Line Vac Air Operated Conveyors Transport Cans for Quality Checks

At EXAIR, we have a family like atmosphere where we do enjoy working with each other.  Every now and again, my manager will tell a “dad” joke, which makes you smile because of how silly it is.  Like, “A neutron walked into a bar and ordered a beer.  The neutron asked ‘how much?’  The bar tender says, ‘for you, no charge’.”  Ugh…  Speaking of beer, a canning facility was needing a way to quickly move empty beer cans from the conveying line to their Quality Department.  Instead of having an operator sitting next to the line and picking out cans at a certain rate, they wanted to automate this action.

In discussing their process, the cans would move through the wash and drying cycle before they are filled at the filling station and capped.  They wanted to verify the “cleanliness” of the beer cans before filling with a quality check for bacteria and contamination.  The cans measured 2.12” (54mm) in diameter and 4.45” (113mm) in length.  The distance to the Quality Lab was 20 feet (6 meters) away.  They wanted to move the cans overhead at a height of 10 feet (3 meters).   The destination was a storage bin next to the lab.  I recommended a model 6066, 3” Stainless Steel Line Vac with a throat diameter of 2.75” (70mm).  The cans could pass through the transfer hose and Line Vac without getting stuck. 

The contractor that was hired to do this job, was very interested to try the Line Vac.  They are very compact, easy to use, and do not have any moving parts.  Initially, they were looking at a robot arm and a conveyor belt to move the empty beer cans that distance.  With the EXAIR Line Vac, they were able to cut the cost of the project as well as reduced the amount of time to implement.  I mentioned that EXAIR does offer a 30-day unconditional guarantee for our stocked products to try them out.  And they took that opportunity to see how well the Line Vac could move the cans.  Here is a video of their test. 

If you need to convey materials in a quick and easy way, an EXAIR Line Vac could be a good solution for you.  We have them in different styles to match your application.  As compared to a conveying system which is bulky, expensive and rigid; the Line Vacs are flexible and inexpensive.  Ergonomically, the Line Vacs are designed to save back-wrenching labor in picking up bags, climbing stairs, and dumping material into hoppers.  For the canning facility above, it saved the company the extra labor for an operator.  For our U.S. and Canadian customers, we are running a promotional ad.  You will receive a 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle, a $75.00 value, for free from now until the end of October 2021 with a qualified purchase online.  If you would like to discuss your conveying application further, please contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We may have the perfect solution for you.

                Okay, one more…  where do monkeys go to get a beer?  Monkey Bars..  I know, make it stop. 

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

Photo:  Monkey with a hat by OpenClipart-VectorsPixabay License

Compressed Air Purity Classes & ISO 8573-1. What Does it Mean for You?

The compressed air coming directly from your air compressor will usually require further treatment & preparation before it can be used. It’ll contain particulate matter, moisture, and hydrocarbons that the intake filter won’t remove…remember, it’s there to protect the compressor itself against damage from larger particulate. Smaller particulate and other contaminants that can affect air operated products & tools will still need to be addressed, after compression. The degree to which this additional treatment is necessary is dictated by what you’re using your compressed air for.

ISO 8573-1:2010 – Compressed air – Part 1: Contaminants and Purity Classes quantifies the quality of the air according to three properties, into different classes:

Per the descriptions above, here are the criteria by which compressed air purity is classified in these three categories. Certain applications can call for different classes for these three categories (more on that in a minute).
  • Maximum particle size & concentration of solid contaminants. These can come from rust on the inside of the distribution piping, particulate generated by wear of air system components, and atmospheric contamination that the compressor’s intake filter doesn’t catch.
  • Maximum pressure dew point. No matter where your compressor is located, the air it pulls in contains some amount of water vapor. Dew point is the temperature at which it will condense at a given pressure. As long as the compressed air temperature is above that dew point, there won’t be any water (in liquid form) in it.
  • Maximum oil content. This most often is due to carryover from oil lubricated compressors, but can come from atmospheric oil (or other hydrocarbon) vapor drawn into the compressor’s intake.

So…what does this mean to you, relating to your use of compressed air? Well, it largely comes down to the nature of your application. Whatever is in your compressed air supply will be in contact with whatever the air comes in contact with. If a machinist is using a Safety Air Gun to blow chips & coolant from machined parts, they’re not going to be particularly concerned with this specification from a regulatory standpoint. If those parts are going straight from the machine shop to a paint booth, they’re certainly going to want to use air that’s free of particulate, moisture, and oil. All of those things will, quite noticeably, affect the quality of the painted finish. Filter Separators and Oil Removal Filters installed at the point of use will take care of that. A case could be made for a purity specification and regular testing of their compressed air, but this really just falls under the confines of good engineering practice.

Compressed air use in applications where it can come in contact with food or beverages intended for consumption (by people AND animals, according to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) is considered a critical factor for cleanliness. They reference guidelines from the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) to specify purity classes for both direct and indirect contact with food and beverage products:

Direct contact requires testing and compliance to Class 2:2:1 per the above table means:

  • Particulate Class 2 – particle concentration, by particle size, in concentrations no greater than:
    • 400,000 particles sized 0.1-0.5 microns, per cubic meter
    • 6,000 particles sized 0.5-1.0 microns, per cubic meter
    • 100 particles sizes 1.0-5.0 microns, per cubic meter
  • Maximum pressure dew point Class 2 – vapor pressure dew point must be less than 40°F (40°C) at the maximum pressure of the compressed air system.
  • Oil content Class 1 – concentration must be less that 0.001 milligrams per cubic meter

Examples of direct contact applicable to the use of EXAIR Engineered Compressed Air Products include blowing air for cooling, moisture removal, coating layer distribution, etc., of unpackaged food product.

