EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Labeling Process on Bottling Line

I recently worked with our Argentinian Distributor on an application for a local beverage manufacturer. The customer has a wide range of different beverages that they produce in various sizes and bottles and was having issues with a labeling operation.

plastic water bottles

After the bottles are filled and sealed, they go through a washing operation to remove any contaminants from the outside of the bottle. Afterwards, they make their way along a conveyor where a label is applied around the outside of the bottle. The bottles aren’t always completely dry by the time they get to the labeling step. Any residual moisture on the outside of the bottle can present a problem where the label doesn’t fully adhere to the bottle.

After complaints from their customer about product being received with labels that were peeling off, they implemented a quality check to ensure that the bottles that weren’t properly labeled were fixed before they were shipped out. While this resolved the problem for their customer, it required an extra step.

After searching and discovering EXAIR’s Super Air Knife they reached out for assistance. Due to the variability of the bottle sizes, they needed a solution that was easily adjusted based on what product was being run that day. Fortunately, EXAIR offers a Universal Mounting System for our Super Air Knives that’ll allow them to easily position their blowoff as they need.

The video below shows just how versatile the system is, once locked into position it will stay put until you reposition it! This way, they can set up prior to each shift according to the bottle they’ll be running through.

The solution was to install (2) 110036 36” Super Air Knives with (2) Universal Mounting Systems for each. Any knife 24”-54” will necessitate (2) Universal Mounting Systems, 55”-71” will require (3), 72”-95”, and 96” and over will require (5) to sufficiently support the weight of the knife.

The knives provided a strong blast of air that was able to remove any residual moisture from the exterior of the bottles. This eliminated the need to have a post labeling inspection and the bottles were labeled properly on the first go! Adjustments in between different bottle sizes were made simple with the help of the Universal Mounting System.

SAK pre label blowoff
(2) 110036 Super Air Knives positioned with Universal Mounting System

At EXAIR, we’re all about providing safe, efficient, and reliable solutions to a host of industry related problems. With same day shipment for stock items with an order received by 3:00 ET and a team of highly trained Application Engineers, we’re ready to take your call and get a solution out to you today. Don’t just take my word for it, find out for yourself!

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

 

Plastic bottle photo courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis via Creative Commons License

Minimize Exposure to Hazards Using the Hierarchy of Controls

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) published a useful guide called “Hierarchy of Controls” that details (5) different types of control methods for exposure to occupational hazards while showing the relative effectiveness of each method.

HierarchyControls
CDC Hierarchy of Controls

The least effective methods are Administrative Controls and PPE. Administrative Controls involve making changes to the way people perform the work and promoting safe practices through training. The training could be related to correct operating procedures, keeping the workplace clean, emergency response to incidents, and personal hygiene practices, such as proper hand washing after handling hazardous materials. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is the least effective method because the equipment (ear plugs, gloves, respirators, etc.) can become damaged, may be uncomfortable and not used, or used incorrectly.

In the middle range of effectiveness is Engineering Controls. These controls are implemented by design changes to the equipment or process to reduce or eliminate the hazard. Good engineering controls can be very effective in protecting people regardless of the the actions and behaviors of the workers. While higher in initial cost than Administrative controls or PPE, typically operating costs are lower, and a cost saving may be realized in the long run.

The final two, Elimination and Substitution are the most effective but can be the most difficult to integrate into an existing process. If the process is still in the design phase, it may be easier and less expensive to eliminate or substitute the hazard. Elimination of the hazard would be the ultimate and most effective method, either by removing the hazard altogether, or changing the work process to the hazardous task is no longer performed.

EXAIR can help your company follow the Hierarchy of Controls, and eliminate, or reduce the hazards of compressed air usage.

Engineers can eliminate loud and unsafe pressure nozzles with designs that utilize quiet and pressure safe engineered air products such as Air Nozzles, Air Knives and Air Amplifiers. Also, unsafe existing products such as air guns, can be substituted with EXAIR engineered solutions that meet the OSHA standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

Nozzles

In summary, Elimination and Substitution are the most effective methods and should be used whenever possible to reduce or eliminate the hazard and keep people safe in the workplace.

If you have questions about the Hierarchy of Controls and safe compressed air usage from any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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Reduce Sound Level in your Factory, Improve Worker Safety and Comfort

Checking the sound level in your processes is an important aspect of ensuring a safe working environment for your employees. Loud noises and the exposure time can lead to significant health concerns. Permanent hearing loss, increased stress levels due to the uncomfortable work environment, and potential injury due to lack of concentration or inability to hear the surroundings are all examples of some risks associated with a noisy environment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known by most simply as OSHA, introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) as a means of protecting operators from injury associated with high noise levels. The chart below indicates maximum allowable exposure time based on different noise levels. At just 90 dBA, an operator can operate safely for 8 hours. Open end pipe blowoffs and some air guns fitted with cross drilled relief holes will often result in noise levels in excess of 100 dBA. At 110 dBA, permanent hearing loss can be experienced in just 30 minutes!

OSHA Chart

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.

SoundMeter_new_nist225

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 cross-drilled nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only will they pay for themselves over time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!!

