Compressed Air Efficiency Results in Better Business!

Time and time again we write about how compressed air is considered the fourth utility in a manufacturing setting. Compressed air is a great resource to use, however it needs to be used responsibly!

How you use it in your business is important, for a couple of key considerations:

The Cost of Compressed Air

Compressed air isn’t free.  Heck, it isn’t even cheap.  According to a Tip Sheet on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, some companies estimate the cost of generation at $0.18 – $0.30 per 1,000 cubic feet of air.  A typical industrial air compressor will make 4-5 Standard Cubic Feet per Minute per horsepower.  Let’s be generous and assume that our 100HP compressor puts out 500 SCFM and is fully loaded 85% of the time over two shifts per day, five days a week:

500 SCFM X $0.18/1,000 SCF X 60 min/hr X 16 hr/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year =

$22,464.00 estimated annual compressed air cost

So to minimize the compressed air use and the over all generation costs there are six easy steps to follow!

  1. Measure: the air consumption You must create a baseline to understand your demand requirements. How can you measure your improvements if you do not understand your total demand or baseline? Installing an EXAIR Flow Meter to your main air lines will help identify the amount of compressed air demand you have and help identify areas of concern.
  2. Find and fix leaks in the system: The repair of compressed air leaks is one of easiest ways to gain energy savings. In most cases all you need is a keen sense of hearing to locate a leak. Once a you have confirmed a leak then the make the necessary repairs. Harder to find leaks may require tools such as EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector. This is a hand held high quality instrument that can be used to locate costly air leaks.
  3. Upgrade your blow off, cooling and drying operations: Updating your compressed air process tooling can save you energy and help you comply with OSHA noise and safety regulations. An example would be to replace old blow off or open pipe systems with EXAIR Safety Air Nozzles. Replacing open copper tubes or pipes can amount up to 80% air savings. You achieve lower sound levels and significant energy savings.
  4. Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use: It sounds obvious but how many times has an operator left for a break or lunch and doesn’t shut off the compressed air for his/her station? The minutes add up to a significant amount of time annually meaning there is opportunity for energy savings. The use of solenoid valves will help but EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control (EFC) will dramatically reduce compressed air costs with the use of a photoelectric sensor and timing control.
  5. Use intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use: The use of storage receivers can improve your overall system efficiency in a number of ways. For example, using a main air receiver at the compressor room can make load/unload compressor control more efficient. Localizing receiver tanks such as EXAIR’s 9500-60 sixty gallon receiver tank by the point of use for a high demand process will stabilize the demand fluctuations allowing a more fluid operation.
  6. Control the air pressure at the point of use to minimize air consumption: The use of pressure regulators will resolve this issue. Using regulators you can control the amount of air being processed at each point of use. EXAIR offers different sized pressure regulators depending upon your air line and process requirements. Regulating the compressed air to the minimum amount required and will reduce your overall demand resulting in annual savings and a payback schedule.

Health & Safety

Injuries and illnesses can be big expenses for business as well. Inefficient use of compressed air can be downright unsafe.  Open ended blow offs present serious hazards, if dead-ended…the pressurized (energized) flow can break the skin and cause a deadly air embolism.  Even some air nozzles that can’t be dead ended (see examples of cross-drilled nozzles on right) cause a different safety hazard, hearing loss due to noise exposure.  This is another case where EXAIR can help.  Not only are our Intelligent Compressed Air Products fully OSHA compliant in regard to dead end pressure, their efficient design also makes them much quieter than other devices.

Efficient use of compressed air can make a big difference in the workplace – not only to your financial bottom line, but to everyone’s safety, health, and livelihood.  If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR can help, give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Adjustable Air Amplifiers: Versatile, Rugged, and EFFICIENT!

Adjustability is a key feature for several EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products… for example our Adjustable Air Amplifiers.  The ‘adjustable’ part has to do with setting the air flow volume and force:

Just loosen the locking ring, and you can thread the plug out of, or in to, the body to increase, or decrease the flow and force of the developed flow.  There’s a hole in the plug (opposite the “EXAIR.com” stamp) so you can use a spanner wrench (another adjustable tool!) to thread the plug in or out.

