Proper Air Supply Is Key To Optimal Performance

I recently worked with a customer who was using our 36″ aluminum Super Air Knife to remove dust and light debris from a conveyor but wasn’t seeing good performance. They initially called because they read in their catalog that increasing the shim gap would increase their force and flow and wanted to know what kind of increase in performance they would see.

The Super Air Knives are shipped from EXAIR with a .002″ shim installed and the performance data shown in the catalog reflects this gap setting. The shim sets, for aluminum knives, include a .001″, .003″ and .004″ shim and by changing to the .003″ shim, the force and flow would be 1.5 times as great and using the .004″ shim would double these amounts. While some applications do require the additional force and flow, trying to blow off dust or light materials typically wouldn’t fall into this category.

sak-shims

Replaceable shims provide varying levels of force and flow.

Switching our focus to the supply side of things, it turns out they were using 1/4″ hose and only plumbing one end of the unit. This poses 2 concerns that relate directly to the mentioned poor performance. The first would be the 1/4″ hose is severely undersized for a 36″ Super Air Knife. We recommend 3/4″ Schedule 40 pipe if the length of supply from a main header is 10′ or less and a 1″ pipe up to 50′ of supply run. It is possible to use hose but that hose needs to be at least 1″ ID to be able to carry enough volume to support a 36″ unit. Secondly, for knives that are 24″ in length or longer, you need to plumb air to both ends to maintain an even, laminar flow across the length of the knife.

With the proper supply, the Super Air Knife is going to produce an exhaust air velocity of 11,800 feet per minute when operated at 80 PSIG, which is more than enough to eject lightweight material from a flat surface (in fact you could most likely clean dust and light debris at a lower pressure). If the customer did increase the shim gap dimension, the increase in  air demand would only worsen the problem of undersized supply lines.

Pipe sizes

Recommended supply line sizes per the IOM – Installation and Operation Manual.

This is just one example of how proper supply line size and installation is key to achieving optimal performance. If you are experiencing similar issues or need any assistance with a product or application, give me a call, I am glad to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

How Do You Make Cement? Start with Clinkers

Last week I wrote about the use of the Atomizing Nozzles to create a fog for wet room curing of concrete samples poured during road construction.  This week, I had the opportunity to work with another customer about concrete, but this time it was regarding the the manufacturing process.  Invariably, I always learn something new , and for this interaction, it was the term ‘clinkers.’

Concrete is a composite material composed of coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement that hardens over time.  The customer I was working with was a cement manufacturer.  Cement production is basically a 2 step process – 1) clinker is produced from raw materials and 2) cement is produced from cement clinker.

clinkers

Typical Cement Clinkers

To make the clinker (step one), several powder raw materials are fed into a rotary kiln.  The kiln is heated to very high temperatures, and when the materials are mixed and heated, new compounds are formed and hydraulic hardening occurs resulting in the formation of the clinker.

My customer needed a way to clean off the residual dust left on the transport belts, after the clinkers were transported to storage silos.  Due to the high temperatures in the area, we focused in on the EXAIR Type 303 Stainless Steel model of the Super Air Knife, as it can withstand temperatures up to 800°F.  The customer went with (3) of the Super Air Knife Kits, which include the Shim Set, Auto Drain Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator w/ Gauge, for easiest installation with maximum functionality.

The Super Air Knife is a tried and true product for cleaning, drying, cooling and general blowoff for conveyors.  And with widths up to 108″ available, any size conveyor can be handled.

To make cement (step two), the clinker is ground into fine powder with other ingredients including gypsum (calcium sulphates) and possibly additional cementitious (such as blastfurnace slag, coal fly ash, natural pozzolanas, etc.) or inert materials (limestone). It is then stored or packaged and ready to be made into concrete.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Super Air Knife 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

Send me an email
Find us on the Web
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Cookie Blowoff Using The Full-Flow Air Knife

A machine manufacturer was working with a food company who was looking to design a blowoff station for their cookie making process. During the production cycle, the cookie dough is put into a former that pushes the dough through round dyes that forms several rows of cookies across a conveyor. As the cookies travel down the conveyor, they are topped with ground peanut bits and sent through a flash freezing process. It was after this process, the company was looking to install the blowoff station to remove any excess peanut bits but were concerned if the air velocity was too high, they may remove too much of the ground peanuts or possibly blow the cookies themselves off of the conveyor. Another area of concern was the amount of space available to install the station was limited, so they were needing something “compact” so they could design the machine to take the least amount of real estate as possible.

