EXAIR Super Air Knives Provide more Benefit than Blower Air Knives for Green Bean Processing

A customer who was experiencing some issues with a blow off process in their facility contacted EXAIR for a solution. This customer performs post-harvest processing operations on green beans and other vegetables after they’ve been picked. They were having a problem being able to remove excess moisture after the beans had been washed in cold water and keep additional moisture from forming once packaged. The process involved green beans exiting a wash cycle and moving along a belt conveyor. From there, they are dried by a series of blower style air knives. Shortly after being blown off, the beans are weighed and bagged. Once bagged, it was determined that there was too much moisture inside the package and they could not be shipped.

One common issue with blower style knives, and the fundamental issue in this application, is that the air is heated as it moves through the blower. Depending on the type of blower, outlet air temperatures in excess of 180°F are normal. The effect, in this case, was similar to a convection oven where hot air is circulated over the food to cook it. While the beans were not exposed for a long enough time to actually cook, the high temperature air exiting the blower was enough to raise the temperature of the beans. This caused additional moisture to come out from inside the beans after they were bagged and sealed. This is a condition that the customer wanted to avoid because it would lead to the beans drying out and losing their freshness which is a quality issue for the customer.

A second problem was the turbulent airflow from the blower knives causing the beans to be blown all around on the conveyor. The customer effectively had no control over how forcefully the airflow from the blower powered air knives impacted his product. They were either full-on or full-off. This resulted in less than desirable results from a dryness perspective and also caused damage to the product from the high impact disturbance of the blower air knives.

After talking it over with the customer and learning the specifics of the application, we determined that EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Kit Model 110212SS is able to address both of these issues. The airflow would be at ambient temperature, keeping the product at a desired colder temperature. The blowing force could be precisely adjusted with a pressure regulator so as not to cause damage to the product and provide a laminar airflow to strip the water from the product.

EXAIR’s Super Air Knives are available in 303 or 316 grade Stainless Steel to meet the more stringent requirements of many food grade applications. They also operate at a far lower sound level than blower powered air knives, are more compact for easier mounting, and do not involve the purchase of a blower package and associated ducting.

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Model 11006SS Stainless Steel Super Air Knife

Our Application Engineers can work closely with you to resolve any issues you may be having, even if compressed air isn’t currently a part of the process. If your process involves washing, drying, conveying, or packaging food or other products and you can relate to any of the issues above, please keep EXAIR Corporation in mind as a viable solutions provider. Contact an Application Engineer today and we’ll do our best to help you solve your application problems.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Another Label Problem, Another Super Air Knife Solution

Last week, I used this space to brag on our Super Air Knives, and how they solve a common problem in bottling applications: label adhesion. This week, I have another opportunity to brag on the Super Air Knife. AND it’s another solution to a labeling problem.

Self-adhesive labels are commonly applied to goods are they travel on high speed conveyors. If they’re going onto a flat, smooth surface (like a box,) it’s pretty easy…they come right off a timed roller with a wheel that presses them in place. This can even work with round containers (like drums, jars, or bottles) by putting an idler on the wheel to take up the slack as it rolls over the rounded surface.

Sometimes, the label needs to go around the corner of a box. This requires the roller to turn that corner. Or two rollers to pull the old “one-two” on the label. Either way, that’s going to slow down the speed at which the conveyor can be run. And time is money.

Enter the Super Air Knife…mount it so it’s blowing at the corner. The laminar, high velocity air flow will then press the label in place on each adjacent surface.

With a laminar curtain of air traveling as fast as 13,500 feet per minute, an EXAIR Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for corner labels.

Another benefit: when supplied with clean, dry air, the Super Air Knife will run darn near indefinitely, maintenance-free. Those rollers get dirty, and the bearings will fail eventually. Same with the idlers, and they’ll need adjusted from time to time.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need for long term operation & performance.

The Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3″ to 108″ – if you’d like to discuss how these, or any of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products, can make a difference in your processes, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Knives Make Beer Bottle Labels Stick; EFC Optimizes Efficiency

The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.

The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:

This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.

One of the many simple and effective ways an EXAIR Super Air Knife is commonly used.

In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.

Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.

Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.

Click here to calculate how much you can save with an EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control.

As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:

Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:

52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually.  Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*

Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles.  The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set.  But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*

*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar.  You’re welcome.

That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.

If you’d like to find out how much you can save with EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Knife Cleans Rotary Mesh Screen

Last week I worked with an OEM who was looking for a more effective method of cleaning the wire mesh on the rotary screeners they manufacturer. Rotary screens, also know as trammel screens (think of a washing machine drum), separate solid materials by passing the parts through a rotating perforated cylinder, typically elevated on the feed side, to help keep the material moving through to the exit side. With the spiraling motion of the cylinder, the smaller parts begin to pass through the mesh screen, where they are commonly recovered in some type of hopper or fed onto a conveyor system.

Example of a screener/trammel used to separate gravel and sand.

In this particular application, their proprietary machine design features a non-vibratory system used in separating pet foods. The screener is working as far as separation but the problem they were having was as the pet food passes through the rotating mesh cylinder, it leaves an oily residue on the screen. Due to this being a food application, they are unable to use any type of cleaning brush over concerns that some of the fibers may break loose, contaminating the finished product, so they were looking at using air as an alternative solution.

I recommended they incorporate our 48″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife in the application. The Super Air Knife is our most efficient unit, as far as compressed air usage, using only 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife when operated at 80 PSIG supply. The end to end, high velocity airflow produced by the unit would span the 48″ width of the screen. The top of their machine is removable, so I suggested they also incorporate our Model # 9060 Universal Mounting System. The Model # 9060 provides for an easy installation as well as a simple way to change the distance and direction of the knife to provide the most effective blowoff. With the cover off, they could easily move the knife into position to perform the cleaning.

Super Air Knife mounted to Universal Mounting System. (note: longer knives require multiple systems)

If you are considering an Air Knife to use in your process and would like to discuss the application, please give us a call at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Trommel and sluicebox image courtesy of Roy Luck via Creative Common License

Slick Application for a Super Air Knife

A few weeks back I worked with a customer on an unusual application for one of our Air Knives. The company runs a camp, located in the North-Central part of the United States, complete with their own ski hill for skiing, snowboarding or tubing. They use a conveyor belt ski lift where the skier or snowboarder will stand on the belt and be transported back to the top of the hill for another run. They were starting to see some safety issues arise when the mat would get wet and freeze, causing the skiers to slip and fall back.

Photo of the ski belt conveyor

In an effort to remedy the situation, the installed a brush to try and help remove some of the snow and ice from the belt and while this helped a little, there was still moisture on the belt that would re-freeze. To aid in the drying process, they tried to use a floor blower aimed at the belt but the turbulent airflow seemed to “push” the water around rather than wipe it clean and dry. Out of ideas, they found EXAIR while doing an internet search and decided to give us call for assistance.

Further reviewing the details of the application, I recommended our 30″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife for the application. The Super Air Knife provides an high velocity, laminar sheet of air across the length of the knife. The laminar flow from the air knife, would assure an even drying effect across the belt, rather than the turbulent flow from the blower. The stainless steel construction of the knife would hold up to the potentially harsh environmental conditions as well.

Super Air Knife available in aluminum, 303ss, or 316ss construction in lengths from 3″ up to 108″.

After some correspondence back and forth regarding air requirements and installation recommendations, the customer was able to source a rental compressor and ordered the 30″ Super Air Knife to test under our Unconditional 30 Day Guarantee. After a few weeks of testing, they were able to effectively dry the belt to an acceptable level, increasing the overall safety for their guests.

30″ SS Super Air Knife mounted under the belt on the “return” side.

 

Clever installation allowed for easy angle adjustment to ensure the airflow contacted the belt for optimal blowoff/drying.

EXAIR offers the quietest (69 dBA at 80 PSIG) and longest (up to 108″) Air Knives on the market today and we stock them in the most materials (aluminum, 303SS, 316Ss and PVDF) to best suit your application. To see how you might be able to utilize an Air Knife in your unique application, give us a call at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

 

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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Super Air Knives Used as a Non-Contact Barrier in a Non-Woven Application

An overseas customer manufactures a 2.2 meter wide non-woven material.  In one of their processes, the media would travel through a spray booth to apply a water-based surfactant.  The surfactant was atomized and blown onto the top and bottom of the material.  The spray booth was equipped with a fume hood to capture any excess mist.  The material would then travel out of the spray booth and into the oven to dry.

Area between Spray Booth and Oven

Area between Spray Booth and Oven

Because they were running at a speed of 160 m/min, a draft was being created as the media was exiting the spray booth.  This draft was strong enough to overcome the vacuum pressure from the fume collection system.  This would allow the excess mist to escape the spray booth.  It was then collecting on the surface of the oven and floor outside the containment area.  This created a safety issue as well as a large mess.

In looking at the problem area, the dimension of the opening of the spray booth was 2.65 meters by 300 mm.  To blow a good curtain of air to contain the mist, we needed to have a laminar flow to create that “wall”.  I recommended two pieces of a model 1102108 Super Air Knife Kits.  At 108” (or 2.74m) long, they are the longest Super Air Knives in the market.  With a steady flow of air along the entire 2.74 meter length, it can generate that curtain of air across the entire opening of the spray booth.  The laminar flow was key as they did not want to disturb the spraying nozzles inside the booth.

The Super Air Knife Kit also comes with a filter, a regulator, and a shim set.  With the included shim set, the force can be changed dramatically by using a different thickness of shim.  Since they did not need much force to keep the mist inside the spray booth, they opted to put a thinner shim inside the Super Air Knife.  This would reduce the amount of compressed air needed, and with a regulator, the customer could “dial” in the correct amount of force to create the proper air barrier.  The Super Air Knives were mounted above and below the material to blow directly across the opening of the spray booth.  Any fine mist that would come in contact with the air would be deflected back into the spray booth.  With the extra mist removed from the process, the fume extraction system could then perform its duties the way it was intended. With air being used to create that barrier, it did not disrupt the structure of the material or the surfactant on its surface.

Super Air Knife

Super Air Knife

If you require a non-contact barrier for your application, EXAIR Super Air Knives could be your solution.  For this customer, we were able keep the work place safe and mess-free.

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

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