The supply side of a compressed air system has many critical parts that factor in to how well the system operates and how easily it can be maintained. Dryers for the compressed air play a… More
Many times EXAIR products are used to help sort materials based on their weight or their density by providing a consistent force against a series of targets that should be of the same density or weight, but when they are not, the airflow can be “tuned” to remove the non-conforming parts.
In this case, our customer (a packaging automation specialist) was working with a form fill and seal machine that was dedicated to making pouches 2” x 8” and filling them with a food product. In some cases, the pouches would not become filled with product and needed to be removed from the line. So, our customer devised a way to mount model 6042 2” Adjustable Air Amplifier along-side the travel of the pouches and set the input pressure and air gap setting to get optimum vacuum capture velocity to suck away empty ones and leave the full ones in-tact. Above you can see a photo that the customer took while mocking up the application at their facility. You can see the hose connected to the output to direct the empty pouches to a wire basket below.
A couple of things in this application made use of the Adjustable Air Amplifier the best choice. The first was the funnel-shaped suction area on the back side of the Adjustable Air Amplifier. This optimizes the Air Amplifier’s ability to draw in ambient air to propel it to the outlet. In doing this the un-filled, light-weight, plastic pouch becomes caught in the high velocity stream and thus gets carried away as desired. The second thing is that since compressed air is the source of power, the customer has infinite adjustability over the amount of suction force that they can apply to the pouch in the application. They can adjust the air gap opening on the Adjustable Air Amplifier to have a coarse adjustment of air consumption as well as vacuum level. Then, they have a finer adjustment that a pressure regulator can provide to really dial in the suction force as they need it to be for removal of the empties.
The idea here is that while Air Amplifiers are generally used for their output flow to cool targets and provide a significant Blowoff force, they can also be used to draw in not only smoke and fumes but also other lightweight items like the empty pouches above.
If you have a need to set up any kind of sorting process, maybe just to separate two different recycling streams or perhaps it is a need to perform a quality control function as shown above, think about EXAIR and our many solutions in this area.
A few weeks ago I was on vacation with my family. My wife and I had taken our three daughters to Columbus, OH for three days after camping in a tent for a few days. One of the focal points to the trip was COSI, the Center of Science and Industry. In case you live anywhere near Columbus, OH and have not heard of how amazing this interactive museum is, you should definitely check it out. This isn’t your normal museum.
While the Mythic Creatures exhibit and the Jim Henson exhibit were both absolutely amazing for my 9, 6 and 4 year old daughters, it was also entertaining for my wife and myself. Now you may be asking what does this interactive science place and trip with kids have to do with EXAIR.
Well, while my daughters and I were watching this enormous pendulum that knocks ball bearings off boxes every few minutes I could hear that all too familiar, gentle sound of compressed air blowing every now and then. I couldn’t however see where the noise was coming from.
As we wandered through the different sections I saw several examples of compressed air use but none were the exact sound or display I had heard. When we were walking through the Space exhibit just above where the pendulum was located and that gentle sound was getting closer. All of a sudden I saw it. Next thing I know I look up and my 6 year old was using a joystick to control a scaled down Lunar Lander propelling it in circles. This was where the sound was coming from.
While I was amazed by this interactive piece I could tell they were using compressed air and I was curious as to how it was working. That’s when I noticed the distinct design of our Nano Super Air Nozzle on the bottom of the Lander. Here’s a close up picture, well as close as the handrail would allow me to get without over reaching.
The interesting part to this is how this setup gives an idea of the amount of thrust given off by a nozzle that only consumes 8.3 SCFM of compressed air when powered at 80 psig inlet pressure. These nozzles can easily be fitted to blast debris or moisture out of small pockets or hard to reach areas. They also can be used to help direct product that may be getting diverted to a new conveyor. And, obviously, they can be used to propel scale models of lunar landers.
If you would like to discuss any application for point of use compressed air, and I do mean ANY, give us a call. If I can’t help with the application we will at the very least do our best to send you in the right direction.
At EXAIR we’ve been providing enclosure cooling solutions for decades, and in many cases those cooling solutions have remained in place for decades as well. In the time we’ve been in the market with industrial enclosure cooling solutions we’ve encountered a number of alternative means for enclosure cooling. One of those methods is an air-to-air heat exchanger.
