Chip Shields, OSHA, And You

Safety is a key part of our culture at EXAIR Corporation.  We have regularly scheduled, all-hands required, safety training on a number of topics.  Our Order Entry team can likely tell you as much about our lockout/tagout procedures as our Machinists can.  Nobody even thinks about entering The Shop without safety glasses, and it’s not just because of the signs.

We pay attention to these…
…so we don’t ever have to use this.

OSHA 1910.242(b) states that “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. (emphasis mine)  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to meet the requirements of the first part (30psi outlet pressure to prevent dead ending…we’ve written about that numerous times, including here, here, and here) and we can also provide pre-installed devices to satisfy the second part:  the EXAIR Chip Shield.

Any EXAIR VariBlast or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun can come fitted with a Chip Shield, and any Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, except for those with Stay Set Hoses, can as well.  Safety Air Guns with Back Blow Nozzles automatically come with a Chip Shield. The principle is simple: a clear polycarbonate (so you can still see what you’re doing) round disc slips over a short (or long if you want) pipe extension between the gun & the nozzle.  It’s fitted with a rubber grommet so you can position it to where it’s most effective – sometimes that might be closer to the part being blown off; sometimes it may be back a little closer to the operator.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

If you already have an air gun that’s doing the job, you can easily add an EXAIR Chip Shield to it.  They’re made to fit a wide range of extension diameters, and can even come with the extension if you need it.  We also stock a number of adapter fittings; if you know what threads your air gun has (or if you can send us some photos) we can quickly & easily spec those out for you.

Convenient and inexpensive “thumb guns” with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.
We can provide a Chip Shield for most any device with a threaded fitting. I couldn’t find a way to re-use the non-OSHA-compliant nozzle that came with this gun (thank goodness.)
Another example of a larger air gun fitted with a more powerful cross drill nozzle (left) that can be made totally OSHA compliant with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center.) An EXAIR High Force Super Air Nozzle (right) keeps the power, while reducing noise level and compressed air consumption (right.)

Since 1983, EXAIR Corporation has been manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry (emphasis mine.)  If you have concerns or questions about safety in regard to your compressed air use, call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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A Brief History of Compressed Air

So where exactly did compressed air come from? How did it become so widely used and where will it go? Both of these are great questions and the answers lie below.

Compressed air can be traced all the way back to the classic bellows that were used to fuel blacksmith fires and forges.  These started as hand pumped bellows, they then scaled up to foot pumped, multiple person pumped, oxen or horse driven and then eventually waterwheel driven.  All of these methods came about due to the demand for more and more compressed air. These bellows did not generate near the amount of air pressure or volume needed for modern day practices yet they worked in the times.  These early bellows pumps would even supply miners with air.

With the evolution of metallurgy and industry these bellows were replaced by wheel driven fans, then steam came about and began generating more industrial sources of power.  The main issue with steam was that it would lose its power over longer runs of pipe due to condensing in the pipes.  Thus the birth of the air compressor was born. One of the largest projects that is noted to first use compressed air was in 1861 during the build of the Mont Cenis Tunnel in Switzerland in which they used compressed air machinery.  From here the constant need and evolution for on-demand compressed air expanded.  The picture below showcases two air compressors from 1896.

compressed_air_28189629_281459402261829
Air Compressors from the old days.

The compressors evolved over time from single stage, to two-stage reciprocating, on to compound, rotary-screw compressors, rotary vane, scroll, turbo, and centrifugal compressors with variable frequency drives.  The efficiency of each evolution has continued to increase.  More output for the same amount of input.  Now we see a two-stage compressor, considered old technology, and wonder how the company can get any work done.

All of the technological advances in compressor technology were driven by the demand sides of the compressed air systems.  Companies needed to power more, go further, get more from less, ultimately increase production.  With this constant increase in demand, the supply of compressed air increased and more efficient products for using compressed air began to evolve so the air was used more efficiently.

Enter EXAIR, we evolved the blowoff to meet the increasing demands of industrial companies to get the same amount of work done with less compressed air. We have continually evolved our product offering since 1983.  It all started with just a few typed pages of part numbers and has evolved to a 208 page catalog offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® for industry.  We will also continue to evolve our product designs for continued improvement of compressed air usage.  This is all to better help companies retain their resources.

cat32_500p
EXAIR Catalog 32

If your company uses compressed air and you aren’t sure if it is efficiently being utilized, contact an Application Engineer.  Thanks for joining us for the brief history lesson, we look forward to hearing from you and seeing what the future brings.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_BF BrianFarno@EXAIR.com

 

Compressed air (1896) (14594022618).jpg – Wikimedia Commons – Internet Archive Book Images – Link

 

Does a 38 Day Simple ROI Sound Good? Use Engineered Compressed Air Blowoff Products!

