Cool Job, Cool Products

I’ve got a pretty cool job. I’ve written about this before…in fact, as recently as last week, in a piece about workplace safety, and how EXAIR is all over it, all the way. Brian Farno also blogged the other day about how EXAIR recognizes, appreciates, and celebrates achievement. Like usual, actually.

So yeah; this is a pretty cool job. And, just to put that into perspective, my first “grown up” job set the bar pretty high: upon completion of Naval Nuclear Power School, I was assigned to the initial manning crew of a new construction Trident submarine. When I got there in the spring of 1987, “tha thirty-five boat,” as the future USS Pennsylvania (SSBN-735) was known, was ON the pier (not NEXT to it) and we boarded through hull cuts in Engine Room Lower Level & the Torpedo Room. For two years, we worked with shipyard personnel to install, test, & certify all ship’s systems, and then took her out in the summer of 1989 for a rigorous series of sea trials. I wish there were words capable of conveying the extent of “job satisfaction” we felt when we submerged for the first time, and the whole ocean stayed outside the boat.

I was reminded of this the other day when I saw a news account of the bow section of a submarine being transported via barge from the shipyard that fabricated this section, to the shipyard that’s assembling the boat. Here’s a video clip of one such transit, from about a year ago:

I’ve written before about how compressed air is (and isn’t) used on board a submarine at sea. Compressed air is also used, for some pretty neat stuff, in their construction & service. And EXAIR Compressed Air Products are in the mix:

*Sometimes during work on a piping system, it’s not possible to isolate a particular section with valves, so a freeze seal is applied: a collar fits around the outside of the pipe, and very cold fluid is circulated through the collar. This freezes the liquid inside the pipe, forming a “plug,” which allows you to work on the piping downstream, just the same as if you had shut a valve there. One method of doing this is with liquid nitrogen…you take a big tank of the stuff to your work site, implement all the safety precautions you need to handle pressurized liquid at -321°F (spoiler alert: it’s complicated,) make up your connections, hope they don’t leak, and activate the system. Depending on the length of the job and the size of the tank, you may need to change it out…which, again, is complicated.  And yes, I’ve done it.

It's a real shame to foul this view with a block & tackle to lower a pressurized nitrogen tank down.

It’s a real shame to foul this view with a block & tackle to lower a pressurized nitrogen tank down.

Or, like several shipyards are doing currently, you can install an EXAIR Maximum Cold Temperature Vortex Tube to the collar, run a compressed air line to it, and you can supply cold air as low as -40°F, which will freeze a plug in that pipe for as long as you keep your air compressor running.

Vortex Tube

EXAIR Vortex Tubes produce cold air, on demand, with no moving parts.

*Another application has to do not with the equipment, but the people working on it. Welding is a hot job – there’s really no way around it – and welding in tight spaces can present real issues for the folks involved. Fans and blowers can provide a good amount of ventilation, but they also take up some room, which there may not be any to spare.

Enter EXAIR Air Amplifiers – they’re compact, lightweight, and use a small amount of compressed air to blow a high flow of cooling air, right where it’s needed.

EXAIR Air Amplifiers use a small amount of compressed air to create a tremendous amount of air flow.

EXAIR Air Amplifiers use a small amount of compressed air to create a tremendous amount of air flow.

These are just a couple of examples of how a large industry – shipbuilding – is using EXAIR products to capitalize on efficiency in a challenging environment. Regardless of your situation, if you’d like to learn if EXAIR can help out, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Up Ladder courtesy of Russ Bowman  Creative Commons License

Adjustable Spot Cooler Cools Saw Blade

I was recently contacted by a customer looking for a way to cool their band saw blade in a wood cutting operation. They process several different types of wood and when dealing with the more dense products they are seeing the blades heat up, causing them to stop production, change out the blades and scrap the production piece and start the process over. They cannot use a liquid type misting systems as this would contaminate the wood, resulting in more rejects, so they called EXAIR looking for assistance.

I recommended the customer use our Model # 3925 Adjustable Spot Cooler System with Dual Point Hose Kit in the application. The Adjustable Spot Cooler incorporates a Vortex Tube to provide a temperature drop from your supply temperature. By turning the knob on the unit, the temperature control valve allows the user to adjust the temperature range between -30°F up to +70°F, to fit the demand of the application. The flexible tubing is able to hold it’s position, ensuring that the cold airstream is directed towards the critical area(s). The system also features a magnetic base that allows for easy mounting.

3925

Model # 3925 Adjustable Spot Cooler System with Dual Point Hose Kit, providing up to 2,000 Btu/hr. of cooling capacity

With this particular customer, the inherent flexibility of an Adjustable Spot Cooler is a benefit to provide different cooling values depending on the type of wood they are cutting. Using the dual point hose kit they would be able to direct the cold air on each side of the blade to extend the blade’s longevity while decreasing the amount of rejects. Using the filter separator (included with the system), would relieve any concern of fluid contamination by removing any water condensate or particulate in the compressed air supply.