The machine designer was somewhat familiar with our Air Knives, but was unsure which design would best fit the customer’s needs so they decided to reach out for assistance. After discussing the particulars, I recommended our 36″ Stainless Steel Full-Flow Air Knife Kit. Of the 3 designs of Air Knife we offer, the Super, Standard and Full-Flow, the Full-Flow Air Knife produces the lowest outlet velocities, it is also our smallest profile offering at only 1.25″ x 1″  for stainless steel construction. The Full-Flow Air Knife provides a laminar flow of air the entire length of the knife and uses a 30:1 amplification rate (entrained air to compressed air) for efficient compressed air usage. By incorporating the pressure regulator included in the kit, they would be able to easily control the exiting air velocity to effectively remove the excess peanut bits without ejecting the cookies from the line.

Full-Flow

The Full-Flow Air Knife is the ideal choice where mounting space is limited. Lengths available up to 36″ in aluminum or stainless steel construction.

For assistance in selecting the best Air Knife to fit your needs or for additional support with another application or EXAIR product, give me a call at 800-903-9247, I’d be happy to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Cooling Punch Points with a Super Air Knife

A stamping facility had a high speed perforating operation. The idea was to punch holes into a matrix at a fast feed rate.  In their operation, they started to see issues with the punched holes, and they also noticed that the punch points were prematurely failing.  With a tight punch-to-matrix clearance, heat was building up from the friction.  This effect was galling the material and affecting the hole appearance and dimensions.  They also noticed heat damage to the punch points.  They either had to slow their process down, or find a way to cool the punch points.  They contacted EXAIR to see if we could help.

To remove heat, you need to have a fluid moving across the material to carry the heat away. For this customer, the fluid would be air.  Just like a hot cup of coffee, you can cool it by blowing across the top of it.  In this instance, EXAIR can blow a lot of air with using very little amount of compressed air.  Because of the gap opening of the tool die was narrow, I suggested the Super Air Knife.  It has a compact design and can blow nicely between the upper and lower die.  With slight modifications, they were able to mount the Super Air Knives right into the base set.  Because the tool die was a “bowl” type design, I suggested that they should use two pieces of the model 110206 Super Air Knife.  They could mount one to each side to make sure to hit all the punch points.  (Reference the picture below).

Punch Press with a Super Air Knife

Punch Press with a Super Air Knife installed

EXAIR Super Air Knives are the most efficient compressed air knives in the market. It is designed to have a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means for every one part of compressed air, it will entrain 40 parts of the free ambient air.  As with the coffee reference above, the more air that you can blow, the better the cooling effect.  With the Super Air Knife, we can reach a velocity of 11,800 feet per minute at 80 PSI.  After the customer installed the Super Air Knives, they were able to increase production by 10%.  Also, they found that the punch points were lasting twice as long.  They were so impressed with the effectiveness of the Super Air Knives, they mounted them to all their punch press machines.

Super Air Knife

Super Air Knife

If you find that heat is affecting your process, EXAIR could have a product to help you. We have a variety of efficient air movers to cool your parts.  As for this customer above, we were able to increase production and extend the life of their tools.

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

EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop

pile-of-product

Piles of material underneath conveyor in aluminum making process

Recently, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum initiated a study to determine the costs associated with material spillage in their facilities.  The purpose of their internal investigation was to quantify the time, money, and production losses derived from material spillage and accumulation in their rodding shop (the portion of the aluminum making process in which the anode rods are recycled).  Their findings were astounding.

sak-before

Material buildup underneath conveyor in rodding shop

Underneath the conveyors in the rodding shop were mountains of spilled material.  This material would accumulate to dangerous levels, causing safety hazards for workers to potentially slip or trip, interference with conveyor belt operation, an inability to service the conveyors, and a constant cleaning requirement.  Essentially, the accumulation of material would reduce the lifespan of conveyor components while simultaneously preventing maintenance personnel from being able to service the failed components.

failed-roller-1

Failed rollers, pulled from conveyors in the rodding shop

So, the spilled material would be vacuumed from the affected area, conveyor maintenance would be performed, and then the (vicious) cycle would repeat.

Overall, these spills cost over $85,000 per year in cleaning costs (vacuuming spilled material weekly at a cost of $1,650.00), 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime loss (the process must be stopped during vacuuming and repair to the conveyors), an increased safety risk due to slips and trips on the spilled material, and reduced life of their conveyor belting, rollers, and pulleys due to operating in bath of rubble and dust.

Finding a solution for this problem was no small matter.  This customer needed a permanent and reliable solution to eliminate the mountains of material underneath their conveyors.  And that solution was to install EXAIR Super Air Knives on the underside of the belts, aimed opposite the direction of belt travel, and aimed toward the dust collection system, as shown below.  Before and after photos of the installation are shown below as well.

sak-installed-underneath-belt

An aluminum Super Air Knife (with plumbing kit from EXAIR) installed on the underside of a conveyor.

sak-before

Seven days of accumulation without the Super Air Knife installed

sak-after-pile-was-there-before

Seven days of accumulation with the Super Air Knife installed. Note: the pile in the background was there from the previous week.

