Super Air Knife Coupling Kit Helps Customer Save Money and Increase Productivity!

I was recently contacted by a manufacturer of specialty food products that was looking to increase productivity on one of their packaging lines. In order to do so, they needed a longer Super Air Knife.

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Model 110012SS-316 Super Air Knife

They manufacture a variety of different products, but this application was involving small snack-size blocks of cheese. They’re placed into individual plastic containers and before they seal the packaging any residual particles must be blown off or it will affect the seal. Any residual particles of cheese around the container would allow air to come into contact with the product and affect shelf-life.

In the current setup, they were using EXAIR’s Model 110012SS-316 a 12” 316 grade Stainless Steel Super Air Knife and the Model 9060 Universal Mounting System. They wanted to add in an additional two rows of cheese to help increase throughput. To do so, he needed an overall width of 18”. We do have an 18” available from stock, but rather than having a spare 12” model lying around he wanted to try and utilize what he had without having to purchase an entirely new knife.

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Model 9060 Universal Mounting System

Fortunately, EXAIR’s Super Air Knives can be coupled together to create a wide variety of different lengths. From stock, the Super Air Knife is available from 3”-108”. With the help of a Super Air Knife Coupling kit, we can achieve much longer lengths. In this case, although we did have an 18” knife available, we could also couple the existing 110012SS-316 (12”) with our Model 110006SS-316 (6”). This option was a bit cheaper than going with a new knife, and still allowed them to utilize the 12” that they already had.

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Coupling Kit for Aluminum Super Air Knives

While this isn’t the typical place we’d recommend a coupling kit, it was an option that allowed the customer to save a bit of money but still get the same effect that they’d achieve with the 18” single piece knife. We also manufacture a wide variety of custom knives per customer specifications. If you’ve got an odd application that you don’t think is best served by a stock offering, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to take a look at your application and help recommend the most suitable product.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Super Air Knife with a Plumbing Kit Removes Gypsum from a Conveyor Belt

Plumbing Kits

A gypsum facility was having issues in losing powder from the tailings in their conveying system.  The conveyor moved gypsum from their processing plant to an outside silo bin location for loading and transportation.  The conveyor that they used was 60” wide.  As the conveyor went around the end to dump the gypsum powder, some of the material would stick to the belt and collect on the floor underneath.  Depending on production rates, they would have to stop the operation to clean up the floor which added additional hours for custodial work.  The customer sent a picture of the problem and wondered if EXAIR could help them with this application.

The facility did an annual cost projection to determine the loss of money from the gypsum material collecting under the conveyor.  The custodial cost to clean up the excess powder was roughly $45,000/year.  The unscheduled downtime was estimated at 115 hours per year.  (They did not share the loss of dollars in production to EXAIR.)  But it was large enough that they needed a solution from EXAIR.  (The photo below is similar to the same application as written by Lee Evans: “EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop“.)

Powder collecting under conveyor

I suggested a model 110260PKI Super Air Knife Kit for this application.  The Super Air Knife was 60” in length to cover the conveyor belt.  The kit included a filter, a regulator, and a shim set to “dial” in the minimum amount of force to remove the material.  This gives the customer the most flexibility when using an EXAIR Super Air Knife.  The “PKI” suffix at the end of the model number indicates our Plumbing Kit.  This kit which is Installed on the Super Air Knife allows for ease of installation to compressed air connections and it also allows for the proper airflow to get a consistent blow-off across the entire length of the Super Air Knife.

At EXAIR, we pride ourselves in energy efficiency.  Compressed air is expensive to make, so why not use it as efficiently as you can?  The Super Air Knife has a 40:1 amplification ratio which allows 40 parts of ambient “free” air for every 1 part of compressed air.  And, with the “dirty” environment at the gypsum facility, the Super Air Knife would not be affected as they do not require a motor that can fail or a maintenance program to perform.  After installing the model 110260PKI, the gypsum powder was no longer collecting on the floor underneath.  If we look at the cost of removing the hourly rate of the custodian, the Return on Investment, ROI, was only 27 days (and this did not include the increase in production rates).

