Is Dust Creating a Problem in Your Inspection Process?

Do you have an automated inspection process that uses high speed inspection cameras? Do you also have problems with accumulated dust within the inspection system?  False reads causing rejects that otherwise would go on through as good product?

I was able to work on an application recently that had this exact problem. The application was for cardboard packaging used for medical products. Large sheets of printed cardboard are die cut and stacked so they can go through a subsequent high-speed vision inspection.

The first part of the application was at the exit of the die cutting machine. The cutting action produced the dust that was then transferred to the inspection machine. Implementation of an 18″ Super Air Knife at the die cutting machine blew away the bulk of the dust and any “hanging chads” that might have remained on the packaging.

The second part of the application was to provide an airflow to again blow onto the cards and the belts moving them through the inspection process. We used a 2″ wide flat Super Air Nozzle at the feeder. When we first turned the nozzle on, a large cloud of dust came up out of the machine. It was no wonder the customer was having problems. The housekeeping (or lack there of rather) was much less than what was necessary.

So, after a quick cleaning with a vacuum cleaner and installation of the Air Knife and the flat air nozzle, the customer was experiencing rejects only for such actual things as registration errors and color. There was still the occasional spec that would still get through, but the reduction in scrap material from 30% to less than 6% was a notable improvement as far as the customer was concerned.

Again, just another application idea for those of you out there who may be having the same sort of problem.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

Don’t Let Your Compressed Air Usage Get You Snowed

Well ladies and gentlemen, we got a nice 0.25″ thick layer of ice overnight, and another 8-12″ of snow throughout the morning today, on top of the 4″ that fell yesterday.  Schools are closed again, and some local counties have issued Level 3 Snow Emergencies, meaning only absolutely mandatory driving is allowed.  We are experiencing the literal meaning of the common slang term, to get snowed.

Of course, the literal meaning of “snowed” is to be physically buried by snow.  But, one could also compare this to figuratively being “snowed” by a wasteful compressed air system.  Open blowoffs and leaks throughout a plant can cause a much greater demand than necessary on a central compressed air system, starving key equipment of needed compressed air and driving the overall cost of compressed air production and consumption way up. 

Unfortunately, many folks do not even realize the amount of air and energy that could be being wasted around their plant.  But, EXAIR has two tools available to help find this wasted air.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector can be used to find even the smallest leaks around a plant.  Fixing just a couple small leaks can save quite a bit of money over time.  We also have two Digital Flow Meters available that can determine the actual amount of air being used in a given area.  Replacing the high-usage open blowoffs with our low consumption engineered Super Air Knives and Super Air Nozzles will also provide a great cost savings over a short amount of time. 

Give us a call if you are interested in finding leaks and saving money on your compressed air system.  We would be glad to help.

Emily Mortimer
Application Engineer
emilymortimer@exair.com

A Snow Day In Cincinnati

361 School Closings in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Area at last count. The great white storm of 2009 fell last night at a whopping 3″ (maybe 4″) and shut the place down. Now understand, as a guy from Grand Rapids, MI; a 4″ snowfall does not qualify for closing anything.

Here is where I ramble about being a kid walking 1 mile to school, in the snow, uphill both ways with 16″ of snow which fell just on the walk to school – not to mention the 3 feet which had fallen overnight. But I digress.

The fundamental difference between Cincinnati and Grand Rapids, MI is kind and quantity of equipment. Grand Rapids has many more and much larger snow plows. This allowed us to function just fine with great deals of snow. It took a fairly significant snow fall to keep us from running our days as efficiently as possible.

It is the same situation when discussing difference between compressed air systems. It is important to outfit your system with the right size and quantity of engineered compressed air products to optimize the system efficiency. And if the equipment can pay for itself with a fast ROI, then it is an easy decision.

EXAIR carries a complete line of products which allow you quantify your compressed air consumption, optimize your compressed air efficiency and increase safety while paying for itself with a real and calculatable ROI. If you have open blow offs, continuous blowoffs, high sound levels or OSHA concerns – we can help.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
kirkedwards@exair.com

Trying to Open Bags with Static Cling

We have all experienced the frustration of trying to open plastic garbage bags that refuse to unfold and open. A produce packing company was experiencing the same kind of problem with bagging machines.

Their operators load a stack of bags onto a wicket similar to what you see at the checkout counters in the grocery store. The bagging machine then pulls off one bag at a time with vacuum. The problem they were having is that static electricity held the bags together. Instead of getting a single bag, several would come off together and jam up the machine.

This necessitated  an operator to separate each bag prior to loading and mount them singly onto the wicket. Needless to say this was time consuming and added cost to the process.

I suggested they use our Ion Air Gun model # 7293. Now the operator loads a stack of bags onto the wicket then blows ionized air from the Ion Air Gun to fluff up the stack of hanging bags and remove static charges. This only took a few seconds whearas the old method took several minutes.

Secondary Receiver Tank, Anyone???

