Lower Your Noise Levels and Measure the Results.

Last year, I bought an old pickup to haul firewood.  I got it cheap, but of course, it had a few issues.  Among them were mushy brakes.  A quick inspection revealed a leaky rear brake line which I quickly replaced.  Now a year later, the brakes are starting to get mushy again.  After bleeding them again and going over the entire system, it looks like the master cylinder has come to the end of its useful life as well.  Guess that means a another trip to the parts store is in my future.  Oh well, I love a good challenge.

Have you ever been in this situation?  Perhaps you’ve fixed one problem, only to find another.  Often is the case when a customer replaces a noisy blow off operation with a much quieter, engineered EXAIR nozzle or air knife.  Things become so much quieter, that customers often begin to hear how much louder other operations in the plant are. 

While EXAIR can’t help quiet every noisy operation in your plant, we can help you find them.  Our Sound Level Meter comes calibrated and ready to go.  You’ll quickly be able to track down those loud operations, and sooner be able to identify a solution.  And of course, if it is compressed air related, we’ll help you find a solution.  And like me with the brakes on my truck, you might just find you enjoy the challenge!

Dan Preston
Mechanical Engineer
EXAIR Corporation

Super Blast Air Gun Used to Clean Cargo Holds on Ships

Imagine those large cargo ships that transport products like coal, grain, fertilizer and other like, dry, bulk materials. Now imagine yourself as the person responsible for cleaning out the cavernous holds once they have been emptied.

A recent customer from Quebec called me to see if we had anything better than what they were currently using to clean out the hold. They were using  a 3/4 steel pipe of 2 meters length connected to a 1-1/4″, red, rubber hose. Their current method was working for them to a point, but they still were not able to project force to a reasonable distance to blow off the features near the top of the cargo hold. So, they had to use various lifts to get themselves into proper position and to get close enough to generate reasonable force on the areas to be cleaned.

Once I had a clear picture of what the customer was doing, the thought occurred to me that the reason why they were unable to produce a significant force at distance with their existing set-up was that the pressure drop through the supply hose and 2 meter pipe was so extreme that the customer could not maintain reasonable pressure at the tip of the pipe where he needed it most. This was because he was working with an unrestricted orifice (the end of the pipe).

I use the analogy of his situation being like that most of us have experienced when we wash a car with a garden hose. When you turn the water on, you have a nice, free-flowing stream that comes out of the hose end and shoots out from the hose maybe 1 meter or so. While this is OK for watering the garden, it isn’t so good for removing that stubborn mud from your tires or from under the car. So, what do we do? We screw a nozzle onto the end of the garden hose. Take, for example, the classic, brass hose nozzle that adjusts from a wide spray to a focused jet. When set to the focused jet, the water now has a lot more power and can do more work. The stream has the capability to now shoot out 6 – 8 meters or more from the nozzle. A huge improvement over the hose without the nozzle.

You can probably guess where I’m headed with this. Yes, I recommended our Model 1112  3/4 NPT, High Force Super Air Nozzle to the customer. It was so convenient to install the nozzle as the 2 meter pipe already had a thread on it (which had to be cleaned up a bit from being knocked around). So, he ran a die over the thread, installed the nozzle and began using the new set-up.

The result was quite interesting, where he previously only had effective blowing force up to about 2 meters, he could all of a sudden produce good, cleaning force at 8 meters plus. This extension of his effective cleaning range allowed him to increase his productivity and reduce cleaning time.

What was the key to success? Very simple, the nozzle backed up the compressed air flow so that effective pressure could be developed right behind the nozzle. With the pressure available right behind the nozzle, it was able to produce a much higher blowing force on the walls of the cargo hold. Customer was happy. End of story.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

Going Lean

The other day I had difficulty getting my pants buttoned. I’ve been putting on weight and I refuse to go up is pant size. So I have decided to go on a diet. Now I see why they call it a di-et. You go through your day dying to eat! I have even waken up in the middle of the night from hunger pangs.

They recommend excercise along with your diet so I got on the treadmill. Dang! After 20 minutes walking to nowhere, the meter only registered 75 calories. At that rate it will take 7.3 hours to burn off the calories from a cheeseburger! I could see that this was not going to fly.