Drilled pipe is another common culprit of high noise levels. Rather than purchasing an engineered solution, the idea is that a simple drilled pipe is just as effective right? Not at all!! Not only does a drilled pipe produce exceptionally high sound levels, but the amount of compressed air used is also very inefficient. EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and has a sound level of just 69 dBA at 80 PSIG. At this sound level, operators won’t even require hearing protection at all!

SAK vs drilled pipe
EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for replacing noisy, inefficient drilled pipe

With all of these products available in stock, 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.

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

Candy Producer Saves $4600 in Compressed Air with EXAIR’s EFC

A few months ago, I took a phone call from a manufacturing engineer who worked at a large candy production facility here in the United States. Extra chocolate was dripping out of the candy molds onto the conveyor belt below.  Within a few hours the belt was dirty enough they would have to stop the line and clean the residual chocolate off the belt. 

The best solution I found was a 72” 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knife. It worked great when powered at 60 psig inlet pressure. The laminar flow of the Super Air Knife was perfectly suited for this application.  The knife was mounted between the mold and the belt to help solidify and blowoff the excess drips of chocolate. There was one drawback, the Super Air Knife was not needed to blow the belt continuously and the continuous demand was not desirable during peak production.

The simple solution for this was the EXAIR Electronic Flow Control, the EFC minimizes compressed air use by turning off the air when a sensor is triggered. Since there was a 4.5-minute time gap between each mold set this was a great solution. When the photoelectric eye saw a mold, it then told the solenoid valve to open and supply the knife with compressed air for 30 seconds while the mold was open and the excess chocolate would be dripping. See the Savings calculations below;

efcapp

Without using the EFC

(* Using $ 0.25 per 1000 SCFM used)

  • 72” Super Ion Air Knife = 165.6 SCFM @ 60 PSIG
  • 165.6 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1000 SCFM = $ 2.48 per hour
  • $ 2.48 per hour x 8 hours = $ 19.84 per 8-hour day
  • $ 19.84 x 5 days = $ 99.20 per work week
  • $ 99.20 per week x 52 weeks =$5,158.40 per work year without the EFC control

 

With the EFC installed (turning the compressed air off for 4 minutes 30 seconds with a 30 second on time = 6 minutes/hour compressed air usage)

  • 165.6 SCFM x 6 minute x $ 0.25 / 1000 SCFM = $ 0.25 per hour
  • $ 0.25 per hour x 8 hours = $ 2.00 per 8-hour day
  • $ 2.00 x 5 days = $ 10.00 per work week
  • $ 10.00 per week x 52 weeks = $520.00 per work year with the EFC control 

$ 5,158.40 per year (w/o EFC) – $ 520.00 per year (w/ EFC) = $4,638.40 projected savings per year by incorporating the EFC.

EFC287x250

This example illustrates, clearly, why choosing the EFC is a good idea. It has the ability to keep compressed air costs to a minimum and saves compressed air for use within other processes around the plant. With this type of compressed air savings, the unit would pay for itself in less than 3 months.

If you would like to see how we might be able to improve your process or provide a solution for valuable savings, please contact one of our Application Engineers.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

 

Proper Compressed Air Supply Plumbing Equals Success

EXAIR manufactures and stocks Super Air Knives in lengths ranging from 3”-108”. They’re designed to dramatically reduce compressed air usage when compared to similar blowoffs while still maximizing both force and flow. With an air entrainment ratio of 40:1, it’s the ideal solution for a variety of applications that necessitate a wide, laminar sheet of high velocity airflow.

I recently worked with a customer who makes wooden pallets. They were using a Model 110048 48” Super Air Knife to remove sawdust from the pallets prior to stacking them. When the grooves are cut into the pallet to accommodate the forks from a forklift or pallet-jack, there’s a good amount of sawdust that remains on the pallet. They would prefer to not have sawdust all over the finished pallets that they send to customers, so they looked towards a Super Air Knife to provide a curtain of air capable of removing that sawdust just prior to stacking them.

They purchased the Model 110048, but after installing it they didn’t get the level of force they had been hoping for. After some initial discussions, we identified that the issue lied with the plumbing of the air supplied to the knife. A 48” Super Air Knife will need to be fed with compressed air to (3) of the ¼ NPT air inlets. This ensures that an adequate volume of air is fed to the full length of the knife, keeping a consistent airflow.

Not only had they been plumbing compressed air to just (1) air inlet, but they were also using a restrictive quick-disconnect fitting. The I.D. of a quick connect fitting restricts the overall volume of air that can be passed through it. Length of the pipe or hose is also critical as the diameter of the pipe will need to be larger for longer runs or greater volumes. Accompanying any Super Air Knife is our Installation & Maintenance Guide which outlines the necessary requirements for each available length that we have available as well as how many air inlets need to be supplied with compressed air.

SAK pipe sizing

To confirm that air supply was the issue, they installed a pressure gauge directly at the air inlet to the knife. Line pressure was around 90 PSIG, but when they opened the valve and supplied air to the knife the pressure gauge dropped all the way to 35 PSIG. We’ve talked about pressure drop before here on the EXAIR Blog, the only way to confirm this is to take a pressure reading directly at the air inlet.