An air-to-air heat exchanger uses the temperature differential between the ambient air surrounding an enclosure and the hot air inside an enclosure to create a cooling effect. A closed loop system exchanges the heat inside the enclosure with the outside air in an effort to maintain a set internal temperature. The heat exchange of most air-to-air unit relies on a heat pipe, a heat-transfer device which converts an internal refrigerant liquid into vapor by placing one end of the pipe in contact with the hot environment. The heated vapor travels to the other end of the pipe which is in contact with a cooler environment. The vapor condenses back into a liquid (releasing latent heat) and returning to the hot end of the pipe and the cycle repeats.
But, this type of a solution does give some cause for concern, especially when considering their use in an industrial environment. Here are the key points to keep in mind when comparing an air-to-air cooler to an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler.
Required temperature differential based on ambient air temp
An air-to-air heat exchange relies on the ΔT between the ambient air temperature and the internal enclosure air temperature to produce cooling. If this ΔT is low, or the ambient temperature rises, cooling is diminished. This means that as the temperatures in your facility begin to rise, air-to-air heat exchangers become less and less effective. Larger air-to-air heat exchangers can be used, but these may be even larger than the enclosure itself.
EXAIR Cabinet Coolers rely on the ΔT between the cold air temperature from the Cabinet Cooler (normally ~20°F) and the desired internal enclosure temperature (normally 95°F). The cold air temperature from the Cabinet Cooler is unaffected by increases in ambient temperatures. The large ΔT and high volume cold air flow produced by a Cabinet Cooler results in more cooling capacity. And, we can increase cooling capacity from a Cabinet Cooler without increasing its physical footprint, which is already much, much smaller than an air-to-air type of unit.
Cooling in high temperature environments
Due to their nature of operation, an air-to-air heat exchanger must have an ambient temperature which is lower than the desired internal temperature of the enclosure. If the ambient air has a higher temperature, air-to-air units provide zero cooling.
Cabinet Coolers, on the other hand, can be used in hot, high temperature environments up to 200°F (93°C).
Cooling in dirty environments
Dirt in the ambient environment will impact cooling performance with an air-to-air heat exchanger. In order for the air-to-air unit to effectively remove heat, the heat pipe must have access to ambient air. With any exposure to the ambient environment comes the possibility for the ambient end of the heat pipe to become covered in ambient contaminants such as dust. This dust will create an insulation barrier between the heat pipe and the ambient air, decreasing the ability for the heat pipe to condense the vapors within. Because of this, most air-to-air devices use filters to separate the heat pipe from the ambient environment. But, when these filters become clogged, access to ambient temperatures are reduced, and cooling capacity of the air-to-air unit reduces as well.
Cabinet Coolers have no problem operating in dirty environments. In fact, it is one of their strengths. Without any moving parts to wear out or any need to contact ambient air for cooling purposes, a dirty environment poses no problems. In fact, check out this blog post (and this one) about EXAIR Cabinet Coolers operating maintenance free for years in dirty environments.
Size and time required to install
Air-to-air heat exchangers vary in size, but even the smallest units can have large dimensions. Many applications have limited space on the enclosure, and a large, bulky solution can be prohibitive. Couple this with the time and modification required to the enclosure to install a large air-to-air unit, and the “solution” may end up bringing additional problems.
Another key aspect of the Cabinet Cooler is its size. Small, compact, and easy to mount on the top or side of an enclosure, Cabinet Coolers install in minutes to remove overheating problems.
Heat within an electrical cabinet can be a major issue for manufacturing companies. The costs associated with down time and repairs on sensitive electronics that fail due to heat or environmental contaminants, are an unnecessary burden. If you have any questions about how an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler can solve problems in your facility, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.
My colleague, Lee Evans, wrote a blog about calculating the size of primary receiver tanks within a compressed air system. (You can read it here: Receiver Tank Principle and Calculations). I would like to expand a bit more about secondary receiver tanks. They can be strategically placed throughout the plant to improve your compressed air system. The primary receiver tanks help to protect the supply side when demands are high, and the secondary receiver tanks help systems on the demand side to optimize performance.
