Compressed Air in Farming and Agriculture

I used to help my father-in-law around his farm and this city boy had his eyes opened when he realized it was more than shovels, tractors and livestock. Agriculture is vital for human existence and has become far more advanced over the centuries with a continual thirst for efficiency and technology. Agriculture is just like many other industries looking for continued ways to increase yield, improve quality, maximize labor and improve technology.

EXAIR has many products used in the agriculture and food processing industries. The following details a few example by product line how we can influence efficiencies and quality of products:

Super Air Knife drying fruits and vegetables

Super Air Knives:

EXAIRs Super Air Knives are have ben used to help harvest apples and peaches. In this case they use our Super Air Knives to dry and blow off the fruit after the rinsing process just before the waxing process then again after waxing to blow off any remaining debris or moisture from the fruit before being packed.

A processing company using the Super Air Knife to clean a conveying belt equipped with a weighing system. Before the installation of the the Super Air Knife some of the cut vegetables being weighed would stick to the belt. Their solution was to clean the conveyor belt with EXAIR’s Super Air Knife to ensure continuous operation of the weighing and packaging systems.

Super Air Nozzles:

An onion farmer used EXAIR’s Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle to blow loose onion skins from the onions before packaging to improve the aesthetics to the customers.

Line Vacs:

A food packaging company repackages banana peppers from 55 gallon drums to 1 and 5 gallon containers using our Model 6066 3″ Stainless Steel Line Vac.

Using EXAIRs Model 150200 2″ Heavy Duty Line Vacs a feed stock manufacturer conveys various grains and feed stock simultaneously to a mixer which blends the ingredients. This reduced their blend time by 50%.

A grain processor used Model 142200 aluminum threaded Line Vac to convey small amounts of corn meal into a hopper which feeds into their inspection process.

A company producing worm eggs encapsulated in water soluble wax sold to farmers to enhance soil conditions. They eliminated a hand operation using Model 6081 1″ Aluminum Line Vac  to convey the worm eggs from one classifier to another.

EXAIR has several applications using Atomizing Spray nozzles to add moisture in growing environments . Greenhouses use our Atomizing spray nozzles to control humidity in the air and keep their soils moist to maintain optimal growing environments.

There are many other applications using compressed AIR on farms such as filling tires, cleaning equipment, blowing out water lines and more. Technology drives labor savings and improved quality prototypes are being designed and tested to use compressed air using drones to shoot pods filled with seeds, fertilizer and other nutrients into the soil. EXAIR will remain a strong influence in the growth of compressed air products helping to reduce the carbon footprint, enhance efficiencies and improve cost and quality within the agriculture and food processing industries.

If you have an application and you would like to talk please contact me or any of our qualified Application Engineers at 800.903.9247 and we will gladly help with our best recommendations.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

These Nozzles Clean Blind Holes, Pipe Inside Diameters, Tube, Channels and More

EXAIR manufactures a variety of Air Nozzles and Jets . Back Blow Air Nozzles can help reduce cost, clean hard to get to areas in small diameters, pipes, tubes, channels and holes. These nozzles are designed to remove debris from pipes, blind holes, and other areas where it is difficult be effective. Sometimes it is a bad idea to blow debris all the way through a pipe because there may be personnel on the other end or it is simply too long or it may be sealed on an end. 

The Model 1006SS cleans metal shavings from inside a pipe.

The Back Blow Air Nozzles are all made from 316 Stainless Steel with three sizes as outlined below:

Model 1004SS: This is a M4 x 0.5 and delivers the smallest, most effective airflow for cleaning out small diameter tubes, pipes, channels or holes for diameters between 1/4″ up to 1″. Extension pipes available from 6″ up to 36″ in length.

Model 1006SS: The 1/4 NPT Back Blow Nozzle recommended for a wide range of diameters from 7/8″ up too 4″. Extension pipes available from 12″ up to 72″ in length.

