In a recent blog “EXAIR Super Air Knives: Overview”, I shared the features and benefits that puts the “Super” in the Super Air Knives. But, let’s not define ourselves by our widest range of lengths… More
Well the dog days of summer have come to an end, and the cold dry air of winter is on the horizon! There’s one other thing that comes along with the cold dry air of winter, and that’s SANTA! (Sorry that was the child in me).
Actually, it’s STATIC! During the warmer months the moisture in the air does a good job at eliminating a good amount of excess static charge. But as that cold dry air comes into play you need another way to rid your production of static or things will start to go wrong.
In many painting or finishing applications dust and debris from the ambient environment can settle on the part prior to painting or coating. Just blowing them off with a standard air gun won’t remove all of the particles if they’re statically charged. The static must be neutralized in order to remove it or it’ll cause imperfections in the paint or coating. This often results in a high amount of rejected parts that must be scrapped out.
Other processes that benefit from static removal include printing, slitting, molding, sheeting/trimming, shrink wrapping and packaging.
Break out your fall / winter gear and enjoy the cooler weather and activities that accompany the coming of Fall, but don’t let static wreak havoc in your processes. EXAIR has a wide range of solutions available that are designed to solve these problems. Give an Application Engineer a call and we’ll be happy to help recommend the best solution.
So where exactly did compressed air come from? How did it become so widely used and where will it go? Both of these are great questions and the answers lie below.
Compressed air can be traced all the way back to the classic bellows that were used to fuel blacksmith fires and forges. These started as hand pumped bellows, they then scaled up to foot pumped, multiple person pumped, oxen or horse driven and then eventually waterwheel driven. All of these methods came about due to the demand for more and more compressed air. These bellows did not generate near the amount of air pressure or volume needed for modern day practices yet they worked in the times. These early bellows pumps would even supply miners with air.
With the evolution of metallurgy and industry these bellows were replaced by wheel driven fans, then steam came about and began generating more industrial sources of power. The main issue with steam was that it would lose its power over longer runs of pipe due to condensing in the pipes. Thus the birth of the air compressor was born. One of the largest projects that is noted to first use compressed air was in 1861 during the build of the Mont Cenis Tunnel in Switzerland in which they used compressed air machinery. From here the constant need and evolution for on-demand compressed air expanded. The picture below showcases two air compressors from 1896.
The compressors evolved over time from single stage, to two-stage reciprocating, on to compound, rotary-screw compressors, rotary vane, scroll, turbo, and centrifugal compressors with variable frequency drives. The efficiency of each evolution has continued to increase. More output for the same amount of input. Now we see a two-stage compressor, considered old technology, and wonder how the company can get any work done.
All of the technological advances in compressor technology were driven by the demand sides of the compressed air systems. Companies needed to power more, go further, get more from less, ultimately increase production. With this constant increase in demand, the supply of compressed air increased and more efficient products for using compressed air began to evolve so the air was used more efficiently.
Enter EXAIR, we evolved the blowoff to meet the increasing demands of industrial companies to get the same amount of work done with less compressed air. We have continually evolved our product offering since 1983. It all started with just a few typed pages of part numbers and has evolved to a 208 page catalog offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® for industry. We will also continue to evolve our product designs for continued improvement of compressed air usage. This is all to better help companies retain their resources.
If your company uses compressed air and you aren’t sure if it is efficiently being utilized, contact an Application Engineer. Thanks for joining us for the brief history lesson, we look forward to hearing from you and seeing what the future brings.
Compressed air (1896) (14594022618).jpg – Wikimedia Commons – Internet Archive Book Images – Link
Many of us get up in the morning, and start our day with a fresh cup of coffee. I do. I enjoy the taste of that warm beverage as it hits my lips. But, have you ever thought about the journey of a coffee bean from the fields to your cupboard? I would like to share a little insight on this journey and how the EXAIR Line Vacs could be a helpful tool for coffee production.
