Managing Pneumatic Sound

I recently took my daughter to a basketball game to watch Xavier University’s Lady Musketeers play. Due to Covid the arena felt empty and we could hear the players on the court and also the the coaches from the opposite side. If this was a regular season game we could barely hear ourselves let alone the teams and coaches. The obvious reason why there was not much noise is that there wasn’t much of a crowd and the crowd makes a lot of sound. So, what is sound?

Sound can be defined as “vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear”. Sounds hit our ears at different pressure levels depending on its strength (“loudness” or volume) and is measured in decibels (dB).

When sound travels and comes into contact with a surface, a portion will be absorbed and another portion will be reflected. Manufacturing environments obviously can be the source of a lot of sound and personnel near the sources should be protected as much as possible. One extremely effective way to do this is to substitute a loud noise source with a quieter one or remove the source all together. PPE can be effective but is much less reliable due to people forgetting to use PPE, using PPE improperly or even deciding for themselves they do not need it.

To substitute or eliminate means something like the strategic placement of air compressor which is not near personnel or recognizing the type of product you choose to use is vital to sound management and the health and safety of people working near the point of use. Many EXAIR products can help you reduce the sound level of your current point-of-use compressed air by replacing commercial air nozzles, open pipes and homemade blowoff solutions with our Engineered Air Nozzles, Safety Air Guns, Air Amplifiers, or Super Air Knives. These products are all designed to minimize compressed air noise and can contribute to lowering the overall noise exposure of your personnel. The additional benefit is that you customers will also typically see a reduction in air consumption which saves money on generating compressed air.

EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter is a tool used to identify and quantify the particular noise levels within an area. The source of loud noises can be quickly identified and isolated so corrective measures can be implemented.

Compressed air noise levels often exceed OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) noise level exposure requirements. EXAIR pneumatic products meet or exceed the OSHA Standard 29 CFR-1910.95(a) and can be used to reduce sound levels in your compressed air environment.

EXAIR has has many engineered compressed air products that can help reduce your sound levels. Our Application Engineers are ready and eager to help assist your sound level decrease projects. Please contact us at www.EXAIR.com so we can be a vital part of your successful sound reduction program.

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

Compressed Air Super Air Knife vs. Blower-type Air Knife for Plastic Film Manufacturing

A plastic company produced many kinds of films and sheets.  They were having issues with one particular film, an OPS (Polystyrene) film which was 0.012” (300 microns) thick and 30” (762mm) wide.  As the material was extruded into a flat sheet, they would run it over a cold roll drum (Reference photo above).  The cold drum is a large cylinder that has chilled water running through it.  To keep the sheet on the surface of the cold drum, they used a blower air knife system.  With the blower air knife, they were having variation in thickness as well as stretch marks.  They heard about the EXAIR Super Air Knife, and they wanted me to do a comparison.  I was glad to compare the EXAIR 110230 30” Super Air Knife Kit to their blower-type air knife system.

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

  1. “Stretch” marks on the plastic film:
    • Blower System – Hot air is generated by the blower system. When the hot air hits the cool surface, it would cause an uneven hardening of the material, causing stretch marks.
    • Super Air Knife – It has a 40:1 amplification ratio. That means that 40 parts of the ambient air is entrained with 1 part of compressed air.  Being that the ambient air is much cooler than the hot air from the blower system, it actually aides in cooling.  There is no thermal shock to the sheet material, and hardening is consistent and faster.
  2. An even force across the plastic film:
    • Blower System – Their design had one 4” (102mm) line feeding into the side of the blower air knife. This would cause two issues for an even force.  As the velocity of the air hits the opposite side of the knife, the closed end, a turbulent air flow is developed.  Also, there would be a slight negative pressures at the entrance caused by the velocity of the air entering.  This chaotic turbulent flow caused an uneven force on the surface of the film.
    • Super Air Knife – The flow that is delivered from the Super Air Knife is laminar. This means that the force and velocity is consistent across the entire length, even on the target.  With this even force, the film was held evenly and securely on the cold drum.  With a filter, shim set, and regulator that is included in the kit, the force can be easily adjusted to the perfect requirement.
  3. Maintenance requirements:
    • Blower System – Preventative maintenance is a requirement. The blower filters have to be changed regularly, and the mechanical and electrical components have to be checked.  This requires downtime to the system.  In addition to this, blower motors are mechanical devices.  The bearings will wear and the motor will fail.  If a mechanical failure does occur, the downtime can cost days of operation.  These items should be checked quarterly as a PM which increases the cost of ownership.
    • Super Air Knife – No moving parts to wear out. The only maintenance would be to change the compressed air filter once a year.  There is no worry about catastrophic failure.
  4. Noise levels:
    • Blower System – With the blower motor and turbulent air flow, the system makes a lot of noise. They have a sound level near 93 dBA which would need PPE for nearby operators.
    • Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. At a pressure of 100 PSIG (6.9 bar), the sound level is only 72 dBA.  No additional cost for PPE or the constant nagging disturbance of loud noises.
  5. Compact Design:
    • Blower System – The foot print of the blower is large and it takes up much floor space. The 4” (102mm) duct has to be ran to an oversized air knife (Reference photo below).  With the turbulent flow, the blower air knife has to be mounted close to the film surface.  So, it can make it difficult to optimize the placement.
    • Super Air Knife – With the compact design, the Super Air Knife has a large force in a small package. The model 110230 Super Air Knife has a footprint of 1 ¾” X 1 ½” X 30” long (44 X 38 X 762mm respectively) with only two ¼” NPT compressed air lines feeding it.  The force measurement is the same from 3” (76mm) to 12” (305mm) away from the surface; giving flexibility in placement.

When it comes to using the EXAIR Super Air Knives, it has many benefits over the blower-type air knives.  We can even include the initial purchase price in which the Super Air Knife would be about 1/10 the cost, and the company was able to increase production with a cooler blowing device.  They were delighted to remove the large blower-type system and replace it with a simple Super Air Knife.  If you would like to discuss the advantages of the Super Air Knife against a blower system, an EXAIR Application Engineer will be happy to assist.

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

What is a Decibel Level?

Decibel level also known as dBA, is how the industry measures sound intensity’s effect on the human ear and is an important value when discussing noise exposure for employees and operators within manufacturing. Manufacturing personnel can be at risk for hearing damage when exposed to high decibel levels if the proper precautions are not taken. For reference, 0 dBA is the softest level that a person can hear. Normal speaking voices are around 65 dBA. A rock concert can be about 120 dBA.

Sounds that are 85 dBA or above can permanently damage your ears. The more sound pressure a sound has, the less time it takes to cause damage. This damage occurs within a sensitive part of our ear called the cochlea, which contain thousands of hair cells used to allow our brains to detect sounds. For example, a sound at 85 dBA may take as long at 8 hours to cause permanent damage, while a sound at 100 dBA can start damaging hair cells after only 30 minutes of listening.

OSHA Max Noise Exposure Chart

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Whether you work near machinery, at a sports venue, on a tarmac, or operate a jackhammer—hearing loss is preventable.

Noise may be a problem in your workplace if you:

  • Hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • Have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away.
  • Experience temporary hearing loss when leaving work.

If you need to raise your voice to speak to someone 3 feet away, noise levels might be over 85 decibels. Sound-measuring instruments are available to measure the noise levels in a workspace.

The first step to lowering your sound level is to take a baseline reading of your various processes and devices that are causing the noise. EXAIR’s Sound Level Meter, Model 9104, is an easy to use instrument that provides a digital readout of the sound level. They come with an NIST traceable calibration certificate and will allow you to determine what processes and areas are causing the most trouble.

From there, EXAIR has a wide range of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® that are designed to reduce compressed air consumption as well as sound levels. For noisy blowoffs where you’re currently using an open-ended pipe or a loud commercial air nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only can they pay for themselves over a short period of time time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!

 EXAIR has the tools you need to reduce sound level in your processes. If you’d like to talk to an Application Engineer about any applications that you feel could benefit from a sound reduction, give us a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

Intelligent Compressed Air® Products for Produce and the Growing Season

Super Air Knife drying fruits and vegetables

If you are like me and love to garden we are approaching the time of year that we start seeding our longer maturing plants like tomato and pepper plants. I have made my purchases of seeds, plant packs, soil and plant food. I am ready and excited for the gardening season.

EXAIR has many applications where our products help the agricultural industry. The use of our Air Knives, atomizing spray nozzles and Line Vacs help assit in the growing, cleaning and movement of products.

Super Air Knife drying fruits and vegetables

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles atomize fluids (most commonly water) in a range of spray patterns for a variety of uses. These nozzles can be used to keep soils moist, environments humid and also for cleaning the harvested products. The Atomizing Spray Nozzles come in a variety of sizes, styles and spray patterns and can be sized specifically for your application.

EXAIR Air Knives can also be used for cleaning where moisture is a concern before products are placed in packaging containers. Our Air Knifes come is many stock sizes and styles. EXAIR Air Knives are a great option replacing noisy blow-offs and show noise and air consumption reductions.

EXAIR Line Vacs have been used to move grains, soil, sand, wood chips and other products saving labor. They are ideal for moving large volumes of material over long distances. The material flow rate is easily controlled by the size of the Line Vac and by the use of a pressure regulator. No moving parts or electricity assures maintenance free operation.

High Temperature Line Vac

Just as I am excited to strategize my garden, EXAIR can take the frustration of your projects away and make your life as as exciting and fun as Spring and Summer home gardens. If you have a specific application you would like to discuss you can visit us at www.EXAIR.com or by calling 800.903.9247 and talking to me or any of our qualified Application Engineers.

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