Compressed Air Has Tremendous Power! Use It Safely

Just the other day, not far from here, a demolition crew at a shuttered factory and a local homeowner got this message, loud & clear, when the crew inadvertently cut into a still-pressurized compressed air cylinder.  It launched, like a missile (an apt description, given the fact that real missiles operate on this exact same principle) some 1,500 feet, across the neighborhood, and into the bedroom of a house, three blocks away.  Here’s what the local news reported on it:

Now, before you go turn your air compressor off and vent your system, let’s look at just a couple of other incredible dangers we place ourselves in close proximity to every day:

Driving a car: I came to work this morning in a 3,500lb mass of metal, plastic, and glass, hurtling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  This would be an insane thing to do, were it not for:

*The engineering, design, and maintenance that makes the vehicle safe to operate,

*The training, experience, and periodic re-licensing required to maintain driving privileges,

*The upkeep of roadways, bridges, traffic signals, etc., and

*The monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety measures by our law enforcement officers.

Operating electrically powered devices:  if you’re reading this on a computer screen, you’re likely surrounded by objects that are connected directly to 120 volts of alternating current electricity.  That stuff will stop your heart.  Thank goodness all that current is contained, isolated, and grounded to keep it out of our bodies, even when we have to touch the controls to turn those devices on & off.

Food: Don’t even get me started on the hazards of ingesting plant & animal product that used to live outside and was processed for transport hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of miles away.  It’s a wonder any of us have made it this long.  Well, except for the development and rigorous implementation of food safety and sanitation practices & policy.

Working with compressed air is no different.  A typical plant compressed air system will operate at about 100psig.  That literally means that there is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS OF FORCE being exerted on EACH AND EVERY SQUARE INCH of the inside of the pipes, hoses, tanks, etc., in the system.  If you don’t keep it under control, you can have some serious problems.  Fortunately, there are simple, straightforward, and easily accessible ways to do that.

This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, but let’s start with:

Design: Your piping and components have to be the proper pressure rating.  We’ve got some good piping information on our websiteAlso, keep your vehicle well maintained, periodically check your electric devices for frayed cables, and look at your meat packages’ labels for a USDA stamp and “use by” date.

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don't rely on smell or color; food package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don’t rely on smell or color; package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Controls: Make sure you’re using your compressed air safely.  OSHA Regulation 1910.242(b) governs the use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes…it limits you to no more than 30psi of downstream, static pressure at the discharge of your blow off device.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products comply with this regulation, by design.  Also, watch your speed on the highway, don’t plug too many strands of Christmas tree lights in to one outlet, and always cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165F (73.9C)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant - certificated available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don't overload the circuit (right.)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – certificate available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

Personal Protective Equipment: Any time you’re working with compressed air, you should be wearing eye protection and using appropriate chip guards to keep flying debris from coming back at you.  Certain applications may require more safeguards…check with your compliance coordinator or supervisor to make sure.  Also, don’t shift out of ‘park’ without your seat belt fastened, take care to unplug any appliance before servicing it, and don’t skimp on a decent pair of oven mitts if you plan on making a lot of baked goods.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes - it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes – it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR has been making quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products for 34 years now.  If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call and ask for an Application Engineer.  No; compressed air isn’t safe, in and of itself…but it CAN be used safely…and that’s the important part.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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ef2d_star_trek_oven_mitt picture courtesy of Cozinhando Fantasias

d2590-1 picture courtesy of US Department of Agriculture

Holiday fire safety – Power strip overloaded picture courtesy of State Farm

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Ion Air Jet Keeps Laser Scanner Lens Clean, Eliminates False Reads

An automobile manufacturer was looking for a solution to keep their laser scanner lens clean in their body welding process. The Automatic Guided Vehicles or “AGV’s” are equipped with a laser safety scanner mounted on the front and back of each vehicle, used to detect any foreign objects in it’s travel path. The scanners are fitted with a polycarbonate protective lens and as the vehicles travel through the system, the lens can build up a static charge, attracting airborne dust and particulate, which results in false readings, shutting down the line.

The current cleaning method involves an operator using a microfiber cloth to manually wipe the lenses clean, and while this does work, with the scanners being mounted roughly 4″ above the floor, this poses some ergonomic concerns for their workers. The customer found EXAIR after looking on the internet for static elimination products and it turns out, they are currently using several of our products in their facility, but he was unsure which product would be suit their needs so he reached out for assistance.

After further reviewing the application with the customer, they explained that each vehicle makes several “scheduled” stops along the route and one of these areas would be selected as the install point. I suggested the customer use (2) of our Ion Air Jet Kits, to clean the lenses. The Ion Air Jet produces a high volume of ionized airflow that can be focused right at the lenses to eliminate the static charge and carry the fines away. The kit includes a filter separator which is going to remove any condensate and/or dirt in the air supply, as well as a pressure regulator. The pressure regulator will allow them to easily adjust the supply pressure to control the outlet flow and velocity so they don’t disrupt other areas in the process.