I like to compare the pneumatic system to an electrical system. The receiver tanks are like capacitors. They store energy produced by an air compressor like a capacitor stores energy from an electrical source. If you have ever seen an electrical circuit board, you notice many capacitors with different sizes throughout the circuit board (reference photo above). The reason is to have a ready source of energy to increase efficiency and speed for the ebbs and flows of electrical signals. The same can be said for the secondary receiver tanks in a pneumatic system.
To tie this to a compressed air system, if you have an area that requires a high volume of compressed air intermittently, a secondary receiver tank would benefit this system. There are valves, cylinders, actuators, and pneumatic controls which turn on and off. And in most situations, very quickly. To maximize speed and efficiency, it is important to have a ready source of air nearby to supply the necessary amount quickly.
For calculating a minimum volume size for your secondary receiver tank, we can use Equation 1 below. It is the same as sizing a primary receiver tank, but the scalars are slightly different. The secondary receivers are located to run a certain machine or area. The supply line to this tank will typically come from a header pipe that supplies the entire facility. Generally, it is smaller in diameter; so, we have to look at the air supply that it can feed into the tank. For example, a 1” NPT Schedule 40 Pipe at 100 PSIG can supply a maximum of 150 SCFM of air flow. This value is used for Cap below. C is the largest air demand for the machine or targeted area that will be using the tank. If the C value is less than the Cap value, then a secondary tank is not needed. If the Cap is below the C value, then we can calculate the smallest volume that would be needed. The other value is the minimum tank pressure. In most cases, a regulator is used to set the air pressure for the machine or area. If the specification is 80 PSIG, then you would use this value as P2. P1 is the header pressure that will be coming into the secondary tank. With this collection of information, you can use Equation 1 to calculate the minimum tank volume. So, any larger volume would fit the requirement as a secondary receiver tank.
Secondary Receiver tank capacity formula (Equation 1)
V = T * (C – Cap) * (Pa) / (P1-P2)
V – Volume of receiver tank (cubic feet)
T – Time interval (minutes)
C – Air demand for system (cubic feet per minute)
Cap – Supply value of inlet pipe (cubic feet per minute)
Pa – Absolute atmospheric pressure (PSIA)
P1 – Header Pressure (PSIG)
P2 – Regulated Pressure (PSIG)
If you find that your pneumatic devices are lacking in performance because the air pressure seems to drop during operation, you may need to add a secondary receiver to that system. For any intermittent design, the tank can store that energy like a capacitor to optimize the performance. EXAIR stocks 60 Gallon tanks, model 9500-60 to add to those specific locations, If you have any questions about using a receiver tank in your application, primary or secondary, you can contact an EXAIR Application Engineer. We can restore that efficiency and speed back into your application.
On a recent visit with our Hungarian Distributor, I had the pleasure of visiting an automotive leather manufacturing plant. They process and cut to order a wide variety of different styles of leather used in the manufacturing of European automobiles. In one of their machines, a grinding process is performed that smooths out the cut edges of the material before they’re stitched together.
The grinding process itself is self-contained within the machine, but the significant amount of leather dust created needs to be periodically cleaned out. If not, it ends up accumulating on some of the internal components and increasing the downtime and maintenance required on the machine. Due to this, they implemented a 2x per shift cleaning operation.
The machine has several tight spaces inside where the dust accumulates. They’d shut off the machine and blow out the dust. Then, sweep up all of the dust into a dustpan and dump it in the trash. This entire process took approximately 30 minutes each time for 1-hr/shift. With three shifts operating 24/7, that’s 3-hrs/day of lost production time for this particular cleaning process, still less than what they were experiencing as a result of the machine downtime when they weren’t regularly cleaning it.
However, the primary concern of theirs was that they were now blowing dust all over the shop causing a potential health hazard to their operators. They wanted a solution that would allow them to clean the machine, without presenting an additional hazard. We tested with a Mini Chip Vac first, but the dust was a bit too fine and was still passing through the filter bag.
For fine dusts such as this, the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac is the more suitable option. After testing the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac, it was clear that this was the solution they were hoping for. The high-powered vacuum made quick work of the dust inside, while keeping it contained inside of the drum by the HEPA filter.
They still need to stop and clean the machine out 2x/shift, but now the process only took 10 minutes. They reduced their overall downtime on this machine per day by 2/3 to just 1hr, while keeping their operators safe. While this wasn’t the reason for looking at new solutions, it was definitely an added benefit. If you’re looking for a maintenance-free vacuum system for cleaning up in your facility, EXAIR has a wide range of Industrial Housekeeping solutions available from stock.
If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:
This guideline is as comprehensive as you want it to be. It’s been applied, in small & large facilities, as the framework for a formal set of procedures, followed in order, with the goal of large scale reductions in the costs associated with the operation of compressed air systems…and it works like a charm. Others have “stepped” in and out, knowing already where some of their larger problems were – if you can actually hear or see evidence of leaks, your first step doesn’t necessarily have to be the installation of a Digital Flowmeter.
Here are some ways you may be able to “step” in and out to realize opportunities for savings on your use of compressed air:
- Power: I’m not saying you need to run out & buy a new compressor, but if yours is
aging, requires more frequent maintenance, doesn’t have any particular energy efficiency ratings, etc…you might need to run out & buy a new compressor. Or at least consult with a reputable air compressor dealer about power consumption. You might not need to replace the whole compressor system if it can be retrofitted with more efficient controls.
- Pressure: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure. In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental for the pressure to be too high. Depending on the layout of your compressed air supply lines, your header pressure may be set a little higher than the load with the highest required pressure, and that’s OK. If it’s significantly higher, intermediate storage (like EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank, shown on the right) may be worth looking into. Keep in mind, every 2psi increase in your header pressure means a 1% increase (approximately) in electric cost for your compressor operation. Higher than needed pressures also increase wear and tear on pneumatic tools, and increase the chances of leaks developing.
- Consumption: Much like newer technologies in compressor design contribute to higher efficiency & lower electric power consumption, engineered compressed air products will use much less air than other methods. A 1/4″ copper tube is more than capable of blowing chips & debris away from a machine tool chuck, but it’s going to use as much as 33 SCFM. A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (shown on the right) can do the same job and use only 14 SCFM. This one was installed directly on to the end of the copper tube, quickly and easily, with a compression fitting.
- Leaks: These are part of your consumption, whether you like it or not. And you shouldn’t like it, because they’re not doing anything for you, AND they’re costing you money. Fix all the leaks you can…and you can fix them all. Our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector (right) can be critical to your efforts in finding these leaks, wherever they may be.
- Pressure, part 2: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure (seems I’ve heard that before?) Controlling the pressure required for individual applications, at the point of use, keeps your header pressure where it needs to be. All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product Kits come with a Pressure Regulator (like the one shown on the right) for this exact purpose.
Air Quality: Dirty air isn’t good for anything. It’ll clog (and eventually foul) the inner workings of pneumatic valves, motors, and cylinders. It’s particularly detrimental to the operation of engineered compressed air products…it can obstruct the flow of Air Knives & Air Nozzles, hamper the cooling capacity of Vortex Tubes & Spot Cooling Products, and limit the vacuum (& vacuum flow) capacity of Vacuum Generators, Line Vacs, and Air Amplifiers.
Everyone here at EXAIR Corporation wants you to get the most out of your compressed air use. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.
On our Website we have a comprehensive database of applications we have worked on with our products. These are pretty easy to find, Johns Blog will walk you through the process on how to access these applications. While John covered Compressed Air Use in the Construction Industry, I will be covering Compressed Air Use in Food and Beverage Industry.
EXAIR products are very commonly used in the food and beverage industry, from blowing water off cans before labeling, to conveying food products to hoppers for processing. See three examples from our application data base;
Use our Application Assistance Worksheet to submit information about your application. When you submit this information, we will respond with our recommendation for the EXAIR product best suited for the application. Please complete the Application Assistance Worksheet and click submit or print the completed .pdf file and fax it to us at (513) 671-3363. For immediate help, call our Application Engineering Department at 1 800 903-9247.