Consulting a calorie chart I found vegetable low in calories. I love vegetables. So during the lean times between meals, I munch on my veggies and it holds me until my next meal.

During this economic downturn, companies have put their operations on a diet so to speak. They have eliminated non-essential employees, all but eliminated capital expenditures, and sadly reduced their research and development budgets. This is a short-term fix but when the economy turns around they are going to go hungry not being prepared for new business.

Much the same way as I rearranged my calorie intake, EXAIR rather than cutting, rearranged our efforts to better serve our customers. We have released 300 new line items, introduced social networking as another venue to reach our customers, and produced training videos that you can view from our website. We don’t plan on going hungry nor lose our customers just because the economy slowed down.

If you have a project that has been put off because of budget cuts, I would welcome you to call one of our engineers to work out the technical details of your application now. Then when the economy turns around you will have layed out the groundwork and prepared to implement. This will position you ahead of your competition.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer
joepanfalone@exair.com

Free Money! (…or How to Save a Million Cubic Feet of Compressed Air per Year)

As the unscientific test in this video shows, most people will walk right past free money.

So instead of trying to hand you free money, I will just show you where to find some…

EXAIR moved into our new facility in 2005.  And, yes, we do actually make our products in this building.
We have a real factory with employees, machinery and equipment.
We aren’t simply an import and export company with a warehouse.

The original building owner did not have an extensive compressed air system, so we started from scratch and installed a completely new air compressor and distribution system  to go along with our existing air compressors (Yes, we need more than just one).  The new system was pressure tested thoroughly, and any leaks identified were repaired.  Everything worked great!

Fast forward four years.

It became more and more obvious that we were losing system pressure overnight.  Even though our facility operates less than 24 hours per day, our compressed air system still has air in it at night.  We simply had much less compressed air in the morning than was there the previous evening.  Even though the business wasn’t operating throughout this period, our leaks were still costing us money even when we were closed!

We used our Ultrasonic Leak Detector as part of a leak detection and mitigation project.  The project revealed fifteen very minor leaks (0.2 SCFM or less) and two somewhat larger leaks (2.1 and 2.2 SCFM).  Most of the minor leaks were the result of threaded connections or crimped hoses that just weren’t 100% airtight.  The pipe connection leaks were easily mitigated by applying pipe sealant and retightening the connections.  The leaking hose was replaced.  Our two larger problems were the result of a leaking automatic drain air filter and a leaking 4-way valve.  The air filter was rebuilt and the leaking valve was replaced.

How do we know how much air was being wasted by each leak?  That is one advantage of being a compressed air focused company.  We removed the offending equipment from our compressed air system and tested each in our lab to assign a loss value to the leakage.  These are real world numbers, not estimated figures.  (Our lab services are available to you – click here for more information)

The total of all of our leaks was only 6.5 SCFM.  The compressed air lost was roughly equivalent to having two 1/16″ diameter holes somewhere in our compressed air system.  We all expected a higher figure, and we wondered at first whether the project had been worth the time and effort involved for such a “small” amount of leakage.

But if you take those figures and extrapolate them over the course of a day, week, month and year you will find that THOSE SMALL LEAKS COST US OVER A MILLION CUBIC FEET OF COMPRESSED AIR PER YEAR!

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6.5 SCFM x 60 minutes per hour = 390 CF per hour

390 CF x 10 operating hours per day (average) = 3900 CF per operating day

3900 CF per operating day plus 350 CF (leakage that happens after operating hours) = 4250 CF per operating day

4250 CF x 250 operating days per year (average) = 1,062,500 CF per year

——————————————————————————————————————–

If 6.5 SCFM in leaks can cost over 1M cubic feet of compressed air per year, just imagine how much free money is in your plant just waiting for you to pick it up.

Bryan Peters
President

Cooling a Laminating Process

We have a customer who uses a large laminating machine to place a protective plastic coating on their product. These large panels are laminated two at a time and are manually removed from the process. As you will see int this video, they currently use two Soft Grip Safety Air Guns to manually cool the silicone blanket covering the product before they can remove it and get to the product.