If you are looking to extend the tool life in your operation, give us a call.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

A Few Questions about Powering Cabinet Coolers

Dual CC outside

NEMA 4X Dual Cabinet Cooler

Not too long ago, I was contacted by one of our customers regarding the Cabinet Cooler Systems and the quality of the compressed air used to power them.

The specific questions were:

  1. What happens if the compressed air gets dirty with oil or other particles if sufficient filtration is not available at the facility where Cabinet Cooler is being used?
  2. Where does the oil particle go, into the cabinet or out through the hot exhaust or both?
  3. If it goes into the Cabinet Cooler, should one expect a spray or will it simply form small droplets?
  4. Is there a way to filter the cold air outlet?

Dirty, oil laden air would exhaust throughout the Cabinet cooler (both hot and cold flows) as well as into the inside of the attached cabinet if the air were contaminated and there was not any filter located up-stream of the Cabinet Cooler System. This is precisely why we always recommend the use of filter/separator and oil coalescing filters to clean up the compressed air before it goes into the Cabinet Cooler. In fact, we include a five micron, auto-drain, filter/separator with all our stock systems. If oil is a known contaminant in a customer’s system, we will also recommend use of an oil coalescing type filter which we can provide as well. Without a coalescing filter, you can expect any oil in the compressed air supply to be atomized into a vapor which then has possibility of settling on components inside the cabinet.

Filtering the compressed air while it is still in its compressed state and before it goes into the Cabinet Cooler is the only way to make sure that the air is properly cleaned before processing through the Cabinet Cooler System. Filtering the air after it has gone through the Cabinet Cooler System is not possible. Many filtration systems rely on the high velocity of the compressed air for their filtering capability. If it is no longer in its compressed state (a condition that exists at the cold outlet of the Cabinet Cooler), then the right conditions for proper treatment do not exist. Also, by the time the air exits the Cabinet Cooler, your primary need for it is going to be for cooling anyway. Attempting to add filtration to the cold air output will interfere with the cooling function, which negates the purpose for having the Cabinet Cooler.

As compressed air and the systems that produce it become more widely understood, filtering, drying and removing oil from the compressed air stream are tasks that are done on the production side of things.

The best way to proceed is to have the necessary filtration on the compressed air supply, at the point of use, even if the facility has filtered, clean, dry air. It would still be good to employ it just in case any up-stream equipment that is normally used to clean up the air, went down for some reason. I call it the belt and suspenders method. The redundancy is worth the investment.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com

The Best Lunch Is One Prepared For You

This past week was another celebration here at EXAIR, in case you didn’t notice, we like to do that here.  This wasn’t a birthday, anniversary or someone leaving the team, it was another record breaker for the EXAIR team.   I know we have talked about cookouts before and these only happen for special occasions.   Nonetheless when you have the EXAIR management team, including the owner and President, grilling everyone’s lunch –  it is a great day.

You can see our Production Manager doing some quality inspection here.

You can see our Production Manager doing some quality inspection here.

This builds so much camaraderie through the ranks of EXAIR that I don’t know any way to do it better.   The entire time we had the cookout there was still no hiccup in our standard operations either, that means if you called in, you still got to speak to a live person and not a recording.   That is the level of service that we provide every day, every week, every month, and every year.   That is what sets us apart from any of our competition and allows us to continue to reach higher goals than we have ever reached before.

MMMmmmmmmm!!!!!    Steak!

MMMmmmmmmm!!!!! Steak!

Now if you will excuse me,  I need to go take a jog and try to work myself out of this food coma from the steak.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Escape to the Hills

I’m leaving for a short three day vacation this week in Hocking Hills. This is my biannual family reunion of my Great Grandfather’s family the Trouts. This will be our 7th or 8th trip down there, and I still have yet to go hiking at Old Man’s Cave, the local tourist attraction. I have always stuck closer to the pool and the golf course and away from the trail. Russ Bowman puts me to shame. He heads up there every year with his boys to go hiking and camping, and we tend to stay at a cabin which is more like a hotel with some wood paneling. To each their own.

For my parent’s generation the reunion is a chance to catch up with cousins that they spent summers with growing up. For my generation, it is a chance to meet and reconnect with our second cousins that we normally would only see at weddings and funerals. The three day reunion allows a longer more free flowing opportunity to see who people are. It is a different perceptive to get to know people that have a lot of history in common, but you only see once in a while. Most of the weekend is amazingly unscheduled, so you can come and go as you please.

This will be different for me. I’m taking my son who was born last August to meet his third cousins. It is different for a couple reasons. First, now I don’t just have to worry how I behave at the family reunion. I have to make sure my son doesn’t head-butt the other babies like he has been known to do at day care. Second, my family gets to see him grow up and learn stories about me when I was his age through the eyes of the people that were there and knew me best. I hope they stay away from a few stories until he is older, but probably not.

