Compressed Air Uses In Industry

From pneumatic hand tools like impact wrenches or nail guns to larger scale industrial applications like stamping presses, the use of compressed air can be found in almost any industry. In fact, it is often referred to as a “fourth utility” next to water, gas and electric.

Compressed air is used in virtually every industry!

 

Take for example in construction, workers will use a pneumatic riveter to join steel framing because of the power generated by the tool over an electrically powered device, not to mention it provides for a safer operation by removing an electrical hazard. Many companies use compressed air operated diaphragm pumps or air motor driven pumps to move expensive or viscous liquid from one location to another. These types of pumps are self priming drawing the liquid in and provide positive displacement meaning they fill and empty the liquid chamber with the same amount of liquid through a common inlet and outlet.

Amusement parks have used compressed air in some capacity in the operation of thrill rides like roller coasters or to enhance the effect of certain attractions. Compressed air can be found in hospitals where it is used for specialized breathing treatments or to power surgical instruments in an operating room. Educational facilities use compressed air for laboratory testing. You can even find compressed air in the tires on your car. Basically, when you think about it, compressed air is being used just about anywhere.

Here at EXAIR, we manufacture Intelligent Compressed Air Products to help improve the efficiency in a wide variety of industrial operations. Whether you are looking to coat a surface with an atomized mist of liquid, conserve compressed air use and energy, cool an electrical enclosure, convey parts or dry material from one location to another or clean a conveyor belt or web, chances are we have a product that will fit your specific need.

EXAIR has been providing engineered solutions since 1983.

 

To discuss your particular application or for help selecting the best product, contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247 for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Compressed Air Valves image courtesy of Shane Gorski via creative commons license.

Line Vac Alleviates Back Breaking Work in Drying Cocoa Beans

An overseas plant had a large operation processing cocoa beans.  They would pick the pods off the cocoa trees, remove the beans from the pod, and place them on a large screened table to dry in the sun.  The drying process may seem primitive, but with the natural energy of the sun, it is free.  To completely remove the moisture from the cocoa beans, they would have to keep the beans exposed to the sun for close to a week.  As a daily operation, the workers would have to carry beans to and from a storage container by shovel and bucket.  In the morning when the sun was rising, they would shovel the beans from the storage container and spread them onto the table.  Before evening came, they would shovel the beans from the table back into the storage containers.  This back and forth was very hard work and time consuming.

In discussing their setup, the storage containers were a maximum of 10 meters away from the drying tables.  The bulk density of cocoa beans are roughly 980 kg/m^3.  So, with 19L buckets used to carry the beans, each one would weigh a bit over 18Kg each.  The operators would carry two buckets, multiple times during the day to load the tables (reference the photo below).  Then they would remove the beans in the evening to put them back into the storage containers.  The reason that they had to store the cocoa beans at night was because of dew.  When the temperature drops during the night, dew would settle onto the beans and rehydrate them.  So, to keep the beans drying at a moderate rate, they had to store them during the night.  This was very hard work on the workers’ backs, and they were also losing sunlight hours as this was a long tedious operation.  In trying to find a better solution to improve their operation, they searched and found the EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors.

Cocoa beans being dried

Cocoa beans being dried

The EXAIR Line Vac fit very well into their operation. I suggested the model 152200 Heavy Duty Line Vac Kit as this unit has our highest conveyance rate.  It can convey the cocoa beans at a rate of nearly 900kg/hr.  It is very compact and easy to use.  This plantation placed a 10 meter length of hose in between the storage containers and the drying tables.  They attached a 1 meter section of hose to the vacuum end of the Heavy Duty Line Vac.  Because the Line Vac pushes the product much better than it pulls, we recommend the vacuum hose to be 1 meter or less for optimum conveyance.  So, in the morning, they would go to the storage container and attach the 10 meter hose to the exhaust end of the Line Vac.  They would open the compressed air line to the Line Vac and watch the cocoa beans being conveyed to the drying tables.  In the evening, they would reverse the procedure and attach the Line Vac to the 10 meter hose near the drying tables.  They would watch the beans being conveyed back into the storage containers.  Not only did this save the backs of their workers, it also increased the amount of drying time.  With their new operation, the cocoa beans now had an additional 1 hour of drying each day in the sun.  This helped tremendously in getting the dried cocoa beans to the processing factory more quickly.

Line Vacs can convey many things.

Line Vacs can convey many things.

If your company has a strenuous operation in moving dry bulk products like this, you may want to consider an EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor. They are very reliable, easy to use, and long lasting.  If you need help in finding the correct model for your application, please contact us today.

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

Air Amplifier is Useful as an Air Conveyor for Light Material

I had a customer that was wanting to reduce the footprint and the noise level of his machine. His equipment trimmed medical capsule shells, 40 pieces at a time. The capsule shells were dropped into a chute and transferred to another location. The capsules weighed 150 milligram each, and they had to be move 15 feet (4.5 meters) horizontally and 3.3 feet (1 meter) high. The machine contained its own air compressor and blower system. The air compressor was used to operate air cylinders and other pneumatic equipment. A 5HP blower system was used to transfer the capsules. The blower motor, ducting, and cyclone separator was very bulky and noisy. They asked me if EXAIR could supply a product that would use very little compressed air to transfer the capsules without creating excessive noise.

