Retrofit a Brand New Machine? No Problem!

Have you ever had a brand new machine or line that you built or just got installed into your facility only to find out you need an extra blow off, cooling, or vacuum operation. Not to mention, most of the time it would benefit for this additional process to be intermittently controlled to provide an on demand type situation. I recently helped a customer that had this exact scenario.  He was the machine builder and once the machine was installed at the customer’s, they discovered some of the product processes his machine depended on had changed.  This left his machine to pick up the slack where others had left off. Rather than trying to push blame around to other pieces of equipment he told the customer that the problems will be solved.  That’s when he called us.  You see, this customer had used our products before in numerous other applications.  His customized machinery was used in a wide variety of process so he had an existing knowledge of our vast product offerings.

The machine he was working on was supposed to be a final process of activating a shrink film that is applied to a part then pass the part on to a transfer line for bulk packaging.  What he didn’t know is the shrink wrap size originally quoted and tested on prototypes had changed.  So now, instead of having a nice tight shrink wrap on the part, it now had excess on three sides that was not desired by the customer.  The excess wrap would tend to cause problems when trying to unpack these bulk products. When this was discovered the customer had an operator physically fold each tail while it is still in a melted state in order to have a tightly packed product and aesthetically pleasing package.  This is not only tying an operator up which is costing money but it is also increasing their cycle time and not to mention the operators didn’t like handling hot shrink wrap.

Once we discussed the products shape and size we determined the best solution is going to be use a combination of Super Air Knives, and 2″ Super Air Nozzles.  The way the product would come through the tunnel there would be a tail on both sides of the conveyor, then a final tail the full width of the product on the trailing edge.  The product was for all intents and purposes a rectangle with a curve to it.  To combat the tails that are on the side I recommended to use a 2″ Super Air Nozzle combined with our 1/4″ Swivel Fitting to permit the angle of air to be adjusted. The 2″ Super Air Nozzle would be mounted below the level of the conveyor and angled up and to the center of the conveyor.   The product will be passed through this air stream and the tail will be folded on each side as it passes the nozzle.   This will provide enough air to get the shrink wrap folded on top of the product and take care of both sides.  Then, the only piece remaining was the trailing edge tail.   The nozzles on the side would not take care of this so I recommended to mount two Super Air Knives below the surface of the conveyor in between the heat tunnel conveyor and the product transfer conveyor.  The two conveyors had a 2″ gap which is more than enough for the air stream from two Super Air Knives.  The reason we used two separate knives is, the product was the width of the product would require a 60″ Super Air Knife to cover the full width.  However because of the curve in the product there was only 15″ on each side of the product that had a tail.   This meant 2 separate knives that would blow up from below the product and toward the travel of the conveyor.   This would permit the shrink wrap to be pushed up initially then forced over onto itself  as it proceeded down the transfer line.  This would leave the product in a nice tightly packed shrink wrap with no tails to get caught up when bulk packed.

Now that we had the method, the next step was to ensure we only used the compressed air when needed.  There was no point in having the nozzles and Air Knives blow constantly, as the product was intermittently placed on the conveyor.  Because this was an existing machine and the blow off was being retrofitted into the existing system I recommended to use an Electronic Flow Control which would sense the windshield and trigger an On Timer.  This would then provide the correct length of time for the product to not only pass the sensor but also pass the gap in the conveyors by several inches to insure it was fully processed.   We were able to use one EFC to power all 4 products to optimize this newly designed system.

All together by calling us the customer not only solved his customers issues but also made up for other machines shortcomings.   Because our products were able to fit into the areas needed along with the EFC’s flexibility to be mounted and installed on an existing system the customer had the exact finished product they had hoped for.   Not only was our customer pleased with the level of service we offered but was extremely pleased that we had such quick turn around time for help and shipping of the products.   This was further expressed by his customer who was extremely content with his new machine and is now discussing expansion to yet another line.

If you have ever encountered a situation like this feel free to give us a call.   We’ll do our best to help you and get you or your customer taken care of.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_BF

Leave a Reply