Excellence Is Not An Act, But A Habit

“We Are What We Repeatedly Do. Excellence, then, is not an Act, But a Habit”

In my twitter feed I often see the aforementioned quote that is attributed to Aristotle. As this blog points out, the quote should really be attributed to Will Durant author of The Story of Philosophy, because it is his interpretation of what Aristotle would have said if he spoke English. While writing this blog I found out Aristotle didn’t really write the quote. In retrospect, clearly he didn’t write, if he did it might look something like this “Είμαστε Τι επανειλημμένα Do. Αριστείας, τότε, δεν είναι μια πράξη, αλλά μια συνήθεια”, but I digress.

Working with customers, resellers and catalog houses, I’m amazed at the different company cultures. Some customers will come to me six months before a project comes up to talk about the applications. They ask us for drawings, specifications, and certifications for the products that we recommend for their applications. They want to analyze all possible scenarios and plan for every eventuality.  These customers greatly appreciate our fully loaded knowledge base and availability of technical information.

Other customers call me for a quote and confirmation. They spent some time online, downloaded a CAD model and created a working plan, but before they pull the trigger, they want to run it by someone else. These customer greatly appreciate the fact that the phones are answered by human beings and we have a fully staffed Application Engineering department with engineers who are always eager to discuss applications and possibilities.

Finally, we have the customers, who I never spoke to before that need a product NOW and are willing to do anything to get. Shipping companies love these customers, because we have our products on the shelves ready to ship, but it will cost you air freight and a flux capacitor to get it there yesterday.

Flux Capicator

At EXAIR, our culture expects excellence. And no matter the kind of customer who contacts us, we know you are all trying to achieve it too – we are just trying to help. When our customer calls in to ask for something yesterday, we will already have it on the shelf ready to go. Unless it is a custom product, our production staff has already machined, built, and tested our product to our excellent standard.  I’m constantly amazed at the effort and continued excellence put out by customer service, engineering, marketing, and production. When the customer calls in to ask for product yesterday, 99.98% of the time I’m able to say that the shipment will be at the dock waiting for the shipping truck by 3:00 PM EST. We can typically do that without an extraordinary effort, because we practice excellent customer service everyday. It’s a habit we are not trying to quit.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

 

 

Testing, Testing

One of the best criteria to know in a cooling application is the amount of cooling capacity required.  For example, if an ultrasonic weld needs to be cooled in 10 seconds and 400 BTU/hr. of cooling capacity is needed, we can recommend a suitable Vortex Tube.  (In this case, model 3208 with 550 BTU/hr. of cooling capacity.)  Or, if a specific temperature and flow of air is required, we can recommend accordingly. I recently spoke to a customer who needed a specific temperature of air at a low volume…

3408 Vortex Tube Test at 100 PSIG

EXAIR 3408 Vortex Tube tested at 100 PSIG with an inlet  compressed air temperature of 77°F (6.9 BARG, compressed air temperature of 25°C)

The photo above shows a test run for an end user that needed to achieve a specific cold outlet temperature from a Vortex Tube.  Their specific application required lower flow, lower temperature air, which led to the recommendation of our 3400 series units. The 3400 series Vortex Tubes produce the coldest air temperatures at a lower volume of air.

The project deadline for this end user had been shortened, making it imperative to find a solution which was not only suitable, but repeatable and readily available.  And, although the cold fraction percentages (which define temperature rise/drop from a Vortex Tube) are published on the EXAIR.com site and in our catalog, a quick test setup and photo can go a long way toward providing confidence within a customer that we could provide a solution.

The test proves the data from EXAIR is true to our published values, and gave the customer the confidence to order four pieces for their project.  Update:  The customer called today and ordered four more pieces.

Discussion and testing are methods we use in the Application Engineering department at EXAIR to determine if our products are suitable for an application.  If you have questions about your application and would like an EXAIR opinion, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Safe Trip

Just getting back in the swing of things after being on vacation last week. My family, along with my mother, went on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise which included 3 days at sea and 3 days at different ports. Our port stops included the Bahamas, San Juan Puerto Rico and the island of St. Maarten. My wife and I have cruised several times and have already visited these islands, but with this cruise being our son’s and my mother’s first, we thought we would try to experience some different things.

Our last port was St. Maarten, where “we” (my wife and mother) planned our day of shopping and having an authentic lunch at a local restaurant. With the shopping portion of the day complete, we started asking locals for a good place to have lunch. We met a local who ran his own taxi company and recommended we have lunch at Maho Beach but it was going to be a 20 minute taxi ride. When we arrived, for some reason the area seemed somewhat familiar and then it hit me…. I’ve seen this place on TV! Their airport sits right on the edge of the island and arriving and departing planes basically fly right over your head while sitting at the restaurant/bar or swimming at the beach.

People line up along the road and fence line and wait for the next plane (the restaurant/bar has arrival and departure screens and will yell out when a large commercial jetliner is approaching), making it a very crowded area. Due to the potential jet blast coming from the engines there are safety signs posted that people ignore. I did ask one of the restaurant/bar managers if safety is such a concern, then why do they allow people to line up and he said “all they can do is warn people, if they want to subject themselves to injury, then that’s on them”. I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt, but I must admit, it is a little humorous to see people get blown all over the beach. Needless to say, we stood a good distance away.