You can get an amazing range of flow from a little twist*:

These are the performance values for a Model 6042 2″ Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier with a compressed air supply pressure of 80psig. Regulating the pressure can give you even lower…or higher…flows.                                              *0.002″ to 0.010″ is about 1/4 turn of the plug.

A gap of about 0.010″ is about the max for 80psig supply pressure.  Above that, the air flow overwhelms the Coanda profile, creating a turbulent ‘storm’ in the throat, hampering the efficiency and effectiveness. The proper “adjustment” for that is to select the next larger Air Amplifier!

While the range of air flow is certainly impressive, their versatility is another major factor in their selection.  I reviewed our Application Database (registration required) for real-life details on Adjustable Air Amplifiers “in the field” and found a litany of other benefits that made them better suited to particular installations than a Super Air Amplifier:

  • A customer who builds automated equipment incorporates the Model 6031 1-1/4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifier to blow open bags with a puff of air as they move into position on an automated filling machine. They use it because it’s available in stainless steel construction, and it’s still compact & lightweight.
  • A mattress manufacturer uses Model 6043 3″ Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifiers to cool mattress springs.  They’re lightweight, the perfect size to match the springs’ profile, and they can “dial them out” for high heat removal before putting springs on a rubber conveyor.
  • A tier 1 automotive supplier has Model 6234 4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifier Kits installed on their robotic paint line to blow off moisture from parts to prevent water spotting between the wash cycle and the oven.  They use them because the stainless steel construction holds up to high heat due to the proximity to the ovens.
  • A food plant uses Model 6031 1-1/4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifiers to improve the drying time of 3,000 liter mixers that must be washed between batches of different products.  The stainless steel construction holds up to the rigors of the frequent washdown in this area.
  • A bedding manufacturer replaced a regenerative blower with a Model 6041 1-1/4″ Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier for trim removal on stitched fabric at bedding manufacturer.  The blower was prone to failure from lint & dust; the Air Amplifier, with no moving parts, is not.  It’s also compact, lightweight, and virtually maintenance free.
  • A light bulb manufacturer installed Model 6030 3/4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifiers on the ends of open pipes that were used to cool mercury lamp wicks.  This reduced noise levels significantly while providing the same cooling rate, and the stainless steel construction holds up to the heat of the operation.

Because of the simplicity of their design, Adjustable Air Amplifiers are also extremely adaptable to custom applications.  We’ve added threads or flanges to the inlets and outlets of several different sizes, to accommodate ease of mounting & installation:

Among other custom Air Amplifiers, we’ve put (left to right) threads on the outlet, ANSI flanges on the inlet/outlet, Sanitary flanges on the inlet/outlet, and Sanitary on the inlet/ANSI on the outlet. How are you installing your Air Amplifier?

Adjustable Air Amplifiers are available in both aluminum and 303SS construction, to meet most any environmental requirements…except extreme high heat.  In those cases, the Model 121021 High Temperature Air Amplifier is rated to 700°F (374°C) – significantly higher than the Aluminum – 275°F (135°C) or the Stainless Steel – 400°F (204°C).  They’re commonly used to circulate hot air inside furnaces, ovens, refractories, etc.

A Model 121021 1-1/4″ High Temp Air Amplifier directs hot air to a rotational mold cavity for uniform wall thickness of the plastic part.

Adjustability.  Versatility.  Durability.  If you’d like to know more about the Adjustable Air Amplifier, or any of EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Turn the Pressure Down, Save Operation Costs

I recently recommended to a customer to turn their air pressure down on their system as low as their process would allow. Meaning regulate the pressure so you have enough to complete the operations needed but find that happy medium where your compressor isn’t working as hard to build those high pressures for no reason!

Compressed air is an amazing tool to have, and when used properly it can be more efficient that other non compressed air tools that run off electricity. How ever its pretty common to see compressed air systems running at their max just because.

Lowering the air system pressure reduces the compressor power consumption by about 1% for every two psi of lower pressure. Lowering the pressure also makes any unregulated operations reduce consumption by almost 1% for every one psi of pressure reduction. Not to mention the extra savings if your compressor system can turn down the compressor power because of the reduced flow and possibly shut off compressors that are no longer needed!

The best pressure at which to set your system is the level where your production can operate efficiently and effectively without waste: There is no right pressure—it depends on your operations and tools. You may have 90 to 100 psig at the compressor, but at the production machine, where the actual work is being done, you could have only 65 to 70 psig. In some cases, it may be even lower due to pressure drops in undersized piping, filters, regulators. The goal is to lower compressor discharge pressure without affecting the the operations at the end of the line.

Having artificially high plant-pressure can help you deal with surges in compressed air demand that might occasionally cause low-pressure and affect production. The higher pressure acts to store reserve air in the various volumes made up of receivers, pipes and such in your system. However, the higher pressure costs more to produce and makes unregulated end uses consume more air, which is an expensive trade-off. Another option is to make sure you have line pressure regulators at each point of use. This will allow you to regulate the operation to the pressure needed being sure to save compressed air and keep the over all system running more efficient.

You can regulate those point of use lines with a number of EXAIRs Pressure Regulators!

EXAIR offers a range of Pressure Regulators capable of handling air flow of up to 700 SCFM.

If we can help size a regulator, or have any other questions on how EXAIR can help you save compressed air in your system please reach out to me or one of our other Application Engineers!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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What Is A Coanda Profile?

The big thing that sets engineered products like EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products apart from other devices is the engineering that goes into their design.  Several principles of fluidics are key to those designs:

The one I wanted to discuss today, though, is the Coanda Effect, what it means for our engineered compressed air products, and what they can do for you:

The Coanda effect is named after Henri Coandă, who was the first to use the phenomenon in a practical application…in his case, aircraft design.  He described it as “the tendency of a jet of fluid emerging from an orifice to follow an adjacent flat or curved surface and to entrain fluid from the surroundings so that a region of lower pressure develops.”  Put simply, if fluid flows past a solid object, it keeps flowing along that surface (even through curves or bends) and pulls surrounding fluid into its flow.  Here’s a demonstration, using an EXAIR Super Air Amplifier and a plastic ball:

What’s interesting here is that the Super Air Amplifier is not only DEMONSTRATING the Coanda effect, it’s also USING it:

Air Amplifiers use the Coanda Effect to generate high flow with low consumption.

EXAIR Standard and Full Flow Air Knives also have Coanda profiles that the primary (compressed air) flow follows, and uses, to entrain “free” air from the surrounding environment:

Compressed air flows through the inlet (1) to the Standard Air Knife, into the internal plenum. It then discharges through a thin gap (2), adhering to the Coanda profile (3) which directs it down the face of the Air Knife. The precision engineered & finished surfaces optimize entrainment of air (4) from the surrounding environment.

EXAIR Air Wipes can be thought of as “circular Air Knives” – instead of a Coanda profile along the length of an Air Knife, an Air Wipe’s Coanda profile is on the ring of the Air Wipe, which entrains surrounding air into a 360° ring of converging air flow:

Air Wipe – How it works

So that’s the science incorporated in the design of our products.  But what does it mean to the user?

  • Efficiency.  Pulling in a tremendous amount of “free” air from the surrounding environment means minimal consumption of compressed air, while still getting a hard hitting, high velocity air flow.
  • Sound reduction.  This air entrainment also creates a boundary layer in the air flow, resulting in a much quieter air flow than you get from a simple open-end blow off.

EXAIR Corporation is committed to helping you get the most out of your compressed air system, and thanks to Mr. Coandă, that includes reducing your compressed air consumption and noise levels.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

 

 

 

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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