Getting together with the family reminds me of working here at EXAIR. As we witnessed with the Professor’s departure, and Dear Joe’s departure we see that some people might chose to not come into work everyday anymore, but they are always a member of our community. As time passes we are constantly reminded of their impact. With the Professor’s message we constantly drive to safe customers compressed air energy, and Joe always reminded us that we are here for the customer first, and if you can, help them in any way you should.

But, of course, the messages from those two individuals are the result of EXAIR’s company culture, our product’s ability to solve customer problems, and EXAIR’s commitment to customer service.

Contact an Application Engineer today to join our family of customers.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_DW
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com

Cleaning A Super Air Knife? Know Your Materials.

IMG_5227

An Aluminum Super Air Knife, disassembled and showing how a clean unit should look

While having dinner with some friends a few days ago, another engineer in the room asked what I did for a living and where I work.  When I told them I work for EXAIR, they immediately knew the name and commented on our Super Air Knives.  This gentleman was an automation engineer and has used our Super Air Knives for automated blow off.

The ability to automate and control an instantaneous blow off makes the Super Air Knife a versatile tool in an automation application.  But, how do they stand up to cleaning over time?

The answer, is that when properly configured for the application a Super Air Knife can last indefinitely.  If the temperatures are below 82C (180F) and there is no caustic chemical used for wash-down, an aluminum knife can usually fit the bill.  But, when a caustic chemical is to be used for wash-down, a stainless steel knife, or specially configured aluminum knife must be used.

This advice was not heeded by one of our overseas customers, and the results of what happens over time are shown below.

SAK with deteriorated shim 3

Polyester shim of an aluminum Super Air Knife after the unit was cleaned with Sea Foam

SAK with deteriorated shim 4

Cap of an aluminum Super Air Knife after the unit was cleaned with Sea Foam

SAK with deteriorated shim 2

Body and cap of an aluminum Super Air Knife showing the results of improper cleaning

This customer coated the exterior of an aluminum Super Air Knife with a product by the name of Sea Foam.  The surfaces and air slot of the knife were completely covered with Sea Foam, and then the exterior was wiped down.  Over time, the Sea Foam entered into the plenum chamber of the knife and caused the polyester shim to deteriorate.

Sea Foam is a wonderful product that has found a home in many shops and maintenance departments, and for many applications it presents an excellent cleaning agent.  But, for an Aluminum Super Air Knife, it poses a problem.  But why?

Sea Foam is a combination of Isopropyl Alcohol (10%-20%), Naphtha (25%-35%), and Pale Oil (40%-60%).  Isopropyl alcohol is a solvent, naphtha is petroleum distillate that is highly flammable, and Pale Oil is a heavy distillate naphthenic oil refined from wax-free crude oil.  These characteristics make the product a “go-to” cleaner for carbon/dirt buildup, especially on metal surfaces.  But, these same characteristics are “bad news” for polyester (Aluminum Super Air Knifes use polyester shims), and over time will cause the polyester to break down (as shown in the photos above).

So, what is the solution?  First and foremost, the solution is to follow the cleaning instructions found in our Installation and Maintenance (I&M) guide.  We provide an I&M guide with every product we sell, and have free downloads available on our site here.  But, to remedy the current condition in this application we recommended one of two actions.  The first is to use a Stainless Steel Super Air Knife which will be able to handle Sea Foam.  And, the second is to make a stainless steel shim for this aluminum knife made of 0.002″ stainless steel shim stock.  Either of these solutions will not only correct the present condition, but will prevent such a problem from occurring in the future.

For our end user in this case, a short, thorough discussion with an EXAIR Application Engineer could have saved them downtime and headache.  If you have an application involving EXAIR products, never hesitate to give us a call.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun with Extensions up to 72″

Have you ever walked through a facility and looked up?  Most facilities have compressed air lines, electrical conduits, HVAC duct work, lighting ballast, beams, sprinkler systems, etc. located near the ceiling.  Can you imagine the amount of dirt and debris that has been collecting up there?  I received a phone call from a food processing plant.  They knew the necessity in keeping the entire area clean, even above their equipment.  They contacted me for help in trying to remove the dirt and debris from above all the structures near the ceiling.

72" Extension on Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun

72″ Extension on Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun

I suggested the model 1330-72 Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun with a 72” (1829mm) extension.  I also suggested a model 9053 swivel fitting to help angle the 2” (51mm) Flat Super Air Nozzle, installed at the end of the extension.  The customer would use a scissor lift to reach close to the ceiling and with the 72” (1829mm) extension, they could reach all the hard-to-get areas.  The 2” (51mm) Flat Super Air Nozzle would cover a larger area above HVAC duct work and racks of pipe and conduit.  When you add the model 9053 swivel fitting, it will help in directing the force of the compressed air at the top surfaces of your target.  Adding the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun to this assembly, it makes a very reliable, durable system that can handle the banging and bumping in this application.

Dirt and dust can get everywhere, and EXAIR can help to remove it.  We carry a variety of Safety Air Guns, Super Air Nozzles, and lengths of extension pipes.  If you cannot reach it, give us a call and ask one of our Application Engineers for help.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

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