Safety, Efficiency, and Production Improvements

Last week, I received an email from a satisfied customer, after he had already purchased our product.  Come to find out this customer had not spoken to an application engineer during the planning stage to make their purchase. With our excellent resources listed at EXAIR.com, the customer was able to fulfill his application without even speaking to us. After his initial email of thanks, he also shared with me some details of his application that I want to share with you today.

The customer works as a machinist at a large aircraft part manufacturer. The parts require a very tight tolerance. A sample of each part needed to be gauged and measured in an automatic thread gauging machine or a coordinate-measuring machine (CMM). Their machining process required a water based flood coolant, so each part would be coated in water based coolant and chips, which needed to be remove before gauging. Before visiting EXAIR’s site, the company used a variety of homemade and commercial blow offs, as safety air gun tips. Here is a photo of (20) of the (25) nozzles the customer was using.

Aircraft manufacturer's obsolete nozzles

As you can see, the nozzles vary in design purpose, flow and safety. Most of the nozzles feature a cross drilled hole or a secondary escape path, but not all of the nozzles do. Any nozzle without a secondary relief port violates OSHA standard CFR 1910.242(b), so replacing some of the nozzles increased the safety in the plant. Secondly, these nozzles are wasteful in their use of compressed air because some were designed as liquid nozzles and have large exit holes. A hole that is 1/8″ in diameter at the nozzle outlet can consume up to 21.4 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG. For comparison, the model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzle with a 1/8″ NPT inlet will flow 10 SCFM at 80 PSIG, which would be a 53% compressed air savings. In 24 running hours, the 1103 nozzle will save 16,416 Standard Cubic Feet, which the plant spent $4.10 for a standard industrial compressor to produce (The standard for compressed air cost is $0.25 per 1,000 SCF). Replacing just one 1/8″ drilled hole with 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzle saves the aircraft company $1,026 over 250 working days running 24 hours a day.

Neither of these were the real reason that the customer emailed to thank us though. He was actually an office employee just entering the work force.  Starting in June until after the company finally acquiesced to his request to buy a better, quieter nozzle near the end of July, he had left work needing an aspirin to relieve the headache he acquired due to the noise from these other nozzles. The nozzles the machining center had been using would create noise levels between 88-100 dBA at 80 PSIG of inlet pressure. For reference OSHA mandates that employees are required to wear hearing protection, if they are exposed to noise levels over 90 dBA over an 8 hour work day.  The employees doing the machining wear hearing protection, but the employees in the office were still exposed and affected by the noise level.  This is just one anecdotal example, but everyday more and more research shows that noise exposure has a negative effect on our health and productivity in the workplace.  If you are interested in more information here are some links to a number of studies/research – please read this, here or this.

Anyway, that’s enough of my soapbox. The company purchased 25 of EXAIR’s 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles and utilizing the same guns they were currently using saw between a 10-15 dBA decrease in noise levels near the work stations. Here is a photo of one of their setups with the model 1103 installed on one of their current air guns.

Nozzle Replacement

The 1103 Super Air Nozzle is an engineered solution to replace a plethora of commercial nozzles. It was a simple and cost effective retrofit which increased the comfort of employees.

 

We know that every time they squeeze that air gun trigger they will be using less compressed air than before, and we know they are now in compliance with OSHA. But the best benefit for EXAIR is we know that the engineer took the time to email us to thank us for taking away his headache everyday.  That’s enough for me.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

 

 

Expanding The Family And Our Product Lines

If you follow my blogs and or Twitter you may know that I am currently the proud father of two wonderful and amazing daughters.   My wife  and I just recently found out that our third child which is due in early December is also a girl.   So I will then be the proud father of three beautiful daughters (and the guy with a really nice shotgun that holds multiple rounds). Some may say I’m overprotective – I’ll just have to agree.

All of our friends continually ask me if I am upset that I didn’t get a son, my truthful response is, “No.”  I am rather pleased to have all three girls for right now.   The fact is, the oldest and now middle daughter are both already working in the garage with me, constantly wanting to do whatever it is I am doing, and they are a blast to be around.   Since they are all three girls I don’t have to worry about giving them that awkward adolescent discussion (I would give that to any boys we may have), and I get to scare whoever tries to come and date any of them when they turn 21 or 25, perhaps 30.