I have found that with the video inserted into the blog, there is not a great deal to explain about the application. However it does show the effectiveness of removing heat from a material by just using ambient temperature compressed air. The temperature differential between the silicone pad and the compressed air temperature is great enough that even 80F compressed air is removing the heat.

Many times we use the analogy of using your breath to cool your coffee. Your breath is about 85-90F but still has the capacity to remove heat from your hot coffee because the coffee is significantly hotter at 170-180F. Many times customers think they must have a cold air source to cool, but it simply depends on the temperature of the surface you are trying to cool.

The same is true for this application, the silicone blanket is very hot and needs to be brought down to a temperature where they can touch it with the gloves they are wearing. Without the cooling from the Soft GRip Safety Air Gun the heat from the silicone blanket penetrates through the gloves and makes it difficult to properly remove the blanket. Fumbling with the hot blanket increased cycle times and created an unpleasant working environment.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
kirkedwards@exair.com

Problem Solvers

 I received an overwhelming surprise this morning.  In my past blogs, I talked about recycling and my harrowing experience at the grocery trying to find chipotle mustard. The president of the company came to my cubicle and handed me his old I-Phone. He had upgraded to the new 3G and was going to trash the old one. After reading my blogs, he  was inspired to recycle the phone and help me with my grocery store problem. Wow! The president reads my blogs…awesome.

On the phone there is a shopping list application. This is way too cool. You type in the item, it adds it to your list and tells you where in the store it can be found. Guess what? Chipotle mustard is listed in ethnic foods! The downside to this  app is that it is associated with a website. So while I am busy at work earning the bacon, my wife via the internet can be adding bacon to my shopping list along with anything else that she wants me to pick up on the way home. Technology, is it great or what?

EXAIR is always on the leading edge of technology; in the way we communicate with our customers and with the air saving designs of our products. The digital age has transformed the way we all do business and EXAIR embraces that. We have made technical information more available through our extensive website. In the past, process engineers were dependant on the knowledge of their local distributor which understandably, may not have been all that extensive. We welcome customers to contact our engineers here at the factory either by an online chat, email, fax or phone.

A recent example is  our customer that reclaims old plastic bottles. He grinds them up, mixes pigments and oils, extrudes them into a flat sheet and  then dices them up into 1/4″ cubes. These are then bagged and sent to injection molders. The problem that he was having is separating out the bottle labels from the re-grind. Some are paper and others are highly pigmented plastic, both are unsuitable for reprocessing.

He contacted some distributors only to have to wait a week or so until their outside sales guy could make it in to see him. Then all they suggested was a blower which he tried before and it did not work. Taking matters into his own hands he started searching the internet and came across our website. He requested an online chat and that is how he and I hooked up. Within minutes he had his answer.

I suggested that he install an EXAIR air knife to blow the lighter stuff away.  I gave him pricing and delivery and the confidence of EXAIR’s 30 day unconditional guarantee. He placed the order and later told me that it worked perfect out of the box. He said that he should have gone to the internet first and saved himself time and grief. Is technology great or what!?

I enjoy sharing my experiences and would like to hear some of yours.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer
joepanfalone@exair.com

Super Ion Air Knife Used in Making Golf Balls

Golf balls, in their simplest form are a hard, thermoformed plastic molded over a rubber core. Once the ball is formed, many subsequent steps to polish off parting lines from the mold and refine the overall finish of the dimpled exterior leave a layer of dust behind which can be attracted back to the ball surface by way of static electricity generated during these processes.

The customer, a well-known sports equipment manufacturer, contacted EXAIR to determine the best way to go about setting up an automatic blow off station using ionized airflow. After going over the details to determine if there were any limiting factors that might keep us from setting things up exactly how we wanted, we found that a combination of Super Ion Air Knives were the best way to go. One Super Ion Air Knife kit and one additional Super Ion Air Knife were set up to blow in at the ball which can spin on an axis in a fixture to allow for complete exposure to the ionized airflow.

A quick blowing with the Super Ion Air Knives was all it took to remove the debris and allow the customer to move on to printing and clear coating the balls.

If you have any sort of automated manufacturing process that involves generation of dust and debris similar to this, give some serious thought to use of the Super Ion Air Knife for blowing off of your product.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

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