EXAIR Stainless Steel Super Air Knives are popular in food processing applications (left to right): removing excess moisture prior to flash freezing of fish filets, preventing clumping while packaging shredded cheese, and (my personal favorite) ensuring a consistent and even glazing of fresh, delicious doughnuts.

Line Vac Air Operated Conveyors and Vortex Tubes are also used in direct contact applications in the food industry:

316SS Threaded Line Vac conveys bulk grain in a distillery (left). Vortex Tube rapidly sets melted chocolate in a mold (right).

Indirect contact is slightly (but JUST slightly) less restrictive: those are Class 2.4.2. Particulate and oil content classes remain the same, but dew point can be as high as 37°F (3°C). This is where the air the air is coming into contact not with the consumable product itself, but, for example, the packaging or container:

Atomizing Spray Nozzles rinse bottles prior to labeling (left), 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle blows off label to ensure proper scanning by sensor (center), Line Vac conveys canned goods (right).

EXAIR Corporation is committed to helping you get the most out of our products – and your compressed air system. If you have questions, I can talk about compressed air all day – and oftentimes I do! Let’s talk.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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ISO 8573-1 Chart by Compressed Air Best Practice.

Understanding Air Entrainment

EXAIR uses the word entrainment a lot, all of our blowoff products use the principle to amplify the air stream and increase efficiency. But, what is entrainment and what causes the phenomenon? Entrainment can be defined as a fluid that is swept along into an existing moving fluid. This brings Bernoulli’s equation into the picture. When looking at specific situations and conditions Bernoulli’s equation can show some interesting significance with gases.

Bernoulli’s Equation

Bernoulli’s equation takes into account four main variables which are Pressure (P), Density (r), Velocity (v), and a height difference (z); along with a single constant for gravity. you can see the relationship between the velocity squared and the pressure from the equation above.  Being that this relationship is a constant along the streamline; when the velocity increases; the pressure has to come down. Now we have to look at how fluids like to behave. Fluids within a system like to be at a constant pressure when at the same height and reach a state of equilibrium. This means that fluids will always flow towards a low pressure area, which means that if you create a constant low pressure area you can amplify the air stream. This is the same principle as to why airplanes can fly.

EXAIR Super Air Nozzle entrainment

Since compressed air can be an expensive utility, it is good to minimize it and maximize the surrounding entrained air. Therefore we have designed our products to use this entrainment principle to amplify the air blast while using less compressed air and more entrained ambient air. Products like our Super Air Knife can see an amplification ratio (ambient air to compressed air) of up to 40:1; this means for every 1 SCFM of compressed air used we are entraining 40 SCFM of ambient air.

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife

We use this principle for our Air Amplifiers, Air Knifes, Air Nozzles and Jets, Safety Air Guns, and our Gen4 Static Eliminators. Our goal is to save you money and give you better results in the process.  

If you have questions about any of our engineered Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR or any Application Engineer.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Optimization:  Step 6 – Control the air pressure

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important that you use it as efficiently as possible.  EXAIR generated a chart with six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system.  Following these steps will help you to cut overhead costs and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover the sixth step; controlling the air pressure at the point of use.

Pressure Regulators

One of the most common pressure control devices is called the Regulator.  It is designed to reduce the downstream pressure that is supplying your system.  Regulators are commonly used in many types of applications.  You see them attached to propane tanks, gas cylinders, and of course, compressed air lines.  Properly sized, regulators can flow the required amount of gas at a regulated pressure for safety and cost savings.

EXAIR designs and manufactures compressed air products to be safe, effective, and efficient.  By replacing your “old types” of blowing devices with EXAIR products, it will save you much compressed air, which in turn saves you money.  But, why stop there?  You can optimize your compressed air system even more by assessing the air pressure at the point-of-use.  For optimization, using the least amount of air pressure to “do the job” can be very beneficial and practical.

Model 1100

Why are regulators important for compressed air systems?  Because it gives you the control to set the operating pressure.  For many blow-off applications, people tend to overuse their compressed air.  This can create excessive waste, overwork your air compressor, and steal from other pneumatic processes.  By simply turning down the air pressure, less compressed air is used.  As an example, a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  If you only need 50 PSIG (3.4 bar) to satisfy the blow-off requirement, then the air flow for the model 1100 drops to 9.5 SCFM.  You are now able to add that 4.5 SCFM back into the compressed air system. And, if you have many blow-off devices, you can see how this can really add up.

In following the “EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System”, you can reduce your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money.  I explained one of the six steps in this blog by controlling the air pressure at the point of use.  Just as a note, by reducing the pressure from 100 PSIG (7 bar) to 80 PSIG (5.5 bar), it will cut your energy usage by almost 20%.  If you would like to review the details of any of the six steps, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to help. 

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