EXAIR Corporation’s Research & Development team often finds themselves at odds with our Marketing department, who thinks R&D, through their constant introduction of new ideas & products, is trying to turn our catalog into something resembling a phone book.
I do not believe that is their aim or intention, though (and to be fair, Marketing doesn’t either.) Honestly, we just want to help folks in a wide range of industries solve problems. And a diverse range of engineered compressed air products is our tried-and-true, successful method for doing so.
A few weeks ago I was on vacation with my family. My wife and I had taken our three daughters to Columbus, OH for three days after camping in a tent for a few days. One of the focal points to the trip was COSI, the Center of Science and Industry. In case you live anywhere near Columbus, OH and have not heard of how amazing this interactive museum is, you should definitely check it out. This isn’t your normal museum.
While the Mythic Creatures exhibit and the Jim Henson exhibit were both absolutely amazing for my 9, 6 and 4 year old daughters, it was also entertaining for my wife and myself. Now you may be asking what does this interactive science place and trip with kids have to do with EXAIR.
Well, while my daughters and I were watching this enormous pendulum that knocks ball bearings off boxes every few minutes I could hear that all too familiar, gentle sound of compressed air blowing every now and then. I couldn’t however see where the noise was coming from.
As we wandered through the different sections I saw several examples of compressed air use but none were the exact sound or display I had heard. When we were walking through the Space exhibit just above where the pendulum was located and that gentle sound was getting closer. All of a sudden I saw it. Next thing I know I look up and my 6 year old was using a joystick to control a scaled down Lunar Lander propelling it in circles. This was where the sound was coming from.
While I was amazed by this interactive piece I could tell they were using compressed air and I was curious as to how it was working. That’s when I noticed the distinct design of our Nano Super Air Nozzle on the bottom of the Lander. Here’s a close up picture, well as close as the handrail would allow me to get without over reaching.
The interesting part to this is how this setup gives an idea of the amount of thrust given off by a nozzle that only consumes 8.3 SCFM of compressed air when powered at 80 psig inlet pressure. These nozzles can easily be fitted to blast debris or moisture out of small pockets or hard to reach areas. They also can be used to help direct product that may be getting diverted to a new conveyor. And, obviously, they can be used to propel scale models of lunar landers.
If you would like to discuss any application for point of use compressed air, and I do mean ANY, give us a call. If I can’t help with the application we will at the very least do our best to send you in the right direction.
If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:
This guideline is as comprehensive as you want it to be. It’s been applied, in small & large facilities, as the framework for a formal set of procedures, followed in order, with the goal of large scale reductions in the costs associated with the operation of compressed air systems…and it works like a charm. Others have “stepped” in and out, knowing already where some of their larger problems were – if you can actually hear or see evidence of leaks, your first step doesn’t necessarily have to be the installation of a Digital Flowmeter.
Here are some ways you may be able to “step” in and out to realize opportunities for savings on your use of compressed air:
Power: I’m not saying you need to run out & buy a new compressor, but if yours is
aging, requires more frequent maintenance, doesn’t have any particular energy efficiency ratings, etc…you might need to run out & buy a new compressor. Or at least consult with a reputable air compressor dealer about power consumption. You might not need to replace the whole compressor system if it can be retrofitted with more efficient controls.
Pressure: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure. In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental for the pressure to be too high. Depending on the layout of your compressed air supply lines, your header pressure may be set a little higher than the load with the highest required pressure, and that’s OK. If it’s significantly higher, intermediate storage (like EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank, shown on the right) may be worth looking into. Keep in mind, every 2psi increase in your header pressure means a 1% increase (approximately) in electric cost for your compressor operation. Higher than needed pressures also increase wear and tear on pneumatic tools, and increase the chances of leaks developing.
Consumption: Much like newer technologies in compressor design contribute to higher efficiency & lower electric power consumption, engineered compressed air products will use much less air than other methods. A 1/4″ copper tube is more than capable of blowing chips & debris away from a machine tool chuck, but it’s going to use as much as 33 SCFM. A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (shown on the right) can do the same job and use only 14 SCFM. This one was installed directly on to the end of the copper tube, quickly and easily, with a compression fitting.
Leaks: These are part of your consumption, whether you like it or not. And you shouldn’t like it, because they’re not doing anything for you, AND they’re costing you money. Fix all the leaks you can…and you can fix them all. Our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector (right) can be critical to your efforts in finding these leaks, wherever they may be.
Pressure, part 2: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure (seems I’ve heard that before?) Controlling the pressure required for individual applications, at the point of use, keeps your header pressure where it needs to be. All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product Kits come with a Pressure Regulator (like the one shown on the right) for this exact purpose.
Return on Investment, or ROI, is the ratio of profit over total investment. Many people use it to check stocks, financial markets, capital equipment, etc. It is a quantitative way in determining the validity for an investment or project. You can use the ROI value to give a measurable rate in looking at your investment.