Spillage is wasteful, costly, and time consuming to cleanup.  If you have excess waste from your conveying system, EXAIR will have the product to help you.  For the gypsum facility above, the Super Air Knife Kit made it possible to increase production efficiencies with a short ROI.  You can contact an Application Engineer to review your application and see if we can improve your conveying operation.

John Ball

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

Super Air Knife Cleans Baking Pans

A few weeks back I was contacted by a large baking company who was looking for a better way to pre-clean their cake and muffin pans before sending them to a wash cycle. After the pans exit the oven, an operator places the baked goods on a cooling conveyor then uses an air gun to blow out the residual crumbs. The pans are then placed on a separate conveyor and sent through a washer. The manual operation was taking a lot of extra time which resulted in reduced production.

Muffin Pan

After further discussion, I recommended they use our 24″ Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife produces an even, high velocity curtain of air across the entire length of the knife which would provide a uniform blowoff of the pans, eliminating the manual cleaning.  Super Air Knives are extremely efficient and quiet. Operating at 80 PSIG, using a 40:1 amplification rate of entrained ambient air to compressed air consumed, they require only 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife length while maintaining a low sound level of only 69 dBA and produce a velocity of 11,800 feet per minute.

Efficient way to clean, dry or cool parts, webs or conveyors.

The Super Air Knives are available in lengths from 3″ up to 108″ in single-piece construction and offered in aluminum, 303ss or 316ss construction, they are the perfect choice for small scale or wide coverage blowoff applications. To discuss a particular application or for help selecting the best EXAIR product to fit your need, contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Muffins Anyone? photo courtesy of Amy via creative commons license.

How a Super Air Knife Helps with Metal Etching

Etching Machine

A company had a process where they were etching metal components with an acid bath.  The system consisted of four baths where the metal parts would be dipped.  The four baths consisted of a wash, rinse, acid bath, and rinse again.  The automated system was contained inside an enclosed booth; and, once the parts were placed inside a 24” (610mm) X 18” (457mm) basket, a sliding door was closed to initiate the operation.  The timing sequence consisted of the basket being dipped into each bath for a certain length of time.  Between each bath cycle, the basket would be raised above the solution, and an open pipe blow-off would remove excess liquid from the part with compressed air.   They complained that the parts were not getting dry enough, and cross-contamination was causing process problems.  The acid bath was becoming more neutral and the effectiveness of the etching was being sacrificed.  The rinse water was becoming more “soapy” after the cleaning bath and more acidic after the acid bath.  Overall, they had to replace every one of the bath solutions which caused shut-downs and extra expense.

From similar applications, I was able to recommend a great solution.  Because of the acidic solution and corrosive environment, I recommended two stainless steel Super Air Knives, model 110024SS.  They are manufactured in 303 stainless steel.  EXAIR also offers 316 stainless steel as well as PVDF for more acidic or caustic etching.  Instead of using the open pipes to blow off the parts, the customer could replace them with the Super Air Knives.  They can easily be mounted above the front and back of the basket, blowing at a downward angle toward the dip tank.  The two Super Air Knives would remove the liquid solution from the parts as well as the basket to put back into the same dipping tank.  The more solution that is removed, the less liquid that will transfer from one solution to the next; thus, reducing cross-contamination dramatically.

After installing the model 110024SS Super Air Knives in their system, they started to see a vast improvement in their etching process.  The etching acid was able to be used roughly 40% longer as compared to the prior method.  As an added feature, the Super Air Knives decreased the time to blow off the parts as they can be adjusted for optimum cleaning.  Less waste and faster production times were how the EXAIR Super Air Knives helped the customer above.  If you have a similar application and want to discuss how we can improve your dipping process, please speak to one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll be happy to help.

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

Super Air Knife Helps You Use Compressed Air Efficiently

Sheet washing system

A sheet metal company made thin stainless steel sheets in their process.   Before the sheets were rolled up, it went through a washing system.  Two blower-type air knives were mounted after the wash cycle to remove the residual water from the surface.  They purchased the blower-style air knives under the belief that they would save money by not using compressed air.  They found out quickly that it was not a true statement especially when it comes to the total cost of ownership.

