A Little More Now, A Lot More Later

I just read Russ Bowman’s most recent blog “Money For Nothing”. I must admit that I applaud the things he and his family are doing to cut back on the cost of living. Like Russ, I too grew up in the time before cable and satellite TV, when paying to watch TV sounded as absurd as paying for a bottle of water. His blog motivated me to write my own blog about a recent project that I had worked on at home.

One night in late September 2011, I made a trip to the basement to retrieve something from our deep freeze. Only on this particular trip, I noticed that our water heater had turned into a water “feature”. The tank had sprung a leak and water was bubbling up around the exhaust pipe, over the outer sheet metal, down to the floor and over to the floor drain. I could see my future was going to be filled with a plumbing project.

After breaking the bad news to my wife, I went to the computer and started looking around for water heaters. It was at this point I remembered a little promise I had made to myself to check out tank less water heaters I had heard about on the radio. After a day or two of searching around, I determined that a new, standard, 75 gallon water heater exactly like the one I had was going to run about $950.00. I could pick one up at the local big box home improvement center and have it installed in a few hours. It would be some small bit of pipe soldering, no problem. When I investigated the tank less water heater, I found, to my surprise, that the water heater itself cost about $1,000.00. But, I could not use the existing exhaust pipe as this type of water heater required a special intake/exhaust pipe that was proprietary to the water heater manufacturer. This added about another $500.00 to the cost of installation.

Do I go with the easy fix that I know isn’t going to be very energy efficient or do I take the extra time and up-front money to apply the energy efficient option by going with a tank less water heater?  After discussing with my wife the pros and cons of each one, we decided to go with the tank less option. With the tank less water heater, we knew we would qualify for a $300.00 tax credit which would offset some of the extra cost. Plus, we knew we would be using less gas. So, we knew our gas bill would be lower which would again, offset some of that extra cost. I did some quick math and figured we could recoup our extra cost within about 6 months to 1 year time frame.

After having the new water heater on line for 6 months, we had received a check from our local energy provider for the amount of $325.00. This was the amount we had over-paid for natural gas attributed to the effect of lower gas consumption due to the tank less water heater. So, in 6 months, we were able to recoup our higher initial cost for installation of the new water heater and the nice thing is we keep saving that same amount which should allow the new water heater to pay for itself in another 12 – 15 months. And to top it off, the hot water supply is truly endless when you need it.

So, what is the point of a guy concerned with compressed air products doing talking about water heaters? It is to take away the point that investing a little more investment up front will more than pay for the investment in short time. EXAIR has a huge selection of products that can help you achieve the same success with your compressed air consumption as I had and am still having with my natural gas consumption. If you have been skeptical up to this point, give us a call to let us show you how you can save up to 30% or more on your compressed air consumption.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer

Review the Tape, Evaluate, Improve

With the first track day of the year under my belt it’s now time to start looking at what I could have done better and make the next track day an even bigger success.   This will be done over the next month or so and I will use pictures, video, and even tire inspection to figure out what I could have done better.   Much like a football team reviews tape and prepares for their next game.

Here at EXAIR we offer a service which is similar to this style of review.  The EXAIR Efficiency Lab will let you send in your blowoff device and we will run it through the paces to find an intelligent compressed air product that will perform better than the previous method.  This is a free service that we offer to any and all customers.  Not only will we tell you what your unit is consuming and possibly costing you to operate but we will show you which of our products will perform the same and how much air and money you will save.   The best part is it’s all for free.

If you have an application that you are trying to improve, let us know and we’ll get you the information to send a test piece in to the EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Golden Shoes

This past weekend the EXAIR team and I ran a 5k benefit race for the St. Joseph Home here in Cincinnati.  We were sponsored by EXAIR and had hopes to win.  On a team of 5, 4 of us managed to make a few practice runs on the course dubbed The Incline to the Finish Line; a title well earned by the final mile long stretch being almost entirely uphill.

Three of us in the group made a deal that the slowest runner had to buy lunch on Monday, so there was even more ambition to pull through and go for the win.

I’m proud to say that our team took 1st place, and brought back 4 additional medals based on age and run time.  To add a fun twist, we were awarded a golden shoe as a trophy prize, which we’ll gladly defend next year.

Another win for EXAIR.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

Money For Nothing

The Bowman household is cutting expenses…we’re not in a financial crisis or anything; we just want to have money to spend on stuff other than what we’re spending it on now, and we’ve decided to fund new expenses by shedding current ones. It’s as much about priorities as it is about money, but I won’t lie…it feels good, having money at the end of the month, as opposed to having month at the end of the money.

We pulled the plug on cable TV this weekend, and hooked our TV up to this peculiar steel wire contraption up on the roof…apparently, our ancestors had some long-forgotten form of wireless technology, and it still works! We get about 50 channels (which was impressive, as I was expecting no more than a dozen, max), as opposed to the hundreds we had with cable, but curiously, we’ve found the same number of channels that are actually worth watching as we had with cable.