Adjustable Air Amplifier

Adjustable Air Amplifier

I accepted the challenge. The customer only had 12 scfm (20 M^3/hr) of compressed air that was usable. In looking at my options, I had to use a product with a large amplification ratio. (Parts of room air vs. Parts of compressed air). The best candidate was an EXAIR Air Amplifier with a 20:1 amplification ratio. The capsules are light weight, and the distance was not very far which made this application a suitable one for the Air Amplifier. I decided to do a trial test using the model 6032 stainless steel Adjustable Air Amplifier (Stainless Steel had to be used to be compliant). In my trial, I adjusted the Air Amplifier to the desired flow rate. I was able to move the capsules the complete distance. I then reduced the flow to see if I was able to complete the task. I was able to consistently mover the capsules at a compressed air flow rate of 7 scfm (12 M^3/hr).

In some situations, we can run trial tests to make sure that the product can meet the specification of the customer. This customer was able to remove the blower system, reduce the foot print of his design, and more importantly reduce the amount of noise. If you have an unknown situation and you would like for an Application Engineer to do a trial test, you can contact us here.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_jb

Air Conveyor Improves Candy Bar Recovery

This week I worked with a candy company who was looking to improve their overflow product recovery. When their bulk bagging machine is inoperable, the wrapped candy bars are sent to an overflow container where they are manually scooped out by an operator. This process was causing damage to the bars and wrappers, as well as presenting an ergonomic hazard to the employee, so they called EXAIR for a solution.

I recommended using our Line Vac Air Operated Conveyor. The Line Vac  connects to hose or pipe to create an inline conveyor and is able to move large amounts of material over long distances, requires no electricity, has no moving parts, and provides maintenance free operation, making it the ideal choice for this application.

After discussing the details with the customer, they were concerned that the candy bars and wrappers, getting picked up by the airflow and transported through the hose, might continue to be damaged. I advised that by using a pressure regulator they could control the vacuum/conveying rate by increasing or decreasing the supply pressure, but their concern remained. I then offered to perform a conveyance test at our facility, if they were willing to send product. The customer agreed and was kind enough to send some of the candy, with some extra bags inside for the staff here at EXAIR. (Which is pretty awesome! I mean, FREE candy? Who doesn’t love that?!)

With a wide range of sizes and materials of construction, we've got your solution.  Call us.

Available in 11 sizes and different materials to meet many application requirements. Line Vacs have smooth ends for connecting hose with a clamp or threaded ends to connect with standard pipe sizes.

Our set up included our 3″ Line Vac with a 10′ section of 3” conveyance hose on the vacuum side and a horizontal conveyance run of approximately 35′, with a 13′ vertical run into a soft sided hopper. We were successful in conveying approximately 9.9 lbs. per minute, when operating at 80 PSIG, with no broken candy bars and no damage to the wrappers. We also determined that 40 PSIG inlet pressure was the lowest they could run the operation, if they were okay with a lower convey rate.

We provided the results to the customer and included a short video of our testing. Intrigued by the results, they are now looking in to other possible applications throughout their facility.

To discuss your Line Vac application, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Line Vac Troubleshooting / Alumina Ball Conveying

Recently, I had a good interaction with a customer on a Line Vac Application. You can read through the e-mail below to get a better understanding of the issues at work in a typical conveying application.

INQUIRY:
Dear Sir,

We have Line Vac model 6084 operating at between 80 & 90 psig. We are trying to convey alumina balls to a height of about 12 ft. The balls are spherical with diam. between 4 & 7mm (about 1/4 inch). Packed density =50lbs/ ft3 actual density must be in region of 60lbs/ft3. We are only able to convey a very small amount of alumina. Feeding more than a nominal amount blocks the feed tube. Can you please help?

Regards,
Robert

RESPONSE:
Hello Robert,

Yes, I think we have a few ideas you can consider to make the application work a little better.

First thing you must do is to verify with zero doubt about the actual, net operating pressure at the Line Vac inlet. The way you do this is to install a pressure gauge onto a pipe tee and install the pipe tee into the inlet of the Line Vac. Then re-connect your compressed air supply to the 3rd leg of the pipe tee. Operate the Line Vac and note your working pressure on the gauge. If it is less than 80 PSIG, you could do better on the pressure by up-sizing your feed lines and all fittings that are included within. Re-test the Line vac as outlined above and note any improvement in net working pressure.

OK, let us assume you were able to fix the supply problems that contributed to the excessive pressure drop. You can then make a modification to the Line Vac itself by taking it apart and removing the internal part called a generator. This is the part with the air jet holes drilled into it. You can proceed by enlarging these holes to a larger diameter. This will give you higher vacuum performance similar to our Heavy Duty Line Vac series of Line Vac. Do note that if you do not check your plumbing supply lines as indicated in the first paragraph, making this modification could make things worse. So, you do need to be confident that your compressed air system is up to the task.

Another direction you can take will be to go to a smaller size Line Vac to improve your performance. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, but have an open mind.  Going smaller size on Line Vac reduces your air consumption requirement which makes the demand on your compressed air system less which reduces the chances of you have an extreme pressure drop at the Line Vac. The other idea at work here is that you are essentially trying to pull a vacuum over a smaller cross-section area with a smaller Line Vac which enables higher air velocity within the conveying tube with less effort. That higher conveying air velocity is what you need to pull these relatively dense alumina balls without having them stall inside the conveying hose.

If I were to suggest a size to move down to, I’d go with a 1-1/4″ unit from the 2″ model you have now. That would take your air requirement at 80 PSIG down from 45 SCFM to 26 SCFM. In other words, cutting the air required by almost half.  Hopefully, now you are beginning to have the understanding. And then, you can make the same hole enlarging modification to the 1-1/4″ unit that I described above if you wanted to in order to improve through put by about 20 – 30%.  Do note that you have to be able to maintain input pressure right at the Line Vac in all cases.

Best regards,
Neal Raker, Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

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