Model 1008SS: 1 NPT female and the largest Back Blow Nozzle in stock for diameters from 2″ up to 16″ with pip extensions available from 12″ up to 72″ long.

Model 1306SS-6-CS Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun with 6″ extension and chip shield

These nozzles can also be assembled to our VariBlast, Soft Grip, Heavy Duty and Super Blast Safety Air Guns. EXAIR safety air gun options include chip shields and pipe extensions up to 72″ long. EXAIR has the products and accessories you need to make any job more efficient saving you time and money. Give us call at 800.903.9247 and ask for any of our qualified Application Engineers to help you. Most items are stock and can be shipped the same day if we receive and enter your order by 3:00PM EDT.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

Considerations for Ejecting Parts with an Air Nozzle: Weight and Friction

I had a customer wanting to reject a container off a conveyor belt.  The container held yogurt, and when an optic detected a reject, they wanted to operate a solenoid to have a nozzle blow the container into a reject bin.  They had a range that went from 4 oz. (113 grams) for the small containers to 27 oz (766 grams) for the large.  He wanted me to suggest one nozzle for all sizes, as they would automatically regulate the pressure for the full range of products.  In looking at the largest size, this container will need the most force to blow off the conveyor.  The two factors that affects the force in this type of application is weight and friction.  When it comes to friction, it is generally an unknown for customers.  So, I was able to help with a couple of things to determine the friction force.

Friction is a dimensionless number that represents the resistance created between two surfaces.  We have two types; static friction, ms, and kinetic friction, mk.  Static friction is the maximum amount of resistance before the object begins to move or slide.  Kinetic friction is the amount of resistance that is created when the object is moving or sliding.  So, Static friction is always greater than kinetic friction, ms > mk.  For this application, we will use an air nozzle to “shoot” horizontally to hit the rejected product.

Let’s take look at our customer’s application.  We have a system to reject a non-conforming part with air.  The conveyor has a urethane belt.  The container is plastic.  For the largest container, they have a weight of 27 oz. (766 grams).  Being that the conveyor belt is only 12” (30.5 cm) wide, we can determine that if we get the part moving, it will continue off the belt and into the reject bin.  The equation for the maximum amount of force required to move a container is below as Equation 1.

Equation 1

Fs = ms * W

Fs – Static Force in ounces (grams)

m– Static Friction

W – Weight in ounces (grams)

One way to determine the amount of force is to use a scale similar to a fish scale.  The scale should have a maximum indicator to help capture the maximum amount of force.  You will have to place the object on the same belt material because different types of materials will create different static forces. Keep the scale perpendicular to the object, and slowly pull on the scale.  Once the part begins to move, record the scale reading.  For the exercise above, it showed 9.6 oz. (271 grams) of force to move the 27 oz. (766 gram) object.

Another way would be to calculate the static friction, ms.  Static friction can be found by the angle at which an object starts to move.  By placing the container on a section of supported urethane conveyor belt, you can lift one end until the object starts to slide.  The height of the lift can be measured as an angle.  As an example, we take 3 feet (0.9 meter) of supported urethane conveyor belt, and we lifted one end to a height of 1 foot (0.3 meters) before the 27 oz (766 gram) container moved.  To determine static friction, it is the tangent of that angle that you lifted.  With some right triangle trigonometry equations, we get an angle of 19.5o.  Thus, ms = tanq or ms = tan(19.5o) = 0.354.  If we plug this into Equation 1, we get the following:

Imperial Units                                                    SI Units

Fs = ms * W                                                         Fs = ms * W

= 0.354 * 27 oz.                                                = 0.354 * 766 grams

= 9.6 oz. of force                                              = 271 grams of force

1″ Flat Super Air Nozzles

Now that we have the static force, we want to be slightly higher than that.  In looking at the force requirements that are published in the EXAIR catalog, it shows that the model 1126 1” Super Flat Air Nozzle has a 9.8 oz. (278 grams) of force at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  This force is measured at a 12” (30.5 cm) distance with a patented .015” (0.38mm) shim.  So, this nozzle will be able to slide the largest container into the reject bin.