EXAIR is also expanding its family.  We have welcomed a wonderful little PEEK nozzle to our already large Super Air Nozzle product family.   This one comes in with M5 x 0.5 threads, or with a 1/8th” NPT adapter.  The nozzle can produce 5 ozs. of force while using only 4.9 SCFM of compressed air at 80 psig inlet pressure.   The PEEK plastic construction gives it excellent ratings for chemical resistance and temperature resistance while also being non-marring. PEEK thermoplastic fits well into the plating industries, metal etching, pickling lines, sea water environments because it outperforms the 316SS material of our other nozzles when in those environments. The maximum temperature rating for this nozzle is 320F.

1109_peeksan_300x300ce

The picture above shows the nozzle removing excess plating solution which takes advantage of the chemical resistance for nickel plating, as well as the non marring in case of contact with the part.

The wonderful and wacky Professor Penurious has named this little nozzle as our Pico Super Air Nozzle.

If you have an application that needs good chemical resistance, or just an upgrade to save compressed air, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Bottling Line Can Run Efficiently by Taking a Few Simple Steps

I recently visited a local customer who bottles a liquid drink.  They do two different sizes, single serve and gallon bottles.  The main issues they were having is the gallon bottles were not dry enough after they come out of a cooling / rinse tunnel.  They currently had three different blow off devices in place outside of this cooling tunnel.  The cooling tunnel had hundreds of spray nozzles to both rinse and cool the gallons of liquid.

On the exit of the tunnel there was a blower driven air knife that was being powered by a high maintenance motor that was also sucking in non filtered air to blow the moisture off thee gallon jugs.  The blower was not producing high velocity air and the knife position could not be adjusted for maximum effectiveness due to the hard piping from the blower.

The bottles come out of the blower and go from a 60″ wide conveyor to a 24″ wide conveyor in about five feet of travel. The bottles are then funneled down even further into a single file line and then sped up and sent through two 90 degree bends to try and knock any residual water off them before going into the casing machine.

There were no other blow offs on the gallon line because they were concerned with their compressed air use.  The other two blow offs they had in place were on the single serve bottling line. On that line there were two points that had six separate clusters of a metal flat nozzle that was approximately 1″ wide and were all pointed at a different point of the cap to try and eliminate some moisture that would get trapped under the lip.

The single serve bottles would come out spaced approximately six inches apart but the nozzles were blowing continuously.  This was a very large waste of compressed air.  They could have very easily installed an EXAIR EFC on these supply lines to cut their usage by more than 50% of their current demand.   They then went past an open pipe blow off to help dry the final labeling point.   This was also on continuously which was another opportunity for air savings.

I recommended installing two Electronic Flow Control (EFC) units and replacing their existing nozzles and open pipe with the EXAIR model 1126 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle outfitted with swivels to allow them to be positioned properly to reach under the bottle cap. Proper positioning, in many cases, increases the effectiveness of the nozzles and can get the job done with fewer nozzles installed. In this application I am confident we can get that bottle cap area blown off with only 2 nozzles.

By eliminating excessive nozzles and cycling compressed air on and off only as needed, the customer saves compressed air. I estimated it was enough compressed air to install a 24″ Deluxe Super Air Knife Kit to blow down on top of the gallon containers, which is the primary reason they asked me to visit in the first place. This will not only give them the 24″ Super Air Knife, but it will also include the crucial EFC and a filter separator to clean the compressed air and a pressure regulator to adjust the pressure down to the minimum necessary for success. All of these factors contribute to optimizing compressed air and using it effectively within anyone’s plant:

  • Eliminate open pipes and ineffective blow offs
  • Turn off compressed air whenever possible
  • Keep it clean to reduce wear and maintenance
  • Adjust the pressure to a minimum level for success

This is just one location in the entire facility where implementing the Electronic Flow Control and EXAIR engineered nozzles will help the customer to optimize their compressed air use.

If you would like to learn more or have questions on any of the EXAIR products mentioned in this blog, feel free to contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Everybody Wants Options III: Options You Can’t Live Without

I wanted to call today’s blog “Everybody Wants Options III: Back to the Future Past.” But, I wanted to get your attention so I settled on Options You Can’t Live Without. In this case, I’ll choose to jump on the bandwagon and just like Hollywood, if we have a hit of a blog topic, we are going to make as many sequels as we can. After Justin wrote about ordering options in Everybody Wants Options, Russ followed it up with the blockbuster Everybody Wants Options II: Is Bigger Better?. I hopefully will conclude the series with “Everybody Wants Options III: Options You Can’t Live Without:, which is also the conclusion to my OSHA compliant Air Gun Primer, which I have already started here and here.

I don’t know though, maybe in twenty years they will want to make two more trilogies after “the mouse” buys us. Perhaps even JAR JAR Binks could write the blog.  …Mesir wants Yousir to buy BEST AIR NOZZLE EVER… 

Last week, I spoke about how important it is to get the right air gun for your shop, so that your employees are safer, more efficient and effective.  Today, I want to talk about the Safety Air Gun themselves and why you would select each one.

EXAIR Safety Air guns include the Precision Safety Air Gun, the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun, and the Super Blast Safety Air Gun.

Left-right:  Precision, Soft Grip w/Stay Set Hose, Heavy Duty w/Rigid Extension, & Super Blast Safety Air Guns

The first step in figuring out which gun will work for you is to figure out how much force and flow you need to get the job done. If you do not know the force and flow of your existing solution, the second step is to contact EXAIR and speak with one of our Application Engineers. They can assist you with the best choice air gun for your application or measure force, flow, and noise levels of any of your current air nozzles, open pipes, air guns etc. and provide a report through our efficiency lab service.

The Precision Safety Air Guns are the smallest, lightest and lowest flow safety air guns. This gun has the smallest diameter nozzle and extension which fits in to tight spaces. It will fit best in smaller hands, and is suitable for light duty applications and environments. They can generate between 2 ounces to 8.1 ounces of force. They can produce flows between 2.5 SCFM to 8.3 SCFM of compressed air.

Our most common Safety Air Guns are the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun. These guns are cast aluminum with a comfortable ergonomic grip to help relieve fatigue. Soft Grip guns resist rugged industrial environments and have a built in hanger hook for easy storage. They utilize the same small nozzles as the Precision Safety Air Guns, but can also use EXAIR’s whole series of air nozzles up to 1/2 NPT Safety Air Nozzle.  These flows range from 2.5 SCFM up to 60 SCFM. The force of these guns can range from 2.0 Ounces up to 3.3 pounds of force.

If the Soft Grip Safety Air isn’t enough power for your shop, the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun will give you a powerful rugged gun for industrial environments.  This gun is also cast aluminum with a slightly larger handle and a soft rubber grip with a full length trigger. The Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun features a steel 3/8″ NPT air inlet for added durability against the harshest of environments.  This air inlet can generate force from 22 ounces of force up to 3.3 pounds of force.

Finally, if you need more than the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun, we have to call the Super Blast Safety Air Gun, which can generate up to 23 pounds of force.  Batten down the hatches when you turn this thing on and it will conquer the heaviest duty blow off or cleaning applications such as removing scale from steel.  This gun features an Spring Loaded Manual Valve, which will automatically shut off, if dropped.

And don’t forget…on top of these choices of guns and nozzles, EXAIR’s air guns can be outfitted with light weight aluminum extensions up to 72″ long. They also can be outfitted with a chip shield for eye protection.  If you need to get into a tight spot we have Stay Set Hoses mounted on the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun or Soft Grip Safety Air Guns.

That’s more options than you can get on your Chevy.  Give an Application Engineer a call, if you have any questions.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

Everybody Wants Options II

Justin Nicholl, I hear you loud and clear about how Everybody Wants Options. I would go so far as to say a lot of people NEED options. This was evident in an application that I had the pleasure of assisting a caller with recently. They make plastic parts for the automotive industry, and manually remove them from a conveyor line, where the operators experience a nuisance static shock. This static charge also presents a problem when the parts are packaged for shipping, so there are two great reasons for getting rid of it right there.

On to the options: they weren’t sure if they wanted to mount something over the conveyor (like a Super Ion Air Knife or Ion Air Cannon,) or if they wanted to have manual, precise control (as with an Ion Air Gun.) I recommended that they try the Ion Air Gun…for ease of setup, it can’t be beat: you can literally go from opening the box to blowing ionized air in a matter of minutes, provided you’ve got a compressed air line and an electrical outlet within reach. If it is indeed successful in eliminating the static charge (and this is a VERY common & successful application,) then the only question is: Will the operator want to have another hand free? If so, they can return the Ion Air Gun for full credit per our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee, and get either the Super Ion Air Knife or Ion Air Cannon; whichever they choose. In fact, it’s very likely that using the Ion Air Gun for a little while will better inform their decision.

EXAIR Static Eliminators: Mount in place, or hold in your hand.

EXAIR Static Eliminators: Mount in place, or hold in your hand.

EXAIR product lines, across the board, are rife with options. I wrote a while back about a purchasing agent who got a request for “the largest, most powerful air gun they’ve got” and ordered a 6′ Super Blast Safety Air Gun (with a 1-1/4” NPT connection, 6 foot extension, and a whopping 23lbs of force) when they just wanted to blow off some chips from their machine tools. Again, we used the 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee to get them a 6″ Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun (3/8” NPT connection, 6 inch extension, and a very usable 13oz of force.)

1218-6 1310-6 blog

Another user recently tried a Stainless Steel Line Vac – the product they needed to convey was too abrasive for an aluminum Line Vac – but they just weren’t getting the conveyance rate they wanted. No problem…the Model 150200 2” Heavy Duty Line Vac is made of an abrasion resistant hardened alloy, and boosts conveyance performance dramatically. The dimensions were the same, so the new one dropped right in, saving them from exploring the option of re-plumbing their lines.

all lv blog

Regardless of your compressed air product needs, EXAIR is the most likely solution:

*Super Air Knives are available in lengths from 3” to 108”. They come in aluminum, 303 or 316 grade Stainless Steel, and PVDF plastic (with Hastelloy-C fasteners and Teflon shims for the most aggressive installations.) This is, by far, the most options you’ll find in the industry. And they’re all in stock…waiting until next week doesn’t have to be an option.

*Cabinet Cooler Systems come in capacities from 550 BTU/hr to 5,600 BTU/hr. Whether your enclosure needs NEMA 12 (oil tight, dust tight, indoor duty), NEMA 4 (splash resistant) or NEMA 4X (corrosion resistant,) we’ve got it. And yes, they’re in stock.

*If you need to move a lot of air, or draw a vacuum, our Adjustable Air Amplifiers and Adjustable E-Vacs, respectively, offer you infinite options in range of performance with the simple twist of a locking ring.

You want options? We’ve got them. You want help narrowing them down? Call us.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
www.exair.com
twitter.com/exair_rb
facebook.com/exair

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Selecting the Right Air Gun is a Key for Success

Last week I wrote about the OSHA requirements for using compressed air for cleaning in “How to Meet the OSHA Compressed Air Standard“. That was a title only an engineer could love. It was functional and with no flash. In my quest to write to my audience, I’m going back to the well today. I want to talk about using the right tool for the right job.

Every engineer worth his salt knows that using the wrong tool to do the job can make the task at hand ten times harder, than it needs to be…

And every weekend warrior of home, or automotive repair has used the wrong tool for the job. Most of the time these tools are going to work in a pinch. But when they don’t work, they can fail spectacularly. Yes, the flat head screw driver might be able to turn the Phillips head screw, but it can also strip the screw or slip out and dent the wall. Yes, the adjustable wrench works on quite a few different bolts, and will work as a weak hammer in a pinch, but when you have to go back in the house to get a rubber mallet, the socket set and discard the pieces of your broken wrench, you will wish you had the right tool in the first place.

I want to include the importance of using the right air gun for the job. Our priority for specifying air guns (and some would argue,  in life) should be safety first. Protecting the people using our products is the most important task. The best way to protect them is to specify the right Safety Air Gun to get the job done.

How can getting the right air gun increase safety? If we have the right tool for the job, we can avoid modifications to the safety features of our air gun. Below are two examples of what we see on a regular basis.

crushed air gun

Air escaping this gun will be LOUD, annoying and violates OSHA standard 1910.242(b).

Open Air Gun

Nothing says I’m costing the company money like a wide open air gun – and it’s DANGEROUS.

 

The air guns above belong to new customer, who had provided air guns with a cross drilled nozzle to the employees in their shop. The employees gave up their homemade air guns and managed to comply with OSHA standards for a few minutes, some may have even reached hours of safety…

I can almost envision the sequence of events… The OSHA inspector warns or fines the company for using  blow offs which violate the standards for pressure and/or noise exposure. Management makes certain the guns get replaced, Supervision or engineering finds a cheap quick solution, and no one checks to see, if the air gun can do the work. Workers find that the new air guns don’t have the same force, so they start altering the nozzles and guns to get the job done.

Several months pass. The OSHA inspector returns. The company is still fined for violating Directive Number STD01-13-001 standard 1910.242(b), because their blow offs can be dead ended and they are using a pressure higher than 30 PSIG. Also, a noise audit finds that the sound level in the plant is higher, than it has ever been, so all employees are now required to wear hearing protection.

Not quite the fix that everyone thought. Modifying air guns and/or air nozzles can create additional safety hazards for employees and increase compressed air expenses. Consider engineered Safety Air Guns and our line of Super Air Nozzles when looking for a safe and efficient solution to your processes and compressed air applications.

Left-right:  Precision, Soft Grip w/Stay Set Hose, Heavy Duty w/Rigid Extension, & Super Blast Safety Air Guns

Here are some legitimate solutions for increasing safety and decreasing noise. Left to right: Precision Safety Air Gun, Soft Grip Safety air Gun w/Stay Set Hose, Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun w/Rigid Extension, & Super Blast Safety Air Gun.

At EXAIR, we strive to provide our customers the support and guidance, which they require to run a company safely and efficiently. We offer an efficiency lab to test any homemade blow offs, guns or nozzles.  Once we have tested these pieces for force, flow, and noise, we can specify a nozzle, safety air gun, air amplifier, or air knife that will meet the force requirement, while saving compressed air and lowering the noise level. Please contact an Application Engineer today to get your employees the right tool to do their job safely every time.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

 

How to Meet the OSHA Compressed Air Standard

Every day we talk to customers who need to comply with OSHA regulations for using compressed air to clean up their shop or product. Back in 1972 on Valentine’s Day, OSHA published Directive Number STD01-13-001 standard 1910.242(b), which strives to provide guidance on how manufacturers can safely use compressed air for cleaning purposes to comply with the Walsh-Healey Act of 1936.  This directive laid out acceptable methods for complying with 41CFR 50-204.8 and 29 CFR 1910.242(b)

The two methods are very simple, but still many people have questions.  The first method (pictured below) is to regulate the line pressure from the compressor to below 30 PSIG.

Regulator Method

Figure 1 Regulator method Photo Courtesy of osha.gov

The second method is to install a nozzle engineered to reduce the static pressure of the nozzle to less than 30 PSIG.

OSHA Nozzle Method

Figure 2 Nozzle method Photo Courtesy of osha.gov

The first method reduces the danger by limiting the energy in the system to less than an amount which can injure a person.  OSHA determined that 30 PSIG was the safe limit for the amount of pressure the human body could withstand without causing severe injury. The problem with this method is that cleaning with compressed air at 30 psig is virtually impossible.  Which means at such a low pressure the operator must pass the nozzle so close to the chips and debris, he might as well use a broom or pick each piece of debris up with his fingers. This first method I will label the regulator method. The second method introduces a relief valve at the nozzle, so that an operator cannot block off all of the openings of the nozzle, and build up any static pressure on their skin. I will call this the nozzle method.

Commonly and cheaply, the nozzle method is done by cross drilling a hole in an open pipe.  This is a sometimes effective method for protecting employees from static pressure, but it also is great at producing a tremendous amount of noise and wasting a lot of compressed air every year. The noise produced by even a ¼ pipe with a cross drilled hole fed with 80 PSIG can easily exceed 90 dBA and consume up to 140 SCFM. The noise can be even louder, if there are burrs or rough edges from drilling out the pipe.  This is also a violation of OSHA standard 29 CFR – 1910.95 (a), if the employee is not using hearing protection.

Air Nozzle work

To meet this OSHA standard, EXAIR’s solution is to engineer features which cannot be dead-ended into a wide variety of compressed air products. We do this a variety of ways depending on the product.  For the Super Air Nozzles, we utilize multiple small orifices which are protected by raised fins.  The multiple orifices offer an escape path for the air in case a single orifice is plugged. The fins protect the orifices so that no one person can block more than one orifice at a time.

So if you are worried about an OSHA inspector knocking on your door, or maybe you aren’t sure if you should be worried, contact us.  The Application Engineering team here will help you determine what engineered solution you need to keep those pesky fines away.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

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