I called our cellular phone service provider as well, to determine if we were on the least expensive plan that still met our needs.  As it turns out, we are.  The Customer Service Representative, however, said I might be eligible for a promotion that could save me $10/month or so for the length of the promotion – she wasn’t sure what that was, so I was transferred to another representative. THAT person said I wasn’t eligible for the promotion. I just said “easy come, easy go,” and we took a moment to joke about people who might get irate about not getting something – for free –  that they didn’t have before they called. As we talked, she found that there WAS a promotion I was eligible for: instead of the $10/month promotional credit on ONE line, she found one that gave me a $10/month credit on EACH of our THREE lines for a couple of months. Seems you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. And sixty bucks is sixty bucks…honey well spent.

Also on my soon-to-call list are my mortgage company and insurance agent. I haven’t talked to him since my last claim-related issue, but on the other hand, it’s been years since we talked…I’m optimistic.

If you’re looking to free up some household budget, I hope my stories might be helpful to you. If you’re ahead of me, feel free to share how you’re doing. It’s a good day when we all learn something, right?

However, if you’re looking to free up some compressed air system “budget,” EXAIR can help, for sure. We can start with our Optimization product line, and maybe even talk about the Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System. If you’re using open-end pipe blowoffs, let’s talk about Super Air Nozzles. Or Air Knives. Or Air Amplifiers.

Lastly, if you’re shopping for an Industrial Vacuum, and don’t mind free stuff, we’re giving away Vac-u-Guns with Industrial Vacuum purchases through the end of May.  Just the latest in a long line of promotions; don’t forget to check back later and see what the summer promotion might bring…for free.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air: Concentrating on Attainable Improvements

Efficiency Hierarchy

There are so many opportunities for improving your facility wide compressed air distribution system it can boggle the mind. And if you have begun to look into improving your compressed air efficiency, either on your own or with a consultant, it can be overwhelming. There are things you can concentrate upon which will bring measurable results and quick efficiency gains without having to know all there is to know about compressed air generation and efficiency or without breaking your annual budget.

Many times the hierarchy of making improvements in your compressed air system will begin with the larger equipment. If your compressor is outdated, inefficient or sized improperly for your plant the cost of replacing it may scare you away from proceeding down the efficiency path. It is also typical to first concentrate on updating the controls of a compressor to best match peak demands and lulls in the need for air, and while this is a very good step to take in your overall plan of attack it can also burden your budget. Making improvements to auxiliary equipment like dryers and cooling equipment will also improve the overall efficiency of your system but can also come at a significant cost if replacing the equipment is necessary. Furthermore, upgrading your piping system can reduce pressure drops and improve delivery of the compressed air dramatically if you have the time and capital needed to replace your delivery system.   If you are serious about improving your compressed air efficiency all of these factors should be addressed and will show great gains in achieving your efficiency goals.

It is also possible to make significant gains in efficiency by working backwards in the typical hierarchy of compressed air efficiency. You may assess more economical ways of meeting the end use needs and look at the efficiency of end use products before conquering the distribution system and controls. Working in this way places much of the success of your program on your operators, maintenance personnel and managers. It is an opportunity for a population of people within your organization to recognize, conceive and implement a program of action which will pay quick dividends. These less discussed implementations typically come at a lower cost and time investment.

Work With Smaller Pieces of the Puzzle

Someone at your facility will know where to begin looking for savings opportunities. A particular leg of your system or a process within your production probably has a reputation of using a lot of air, and raising production costs.

When working on these smaller legs of the entire system, a baseline is still necessary to in order to determine future gains in your efficiency. A simple flow meter placed on the supply line of a specific leg of your system will provide you the starting value to begin optimizing this leg of your system. You will also gain a perspective on how much air out of your entire system you are dedicating to this specific leg or process. You may immediately recognize savings opportunities if, when this leg is shut down, you are still registering some air flow on your flow meter which is a clear indication of compressed air leaks.

It will be important and useful to invest in an Ultrasonic Leak Detector for identifying these leaks, if they are not already obvious. Leak detectors can help you locate and mark the specific location of each leak you deem large enough to fix. Simply marking these leaks for maintenance will put you far ahead of most facilities optimization programs, but actually fixing them is the goal. Keep your eyes open for push in fittings and quick disconnects which are notorious for leaking. Of course you will also find some valves and pipe fitting in need of repair or tightening as well. Leaks can account for as much as 30% of compressed air consumption and can quickly provide payback when addressed properly.

Over time, every little process or individual leg of a larger system develops its own set of unique fixes and solutions in order to keep the process running smoothly. Many end-use compressed air fixes come in the form of open pipe or tube blowing air to keep a box flap down, to clean a part surface or to reject a part from the process. These quick fixes should be addressed by implementing some engineered compressed air products which can reduce air consumption and noise levels while increasing operator safety with minimal investment.

Engineered Air Nozzles Save Air & Maintain Performance

A major North American Bakery has been working on specific legs, one at a time, of their production process to reduce compressed air consumption throughout their plant. This specific example used a home-made compressed air nozzle to de-pan rolls from their baking pans.