1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle shims

To expand on the benefits in using the EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles, the force can be changed easily with a regulator or with a Shim Set.  This is a unique feature as most competitive flat nozzles do not allow you to do this.  The patented shims control the force rating in a wide range with lower air consumption and lower noise levels; making them safe and efficient.  So, if this manufacturer decided to produce other sizes in the future, then they could change the shim to target even larger containers.  The flexibility of using the EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles allow you to increase or decrease the force by just removing two screws and changing the thickness of the shim inside.  EXAIR does offer a pack of shims with different thicknesses which are called a Shim Set.

With air pressure or shim manipulation, the customer could use the same nozzle for the yogurt containers.  If you have any applications that need products to be rejected quickly, an Application Engineers at EXAIR will be happy to help you with a solution.

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

Photo: Yogurt by BUMIPUTRAPixabay Licence

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 3 – Use Efficient and Quiet Engineered Products

Compressed air is expensive, and you should treat it that way.  Frequent readers of the EXAIR Blog are familiar with our Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, and you may have seen these recent installments on Steps 1 and 2:

Six Steps to Optimization: Step 1 – Measure the Air Consumption

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 2 – Find and Fix Leaks

Now, there isn’t a strict order in which you MUST perform these steps, and they’re not all applicable in every air system (looking at you, Step 5: Use Intermediate Storage,) but these are likely the steps that a certified auditor will take, and the order in which they’ll take them.  If you’re looking for immediate, quantifiable results, though, Step 3 is a great place to start.  Consider:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube blow off can consume as much as 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll give you a good, strong blow off, for sure.  You can crimp the end and get that down to, say, 20 SCFM or so.  Or, you can install a Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with a compression fitting, and drop that to just 14 SCFM.
    • If you’re tracking your compressed air usage, you’ll see that replacing just one of them saves you 45,600 Standard Cubic Feet worth of compressed in one 5 day (8 hour a day) work week.  That’s $11.40 in air generation cost savings, for a $42 (2020 List Price) investment.
    • If you spend time in the space where it’s installed, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the noise situation.  That sound level from the copper tube is likely over 100 dBA; the Super Air Nozzle’s is only 74 dBA.

This user was only a handful of compression fittings & nozzles away from over $800 in annual compressed air savings.

  • Drilled pipes are another common method to create a blow off.  They’re easy & cheap, but loud & expensive to operate.
    • A pipe drilled with 1/8″ holes and supplied @80psig will consume 13 SCFM per hole, and the holes are typically drilled on 1/2″ centers.
    • An EXAIR Super Air Knife consumes only 2.9 SCFM per inch of length, and because it’s an engineered product, it’s a LOT quieter as well.  Drilled pipes are, essentially, open ended blow offs just like the copper tube mentioned above.  When you let compressed air out of a hole like that, all the potential energy of the pressure is converted to force…and noise.
    • Drilled pipes are among the worst offenders; almost always well in excess of 100 dBA.  Super Air Knives generate a sound level of only 69 dBA with 80psig compressed air supply.  They are, in fact, the quietest compressed air blowing product on the market today.

This Model 110048 48″ Aluminum Super Air Knife replaced a drilled pipe for over $5,000 annual compressed air savings.

These aren’t just theoretical “for instances” either – the data, and the photos above, come from actual Case Studies we’ve performed with real live users of our products.  You can find them here, and here (registration required.)

These are two examples of EXAIR product users who only used Step 3 of our Six Steps, although BOTH of them were already practicing Step 4 (Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use)…they had their blow offs supplied through solenoid valves that were wired into the respective machine controls, and the Air Knife user HAD to do Step 6 (Control the air pressure at the point of use) to keep their product from being blown clear off the conveyor..

But we’ll be happy to help you with optimizing your compressed air system using any or all of the Six Steps. Give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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