They removed the quick disconnect fitting, increased to a 1/2″ supply hose in place of 1/4″, and plumbed compressed air to each end and the center air inlet. On all Super Air Knives, compressed air inlets are available on either end as well as on the bottom. After fixing their plumbing, they noticed a dramatic increase in both force and flow and the pressure directly at the air inlet increased to 85 PSIG. The sawdust was easily blown off of the pallets and the customer was pleased that their pallets were free of sawdust.

sak pallet

At EXAIR, we stand by our products with the Unconditional 30 Day Guarantee. If you’ve just purchased a new product and aren’t seeing the results that you were hoping for give us a call. Our highly-trained team of Application Engineers is ready and standing by to investigate the application and provide support to help make sure you’re getting the most out of our products. Most of the times the solution is simple, but we won’t be satisfied until we find a resolution!

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

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Removes Moisture From Plastic Bottles Prior to Labeling

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is THE best solution for compressed air blowoff operations that require a wide sheet of compressed air. We’ve been manufacturing Air Knives for over 35 years, with the Super Air Knife making its first appearance back in 1997. Since then, the Super Air Knife has undergone a few enhancements over the years as we’re constantly trying to not only introduce new products but also improve on the ones we have. We’ve added new materials, longer single piece knives, as well as additional accessories. But, by and large, the basic design has remained the same. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

The Super Air Knife utilizes a source of compressed air to create a laminar sheet of high velocity air. This supplied compressed air mixes with ambient air that is entrained into the primary airstream. The Super Air Knife entrains ambient air at a rate of 40:1, making it VERY effective in a variety of drying, cleaning, and cooling applications. Available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and in a variety of different materials of construction, there’s a Super Air Knife available for just about any application.

Any time you have product moving along a conveyor that needs to be cleaned, dried, or cooled off, a Super Air Knife is the ideal fit. I recently worked with our Argentinian Distributor on an application involving drying off plastic bottles just prior to applying a label to the outside. After the bottles are molded, they go through a washing operation to remove contaminants from the inside and outside of the bottles before they’re filled. After filling, a label must be applied to the outside of the bottle. Before installation of the Super Air Knives, they were allowing the bottles to air dry. As they moved along the conveyor, most of the residual water did come off and wasn’t causing any issues.

SAK and Mounting System

They were looking to increase production rates so that they could keep up with demand, however when they increased the speed of the conveyor there was still a good amount of residual water remaining on the bottles. This prevents the label from adhering properly to the outside of the bottle. Not only did this result in an added step to inspect the bottles, but those that weren’t labeled properly had to have the label removed and cleaned off before a new one could be put on. This actually ended up being less productive than just running the conveyor at a slower speed.

They came across the EXAIR Super Air Knife and decided to try (2) 110036 aluminum Super Air Knives to remove excess moisture just prior to labeling. The plant handles a wide variety of different sized bottles, so they also utilized the Universal Mounting System so that they could easily adjust the positioning of the knife based on the job. With the Super Air Knives in place, they were able to effectively run the operation nearly 20% faster without any problems.

With the quiet and efficient Super Air Knives in place, they were able to increase production rates in order to fulfill their orders on time. If there’s an application in your facility that could necessitate the use of an EXAIR Super Air Knife, give us a call. With 16 different lengths available from stock in 4 different materials, same day shipping with orders placed by 3:00 ET, AND our unconditional 30 day guarantee, there’s no excuse not to give one a try!

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

Many Air Knife Materials and Shim Options to Suit Your Application

The EXAIR Super Air Knives are used in many applications ranging from part drying, to web cleaning, to conveyor blowoff, and many other uses. For most processes, the aluminum models provide the performance required and withstand the environmental conditions present.

Ambient temperature limits for the aluminum models is 180°F (82°C). EXAIR also offers the air knives in types 303 and 316 Stainless Steel, which increase the temperature limit to 800°F (427°C) and provides a great degree of corrosion resistance. For the harshest, most corrosive environments, an air knife constructed of Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) with a temperature limit to 275°F (135°C) is available.

Super Air Knives
Aluminum, Stainless Steel and PVDF Super Air Knives

But what can we do about those applications where the increased corrosion resistance isn’t needed and the temperatures do not approach anywhere near to 800°F (427°C)?

The solution to this situation is an aluminum air knife with a custom stainless steel shim. The aluminum material is rated to 400°F (204°C) and the shim is good to 800°F (427°C) so this knife can be used in those hotter environments up to 400°F (204°C). This option helps to keep the cost of the knife low, by utilizing the lower cost aluminum for the body and cap.

The table below details the materials of construction options for the Super Air Knife – a wide array of material offerings to suit even the hottest, harshest conditions.

Air Knife Temperature Table

We recommend consulting with an Application Engineer to review the application, process, and environmental conditions, and we can present best options.

And don’t forget, the shims can be further customized for special blowoff requirements. See the blog that my colleague, Russ Bowman, posted here.

If you have questions about Super Air Knives or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
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Twitter: @EXAIR_BB