salmon explains that there are two main types of single phase belt drive compressors; cast iron, slow revving, full industrial types, and alloy, high revving, light industrial types.

“As well as standard models, at JBS we pride ourselves on being able to assist our customer requirements throughout Australia, being able to build most custom compressors for any industry i.e. service vehicles, automotive, mining industries and many more.

“If our standard JBS range isn’t suitable for an application or the customer is looking for multiple machines for service vehicles to fit a certain area, for example, we can have a manufacturing engineer assist with the customer’s designs.”

When it comes to choosing a single stage pump or a two stage high pressure pump, there is a massive difference between the two.

Two stage compressors compress air to a higher pressure by being able to work with a step up process. This is done with the larger cylinder first and then the smaller cylinder. It allows for a simple process of getting a better result with much less stress on the pump.

A single stage compressor compresses air in a one step process which allows only limited air pressure. 

Salmon says it’s a bit like stepping up onto a table with no chair to help out the process, which takes a lot of exertion on your behalf.

“Then there is the choice of tank size; 5l up to 190l+, plus a choice of a single or three phase electric motors or petrol or diesel motors. 

“The end result, the compressor that customers want for the applications they need.”

Salmon warns that if you want an air compressor to last, do not kill it by over-revving.

“If you are thinking of buying an air compressor, make sure it runs at slow revs. We offer a full range of compressors running under 1000rpm, which is less than half that of major competitors meaning the air compressor will last twice as long doing exactly the same work. 

“By reducing the revs, the customer is not only increasing the life of the compressor but also its performance. This is achieved by dramatically reducing the pumps operating temperature, which reduces the amount of condensation in the air, leading to an increase in the performance and life of the compressor. 

JBS has available two single phase air compressors, the JBS 17 electric belt drive air compressor and the JBS 15 electric belt drive high pressure air compressor.

Both models are large single phase (15A) models with Smart start filters fitted to help reduce start up Amp draw, with both models available in petrol or diesel.

JBS also has a range of three phase air compressors all designed for full industrial and commercial operation. 

They are designed for a maximum 85% duty cycle and can be specifically designed and manufactured to suit a customer’s requirements. 

JBS uses the latest technology in pump, motor and overall compressor componentry to ensure a reliable and trouble free compressor.

All JBS three cylinder, three phase models come complete with 2 stage high pressure slow revving cast iron pumps designed for industrial use.

Other features include copper tube connection pipes, fully automatic cut in cut out pressure switches, and Australian manufactured DLI approved air receivers built to Australian standards.

All JBS petrol driven air compressors have genuine Honda engines, with an idle control fitted for better fuel economy.

This means the product has an Australia wide warranty and has been built for the Australian environmental conditions.

The unique design of the JBS 2” tube tank compressor means it is far easier to transport in a vehicle due to its low centre of gravity. 

These units take up minimal amount of space while still offering all the features of a conventional air compressor. The greatest advantage of these models are their quick recovery time, within 10 seconds they are back to full pressure.

Blackwoods is also able to supply diesel driven air compressors, which feature a remote start switch with oil alert & hour meter, and a range of continuous running rotary screw compressors which are super quiet in operation and feature lower maintenance costs, automatic shut-down systems and a unique control unit, specially programmed for energy saving

When choosing a compressor, it is important to add up the number of outlets then multiply this figure by 7cfm/198lpm to give average air use. If using angle grinders, sanders or æ” to 1” impact guns users may have to add 20cfm/566lpm per tool to give usage.

Common air compressor questions

Can I use my compressor on an extension lead? 

NO!!! Any extension lead will cause voltage drop, whether it be 10Amp or 15Amp lead. 

Voltage drops can cause motor failure. When an air compressor cuts out and cuts back in the motor can draw 4-6 times the run current, therefore it is extremely important to have good power supply. Remember use longer air hoses not extension leads.

What size generator do I require?

All compressors require 3KVA for every 1hp of electric motor. i.e.: 2hp air compressor requires 6KVA generator.

This is when plugging the compressor directly into generator, with no extension leads. Also check continuous KVA rating on the generator not the peak rating.

Can I have a bigger air receiver?

By putting a larger receiver on and the same size compressor pump users create low pressure more of the time to the system. Compressors are designed to maximise their pump performance to the correct air receiver size. Larger receivers mean longer time between cut in and cut out pressures.

What oil does my compressor use?

You can use standard 20/40 motor oil but JBS recommends companies use A46 hydraulic oil, as there is no detergent base in hydraulic oil which will stop the foaming of oil. 

My compressor won’t pump up any higher than 40-50psi?

The main cause of this will be blocked intake filters, which causes increased temperatures. It could also have a blown head gasket or cracked valve.

Does my petrol unit have an idler control valve?

All JBS petrol and diesel models come standard with an idler control valve.  JBS only uses genuine Honda petrol engines. The idler control valve improves fuel consumption and life of compressor.

Air tools

Blackwoods stocks a wide range of JBS brand air tools including air operated needle scalers, orbital sanders, angle grinders, and impact wrenches

Suitable for fabrication and maintenance workshops, the needle scalers are ideal for cleaning and descaling of welds, and feature heavy duty steel construction, and a pistol design with a rubber grip.

The JBS air orbital sanders feature an adjustable built-in speed control regulator and are suitable for sanding and polishing operations in MRO and general workshop applications.

The JBS air-operated angle grinders, available in three models (AG100L-2 AG125L AG180L) feature an adjustable safety guard plus a side handle for stability and control.

The lever operated throttle of the angle grinders have a built-in spring-loaded trigger to ensure grinder is not accidently started, plus the front exhaust helps direct spent air onto work surface for improved visibility.

Ideal for general workshop and field maintenance in MRO applications, the AG125L and AG180L models feature a composite body, while the AG180L includes left and right handed mounting.

The JBS air impact wrenches feature a twin hammer mechanism and a lightweight composite housing with a twin clutch.

Suitable for all torque needs, including removing wheels on a racetrack and bolting down stadium seats, to automotive repair and major construction projects, the impact wrenches are ideal for MRO, general workshop, garage and field maintenance use. 



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