Additionally, I suggested they use (2) of our EFC – Electronic Flow Control, which features a timing controlled (0.10 seconds to 120 hours) photoelectric sensor as a means to control air usage. As the vehicle enters the blow off area, the sensor will “see” the vehicle, signaling the solenoid valve to open the air line to the jet to blow off the lens. As the vehicle then exits the area, the sensor would again send a signal to close the air supply, so compressed air is only used when needed, reducing operating cost and further automating the process.

8494

Ion Air Jet Kit, Model # 8494 – includes the Ion Air Jet, Power Supply, Filter and Regulator

If you are experiencing static issues in your process or to see how we might be able to help with your automated system, contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

EXAIR Founder’s Day – 2017

founders-day-2017-2

We have decided that EXAIR will celebrate Founder’s Day each year on February 22nd (or the closest working day) in order to commemorate the birthday of our founder, Roy Sweeney.  He founded EXAIR in 1983 and was the driving force behind building the strong, successful and innovative company that EXAIR has become over the years.  Today would have been his 83rd birthday.

 We choose to make this day a celebration, a fond remembrance, and a day of service to others much in keeping with the values that Roy felt very strongly about.  Countless individuals, churches, charities, youth groups and performing arts organizations were helped by the strong commitment to philanthropy practiced by Roy and his wife Jackie. 

We here at EXAIR are blessed to have had Roy in our lives, and we want his giving spirit to live on through us.  To commemorate this initial Founder’s Day, we have made significant contributions to:

·         Special Olympics (www.specialolympics.org)

·         Freestore Foodbank (www.freestorefoodbank.org)

·         Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (www.cincinnatisymphony.org)

·         Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org)

·         MusiCorps (www.musicorps.net)

We fully expect to extend this new tradition next year, and in subsequent years, through further commitment to community involvement.

So as we celebrate today with cake and funny memories, we wish Roy a happy birthday.  We miss having him here.  We remember what he did for all of us and for countless others.  And we pledge to continue his commitment to helping those who need it.

Happy Founder’s Day from everyone at EXAIR!

Bryan Peters
President
EXAIR Corporation

E-Vac For Lubricant Recovery

Over the last 3 months, I have been in contact with a customer, keeping track of an application that involved the EXAIR E-Vac.  The customer had reached out to us looking for some advice on how to solve a process problem. The operation is a drawing/stamping process, and the when the part exits the machine there is coolant that resides in a deep draw section, approx 0.4″ in diameter by 3.5″deep.  About 1 oz of coolant per part is retained, and over many 1000’s of parts, would add up to lost dollars and messy clean up.

The customer was looking for an automated process that would be able to draw out the coolant and direct the liquid back to the coolant reservoir, all while maintaining the current machine run rate. We settled in on the model 840015 Adjustable E-Vac Generator. The Adjustable E-Vac has a straight through pathway from suction through to discharge, allowing for fast evacuation times.  A simple turn of the unit changes the vacuum and flow levels to best match the needs of the application.  The Adjustable E-Vac coupled to a solenoid valve controlled by the stamping machine resulted in the automatic system the customer was looking for.

Adjustable EVac

Adjustable E-Vac Family

The customer ordered a unit, and based on the preliminary bench testing, it was approved for a production run trial. After some tweaking in the production environment, the unit was performing to spec, and was then subjected to a 100,000+ part run.  The results were a success!  Instead of the parts exiting onto an inclined conveyor, relying on gravity to drain and causing coolant to collect under the conveyor, the coolant could be removed in a controlled manner and sent back to the reservoir.  Less mess and no coolant loss.

EXAIR manufactures (3) types of E-Vacs – Low vacuum generators for porous materials, high vacuum generators for non-porous materials, and the adjustable type for flexible vacuum performance.  They are available in multiple sizes, to best match the vacuum requirements, while using the least amount of compressed air.

To discuss your application and how the EXAIR E-VAC can benefit your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Static Eliminators Provide a Solution for a Plastic Blasting Media Application

A customer had an application where they were using a plastic blasting media (PBM) to remove a coating from composite sheets. Being that I was unfamiliar with this type of blasting media, I went to the web for research.  This process is very interesting as it can remove coatings, paint, powder coats, etc. without harming the substrate.  It is widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries as it can be used on materials like very thin metals, composites, and even hardwood.

In our experience with non-conductive materials, static can be a huge problem. And in this case, it was.  The PBM was “sticking” to everything including the composite material that was being cleaned.  They were losing material as it was leaving the blasting chamber.  As with any type of blasting system, you want to reuse the material to economically reduce waste and keep the operation running longer.  As you can see in the picture below, the PBM is clinging to the internal components because of static.  This static force was keeping the PBM attached to the composite sheet and allowing it to leave the chamber.

Inside the Plastic Blasting Media cabinet

Inside the Plastic Blasting Media cabinet

As a quick remedy, they tried to use compressed air to blow the PBM back into the cabinet. They were using copper tubes that were flattened to create a homemade nozzle.  This style of nozzle is unsafe and very loud.  It was also difficult to get the correct amount of blowing force because static can build at different rates.  The higher amount of static charges, the stronger the attraction.  They needed a better method as they found themselves wasting not only the blasting material, but also much compressed air.