They had fabricated their own nozzle by capping off a 3/8″ pipe and drilling a 9/64″ hole in the cap. Running at 80 PSIG this “nozzle” consumed 25.4 SCFM. When retrofitting the pipe to use an engineered air nozzle the result was 17 SCFM at 80 PSIG, clear savings of 8.4 SCFM. There were ten nozzles used for removing rolls from the pans and it was a two shift per day operation. The following savings calculation is for one production line, in many facilities there will be more and more opportunities for savings on additional lines.

Savings = 8.4 SCFM per nozzle (ten total)
8.4 x 10 = 84 SCFM total

Two Shifts per day = 960 minutes
250 working days per year = 240,000 minutes

Yearly Air Savings = 20,160,000 ft3 saved

Using the average compressed air cost of $0.25/1000 ft3 we can further quantify the savings.

20,160,000 ft3/1000 = 20,160
20,160 x $0.25 = $5,040.00 total savings per year

The total investment for the engineered compressed air nozzles (EXAIR model #1100) was $310.00, for a simple ROI of 16 days.

The force value of the home-made “nozzle” was 1.04 pounds at 80 PSIG. The air amplification characteristic of the engineered air nozzle allowed for a significant reduction in compressed air consumption while still being able to maintain a force value of 1 pound at 80 PSIG inlet pressure.

Other Attainable Areas of Improvement

Beyond local measurement of compressed air flow, locating and fixing leaks, and upgrading your end use methods there are a few more areas available to improve upon.

Make certain to outfit any application using compressed air with some kind of controls to turn the air off when not in use. A sensor to see a part which needs to have liquid removed can activate a solenoid valve or programming your machine controls to open and close a valve when the machine is in operation or not. Many production processes stop at break time or lunch time, are you also shutting off the air supply to the machine or does air continue to blow through lunch?

For applications of high air demand which are intermittent, intermediate storage can be a solution. A receiver tank positioned to supply the application’s demand will prevent a pressure loss to the whole system. Maintaining pressure will insure the rest of your applications are running properly and could prevent you from turning up system pressure or keep you from considering another compressor to satisfy one application.

And lastly, pay attention to the needs of your application. You may find that you can get the job done with much less pressure than full system pressure. Installing a pressure regulator at an application will allow you to fine tune the application for success at the lowest pressure possible. Lower operating pressure also lowers air consumption.

Keep these achievable goals in mind when the subject of compressed air reduction is addressed at your plant. The savings are measurable and valuable to any plant with a compressed air system. Beginning at the end use side of a compressed air system could allow you to realize enough savings to upgrade the more expensive elements of your system like auxiliary equipment, controls and compressor upgrades.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation

It’s Track time yet again.

Even though we didn’t get much snow this past Winter the road courses are just now starting to open up here in the Ohio area.   As soon as I get home from work I will be kissing my daughter and wife goodbye for the weekend and heading towards a small town in Indiana called Greencastle.  There’s not much there and the only two things close are Depauw University and Putnam Park Road Course.   I know I have blogged about track days many times but with this much anticipation for the first track day of the year, I can’t help but bring it back again.

Two good friends of mine and myself have spent the last week prepping out bikes for the track day.   The main difference this time is I will have a different bike at the track.  It’s not mine unless I wreck it and it’s quite a bit different from my SV.  So of course I have went through it as best I can and think I’m ready.

All I know is I am ready to get some footage similar to what is shown below.

This track day is of course going to be interesting and a learning experience.   Much like I went through when I first started here at EXAIR and began to learn about our full selection of products.  You see as an Application Engineer here at EXAIR I not only need to know if we sell something but I need to know how it works, why it works, and what kind of applications it can work in.  So this weekend I will be learning something new much like I still am here at EXAIR.

We’re constantly coming up with or hearing about new applications for our products.   If you have one and would like to share or need help with an application just let us know.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Can I get a ‘lil service with that attitude?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I’m sure.  EXAIR is in a class above the rest when it comes to – well, everything, but, especially – service.

I wrote a blog a while back highlighting the pride we take at EXAIR in providing our clients with top notch service.  Today, I was reminded again of how most companies do not share the same ideology.

I placed a call to a consumer products/service company with which I’ve done business for many years.  After 10 minutes of being routed through different teleprompters and “telephone assistants who will ensure I receive the best service possible”, I finally was able to speak to a real person.  Twenty five minutes later, the person on the other end of the phone still wasn’t listening to me.  I had to stop them mid-sentence and ask pointedly “Can you tell me why I called in today?”

They couldn’t.  They were so eager to tell me what they had been trained to say, they had no idea how to listen to what my needs actually were!  …Woosah…

I’m pleased to be in an environment that not only expects and rewards positive listening techniques, but also teaches and practices them as well.  It’s just one of the ways we strive to excel at EXAIR.

If you need an ear on your project or application, contact an Application Engineer.  We’re here to listen.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer