This time of year, we begin to field a variety of calls from customers experiencing issues with static electricity in their processes. You may be familiar with the rather unpleasant shock you receive after walking across a carpeted surface and touching a door knob. This “zap” of electricity is a result of fast-moving electrons leaping from your body to the door knob, or vice versa. As your feet shuffle across the surface of a rug or carpet, your body either gains or loses electrons. Touching a conductive surface then causes these electrons to leap from one place to another.
If you notice, this happens to occur much more often during colder winter months (if you’re one of those fortunate to live outside of this sensation we call “cold” please don’t rub it in!). The reason that you experience static shocks more frequently during winter is due to the relative humidity. At colder temperatures, air does not hold as much moisture as it does when it’s warm. Even though you’re heating your house to a similar temperature, the air that is being drawn into your home and heated is still the dry cold air containing less moisture.
The amount of moisture in the air is expressed as relative humidity. This value is given as a percentage of water vapor in the air, compared to how much it could hold at that temperature. In conditions of lower relative humidity, static charges build up much easier. When the relative humidity is high, there’s a higher concentration of water molecules present in the air. These water molecules “coat” the surface of the material, allowing electrons to move more freely and form a layer over the material. This layer of water molecules acts like a lubricant, reducing the forces that cause static to generate. There are many applications that static may only pose an issue once the climate changes.
I recently worked with a customer that was experiencing static problems in one of their labeling processes. During the summer, they weren’t having any issues as the residual humidity in the air kept static at bay. However, as temperatures and the humidity dropped, static was building up on their labels causing the automatic labeler to periodically jam.
The machine was jamming almost 1x/hour and they run two shifts per day. With each jam taking approximately 10 minutes to fix and get back up and running, they were losing over 2.5 hours of production time per day just fixing the labeler.
The solution was simple. Two Model 112006 Super Ion Air Knives were installed just prior to where the labels come into contact with the bottle: one on the top side of the label, and one on the underside. The static neutralizing ions were able to contact both the bottle and the label, ensuring that both surfaces were no longer carrying any residual charges and immediately stopped the issue with labels jamming. This stopped them from wasting valuable production time fixing an issue and allowed them to run continuously without interruption.
This is a common situation we see across a number of different industries. A static issue disappears during the warmer summer months and comes back each winter once the humidity drops. Don’t let these recurring issues continue to cause problems for you in your processes. Call EXAIR today, we have our full line of Static Eliminators in stock and ready to ship.