With applications similar to this, we like to remove the static at the problem area. Then, we do not have to be concerned about the static forces.  For their application, the cabinet had a 6” wide opening where the composite material would exit.  So, I recommended two pieces of the model 111206, 6” Super Ion Air Knife Kits, to be mounted just outside the cabinet.  One Super Ion Air Knife would be mounted above the sheet to clean the top surface, and the other mounted below the sheet to clean the bottom surface.  I recommended that they position the Super Ion Air Knives at a 45 deg. angle to the surface of the composite sheet in the counter-flow direction.

This position will optimize the performance of the Super Ion Air Knife.  It increases the contact time to coat the surface with ions to remove the static and to keep the PBM inside the cabinet.  With the design of the EXAIR Super Ion Air Knife, it has a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means that for every 1 part of compressed air, it will entrain 40 parts of ambient air.  So, it can operate with much less compressed air.  Once they mounted the Super ion Air Knives, they were amazed at the performance.  It was very quiet; it used very little compressed air; and it kept the composite sheets completely clean.  After the static forces are removed, it only needed a light breeze to remove the PBM from the surface.

Super Ion Air Knife

Super Ion Air Knife

If you find that static is creating process problems, wasting time, and costing you money, EXAIR has a large line of Static Eliminators that can help you. For this customer, it was a simple phone call to EXAIR that got his operation back up and running fast and smooth without static.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Dust Suppression with an EXAIR Atomizing Nozzle

img_0378

An EXAIR Atomizing Nozzle used to minimize dust in the feed bowl of a cement mixer.

One of the most difficult aspects of handling and working with dusty materials is suppression of airborne contaminants.  Small particles can easily become a dust cloud, minimizing visibility and decreasing the quality of working conditions.  This then leads to lower productivity, low morale, and a missed opportunity to maximize the potential of personnel and equipment.

Our distributor in New Zealand recently assisted one of their customers facing this set of problems when working with cement and microsilica as it was poured into a mixer.  An exhaust fan was in place, but failed to extract the dust sufficiently, so a new approach was needed to minimize the dust.

 

circle-image

An AN2010SS No Drip Atomizing Nozzle provides the needed dust suppression in this application.

 

The solution was to use an EXAIR AN2010SS No Drip Internal Mix Atomizing Nozzle, shown above in the red box, to produce an atomized water mist.  The dust produced during pouring is captured by the small droplets of atomized water produced with this nozzle, reducing the dust and allowing proper use of the mixer.

 

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The 9218 Stay Set Hose positions the atomizing nozzle where it needs to be.

 

In order to position the nozzle exactly where it needs to be, an 18” Stay Set Hose, shown above with the red arrow, was used to position the nozzle.  This hose is built specifically to have “memory” of the desired position, allowing for quick, easy, and repeatable position of the nozzle attached to the hose.

This simple setup is controlled through a timer to ensure water and compressed air use realize maximum efficiency.  It’s an easy solution to a painful problem for this customer.

If you’d like to explore how an EXAIR solution can solve problems in your facility or application, please contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

 

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Taming The Dust Cloud With EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles

Have you ever dropped one of your nice dinner plates on a tiled kitchen floor? And noticed how they seem to go in slow motion as they hurtle to their doom? I never cease to be impressed at how far some of the smaller pieces can go. I recently had to replace our oven, and I found broken dishware shards (and an impressive amount of trash scraps, pet toys, and ‘dust bunnies’) all the way against the back wall.

Curiously, as small as the pieces can be when a dinner plate meets its end, it started its life in even smaller pieces…as a fine ceramic powder, pressed into a mold and heated to a temperature that is WAY hotter than when the server at your favorite restaurant warns you that plate “might be hot.”

I’m writing about this because recently, I had the pleasure of assisting a maker of ceramic dishware with a messy little problem…this fine ceramic powder is moved from where it’s produced, to the various mold stations (dinner plates, salad plates, saucers, etc.) on a vibratory belt conveyor. The vibration keeps the powder loose and homogenous, both of which are extremely important to the molding & firing process. It also causes a cloud of dust to rise along the entire length of travel, and they wanted to minimize this. Their chemists had told the engineer who called me that they could live with a small amount of moisture, as long as it wasn’t enough to make the powder clump up – this would evaporate out at a point closer to the molds anyway.

This was an ideal application for the EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles…they produce a fine mist of liquid that is precisely controllable…one Model AW1010SS Internal Mix, Wide Angle Round Pattern Nozzle was installed near the beginning of the line, and once they find out how long it takes the dust-suppression supplied by the misted water to evaporate away, they will install more nozzles accordingly.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are a perfect solution for dust suppression.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are a perfect solution for dust suppression.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are ideal for situations where you need a fine liquid mist and fine adjustment of the flow & pattern. With ninety models to choose from, we’ve got the one you’re looking for. Call me if you want to find out more.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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