There are over 70 countries that pick coffee beans for export. In 2018, the International Coffee Organization reported almost 170 million bags of coffee had been exported around the world. That is a lot of coffee. Each bag of coffee beans weighs 60 Kilograms (132 lbs.) and is difficult to handle manually. Line Vacs could be that vital instrument to help speed up the processes and reduce that back-breaking work.
Let’s start at the beginning. Coffee beans are seeds that are produced on small trees or bushes. During harvest time, the cherries (coffee seeds) are picked when ripe, and they need to be dried. This can be done in two ways; the dry method or the wet method. Each process has to be done quickly to prevent spoilage. With the dry method, the beans are spread out on a table or grate to be dried by the sun. In most cases, the beans will have to be stored in bins at night or during rain. This drying process can last for several weeks, and the continuous movement of the beans is labor intensive. For the wet method, this process uses water channels to isolate the heavier ripe beans, so that they can be separated by size in rotating drums. They are then placed into large fermentation tanks to remove the outer skin layer. The wet beans are then placed inside large driers to remove the excess water content. In both methods, the green coffee beans are packed into sacks for exportation.
When the green coffee beans arrive to their destination, they will have to be roasted. This will convert the green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans that are sold at your favorite market or coffee shop. In large operations, the green coffee beans are screened and stored in bins waiting to be roasted. The roasting process uses hot air to “cook” the green coffee beans. The temperature range and time will create your different types of roasts; light roast, medium roast, and dark roast. Industrial roasting machines have loaders on top to drop the green beans into a preheated rotating drum. Some machines can roast 100 kg (220 lbs.) of beans at one time. The time for roasting is between 12 – 15 minutes, depending on the type of roast. At this frequency, you can tell the “need for speed” to keep the coffee roasters operating. Once finished, the roasted beans are dumped into a cooling tray until they can be handled. From there, the beans are tested, qualified, and packaged for sale.
For coffee brewing, the roasted beans will need to be ground. Grinding is an important process to get the most flavor from your coffee beans. Commercial sized grinders will blend multiple kinds of roasted coffee beans and grind them to a desired grain size. The grind size is very important and has to match your type of brewing. For example, espresso uses fine grinds, drip-type coffee uses medium grinds, and cold brews and French presses use coarse grinds. Grinding is an art as you have to match the coarseness with the contact time in hot water. As a rule, if your coffee tastes too bitter, then the grinds are too fine. If your coffee tastes flat, then the grinds are too coarse. You have to experiment with different blends of roasted coffee beans, grind particle sizes, and brewing types to get that perfect cup of java for you.
So, if you are reading this article while sipping on a cup of coffee, let me tell you a secret about the journey of the coffee bean. For every stage above, an EXAIR Line Vac has been sold and used to transport the coffee beans. From the coffee fields to the grinding house, Line Vacs are a great device for companies to move beans quickly and safely without manual labor. The life of a coffee bean is only successful if it is able to reach your cupboard. And Line Vacs can be beneficial with that success. If you would like to discuss the types of materials that we stock, the sizes, connections types and conveyance rates, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.
The cheapest and easiest solution isn’t always necessarily the best. The best example I like to use to highlight this is the incandescent light bulb. They’re definitely the cheapest to buy, but over the useful life it will cost more in electricity to operate and it won’t last nearly as long as an LED light bulb. When you compare the costs of electricity as well as the lifespan of an incandescent bulb, it becomes quite clear that the initial price difference between the two will be quickly recouped over the lifetime of the LED bulb. Once it pays for itself, it doesn’t just stop saving you electricity. These savings continue to compound.
The same can be said when comparing the Super Air Knife to a commonly seen homemade alternative, drilled pipe. While it only takes a matter of minutes to drill a few holes into a section of pipe, the operating costs (electricity required to generate the compressed air) are significantly higher than that of the Super Air Knife. In addition, it’s not nearly as effective and is considered unsafe under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.242 (b) and depending on operating pressure is likely also considered dangerous due to the high sound levels as outlined in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95(a).
Air exiting out of drilled holes in a pipe will create a turbulent airstream. This turbulence not only contributes to the high sound level but it’s ability to entrain surrounding ambient air is minuscule. The air entrainment ratio of a compressed air solution refers to the relationship between supplied compressed air and the free ambient air that is brought into the primary airstream. The higher the amplification ratio, the less compressed air necessary to complete a similar task. For a drilled pipe, the amplification ratio is generally around 3:1. With the Super Air Knife, this is dramatically increased with an amplification ratio of 40:1.
The Super Air Knife has a precisely set air gap across the full length of the knife, allowing for an efficient and quiet laminar airstream. When compared to a drilled pipe, the air consumption is dramatically reduced as is the sound level. For example, let’s take an 18” section of drilled pipe, with 1/16” diameter holes spaced out every ½”. At 80 PSIG, each hole consumes 3.8 SCFM. With a total of 37 holes, this equates to a total of 140.6 SCFM.
3.8 SCFM x 37 = 140.6 SCFM
A Super Air Knife, operated at 80 PSIG with .002” stock shim installed will consume a total of 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife. An 18” SAK would then consume just 52.2 SCFM.
2.9 SCFM x 18 = 52.2 SCFM
140.6 SCFM – 52.2 SCFM = 88.4 SCFM saved
Replacing an 18” drilled pipe with a Super Air Knife represents a total reduction in compressed air consumption of 63%! How much does this equate to in $$$? A reasonable average of cost to generate compressed air is about $0.25/ 1000 SCF. Let’s assume just a 40hr workweek:
88.4 SCFM x 60 mins x $0.25/1000 SCF = $1.33/hr
$1.33 x 40hr workweek = $53.20 USD
$53.20 x 52 weeks/year = $2,766.40 USD in yearly savings
The 2019 list price on a Model 110018 Super Air Knife is $397.00. By replacing the homemade solution with an 18” Super Air Knife, the return on investment is just over 38 working days of an 8-hr shift. If your plant runs multiple shifts, or works on weekends, it pays for itself even quicker.
Once the knife has paid for itself, it doesn’t just simply stop saving you money. That savings continues to compound and add to your bottom line. Don’t waste unnecessary air (and money) by using solutions that aren’t engineered to do the job in a safe and efficient manner. Reach out to an Application Engineer and get yourself an Intelligent Compressed Air Product that’s Built to Last.
Light bulb photo courtesy of Pixabay.
In 1983, EXAIR Corporation was founded with the goal of engineering & manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry. By 1988, the EXAIR-Knife (now known as the Standard Air Knife) was quickly becoming the preferred choice for replacing loud and inefficient drilled pipes, long nozzle manifolds…anywhere an even, high velocity curtain of air was required.
The EXAIR Standard Air Knife’s design takes advantage of a fascinating principle of fluidics to achieve quiet and efficient operation: the Coanda Effect, which is the tendency of a fluid jet to stay attached to a convex surface. If you want to see it for yourself, hold the back of a spoon, handle up, under the kitchen faucet. Those who haven’t seen it before may assume that gravity will take over and the water will fall from the bottom of the spoon’s ‘bowl’ – but it doesn’t:
Likewise, the air flow (which is just another example of a fluid jet) exiting the Standard Air Knife’s shim gap follows a convex surface (which we call the “Coanda profile”) causing it to entrain large amounts of air from the surrounding environment:
This entrainment does two things for us:
- First, because we’ve engineered the design for maximum entrainment, it’s very efficient – creating a high flow rate, while minimizing air consumption. In the case of the Standard Air Knife, the entrainment ratio is 30:1.
- Secondly, this entrainment forms an attenuating boundary layer for the air flow, resulting in a high velocity, high volume airflow that is also incredibly quiet.
The EXAIR Standard Air Knife comes in lengths from 3″ to 48″, and in aluminum or 303SS construction. All sizes, in both materials, are on the shelf and available for immediate shipment. For most applications, we recommend the Kit, which includes a Shim Set (to make gross changes to flow & force,) an Automatic Drain Filter Separator (keeps the air clean & moisture free,) and a Pressure Regulator (to dial in the performance.) Deluxe Kits add our Universal Air Knife Mounting System and EFC Electronic Flow Control.
If you need a hard hitting curtain of air for blow off, drying, cleaning, cooling, environmental separation, etc., the EXAIR Standard Air Knife is an easy and economical solution. If you’d like to discuss your application and/or product selection, give me a call.
With 119 distinct Models, EXAIR Line Vacs are used to convey everything from down feather to steel shot. They’re versatile, reliable, durable, and incredibly easy to install and operate. Most applications can be completed using one of our many stock Line Vacs. Additional applications include part transfer, waste or trim removal, hopper loading, filling operations, chip removal and fiber tensioning.
They are available from 3/8″ to 5″ diameters, for use with hose, tube or pipe. Line VAcs have smooth ends for hose or tube. The threaded models use NPT threads from 3/8 NPT to 3 NPT to turn ordinary pipe into an air conveyor! They can also be bought with sanitary flange ends for easy disassembly when necessary for cleaning or maintenance.
Materials include aluminum, Type 303 and Type 316 stainless steel or a hardened steel alloy for moving abrasive materials like garnet, glass, or blasting media.
With that being said, there are always applications that need a special product. And because of that we do make “special” or custom products when the need arises.
For example this Live Vac has the sanitary flange design, but the customer needed it made from a special material so their product passing through it wouldn’t be contaminated by metal. So we did just that, we designed built and shipped this line vac and it worked amazingly well!
Accessories include the transport hose, mounting brackets, filter and regulators. A filtering drum cover is very useful to keep material and/or dust inside, when transporting materials into a drum.
There is no denying it, saving compressed air is a process. This process often involves some type of energy audit or at the very least an evaluation of something going wrong with production and a way to improve it. Many programs, consultants, and sales reps will devise a solution for the problem.
Often times the solution is to create a more efficient supply side of the compressed air system. The supply side is essentially everything within the compressor room or located in close proximity to the actual air compressor. While optimizing the supply side can amount to savings, many of these solutions and services can involve great expense, or capital expenditure processes. These processes can often lead to delays and continued waste until the solution is in place. What if there was a way to lower compressed air usage, save energy, solve some demand issues on the compressed air system and save some money while the capital expenditure process goes through for the larger scale project.
These solutions are a simple call, chat, email or even fax away. Our Application Engineers are fully equipped to help determine what points of your compressed air demand side can be optimized. The process generally starts with our Six Steps To Compressed Air Optimization.
Once the points of use are evaluated the Application Engineer can give an engineered solution to provide some relief to the strain on your compressed air supply side. For instance, an open copper pipe blow off that is commonly seen within production environments can easily be replaced with a Super Air Nozzle on the end of a Stay Set Hose that will still bend and hold position like the copper pipe does while also saving compressed air, reducing noise level, and putting some capacity back into the supply side of the compressed air system.
One of the key parts to the solutions that we offer here at EXAIR is they all ship same day on orders received by 3 PM ET that are shipping within the USA. To top that off the cost is generally hundreds, rather than thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. Well under any level of a capital expenditure and can generally come in as a maintenance purchase or purchased quickly through the supply cribs. Then, to take this one step further, when the EXAIR solution shows up within days and gets installed EXAIR offers for you to send in the blow off that was replaced and receive a free report on what level of compressed air savings and performance increases you will be seeing and provide a simple ROI for that blow off (though we would also encourage a comparison before a purchase just so you have additional peace of mind).
This amounts to saving compressed air and understanding how much air is being saved, adding capacity back into your supply side which will reduce strain on the air compressor, give the ability to increase production while the capital expenditure for the end solution of controls and higher efficiency on the supply side is approved to then save even more compressed air and energy.
The point is this, savings and efficiency doesn’t have to involve a capital expenditure, if that is the end game for your project that is great! Let EXAIR provide you a solution that you can have in house by the next business day to save money NOW and then put that savings towards another project. No matter the method, it all starts with a call, chat, email or fax.