St Maarten02_Maho Beach38Safety signmaho-beach-st-maarten

In all seriousness, safety should be a primary concern. Is your plant currently practicing safety when dealing with compressed air? Open pipes, tubes or drilled pipe can consume large amounts of compressed air, and exceed the pressure and noise level thresholds outlined by OSHA. And we are all aware that personnel don’t always abide by the safety rules – much like ignoring a safety sign.

At EXAIR, our customer’s safety is of utmost importance. All of our intelligent compressed air products meet or exceed the OSHA standard 1910.242(b) for safety.  This means that you can still operate the devices at 80 psig while not having to worry about an operator injuring themselves with the compressed air.  This is not just for one product line, but ALL of the compressed air products that we manufacture.

EXAIR products also meet or exceed the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) for maximum allowable noise exposure levels.   The chart for allowable noise level exposure is below. Occupational hearing loss is a serious issue in manufacturing, in fact, it is the most commonly recorded illness is manufacturing. Engineering controls, like replacing open air lines with engineered air nozzles, are one of the top recommendations to solve the problem. Engineering controls can effectively eliminate the problem of people forgetting, refusing, or ignoring safety processes.

OSHA Noise Level

By implementing the EXAIR engineered solutions into your facility you can effectively lower the noise level cause by unsafe compressed air blow offs and possibly eliminate the need for hearing protection all together.   In my experience any time an operator doesn’t need to wear hearing protection or you can make their surrounding environment a little quieter, they tend to be a little happier which, always leads to better production. Again, many resources back this up, loud noise can also create physical and psychological stress.

These are just two of the standards that EXAIR will never take a vacation on.   Every product that EXAIR designs must be safe for operator operations, whether that be through pressure output or through the noise level it creates.

Contact one of our applications engineers to see how we may be able to improve similar safety concerns at your facility.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

When You Can Use An Air Amplifier, or A Line Vac, or…Either?

One of the key applications that we use to promote our Line Vac Air Operated Conveyors is scrap trim removal. In cases where a continuous feed of material needs to be carried away, a properly sized Line Vac is just the thing. They’ll generate a moderate amount of vacuum and conveyance air flow, which can move the material over significant distance, if needed.

I had the pleasure of talking to a long-time customer recently, who has been using EXAIR products to successfully remove the backing strip from a continuous feed of label roll. Instead of the Line Vacs, though, they’ve been using Model 6044 4” Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifiers. The low density, lightweight film backing doesn’t require much air flow at all to move it, and they only need to carry it away a few feet.

EXAIR's Adjustable Air Amplifier

EXAIR’s Adjustable Air Amplifier: Not always interchangeable with a Line Vac, but…

Recently, though, they introduced a new product with a slightly wider label. The film backing for this has been catching in the 3.02” ID throat of the 4” Air Amplifier, making a BIG mess as it backs up into the machine. They called me for a solution, and I’m glad they did, because (spoiler alert) I had one.

Our Air Amplifiers and Line Vacs both generate a modest vacuum and moderate vacuum flow, but, because they use two different principles of operation to do so, the Air Amplifier makes for a very high vacuum flow, at a lower vacuum level, where the Line Vacs generate a higher vacuum, but a lower vacuum flow.

In some cases, the Air Amplifier is the obvious choice…if you’re moving something that’s already airborne, you don’t need a whole lot of vacuum; you just need the flow to keep it moving. In others, the Line Vac is better suited…like when you’re transferring the bulk contents of a shipping container, where you’ll need a higher vacuum level to pick it up.

In this particular case, either will work…it’s a lightweight material that’s already in motion (no significant amount of vacuum required there), so the throat diameter was the deciding factor: our Model 130400 4” Light Duty Line Vac has a 3.75” throat; which is more than sufficient to prevent jamming. The air consumption on the 130400 (58.5 SCFM @80 psig) is even in the same neighborhood as the 6044 (50 SCFM @80 psig,) so, operationally, it’s almost an even swap as well.

EXAIR's Light Duty Line Vac

EXAIR’s Light Duty Line Vac: Not always interchangeable with an Air Amplifier, but…

If you’d like to find out how EXAIR products can be a viable solution to your problem, give us a call. We’re eager to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
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Vortex Tube Thaws Steam Connections on Bulk Liquid Sea Containers

Bulk container

Vortex Tube applications for cooling are many and a wide variety. Heating applications though, do tend to be a bit more elusive. That being said, I thought I would highlight a recent application where vortex tubes were used to thaw out steam lines that are used to heat up fluids in bulk sea containers.

We have all seen them running up and down the expressways, the large, bulk liquid containers that have the multi-modal capability to be on a ship, a train or a truck going down the road. I personally never thought about what the users of these tanks must do in order to get the liquid inside up to certain temperatures to allow the material inside to flow easily. I live in the Midwest area of the US, so we get really cold weather for only a few weeks during the year. In the Northern climates though, these bulk container users must have ways to thaw out the product before it can be used. To do this, these bulk containers are equipped with steam lines. Steam is used to heat the liquid inside to get it up to temperature. Once the steam is connected to the lines and circulating, all is well. But before they can get to that point, the steam connections on the tank are usually plugged with ice from condensate from previous use. The previous method was to simply snake a steam line up inside the heater lines to warm them up, but that presented a further problem. That same condensate ends up rolling out the pipe and dripping on the ground, re-freezing and creating a huge slip hazard.

 Steam connections

Above are the typical 1” BSP steam connections found on the bulk tanks.

In order to eliminate the slip hazard, the customer began looking for another method to supply a hot gas to these steam lines to thaw them out. In comes EXAIR with our Vortex Tube selection. The idea is to replace the mini steam line with the hot air output flow from a vortex tube to thaw out the connections. Since the customer has compressed air utility in plentiful supply on site, this makes for a very convenient way to warm up the pipes with a relatively “dry gas”. That being the dry compressed air supplied in the facility. The customer ended up using (2) model 3225 Vortex tubes with Cold Flow Mufflers, to provide the hot air for the steam connections. In fact, the diameter of the hot tube for the vortex tubes was the perfect size to simply slide up inside the steam pipes and hang there until the pipes were free of the problematic ice. There was still some small amount of liquid that re-froze from within the steam pipes, but it was certainly much more manageable than the mess the customer was dealing with previously.

Neal Raker, Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

Shared Details Equal Better Solutions

Fortunately for us, and our customers, we manufacture custom parts to meet their application if our cataloged products do not meet their requirements. Just look at these blogs. Customers often come to us to know if our products can be used in a corrosive environment, or if they are suitable within a high temperature, or within a small envelope.  Shortly after I started working in the Application Engineering department, I have found that the answers to these questions are generally “Yes, but why?”

Our marketing department does a great job of displaying our capabilities.  Just look at the special pages: Air Knives, Line Vacs, Air Amplifiers, or Cabinet Coolers. We can make a great variety of products and materials, but we always will ask the next question. Why?

Some customers are surprised at how emphatic we can be about knowing why you need a special part or process. We are only asking to best serve you. For instance, I had a customer come to me today after seeing our Special Air Knife page and seeing our flat Super Air Knife that is only 11/16″ thick.  This is a great product for its application, but when compared to our stock Super Air Knife, it is more expensive and carries and cannot be shipped until 2-3 weeks after it is ordered since we would build it from scratch.  Customers first look at the Super Air Knife and see that the overall height of the product is 1.44″, which is too large to fit in their machine.  When they see that the Super Air Knife is too big they assume they need something special.  This is generally, when I get a call like this.

“I need your Flat Super Air Knife. What is the part number and price?”

Flat Super

“We don’t have a standing part number for that unit. It was a special part that we created for a specific customer. Why do you need that model?” I reply.

“It is thinner than the Super Air Knife.” – customer

“Have you looked at the Full Flow Air Knife?” – my reply

“No, What is that?” – customer

This is where the reasoning behind the request is so important. Purchasing one piece of a custom made thin Super Air Knife pictured above is significantly more expensive than the production run and in stock Full Flow Air Knife.  The Special thin Super Air Knife is 0.688″ thick. The Full Flow Super Air Knife is 1.03″ thick. And in this case case, the Full Flow Air Knife worked for this customer.  This is just one example of finding out why a customer needs a special product is so important.  If the machine envelope is 1.25″ the Full Flow Air Knife will fit just fine. If the machining envelope is 0.75″, a Special thin Super Air Knife will be the solution. When we share the details together, it is easier to produce the best solution for our customers.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

EXAIR Air Wipes

Super Air Wipe

Whenever I come across an extrusion application, I am reminded of an on-site visit I made with our Costa Rican distributor, Dansar Industries.  During our visit we reviewed a previously solved application problem in which an extrusion line was experiencing poor coolant removal and high noise levels.  The EXAIR Super Air Wipe installed in the application corrected the poor coolant removal problem, brought the noise level down, and lowered compressed air use.

The secret to offering such a solution was the ability of the distributor to spot the application and make a model number recommendation accordingly.  When walking through the shop floor of your facility, remember the following tenets when considering an EXAIR Air Wipe:

  1. The Standard Air Wipe and Super Air Wipe have the same performance. The choice of which to use is based on the material of construction for various components.
  2. A difference of ~0.5” (13mm) is ideal between the OD of the part and the ID of the Air Wipe.
  3. A difference that is larger than ~0.5” (13mm) can be acceptable in many applications, depending on speed of travel of the material, shape of the material, inlet air pressure, etc.
  4. For applications exceeding our largest Air Wipe diameters we recommend an arrangement of Super Air Knives and/or nozzles to provide a solution.
  5. Maximum line speed when using an Air Wipe must be determined through testing.

As with any EXAIR products, our Air Wipes are OSHA compliant and maximize force per volume of compressed air consumed.  If you have any specific questions regarding the use of an Air Wipe in your application, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

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