With the dirty environment at their facility, the inlet filter on the blower was getting plugged.  The blower motor would heat up from the filter being restricted.  After eight months of service, the blower motor failed due to excessive heat.  The replacement was very costly, and it created a production stoppage for an entire day.  The manufacturer of the blower-type air knife recommended that the filter should be changed every month instead of quarterly.  This recommendation increased the monthly budget for the blower system, but they did not want to replace the blower motor again.  Instead of a quarterly stop in production for maintenance, the washing system had to be stopped every month for filter change-out.   They decided to contact EXAIR to see if their concept of “saving money” with the blower-type air knife was valid.

To better explain the concept, I divided the comparisons into different categories explaining the details between the Super Air Knife and the blower system.

  1. Initial Cost:
    • Blower System – They are an expensive set up when you have to include a blower, ducting, and a knife. To have any flexibility, a control panel with a VFD will be needed.
    • Super Air Knife – It is a fraction of the cost. With their system above, we were roughly 1/4 the cost.  A capital expense would not be required for ordering two Super Air Knives to remove the water from the stainless steel sheets.
  1. Maintenance:
    • Blower System – The intake filter had to be changed every month, and the customer estimated a cost of $150.00 each. The motor and belt also had to be checked quarterly as a preventive maintenance.  Being that the blower motor is a mechanical device, the bearings and belts will wear and have to be replaced.  Without proper maintenance, things can break prematurely.  This customer had to already replace the motor in their system.
    • Super Air Knife – They do not have any moving parts to wear out, and they are not affected by the dirty environment. Only compressed air is needed to operate.  The maintenance requirement is to change the compressed air filter once a year.  The annual price for the replacement filter is less than $35.00.
  2. Compressed air usage:
    • Blower System – This device does not require any compressed air to operate, but it does use an electric motor. For this customer, they had a 7.5KW blower motor.  With the inherent designs of blower-type air knives, they have reduced blowing forces and turbulent air flows.  This combination required maximum power output on the 7.5KW blower motor.
    • Super Air Knife –With their unique design, it has one of the highest efficiencies in the market place. It can entrain 40 parts of ambient “free” air with every 1 part of compressed air.  With laminar flow and the power of compressed air, the Super Air Knives can be used at a much lower air pressure.  To compare with the electric blower motor above, the Super Air Knives only required 11KW of compressor power to operate.
  3. Noise:
    • Blower System – With the turbulent air flow, the blower units are very loud. It can have a sound level near 93 dBA.  If operators are working near the system, they would require PPE for hearing.  The cost for proper hearing equipment and the training for the operators will add more cost with using blower systems.
    • Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. Even at an elevated pressure, the sound level is only 72 dBA at 100 PSIG.  This level is below the maximum noise exposure for hearing safety as marked in OSHA 29CFR 1910.95(a).

 

I tabulated the annual cost comparison and shared it with the customer to better explain the total cost of ownership.  After reviewing the information, they decided to try two pieces of the model 110230 Super Air Knife Kits.  When they replaced the blower-type air knives, the customer did share some additional information.  First, they were amazed at the ease of installation.  The blower-type air knives had to be electrically wired; floor space was sacrificed for the blower; the connection hoses were large and bulky; and the mounting was cumbersome.  The customer also noticed the amount of power that was created by the Super Air Knives.  They were able to increase the feed rates of the stainless steel sheets if they wanted and still keep the surface dry.  This gave them flexibility in their production system.  And of course, the maintenance time and cost were practically eliminated.  Compressed air is expensive, but if you use EXAIR products, you can use the compressed air very efficiently.  As noticed in the tabulation above, the total cost of ownership is very expensive for the blower-type air knives as compared to the Super Air Knives.  You can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR if you want to discuss further the benefits of using the Super Air Knives.

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

What is Laminar Flow and Turbulent Flow?

