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

 

 

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
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

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

The (Not So) Dreaded Warranty Claim Call, Resolved

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about warranty claims…one, specifically, that I had recently received (it’s still worth a look even if you remember it well, just for another chance to see the old luggage commercial with the gorilla again.) I also advised my readers to stay tuned, which reminds me of another blast from my past as a kid who watched way too much TV in the early 1970’s…

same_bat-time_same_bat-channel

We did, in fact, receive and evaluate the failed Stay Set Hose. This is a formal process by which our Quality Control team analyzes all the information that I can give them as to the application, installation, and use of the product. They then perform a detailed inspection, evaluation, and test (if needed) of the product in question. I won’t say we never find manufacturing or assembly problems, but our records indicate we’ve never found the same one twice…we’re keenly aware that the first time may be a mistake, but the second time is a choice.

More often than not, we find the problem is due to easily correctable installation, operation, or air supply problems. In this case, when we inspected the bendable element, we could see that it had been subjected to an unsupported, twisting motion, which had fatigued it at the point where it was bent, and sheared it away from its internal connection.  The customer and I had already gone over the common best practices for their use (which included properly supporting the hose while bending…see pictures below,) so they got a replacement Stay Set Hose, and are back in operation.

Hose is being bent with one hand, with no support at the bending point.  DON'T DO THIS.

Hose is being bent with one hand, with no support at the bending point. DON’T DO THIS.

Hose is being held firmly at connection end, providing support for the element's connection inside the fitting.  DO THIS INSTEAD.

Hose is being held firmly at connection end, providing support for the element’s connection inside the fitting. DO THIS INSTEAD.

If you’ve got questions about how EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products…and accessories…can make better use of your compressed air, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

 

Ion Bars Remove Static, Help Improve Labeling Quality

I worked with a customer recently who was experiencing a static issue when trying to apply a bar coded label to their cardboard box. The boxes travel down a conveyor then passes by a labeler that uses a mechanical arm with air vacuum to hold the label in place. As the box passes by a sensor, the arm applies the label to the corner (front and side) and then the box passes by an applicator brush that ensures the label is firmly applied.

box_label

They were starting to see wrinkles in the label as it passed by the brush and were thinking the label was holding a static charge which was making it be rejected by the box during the process. They were experiencing this about every other box. When it would occur, they would need to stop the line and manually check to make sure the label was seated properly. As a result, this was negatively affecting their production time and increasing wasted labels.

Since they thought it was the label holding the static charge, they wanted to use one of our Ionizing Bars to remove the static from the label as it was attached to the arm. The Ionizing Bar produces a high concentration of positive and negative ions able to dissipate 5 kV in 0.30 seconds, 2” from the object’s surface. It is also UL listed for safety and RoHS compliant.

Ionizing Bars Work

The customer is local, so they asked if someone from EXAIR could visit their location and take a look at their process. I was able to make the appointment for the next morning and brought a few of our Static Eliminating products and a Static Meter to take some measurements. By measuring within 1” of the surface of the product, the Static Meter measures the voltage and polarity up to +/- 20 kV.

Upon arrival, I was directed to the labeler and took a measurement – I was only getting a reading of about 0.2 kV. I then decided to take a reading on the box itself as it traveled down the conveyor. Now I was getting a reading of 3 – 5 kV, which meant that it was the box and not the label that was holding the static charge.

Since the customer could get within 2” of the surface of the box, they were able to mount a 6” Ionizing Bar vertically to remove the static prior to the labeling process.  This helped to greatly reduce the downtime of the line.

If you have a similar issue or would like to discuss your particular application, please contact one of our Application Engineers at 1-800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
JustinNicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN

Cooling Efficiently

Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a customer who was trying to cool a thermoformed film from 85° C (185° F)  down to room temperature, 21° C (69.8° F) or low enough for the package to be handled by an operator. This container was 270 mm X 170 mm X 100 mm (10.63″ x 6.69″ x 3.94″)

Thermoformed packaging

In applications like this, the customer often calls in with the idea of using a Vortex Tube to produce the cold air.  There are two reasons to use a different product than a vortex tube in this application. First, a vortex tube is only going to cool a small area, so to cool anything this size would take several vortex tubes.  Second, the cold air is going to mix with the ambient air very quickly. When the ambient air mixes with the cold air from the vortex tube, the air will lose the cold temperature generated by the vortex tube. To counter act this mixing, we have had customers create an insulated container to hold cold air from a vortex tube close to a product, similar to a cooling tunnel. This works in some applications, but my customer had a continuously moving line. He did not have time to stop the line and install insulation around each product.  He also didn’t have the length of conveyor needed to put a cooling tunnel over the line.

Super Air Knife Promo

Instead of using the vortex tube, I suggested that he use a 12” (305 mm) Super Air Knife to cool the thermoformed container. The 12” Super Air Knife moves significantly more air than a vortex tube over the surface of the part. Thanks to the 40:1 amplification ration of the Super Air Knife, it creates more cooling to the product and use less compressed air than a series of Vortex Tubes.  By mixing a large volume of free ambient air, that is the same temperature he needs to cool the part to, and a small amount of compressed air over the product they can easily cool their part to close to ambient so the operator can handle the part. The best benefit for this customer was they would not need change their manufacturing line.  The air knife is the best choice when cooling a very hot, fairly flat, large surface part to a temperature close to ambient. If you need to cool a product to a temperature lower than room temperature, then a vortex tube would be a great product to do the job.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

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