EXAIR Super Air Knives Can Make Everything Better…Even Popcorn!

You know the drill.  In almost any container of popcorn…whether it’s a movie theater bucket, a microwave bag, a stovetop pan (if you’re old school,) or a campfire popper (if you camp with class)…there’s always going to be some un-popped kernels.  And if you don’t pay particular attention to them, they might just activate your dental plan.

This is, unfortunately, an unavoidable inconvenience when dealing with freshly popped popcorn.  For a company that makes pre-packaged popcorn-based snacks, though, un-popped kernels are a real quality issue.  I just had the pleasure of helping a caller with this very issue: although they had a sifter device in place that took care of an awful lot of un-popped kernels, they still had enough getting through to merit a closer look.  Since the popcorn already passed through the sifter on a conveyor, the idea was to “float” the popped kernels across a short break in the conveyor, and let the un-popped kernels fall through.

After a short discussion of their needs, I recommended a Model 110224 24″ Aluminum Super Air Knife Kit. By using the Pressure Regulator (included with the kit) to dial in the air flow, they’re able to keep the popped deliciousness moving on for packaging, and let the dental hazards to fall through, where they’re sent back for another attempt at proper popping. So, they’re not only improving the quality of their product, they’re doing everything possible to make sure no kernel goes un-popped.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need to solve your application!

At EXAIR, we’re all about safety when it comes to compressed air use in industrial and commercial settings.  Now one of our products is helping protect peoples’ teeth while they’re eating popcorn snacks!  If you’d like to talk about how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product might be able to make things better for you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Compressed Air Has Tremendous Power! Use It Safely

Just the other day, not far from here, a demolition crew at a shuttered factory and a local homeowner got this message, loud & clear, when the crew inadvertently cut into a still-pressurized compressed air cylinder.  It launched, like a missile (an apt description, given the fact that real missiles operate on this exact same principle) some 1,500 feet, across the neighborhood, and into the bedroom of a house, three blocks away.  Here’s what the local news reported on it:

Now, before you go turn your air compressor off and vent your system, let’s look at just a couple of other incredible dangers we place ourselves in close proximity to every day:

Driving a car: I came to work this morning in a 3,500lb mass of metal, plastic, and glass, hurtling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  This would be an insane thing to do, were it not for:

*The engineering, design, and maintenance that makes the vehicle safe to operate,

*The training, experience, and periodic re-licensing required to maintain driving privileges,

*The upkeep of roadways, bridges, traffic signals, etc., and

*The monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety measures by our law enforcement officers.

Operating electrically powered devices:  if you’re reading this on a computer screen, you’re likely surrounded by objects that are connected directly to 120 volts of alternating current electricity.  That stuff will stop your heart.  Thank goodness all that current is contained, isolated, and grounded to keep it out of our bodies, even when we have to touch the controls to turn those devices on & off.

Food: Don’t even get me started on the hazards of ingesting plant & animal product that used to live outside and was processed for transport hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of miles away.  It’s a wonder any of us have made it this long.  Well, except for the development and rigorous implementation of food safety and sanitation practices & policy.

Working with compressed air is no different.  A typical plant compressed air system will operate at about 100psig.  That literally means that there is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS OF FORCE being exerted on EACH AND EVERY SQUARE INCH of the inside of the pipes, hoses, tanks, etc., in the system.  If you don’t keep it under control, you can have some serious problems.  Fortunately, there are simple, straightforward, and easily accessible ways to do that.

This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, but let’s start with:

Design: Your piping and components have to be the proper pressure rating.  We’ve got some good piping information on our websiteAlso, keep your vehicle well maintained, periodically check your electric devices for frayed cables, and look at your meat packages’ labels for a USDA stamp and “use by” date.

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don't rely on smell or color; food package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don’t rely on smell or color; package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Controls: Make sure you’re using your compressed air safely.  OSHA Regulation 1910.242(b) governs the use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes…it limits you to no more than 30psi of downstream, static pressure at the discharge of your blow off device.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products comply with this regulation, by design.  Also, watch your speed on the highway, don’t plug too many strands of Christmas tree lights in to one outlet, and always cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165F (73.9C)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant - certificated available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don't overload the circuit (right.)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – certificate available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

Personal Protective Equipment: Any time you’re working with compressed air, you should be wearing eye protection and using appropriate chip guards to keep flying debris from coming back at you.  Certain applications may require more safeguards…check with your compliance coordinator or supervisor to make sure.  Also, don’t shift out of ‘park’ without your seat belt fastened, take care to unplug any appliance before servicing it, and don’t skimp on a decent pair of oven mitts if you plan on making a lot of baked goods.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes - it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes – it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR has been making quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products for 34 years now.  If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call and ask for an Application Engineer.  No; compressed air isn’t safe, in and of itself…but it CAN be used safely…and that’s the important part.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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ef2d_star_trek_oven_mitt picture courtesy of Cozinhando Fantasias

d2590-1 picture courtesy of US Department of Agriculture

Holiday fire safety – Power strip overloaded picture courtesy of State Farm

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Can Counting Carbs Help in Your Compressed Air System?

Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast Cereal

Have you ever counted the amount of carbs that you eat?  People typically do this to lose weight, to become healthier, or for medical reasons like diabetes.  Personally, I like to eat cereal in the morning.  I will pull a box of cereal down from the cupboard and look at the Total Carbs field.  One morning, I looked at a box of gluten-free rice flakes and compared it to a peanut butter nugget cereal.  I noticed that the carbs were very similar.  The rice cereal had 23 grams of total carbs while the peanut butter nuggets had only 22 grams of total carbs.  Then I looked at the serving size.  The rice cereal had a serving size of 1 cup while the nuggets only had a serving size of ¾ cups.  So, in comparison, for one cup of nugget cereal, the total amount of carbs was 27.5 grams.  Initially, I thought that they were similar, but the peanut butter nugget was actually 20% higher in carbs.  This same “misdirection” occurs in your compressed air system.

Here is what I mean. Some manufacturers like to use a lower pressure to rate their products.  This lower pressure makes it seem like their products will use less compressed air in your system.  But, like with the serving sizes, it can be deceiving.  It is not a lie that they are telling, but it is a bit of misconception.  To do an actual comparisons, we have to compare the flow rates at the same pressure (like comparing the carbohydrates at the same serving size).  For example, MfgA likes to rate their nozzles at a pressure of 72.5 PSIG.  EXAIR rates their nozzles at 80 PSIG as this is the most common pressure for point-of-use equipment.  You can see where I am going with this.

To compare nozzles of the same size, MfgA nozzle has a flow rate of 34 SCFM at 72.5 PSIG, and EXAIR model 1104 Super Air Nozzle has a rating of 35 SCFM at 80 psig. From an initial observation, it looks like MfgA has a lower flow rating.  To do the correct comparison, we have to adjust the flow rate to the same pressure.  This is done by multiplying the flow of MfgA nozzle by the ratio of absolute pressures.  (Absolute pressure is gage pressure plus 14.7 PSI).  The ratio of absolute pressures is:  (80PSIG + 14.7) / (72.5PSIG + 14.7) = 1.09.  Therefore; the flow rate at 80 PSIG for MfgA nozzle is now 34 SCFM * 1.09 = 37 SCFM.  Now we can compare the flow rates for each compressed air nozzle.  Like adjusting the serving size to 1 cup of cereal, the MfgA will use 9% more compressed air in your system than the EXAIR model 1104 Super Air Nozzle.  This may not seem like much, but over time it will add up.  And, there is no need to waste additional compressed air.

Family of Nozzles

Family of Nozzles

The EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are designed to entrain more ambient air than compressed air needed. This will save you on your pneumatic system, which in turn will save you money.  The other design features gives the EXAIR Super Air Nozzle more force, less noise, and still meet the OSHA compliance.

If you want to run a healthier compressed air system, it is important to evaluate the amount of compressed air that you are using. To do this correctly, you always want to compare the information at the same pressure.  By using the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles in your compressed air system, you will only have to worry about your own weight, not your pneumatic system.

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

 

Picture: Breakfast Cereal by Mike Mozart Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Finding The Right Solution Through Dedicated Engineering Support

crate

Plastic crate in need of blow off after washing

An OEM of crate washing equipment in Lebanon recently contacted me about an application on one of their conveyors.  The conveyor carries a plastic crate out of a washer and excess water on the crate was presenting a problem in the application.  In order for the crate to move on to the next step in the machine, a blow off solution was needed, but the exit rate from the washer was inconsistent.  In a given minute there could be 5 crates exit the washer, or there could be 20.  So, the ideal solution needed to have intermittent control options with instantaneous on/off functionality.

We immediately began discussing Super Air Knives, not only because we show plastic crate blow off in one of our many videos, but also because these units are instant on/off with full compatibility with a flow control device.  Utilizing a flow controller, such as the EXAIR Electronic Flow Controller or PLC device, will allow for precise control of the blow off solution, limiting compressed air use to a minimum.

2016-12-07_164322

The first blow off system design

2016-12-07_164342

This layout utilizes Air Knives on each side of the blow off as well as the top

After discussing application details we came to the design shown above, using one 24” Air Knife on the top of the crate and two 9” Air Knives on the sides.  However, this OEM had purchased numerous 2” Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzles in the past (model 1122SS) and had a number available on site.  Modifying the system to utilize the nozzles already on-site, we came to this design:

system-layout

The finalized layout for this blow off system. Click for a larger view.

This layout utilizes (1) 24” Stainless Steel Super Air Knife on the top of the crate and (2) sets of (3) 2” Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzles on the sides, held in place with EXAIR Stay Set HosesNotice the independent pressure regulators for the nozzles and the knife.  This is to allow the customer to balance the air flows, because the 2” flat nozzles will create a higher force than the Air Knife when operating at the same pressure.

In this application we were able to help a returning OEM solve their problem with the right mix of needed products.  Exploring the problem and discussing numerous viable solutions led to the best fit for the application and customer.  That’s precisely why EXAIR Application Engineers are available for any application call or question.  If you’d like to explore an EXAIR solution we’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

 

What Makes Things Easier Than An EXAIR Static Eliminator? Another EXAIR Static Eliminator!

A contract manufacturer, servicing the medical and biotechnology markets, is a long time user of our Ion Air Guns. They’ve had great success with them in keeping their products free from static & dust for years. These are mainly small, hand-held parts, so, when they need to get them clean and static-free during assembly and packaging, EXAIR’s Ion Air Gun is ideal, because it, too, is small and hand-held.

A new process, though, involves the operator needing both hands for assembly. This would mean picking up the Ion Air Gun, blowing off the part, putting it down, and then using both hands to complete the operation. They thought there had to be a better way. And they were right!

The Model 8910 Instant Static Elimination Station offers hands-free control of ionized air flow – a foot pedal turns an Ion Air Jet (whose performance is identical to the Ion Air Gun) on and off with…well, the press of a foot. The Magnetic Base and Stay Set Hose make it easy to install, and even easier to position.

Hand held convenience of the Ion Air Gun (easy) or no-hands convenience of the Ion Air Jet Station (easier.) Your call.

Hand held convenience of the Ion Air Gun (easy) or no-hands convenience of the Ion Air Jet Station (easier.) Your call.

For an even more automated approach, they are considering an EFC Electronic Flow Control. They’re ready to go, right out of the box…the photoelectric sensor will open and close a solenoid valve (installed in the compressed air supply line) based on the setting of the programmable timer unit. With a simple wave of the part in front of the sensor, the operator could activate a preset blow of a few seconds, which would be easy to determine, even easier to set, and…easiest of all…reliably repeat all day long. They’re going to try out the foot pedal first, and that’s just fine by me.  Perhaps there’s such as thing as “too easy,” but man, I hope not.

Even if you’re already using EXAIR products to make things easy, you can call me to see how much easier it might get.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Speaking of easy...get a FREE AC Sensor with a Static Eliminator order. Promotion ends 1/31/2017!

Speaking of easy…get a FREE AC Sensor with a Static Eliminator order. Promotion ends 1/31/2017!

Removing Debris from Jars Prior To Filling

pv-500-jar-image-without-sleeve

These PET jars needed a way to remove static dust prior to filling with product

Back in the spring of this year I had some interaction with a customer in India about a Vortex Tube application.  At the time, they were facing an overheating condition and needed some guidance as to which model would provide the best solution.

Fast forward to this week and this same customer reached out to me again, this time for a static problem.  The application in question was plagued with difficulty in removing small dust particles from the inside of PET jars (shown above).  The jars range from 220-260mm in height (8.6”-10.25”), 80-100mm (3.1”-4”) in diameter, and travel through the process at a speed of ~40 units per minute.

Due to static charge, the dust in this application would adhere to the inside of the jars, presenting a problem with filling during the next stage of the process.  What this customer needed was a way to remove the static, blow away the dust, and then pull a slight vacuum on the jars as a safeguard against any remaining dust.

The solution was to use the Stay Set Ion Air Jet to blow into the jars, removing the static and blowing away the dust, followed by a Super Air Amplifier to remove any dust particles which were not removed by the Ion Air Jet.

The customer was happy with this solution, but there was a bit of hesitation as to whether the Air Amplifier would be able to truly remove debris from the jars.  In an effort to visualize the effects of an Air Amplifier on this type of application I made the short video below.

This video shows paper pieces inside of a cylinder of comparable height to the jars in this application.  After the paper is placed in the cylinder the model 120021 Super Air Amplifier is used to pull the paper out of the cylinder, mimicking the effect it will have on residual dust in the customer’s application.  After seeing the video the customer was confident in the application solution.

Providing this type of assistance for our customers is nothing new for us at EXAIR.  We’re available via phone, online chat, or email for all of our customers, and commit to taking the time needed to really provide the assistance needed.  If you find yourself in need of solid engineering support for an application in your facility, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

 

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

More Power May Not Be The Solution

I can’t tell you how much it pains me to write this after last week’s blog. But, if we’re being honest here, every Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (“More Power!”) does indeed need an Al Borland (“I don’t think so, Tim.”) As evidence of this, I had an opportunity to provide reasoned advice to a caller on the tech support line this week:

They had just purchased a Model 110224 24″ Aluminum Super Air Knife Kit. The flow it produced wasn’t powerful enough for their needs, so they installed extra shims from the Shim Set (which comes with the Kit) – increasing the shim gap to 0.009″ (which can produce a great deal more air flow and force)…more power, right?

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator.

Unfortunately, not. The Super Air Knife makes a hard hitting curtain of air when supplied properly…but it’s going to need a 1/2″ pipe (ID of ~5/8″) to carry enough compressed air flow to make that happen. Turns out, they were using 1/4″ tubing, which wasn’t even getting enough compressed air flow to the unit with just the 0.002″ shim installed. Putting in the extra shims actually made that worse. Once they ran a 3/4″ hose to the Air Knife (and took out those extra shims,) they were actually able to regulate the air supply back to about 60psig, which provided a strong enough air flow to solve the application.

This table comes directly from the Installation & Operation Instructions for the Super Air Knife.

This table comes directly from the Installation & Operation Instructions for the Super Air Knife.

Sometimes, though, compressed air product applications DO come down to a need for more power.  Next week, I’ll tell you about a caller who said he needed “the biggest and most powerful” Safety Air Gun we had – and unlike the last time I wrote a blog about that – he was RIGHT.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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