For a positive ROI value, the project will pay for itself in less than one year. Any negative values would represent a high-risk investment. In this blog, I will compare the ROI when replacing a ¼” NPT open pipe with a model 1122 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle. Let’s start by looking at Equation 1 to calculate the Return on Investment:
Equation 1: ROI = (Total annual savings – Total Project Cost) / Total Project Cost * 100
The second part of the equation, Total Project Cost, is the cost of the nozzles plus the labor to install them onto the machine. The model 1122, 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle, has a price of $70.00 each. The cost of a ¼” NPT Pipe that is roughly 2” long is around $1.50 each. What a difference! How could EXAIR been in business for over 35 years? Let’s continue on with the Return on Investment…
The amount of time required to install the nozzles to the end of a pipe is 1/2 hour (generously). The labor rate that I will use in this example is $75.00 per hour (you can change this to your current labor rate). The labor cost to install a nozzle is $35.00. The Total Project Cost can be calculated as follows: ($70 – $1.50) + $35.00 = $103.50. The next part of the equation, Total annual savings, has more complexity in the calculation, as shown below.
As a reference, EXAIR Super Air Nozzles for compressed air would be considered like LED light bulbs for electricity. The open pipes and tubes would represent the incandescent light bulbs. The reason for this parity is because of the amount of energy that the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles can save. While LED light bulbs are a bit more expensive than the incandescent light bulbs, the Return on Investment has a high percentage, or in other words, a short payback period. On the other hand, the open pipe is less expensive to purchase, but the overall cost to use in your compressed air system is much much higher. I will explain why.
To calculate the Total Annual Savings, we need to generate a blow-off scenario (You can use your actual values to calculate the ROI for your project). In this example, I will compare the ¼” NPT open pipe to the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle. (The reason behind this comparison is that the model 1122 can screw directly onto the end of the 1/4” NPT pipe.) The amount of compressed air used by a 1/4” NPT open pipe is around 140 SCFM (3,962 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). The model 1122 has an air consumption of 21.8 SCFM (622 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). At an electrical rate of $0.08 per Kilowatt-hour, we see that the cost to make compressed air is $0.25 per 1000 standard cubic feet, or $0.25/1000SCF. (Based on 4 SCFM per horsepower of air compressor).
To calculate an annual savings, let’s use a blow-off operation of 8 hours/day for 250 days a year. Replacing the ¼” NPT open pipe with a model 1122, it will save you (140 SCFM – 21.8 SCFM) = 118.2 SCFM of compressed air. To put this into a monetary value, the annual savings will be 118.2 SCFM *$0.25/1000SCF * 60 Min/hr * 8hr/day * 250 day/yr = $3,546/year. Now if you have more than one blow-off spot in your facility like this, imagine the total amount of money that you would save.
With the Total Annual Cost and the Project Cost known, we can insert these values into Equation 1 to calculate the ROI:
ROI = (Total annual savings – Total Project Cost) / Project Cost * 100
ROI = ($3,546 – $103.50) / $103.50 * 100
ROI = 3326%
With a percentage value that high, we are looking at a payback period of only 9 days. You may look at the initial cost and be discouraged. But in a little over a week, the model 1122 will have paid for itself. And after using it for just 1 year, it will save your company $3,546.00. Like with any great idea, the LED light bulb clicked on in my mind. What could be the total savings if you looked at all the blow-off applications in your facility?
In my experience, a loud blowing noise from your equipment is generally coming from an open pipe or tube. With these “cheap” ways to blow compressed air, it will cost your company a lot of money to use as shown in the example above. If you would like to team up with EXAIR to set up ways to increase savings, improve productivity, and increase safety, you can contact an Application Engineer to get started. It can be as simple as screwing on a Super Air Nozzle.
Depending on the context, those may be three words you DON’T want to hear in the same sentence. Case in point…a caller I spoke with recently, who works at a large steel forging plant. During a recent inspection, management was surprised (and disappointed) to find out that, unbeknownst to them, some of their operators had modified some of their compressed air blow off devices.
These modifications left them in violation of both OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) (limit on outlet, or dead end pressure) and 1910.95(a) (limits noise level exposure.) The OSHA inspector left them with an $8,000.00 fine, and a promise to return with an even higher one if the situation wasn’t corrected.
We discussed the ways their current devices were supplied, the conditions they were operating in, what they were used for…and why the operators had modified them. Sadly, we found the devices were underperforming due to air supply issues – hoses that were too small in diameter and/or too long, with restrictive quick connect fittings. And some of their modifications (drilling out the discharge) just exacerbated those problems.
Most of their applications were pretty typical – blowing flash, chips, oil, coolant, etc. from processed metal parts. Typical enough that a couple of EXAIR Safety Air Guns would allow them to determine what they would need, by taking them around to various stations in the plant and trying them out.
I feel pretty good about the chances of publishing a future blog about the success of this application. If you want to keep up, I encourage to follow the EXAIR blog – there’s a link to the right to provide your email address – for more on this one, other applications, and a wealth of expert writings on how to get the most out of your compressed air system.
As always, if you’d like to discuss a particular compressed air application and/or product selection, give me a call.
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EXAIR manufactures a variety of intelligent compressed air products that can cool, clean, coat, convey, and conserve. They’re designed specifically with enhanced efficiencies, OSHA safety, and high quality in mind. What could make them perform even better? Making them movable! EXAIR offers Magnetic Bases and Stay Set Hoses to achieve this. In this blog, I will cover the features and benefits of both products.
Stay Set Hoses:
The Stay Set Hose gives you that possibility of manually adjusting and re-adjusting smaller EXAIR products like Super Air Nozzles and Air Jets. The hose has a “memory” function, and it will not creep or droop until you physically move it. They work very well in directing the air flows at specific target areas.
The Stay Set Hoses come in lengths from 6” (15cm) to 36” (91cm), and they have threaded connections with either ¼” NPT male on both ends or with a 1/8” NPT female and a ¼” NPT male types.
The hoses are made from reinforced synthetic rubber and have a pressure rating of 250 PSIG (17 bar). They can add versatility to our Safety Air Guns and Blowoff Stations. If you need positioning for precise blowing or adjustments for different targets, the Stay Set Hoses would be a nice addition to include with your EXAIR products.
If you need a solid mount to steel surfaces or to move your blow-off system to different locations, the Magnetic Base will allow you to do these functions. It has a 100 lb. (45.5Kg) pulling force to keep the blowing device attached firmly until you want to move it. They can be mounted in a vertical or horizontal position.
EXAIR offers a single outlet Magnetic Base or a dual outlet Magnetic Base (for multiple blowing products). We also have a Magnetic Base with a swivel to help angle the blowing force. The bases come with a ¼ turn shut-off valve to easily turn on and off the compressed air to the EXAIR products.
If you want to combine the Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases with your EXAIR Air Nozzles and Air Jets, we can create this with the EXAIR Blowoff System. We can combine multiple devices into a single model number. At EXAIR, we pride ourselves with great customer service and an “easy to do business” philosophy. You can contact a friendly Application Engineer to build an efficient, safe, and movable system just for you.
Throughout my years here at EXAIR as well as my years in the metal cutting industry, one of the most common quick fixes I see in production environments for compressed air blowoffs in a process is an open copper pipe that is contorted into a position, pinched at the end, and more often than not kinked from repositioning. I call this a quick fix because it does blow air, more often than not it will get production up and running, but it does not meet or exceed OSHA standards for safety and is an inefficient use of compressed air. [OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a)]
The first engineered solution I could offer to prevent any costly OSHA fines and to lower the ambient noise level caused by these blowoffs is to implement an EXAIR Engineered Air Nozzle. We offer a wide variety of nozzles ranging from a 4mm thread up to a 1-1/4″ NPT thread. With this wide range comes a wide variety of forces and flows as well.
Today, I would like to focus on the common sizes of copper blowoffs which are 1/8″ and 1/4″. To simply adapt a nozzle to copper line a compression fitting can be easily sourced, often from EXAIR, and convert the copper tubing in place to an NPT threaded outlet for easy installation of an EXAIR nozzle. More often than not a compression fitting is how the copper tubing is tied into the machine’s compressed air system.
We have a total of 37 engineered air nozzles from stock that will easily fit a compression fitting which goes to a 1/8″ NPT or 1/4″ NPT thread. Several of these are also adjustable through a gap adjustment or a patented shim adjustment to vary the force and flow out of the nozzle from a forceful blast to a gentle breeze in order to me your application needs. What if you want to eliminate the copper line and compressions fittings?
EXAIR offers a replacement option for the ever-common copper tube that is more robust and does not require a tool to be properly repositioned. We currently offer twenty-four different models of our Stay Set Hoses that can be easily connected to any of the nozzles mentioned above. The lengths that are available are 6″ (152mm), 12″ (305mm), 18″ (457mm), 24″ (610mm), 30″ (762mm) and 36″ (914mm).
These lengths are available with two separate connection options. 1/4″ MNPT x 1/4″ MNPT or 1/4″ MNPT x 1/8″ FNPT. The Stay Set Hoses can easily be bent by hand into position for a precise placement of the air pattern from the engineered nozzle attached to it. This permits operators a tool free adjustment for fast and reliable location to keep production up and running. They can also be paired with Magnetic Bases.
EXAIR Magnetic Bases are available in single outlet or dual outlet configurations. Both include a 100 lb. pull magnet that will hold tight to any ferrous metal surface for secure mounting, as well as a quick 1/4 turn miniature valve on each outlet. This permits independent customization of the force our of each output for the dual outlet mag base. Each magnetic base offers a 1/4″ FNPT inlet port and outlet port. We offer these with any of combination of the Stay Set Hoses mentioned above as well as any of the Super Air Nozzles mentioned above.
The Super Air Nozzles, Stay Set Hoses, and Magnetic Bases can be easily combined before they ship to your facility to make a complete blowoff station that is easily installed and adjusted to fit any of the needs your process may have for a point of use blowoff. If you want help determining how much compressed air you would save by replacing the open pipe blowoffs with an engineered solution like a Stay Set Magnetic Base Blowoff System please contact myself or any Application Engineer here at EXAIR.