Compressed Air Optimisation with SONOTEC Ultrasonic Leak Detectors

Whether in large-scale industrial production, on assembly lines in medium-sized companies or in small workshops – compressed air has an important role to play almost everywhere. And it accounts for a large proportion of energy needs. Regular checking of the compressed air system to identify leaks reduces operating costs appreciably.

There are no compressed air systems without leaks. Around 30 percent of the energy used in compressed air systems is lost through leakages. The leaks typically occur at couplings, valves or gates, as well as on faulty hoses, screw and flange connections or corroded pipework. If these leakages remain undetected, even the best compressed air control can be of no further help. The compressors have to compensate for permanent pressure loss in order to provide compressed air. They run for longer, need more energy and wear out faster. The result is higher costs. The regular detection and rectification of leakages, which are often only millimetres in size, therefore contributes to a huge cost saving and improvement in energy efficiency.

Maintenance with ultrasound

Using SONAPHONE technology by SONOTEC, anybody can locate leakages and seal failures in compressed air, gas and vacuum systems quickly and easily. The ultrasonic devices detect sound waves which are in a frequency range beyond that which human beings are capable of perceiving. The SONAPHONE renders the noises generated by escaping compressed air as optical values on the display and audible signals via a loudspeaker. In this area, the SONOTEC range includes the reasonably priced entry-level model, multifunction devices with a backlit display, data logger and USB interface and, with the SONAPHONE E, an ultrasonic detection device for use in areas with high risk of explosion. The advantage of the ultrasound method lies in how simple it is to handle. The point that has been located is marked and then repaired.

Multifunction device for multiple applications

In addition to the fast, reliable location of compressed air and gas leaks, the handheld ultrasonic detection devices in the SONAPHONE range are also suitable for tightness testing of various systems, wear control on rotating machinery and providing evidence of partial electrical discharges where there is insulation damage. The checking of steam traps and valves is another task covered by the mobile devices.

A multitude of optional attachments and probes enable a further extension of the SONAPHONE detection devices’ areas of application. They can for instance be fitted with the Sonospot parabolic probe to allow measurements to be carried out at locations which are difficult to access or a long way away. The light, user-friendly probe has a particularly high range and detects leaks and noises over distances up to 20 meters.

Compressed air losses always cost a pretty penny. Continuous leak detection and rectification make a significant contribution to energy saving. In addition, testing machinery using the SONAPHONE technology gives indications of where preventive maintenance work should be carried out to avoid greater damage and ensure machine availability.


Founded in 1991, nowadays SONOTEC GmbH is a leading specialist in ultrasonic measurement technology solutions. With more than 120 employees, the technology company based in Halle (Saale) in the heart of Germany develops and manufactures customer-specific ultrasonic transducers and sensors as well as testing equipment and measuring technology solutions for a wide variety of industries. These range from medical technology and the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to engineering and plant construction and non-destructive testing.

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