Fluid mechanics is the field that studies the properties of fluids in various states.  There are two areas, fluid statics and fluid dynamics.  Fluid dynamics studies the forces in a fluid, either as a liquid or a gas, during motion.  Osborne Reynolds, an Irish innovator, popularized this dynamic with a dimensionless number, Reyonlds number. This number can indicate the different states that the fluid is moving; either in laminar flow or turbulent flow.  The equation below shows the relationship between the inertial forces of the fluid as compared to the viscous forces.  Reynolds number, Re, can be calculated by Equation 1:

Equation 1:  Re = V * Dh/u

Re – Reynolds Number (no dimensions)

V – Velocity (feet/sec or meters/sec)

Dh – hydraulic diameter (feet or meters)

u – Kinematic Viscosity (feet^2/sec or meter^2/sec)

The value of Re will mark the region in which the fluid (liquid or gas) is moving.  If the Reynolds number, Re, is below 2300, then it is considered to be laminar (streamline and predictable).  If Re is greater than 4000, then the fluid is considered to be turbulent (chaotic and violent).  The area between these two numbers is called the transitional area where you can have small eddy currents and some non-linear velocities.  To better show the differences between each state, I have a picture below that shows water flowing from a drain pipe into a channel.  The water in the channel is loud and disorderly; traveling in different directions, even upstream.  With the high speed coming from the drain pipe, the inertial forces are greater than the viscous forces of the water.  The Reynolds number is larger than 4000 which indicates turbulent flow.  As the water travels into the mouth of the river after the channel, the waves transform from a disorderly mess into a more uniform stream.  This is the transitional region.  A bit further downstream, the stream becomes calm and quiet, flowing in the same direction.  This is the laminar flow region where Re is less than 2300.  Air, like the water in the picture, is also a fluid, and it will behave exactly in the same way depending on the Reynolds number.

Turbulent to Laminar Flows

Why is this important to know?  In certain applications, one state may be better suited than the other.  For mixing, particle suspension and heat transfer; turbulent flows are needed.  But, when it comes to effective blowing, lower pressure drops and lower noise levels; laminar flows are required.  In many compressed air applications, the laminar flow region is the best area to use compressed air.  EXAIR offers a large line of products, including the Super Air Knives and Super Air Nozzles that uses that laminar flow to generate a strong force efficiently and quietly.  If you would like to discuss further how laminar flows could benefit your process, an EXAIR Application Engineer will be happy to assist you.

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

Custom Shims – Literally A Breeze For EXAIR

As proud as we are of being able to ship most any catalog product, same day, from stock (99.9831% of the time for on-time shipping in 2017…22 years straight for 99.9% or better,) we take a certain amount of pride in our ability to offer custom solutions for challenging applications as well. Our Engineering and Production teams have a deep well of resources (knowledge, experience, and capability) to draw from, which allows us to meet those challenging applications head-on, in short order.

The one I’m writing about today isn’t exactly one of those challenging ones…

A machine fabricator had a special need for an Air Knife. It had to be Stainless Steel, and it had to be 30″ long. No problem so far…that’s a Model 110030SS 30″ Stainless Steel Air Knife, and it’s on the shelf. Thing is, they only needed 26″ worth of air flow; a full 30″ width was going to disturb, and maybe damage, the edges of the sheet of material that the air was being blown onto.

So we made a custom shim for the Air Knife.  Now, we make these all the time, in all kinds of configurations…hence the term “custom.”  Since this one was blowing onto a web where they didn’t want to disturb the material on the far edges, we made this shim to provide 26″ of flow, on center.  We could just as easily made it to provide 26″ of flow starting at one end or the other, or a specified distance from one end or the other.  Or 13″ of flow on both ends, with 4″ of no flow in the middle, for a total of 26″.

If your application is more challenging than a custom shim, we’ve also made Air Knives with (left to right) curved radius, special material (glass filled PEEK shown here,) flat, double-sided, and even one with end-mount threaded holes.

Regardless of how challenging (or not) your compressed air product application is, we’re here to discuss, any time you’re ready.  Call us.