You’ve guessed it. I’m going to talk about compressed air receiver tanks today. But, not the big ones you see sitting next to the compressor or the aftercooler out back where the compressed air is produced. No, I would like to have a short discussion on the smaller ones that can be used throughout the compressor system. These (usually smaller) air receiver tanks can be placed close to applications where there are requirements for relatively short, high air consumption rate “events”. An “event” is any situation where compressed air is used.

Your next question might be, “Why is he bringing this up?” The answer is quite simple. In applications where you have a large rate of air demand over short periods of time, a receiver tank mounted close by to absorb the draw to the system makes perfect sense. In this case, a receiver tank does two things:

1. It allows the item using the compressed air to operate at full functioning pressure and volume to perform the intended task as designed.

2. It prevents that demand for compressed air from affecting the rest of the system, including the air compressors by acting as a bit of a shock absorber.

Air compressors “react” to demand by sensing pressure in the system and producing compressed air volume to compensate when there is a drop in pressure. The receiver tank takes that one compressed air event that may happen for perhaps only a few seconds and spreads it out over 1 or more minutes to even out the demand that the rest of the compressed air system sees over time.

So, instead of using the primary storage and compressed air piping system to blast out a huge volume of air for only one application, you can prevent the shock to the system and turn it into a continuous, smaller demand.  So, as they say, slow and steady wins the race in keeping your air compressor system operating as efficiently as it can. In some cases the use of a secondary receiver can make the difference as to whether a new compressor has to be purchased or not.

Do I have your attention now?

Oh, did I mention that EXAIR does have a 60 gallon receiver tank available for use with our products? We most certainly do. It is a 60 gallon model that we are making available for the express pupose of secondary air storage close to the application where you need it.

You can also use the EFC (Electronic Flow Control) in conjunction with the receiver tank to power any one of the many products EXAIR provides for various air moving applications.

If you think you might have an application that could benefit, please give us a call, send an e-mail or hop onto our chat to discuss the details.  Thanks!

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Ever start to unload the dishwasher, only to notice that half of the dishes still had food stuck on them because they weren’t properly pre-scrubbed?  Then, you have to leave them in the dishwasher to be run through another cycle.  Seems like a bit of a waste, right?  For a little more sink water and elbow grease in the beginning, you will save on dishwasher detergent and dishwasher water in the long run.

I had a customer come visit me with a similar scenario last week.  They manufacture inkjet printing machines for package labeling.  They were working on a particular project for a customer who cans soda pop.  The filled, inverted cans are moved along a conveyor to be dried, then date stamped on the bottom. 

The current drying process is a double shot of some 2″ flat plastic nozzles.  The airflow is aimed at an angle, to try to sweep the water out of the concave bottom of the cans.  Whatever water is missed by the first nozzle, the second one is supposed to take care of the rest.  But, this is just not working.  Even after passing under the second nozzle there is still some water remaining in the can.  So, when the ink is applied, it doesnt actually stick to the can.  It simply dissolves in the water. 

It seems, the customer tried to save money by installing multiple pieces of an inexpensive, yet ineffective nozzle.  And, because the nozzles arent doing the job, they are wasting more money in the long run.  Because each can whose date stamp doesn’t adhere properly has to be run through the drying and printing processes again.

So, I recommended to them our model 1111-4, 4-Super Air Nozzle Cluster.  This nozzle will remove all the water on the bottom of the can, in one pass.  So, there will be no need for multiple nozzles.  And because the one nozzle takes care of the water the first time, the cans do not need to be run through the printing and drying process more than once. 

The Super Air Nozzle Cluster certainly costs a bit more than two of the plastic nozzles they are currently using.  But, the money saved by not having to run the machine longer to deal with cans rejected after the firt pass, is much greater than the difference in the cost of the nozzles. 

So, the moral of the story is, a little more investment now, a greater payoff later. 

Emily Mortimer
Application Engineer
emilymortimer@exair.com

All I Can Think of is Saving Money

As money continues to tighten and I continue to see an increase in my heating bill this winter, I enter the mode of denying myself store bought coffee at $3.50 a piece, foregoing the restaurant lunch and keeping these old shoes around just a little longer. I am sure many of us feel the same way.

These are the easy remedies to my problem, just slight modifications of behavior. The hard part is spending the money on upgraded insulation for my old house. New insulation is a greater up-front investment for results that trickle in over a longer period of time – nevermind the fact that the insulation will pay for itself in about 5 years and I plan to stay in the house for at least another ten.

It just seems easier to hang on to the the $8.00 of lunch money (which typically gets spent some other way) than to invest in insulation and see the $8.00 show up in my heating bill.

Many of our products are the same way – spend some money to cover up those 25 open tubes with an efficient air nozzle, replace that drilled pipe with an engineered Super Air Knife or retrofit those conveyor line blow offs with the Electronic Flow Control just so you can see the savings trickle in every month.

It may seem like a hard decision now but next year the chances are that the products have already paid for themselves (a less than 1 year ROI is common) and when the economy picks back up, you are making more profit per product than you did years ago.

I do beleive I’ve just talked myself in to some insulation.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
kirkedwards@exair.com