The images above show how the Super Air Knives perfectly solve this problem.  They prevent the accumulation of material underneath the conveyors, eliminating $85,000/year in cleaning costs and 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime, removing the safety and maintenance concern, and adding longevity to the conveyor components.

Cleaning intervals were revised from daily requirements to an interval up to 12 weeks in some locations.  (The shortest interval was revised from daily to every 3 weeks.)

return-roller

No more of these. This is a failed end roller, replaced after only two weeks in service. Lifespan for conveyor components was greatly improved after the installation of Super Air Knives.

So, the burning question is “How much did this solution cost the end user?”

Total costs to implement this solution were $16,000.00.  Based on the cleaning costs alone, the return on investment for this project was under three months.  When the downtime and additional conveyor maintenance is factored in, ROI is realized even faster, perhaps in under two months.

For EXAIR Application Engineers, thoroughly identifying customer problems and integrating an optimal solution is one of our specialties.  In this case we were able to see the benefits our products can have on a single process, saving the customer tens of thousands of dollars per year.

If you have a problem plaguing your facility and would like to discuss potential solutions using EXAIR products, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

High Temperature Capability

Last week, a customer called in to talk about their application.  After aluminum and steel machining operations, parts are run through a washer system. The drying portion utilized a Super Air Amplifier to dry the sides and a Super Air Knife to dry off the top. The wash temperature was running at 185°F.  The customer wanted to review the application and make sure the EXAIR products utilized in the process were rated to this temperature and to check on high the products could go, since the maximum possible temperature for the washer was listed as 250 °F.

air-knife-air-amplifer

Drying Section – Utilizing EXAIR Air Amplifier (near top) and Super Air Knife

The Super Air Amplifier is rated to 275°, above the maximum possible condition.  The Super Air Knife was pre-installed with a stainless steel shim, enabling a maximum temperature rating of 400 °F. Both of the components are rated for temperatures in excess of the maximum possible washer temperature condition, and the customer felt confident with the system design.

EXAIR has several options in the Air Amplifier and Super Air Knife product families to allow for operation in high temperature applications.  For the Air Amplifier, the Super Air Amplifier and Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier have a maximum temperature rating of 275°F.  The Stainless Steel Adjustable Air Amplifier is rated to 400°F, and for the hottest of conditions, the High Temperature Air Amplifier is rated to 700°F.

Relating to Super Air Knife, the aluminum Super Air Knife is rated to 180°F.  With a stainless steel shim installed, the maximum increases to 400°F. The PVDF Super Air Knife, used in applications where chemical resistance is needed, can withstand temperatures up to 275°F. And for the most extreme temperature environments, the Type 303 and Type 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knives are rated up to 800°F.

To discuss your application and how an Air Amplifier and Super Air Knife or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Non-Contact Wiping with the Super Air Knife

A glove manufacturer needed to decrease the reject rate with their natural rubber gloves. They were seeing brush marks in the rubber material which was a visual defect.  Their operation used a ceramic hand that was used to form the size of the glove.  After the rubber material was applied, it was dipped into water to set the material.  It would come out of the water tank, and a mechanism on the conveyor would rotate the hands to “shake” off the excess water.  It would then go over brushes to wipe the water from in between the fingers.  Much of the water had to be removed before it entered into the coagulation tank because it would affect the stretching ability of the glove.  With their current operation, they were seeing the scuff marks from the brushes which was a visual defect.  This cost them down time and product rejects.  So, they contacted EXAIR to see if we could help.

Brushes used to wipe the gloves

Brushes used to wipe the gloves

In looking at their process, they had two conveyors running side by side with each other. This made it a bit more difficult as we could only work on one side.  Being that the ceramic hand rotated around twice in 36” before hitting the brushes, I could focus in this area.  When it comes to wiping products without touching it, air is required.  And EXAIR knows how to use compressed air very efficiently, safely, and effectively.  For this application, I suggested our model 110236 Super Air Knife kit.  It has an overall length of 36” which could span the target area.  It comes with a filter, regulator, and shim set to clean and control the air flow.  It would be able to “wipe” the water off the hands like a non-contact squeegee.  The air flow from the Super Air Knife will hug the exterior portion of the hand; removing the water from the surface and in between the fingers.  They removed the brushes and did not have to worry about brush marks on the glove.

EXAIR Super Air Knife

EXAIR Super Air Knife

If you require a non-contact wiping in your application, use EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Products to accomplish this. You will not have to keep replacing items that wear or use items that cause damage to your product. EXAIR has the ability to use compressed air to create a strong force without scraping or scratching your material.

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

%d bloggers like this: