Is It Safe To Use Compressed Air?

Think about it…compressed air is, by definition, gas under pressure: potential (stored) energy.  This energy is intended to do work, like operation of pneumatic tools, actuation of pneumatic cylinders, debris removal with an air gun or blow off device, and (even though I haven’t done it in a while) my personal favorite:

High pressure compressed air is meticulously made, prepared, and stored to ensure the number of surfaces equals the number of dives.

Uncontrolled, unplanned, or accidental releases of stored energy (regardless of the source) are inherently dangerous, and great care must be taken to guard against such incidents.  This is accomplished, primarily, in three areas:

*Operation.  This might be the most prevalent, because it involves the greatest number of personnel (e.g., everyone) as well as the ways compressed air is used (e.g., all of them.)  It’s also the area where the most involved people (the operators) have the most control:

  • Personal protection.  Don’t even think about operating a compressed air device without eye protection.  Ever.  Hard stop.  Also, if the operation involves flying debris, a full face shield, long sleeves, gloves, etc. might be called for.  Hearing protection may be required as well…keep in mind, even if an engineered device (like any of EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products) generates a relatively low sound level, the impingement noise of the air flow hitting the object can reach dangerous levels.
  •  Personnel cleaning is prohibited.  The risk of injury to the eyes, respiratory system, and other parts is just too great to rely on personal protective equipment that’s designed for use while discharging compressed air AWAY from the body.  While this is expressly prohibited in certain situations, OSHA has long recognized it as good practice for all industries.
  • No horseplay.  ’nuff said.  Plenty of better ways to have fun at work.

*Design.  This one usually has the advantage of being traceable to a small number of people, and is also the one that’s most likely to be documented.  This is where it starts…if the system is designed to fail, it doesn’t matter how much care the operators take:

  • Supply lines, fittings, and hoses must be rated for use with compressed air, up to and exceeding the maximum discharge pressure of the air compressor.
  • This goes for any tools, blow off devices, components, etc., serviced by the air system.  The only thing worse than a component failing is a component failing in your hand.
  • Shut off valves should be located as close as practical to point(s) of operation.  This allows you to quickly secure the flow of compressed air to a failed component, hose, etc., and prevent further damage or risk of injury.
  • Hoses shouldn’t be run across the floor, where they can become a trip hazard or subject to damage from stepping on them.   This is a surefire way to find out the value of shut off valves (see above.)

*Product specification.  Or, more simply put, using the right tool for the job.  A broader discussion could include efficiency and performance, but we’ll stay within the confines of safety for the purposes of this blog:

  • Be mindful of dead end pressure.  Blow off devices, especially hand held ones like air guns, are oftentimes fitted with a simple open-end discharge.  If this is pushed into a part of the body, the pressurized air can break the skin and cause an air embolism.  This is a serious injury, and can be fatal if it reaches the heart, lungs, or brain.
    • This is a key consideration to OSHA Standard 1910.242(b), which limits the downstream pressure when compressed air is used for cleaning to 30psi.
    • EXAIR products are compliant with this Standard by design…there’s always a relief path for the air pressure; they can’t be dead ended.
Because the compressed air exits through a series of holes, recessed between a ring of fins, any attempt to block the air flow will simply send it in another direction.
  • Harmful sound levels are a consideration as well.  As stated above, hearing protection is required in many cases, but sound levels can be mitigated through the use of engineered products.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, as a result of their high entrainment, generate a boundary layer of air flow that leads to dramatically lower sound levels than a similar-sized open end blow off device.

If you’d like to explore ways to make your compressed air system safer, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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A Customer Service Experience

Upon moving to our new house, quite a distance from our old location, my wife and I were looking for a new “go to” restaurant that would be close to our new digs.

I did a Google search and found a place that was only a couple miles away and had good reviews. My wife and I went in and it was a quaint little place. The food was good, as expected, but the service was not.

We discussed the lackluster service and decided to go again about a week later hoping it was an isolated incident. On this visit we had a different server (which turned out to be the owner). Long story short, the service was again not good. It took a long time to place our order and receive our food.

I was ready to just write them off but my wife has a very soft and forgiving heart. So against my vote we go a third time. Which turned out to be a carbon copy of the 1st visit. With one great exception, we left after we had been there 25 minutes and our order was not taken. So, now we drive farther to our “old standby” because the service makes the difference to us.

The chart below is representative of reasons business’s lose customers.

Pie Chart

Fortunately, EXAIR is a customer centric organization.   EXAIR ensures that the staffing is present to handle your needs with the care and quickness you deserve and our culture dictates that we serve you effectively and efficiently!  With both a Customer Service and Application Engineering Department we can handle your questions and requests consistently and accurately. Speak with a real person, and learn from over 159 years worth of combined manufacturing experience.

Did you know that most items are available for same day shipping (limits on quantities) with orders that can be processed by 3:00PM Eastern Time for the USA?  Last but certainly not least EXAIR offer’s a 30 day money back guarantee on all our catalog items within 30 days of the purchase date!

When you are looking for quiet and efficient point of use compressed air products or static reduction devices, give us a call.  Experience the EXAIR difference first hand and receive the great customer service, products and attention you deserve!  We would enjoy hearing from you.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Sound Power Vs Sound Pressure

sound-level-comparison
EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product dBA ratings as compared to other sounds

When trying to explain or state a number associated with how loud a sound or noise is it can be somewhat confusing or at the very least, ambiguous.  This blog will help to make it clear and easy to understand the difference between Sound Power and Sound Pressure.

Sound Power is defined as the speed at which sound energy is radiated or transmitted for a given period of time.  The SI unit of sound power is the watt. It is the power of the sound force on a surface of the medium of propagation of the sound wave.

Sound Pressure is the sound we hear and is defined as the atmospheric pressure disturbance that can vary by the conditions that the sound waves encounter such as furnishings in a room or if outdoors trees, buildings, etc.  The unit of measurement for Sound Pressure is the decibel and its abbreviation is the dB.

I know, the difference is still clear as mud!  Lets consider a simple analogy using a light bulb.  A light bulb uses electricity to make light so the power required (stated in Watts) to light the bulb would be the “Sound Power” and the light generated or more specific the brightness is the “Sound Pressure”.  Sound just as with the light emitting from the bulb diminishes as the distance increases from the source.  Skipping the math to do this, it works out that the sound decreases by 6 dB as the distance from the sound source is doubled.  A decrease of 3dB is half as loud (Sound Pressure) as the original source.  As an example sound measured at 90 dB @ 36″ from the source would be 87dB at 54″ from the sound source or 84dB at 72″.

We at EXAIR specialize in making quiet and efficient point of use compressed air products, in fact most of our products either meet or exceed OSHA noise standards seen below.

OSHA Noise Level

EXAIR also offers the model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter.  It is an easy to use instrument for measuring and monitoring the sound level pressures in and around equipment and other manufacturing processes.

If you have questions about the Digital Sound Level Meter, or would like to talk about any of the quiet EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR or any Application Engineer.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer

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Cleaning Glass After a Cutting Machine, Super Air Knives to the Rescue

Glass cutting machine

A glass cutting facility was having issues with small shards of glass leaving the cutting machine.  After scribing and breaking individual panes, small pieces of glass would come apart from the edges of the glass.  These glass fragments would go downstream causing cuts on transport wheels as well as creating blemishes in the surface of the glass.  They needed a non-contact way to clean the glass as the panes left the cutting machine.

Their operation started with a 156” (3.96m) wide sheet of glass placed at the front of the cutting machine.  The glass was moved into the machine where it would scribe different dimensions and sizes to minimize any scrap.  As the machine was scribing, a protective separator would close off the cutting machine to protect the operators.  Once finished, the protective separator would open, allowing the glass sheet to exit on the other side of the machine.  As the glass was coming out, a break device would “crack” the glass panes on the scribed lines.  They wanted to clean the surface as the glass sheet was coming out to keep the fragments in the machine.

EXAIR Super Air Knife model 1100108

EXAIR has always been the leader in manufacturing the longest air knives in the industry.  The EXAIR Super Air Knives can be manufactured up to 108” (2.74m) long in one continuous length.  But, for this application, we had to tackle it in a different manner to reach across the entire width of 156” (3.96m).  EXAIR had a solution, the model 110900 Coupling Bracket Kit.  This can combine aluminum Super Air Knives for additional length.  It has all the hardware to securely attach the Super Air Knives end-to-end to get a continuous air flow along the entire length.  With the Coupling Bracket Kit, I recommended a model 110072, 72” (1.83m) long aluminum Super Air Knife with a model 110084, 84” (2.13m) aluminum Super Air Knife.  The customer was now able to clean the entire section of glass just in front of the exit of the cutting machine.  With the air knives directed to blow at a slight angle in the counter-flow direction, this non-contact form of cleaning was able to keep the shards inside the machine without scratching the surfaces.

Air Knife Coupling Bracket Kit

The Super Air Knives are designed to be the most efficient air knives in the market place.  It has a 40:1 amplification ratio which entrains 40 parts of ambient air to every 1 part of compressed air.  So, it will save you compressed air which in turn, will save you money.  Here at EXAIR, we like to go one step further for our customers.  EXAIR offers an Optimization product line to save the customer even more money, to reduce even more waste, and to become even more energy efficient.  For this customer above, I recommended an Electronic Flow Control, EFC.  This uses a photoelectric sensor to turn on a system only when compressed air is needed.  It is a small PLC unit with a timer control.  I recommended the model 9064-2 which has two solenoid valves to operate each Super Air Knife.  The photoelectric sensor can be adjusted for light and dark object, but for glass, we had to look for an alternative way.  I was able to have the customer place it on the protective separator.  Now, the Super Air Knives will remain turned off until after the scribing was completed. When the separator moved up, it would trigger the timing operation of the EFC.  By adding the EFC to their system, they were able to reduce the amount of compressed air by one-half.

click on picture for mor information

If you have a wide area that needs to be blown off, cooled, or dried; EXAIR may have a solution for you.  For the customer above, EXAIR was able to combine Super Air Knives with optimization for an efficient and effective way to clean a wide surface.  If you would like to discuss a solution for your “wide” application, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to discuss.

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

Accessories and the Value Added

The word “accessory” can come with some baggage… it’s become synonymous with “add-on” and “up-sell,” and cost-mindful consumers may see them as just another way for a slick salesperson to make an extra buck. And frankly, they wouldn’t have that reputation if there wasn’t some truth to it.  The server at your favorite restaurant will offer appetizers, or recommend side dishes to go with your entree. If you go to buy a new car, you’ll get a pitch for a variety of aftermarket add-ons.  The paint counter folks at the hardware store always tell me what specific brush and/or rollers I should use with the paint I’m buying…and it’s never the 10-pack of economy brushes that costs less than the single, premium quality brush they recommend.  In all of these cases, these employees are trained, constantly encouraged, and hopefully rewarded on the success of these “up-sell” strategies.

Of course, my boys and I can devour even the largest plate of chili cheese nachos long before the rest of meal comes out.  My wife absolutely loves the remote starter function that the dealership installed on the new car she bought last year.  And, if you’ve ever painted a well-lit room, you know the difference between a $1 paint brush and a $10 paint brush.  So if my server gets a little bigger tip, my car dealer salesperson gets a little more commission, or the paint counter folks get a bonus, then it’s a win-win, as far as I’m concerned.

EXAIR carries a variety of accessories for our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  Some aid in mounting & installation:

Clockwise from top: Universal Air Knife Mounting System, Stay Set Hoses, Cabinet Cooler Side Mount Kit, Mounting Brackets for Line Vac, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator, Swivel Fitting for Super Air Nozzle, Tool Holder for Industrial Vacuum Drums, Spray Nozzle Mounting Clip.

Others make it easy to ensure adequate supply conditions:

The performance of many EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can be altered by replacing the shim:

From left to right: Super Air Amplifier, Super Air Knife, 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, High Velocity Air Jets, and Air Wipe all feature replaceable shims to modify performance.

In addition to these product-specific accessories, EXAIR carries a complete line of:

Filter Separators are rated for air flow up to 400 SCFM; Oil Removal Filters, up to 310 SCFM.

*Filter Separators to remove water, dirt, and rust from your compressed air system.  Our Automatic Drain Filter Separators have a 5 micron particulate element, and a centrifugal vane to remove moisture.

*Oil Removal Filters with coalescing elements that remove any trace of oil, and also provide additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.

 

*Pressure Regulators, so you can “dial in” the performance you need, so you don’t overpower the application, or waste compressed air.  They come in sizes from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT, and are rated for flows up to 700 SCFM.  A pressure gauge provides accurate indication of outlet pressure, and the adjustment cap can be removed to prevent tampering.

*Mounting Brackets and Modular Coupling Kits for our Filters and Regulators.  The latter are especially handy for easy, compact, and leak free installation.

*Silencing Mufflers to reduce work area noise from compressed air exhausting from pneumatic cylinders, valves, etc.  There are several styles to choose from, depending on your needs:

  • Sintered Bronze Mufflers are simple in design, with minimal back pressure restriction, and come in sizes from #10-32 thread to 1-1/2 NPT.
  • Straight-Through Mufflers offer noise reduction up to 20 dB, and come in sizes from 1/4 NPT (up to 22 SCFM) to 3/4 NPT (up to 73 SCFM.)
  • Heavy Duty Mufflers have an internal stainless steel screen that not only protects the exhausting components from environmental contamination, but also keeps air system contaminants from being ejected at high speed into the work area.
  • Reclassifying Mufflers are an upgrade to the Sintered Bronze Mufflers and provide the highest level of noise reduction – up to 35 dB.  They also trap oil mist, eliminating breathing hazards to personnel.

*We have manual ball valves (1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT) and Solenoid Valves (120VAC, 240VAC or 24VDC) from 1/4 NPT to 1 NPT, and a Foot Valve, for hands-free operation.

*Swivel Fittings to securely install & aim many of our nozzles, from the Atto to the High Force 1 NPT Super Air Nozzles.  For a little more flexibility, Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases can be used for Air Amplifiers, Super Air Nozzles, and even short Air Knives.

*12 ft Coiled Hoses (1/4″ or 3/8″ ID) and Compressed Air Hose (3/8″ or 1/2″ ID; up to 50ft lengths) can be provided with any Intelligent Compressed Air Product.  We also have a full supply of fittings (tees, elbows, nipples, couplers, reducers, etc.) and adapters to fit our Super Air Nozzles to your existing air guns or blow off devices.

*Receiver Tanks are used to store a ready supply of compressed air.  If you have an intermittent demand of sufficient size, it can cause a pressure transient in your system, which can drag down the ability to supply other points of use.  Installed near the point of intermittent demand, they prevent pressure & volume fluctuations, keeping the operators at all points of use happy.  Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank has a capacity of 60 gallons, is rated to 200psig, and meets ASME pressure vessel code.

In closing, let me offer the following advice that’s served me well over the years:

*Be mindful of the valued added by the accessories & add-ons you’re presented during a purchase of capital equipment…or anything else, really.  Don’t buy something you don’t need, but if you need it…well…it’s OK to buy it.

*Don’t skimp on quality.  Odds are, if an accessory is offered by the manufacturer of the product, it’s going to work well for you.  They should be able to tell you if it will or won’t if you discuss your needs with them.  I know I will if you call me to discuss a compressed air product application.

*Get the big plate of nachos, especially if you’re dining with teenagers.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Knife Cools Laminated Packaging Material

I recently worked with one of our distributors on a Super Air Knife application for a manufacturer of flexible packaging material. They create the plastic material that is commonly wrapped around the outside of a wide variety of different containers. The material exits the laminating machine at about 129°F (54°C) and must be cooled to close to room temperature before it is able to be rolled without the material sticking together.

IMG_20180509_103254_HDR
Model 110012, positioned to maximize counter-flow

They performed a test with a Model 110012, recording the temperature after the knife and determined that it would be suitable for them. Prior to using the Super Air Knife, they had been using a series of fans to cool down the material. This worked to some degree, but they had been experiencing quality issues as a result of inadequate levels of cooling and were forced to slow down the laminating machine in order to compensate. By implementing the Super Air Knife, they were able to cool the material down to ambient temperatures without having to slow production. As an added measure, they ordered a second knife to install on the underside to further decrease the temperature of the material.

sak_cooling
Graph showing the effectiveness of a Super Air Knife vs. fans or no cooling method.

The laminar airflow of the Super Air Knife is critical to the success of any cooling application. A fan “slaps” the air which provides random spikes of air at moderate velocities. The uniform, high velocity, laminar sheet of air from the Super Air Knife, in addition to the low compressed air consumption, makes it a much more effective cooling method than fans. The design of the Super Air Knife allows it to entrain ambient air at a rate of 40:1, maximizing the force and flow from the knife while keeping compressed air usage to a minimum.

super-air-knife-flow
The design of the Super Air Knife allows it to entrain air from the top and bottom, creating a 40:1 air amplification ratio.

Super Air Knives are available in a range of different materials and sizes. From stock EXAIR carries knives from 3”-108” in Aluminum, 303 Stainless Steel, 316 Stainless Steel, and 3”-54” in PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride) for superior resistance to highly corrosive materials. In addition to being an excellent tool for cooling, the Super Air Knife can solve a wide range of drying and blowoff applications. If you have an application that would be better served with one of EXAIR’s Super Air Knives, reach out to us today and get yours on order! We ship same day from stock with orders received by 3:00 pm EST, stop wasting time with ineffective cooling or blowoff methods!

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

Super Air Knife Coupling Kit Helps Customer Save Money and Increase Productivity!

I was recently contacted by a manufacturer of specialty food products that was looking to increase productivity on one of their packaging lines. In order to do so, they needed a longer Super Air Knife.

SS SAK cheese.jpg cropped
Model 110012SS-316 Super Air Knife

They manufacture a variety of different products, but this application was involving small snack-size blocks of cheese. They’re placed into individual plastic containers and before they seal the packaging any residual particles must be blown off or it will affect the seal. Any residual particles of cheese around the container would allow air to come into contact with the product and affect shelf-life.

In the current setup, they were using EXAIR’s Model 110012SS-316 a 12” 316 grade Stainless Steel Super Air Knife and the Model 9060 Universal Mounting System. They wanted to add in an additional two rows of cheese to help increase throughput. To do so, he needed an overall width of 18”. We do have an 18” available from stock, but rather than having a spare 12” model lying around he wanted to try and utilize what he had without having to purchase an entirely new knife.

uakmb
Model 9060 Universal Mounting System

Fortunately, EXAIR’s Super Air Knives can be coupled together to create a wide variety of different lengths. From stock, the Super Air Knife is available from 3”-108”. With the help of a Super Air Knife Coupling kit, we can achieve much longer lengths. In this case, although we did have an 18” knife available, we could also couple the existing 110012SS-316 (12”) with our Model 110006SS-316 (6”). This option was a bit cheaper than going with a new knife, and still allowed them to utilize the 12” that they already had.

gh_Super Air Knife Coupling Kit 750x696
Coupling Kit for Aluminum Super Air Knives

While this isn’t the typical place we’d recommend a coupling kit, it was an option that allowed the customer to save a bit of money but still get the same effect that they’d achieve with the 18” single piece knife. We also manufacture a wide variety of custom knives per customer specifications. If you’ve got an odd application that you don’t think is best served by a stock offering, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to take a look at your application and help recommend the most suitable product.

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