After getting a baseline measurement of the air consumption in your facility and locating and fixing leaks in your system, it’s time to begin implementing some changes. Step 3 of the 6 Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System covers upgrading your blowoff, cooling, and drying operations using engineered compressed air products.

sixsteps_3

This step can have the most impact when it comes to your bottom line. The energy costs associated with the generation of compressed air make it one of the most expensive utilities for any industrial environment. Because of this, we need to ensure that the places in your facility that are using compressed air are doing so efficiently.

EXAIR manufactures a variety of products that can help to ensure you’re using your compressed air in the best way possible. What it may seem simple, easy, and cheap to use something like an open-ended pipe or tube for blowoff, the fact of the matter is that the volume of air that these homemade solutions use quickly make them more expensive. Super Air Nozzles have been designed to entrain ambient air along with the supplied compressed air, allowing you to achieve a high force from the output of the nozzle while keeping compressed air usage to a minimum. In addition to saving air, they’ll also provide a significant reduction in overall sound level.

drilled pipe
homemade drilled pipe

Another product that can be used to increase the efficiency of your blowoff processes is the Super Air Knife. Available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and in a variety of materials, the Super Air Knife is the ideal replacement for inefficient drilled pipes. Again, it may seem cheaper to just drill a few holes in a pipe whenever you need to cover a wide area but the volume of air consumed in addition to the incredibly high sound level will quickly drain your compressor. The Super Air Knife is also designed to entrain ambient air, at a rate of 40:1! Allowing you to take advantage of the free ambient air in addition to the supplied air.

Let’s compare the costs difference between a homemade drilled pipe and EXAIR’s Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife has a precisely set air gap across the full length of the knife, allowing for an efficient and quiet laminar airstream. When compared to a drilled pipe, the air consumption is dramatically reduced as is the sound level. For example, let’s take an 18” section of drilled pipe, with 1/16” diameter holes spaced out every ½”. At 80 PSIG, each hole consumes 3.8 SCFM. With a total of 37 holes, this equates to a total of 140.6 SCFM.

3.8 SCFM x 37 = 140.6 SCFM

A Super Air Knife, operated at 80 PSIG with .002” stock shim installed will consume a total of 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife. An 18” SAK would then consume just 52.2 SCFM.

2.9 SCFM x 18 = 52.2 SCFM

140.6 SCFM – 52.2 SCFM = 88.4 SCFM saved 

Replacing an 18” drilled pipe with a Super Air Knife represents a total reduction in compressed air consumption of 63%! How much does this equate to in $$$? A reasonable average of cost to generate compressed air is about $0.25/ 1000 SCF. Let’s assume just a 40hr workweek:

88.4 SCFM x 60 mins x $0.25/1000 SCF = $1.33/hr

$1.33 x 40hr workweek = $53.20 USD

$53.20 x 52 weeks/year = $2,766.40 USD in yearly savings

The 2019 list price on a Model 110018 Super Air Knife is $397.00. By replacing the homemade solution with an 18” Super Air Knife, the return on investment is just over 38 working days of an 8-hr shift. If your plant runs multiple shifts, or works on weekends, it pays for itself even quicker.

Not only are these homemade solutions expensive to operate, they’re not safe either. Familiarize yourself with both OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95(a) and 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and you’ll learn just how expensive it can be if you were to be found using these devices during a random OSHA inspection. Make sure you’re utilizing the most expensive utility as efficiently and safely as possible. If you need help with determining which products are best suited for your application, give us a call. Our team of Application Engineers is ready to help!

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

Don’t Forget About Operating Cost: How To Calculate Return On Investment

If you have a stock portfolio, or even a retirement account, you’ve likely heard the term “return on investment.” It basically tells you how hard your money is working for you, and, the higher, the better.

The term is also used to determine the financial benefits associated with the use of more efficient products than you’re using right now:

  • The cost of operating industrial pumps, air compressors, and a variety of industrial rotating equipment, can be greatly reduced by using variable frequency drive systems that sense the demand and change the motor’s speed (and hence power consumption) accordingly.  These systems are not cheap, but the reduction in operating costs is often quite noticeable.
  • At home, installing energy efficient windows (spoiler alert: your builder probably used the cheapest ones he could find…mine sure did) or upgrading appliances & HVAC can cost a pretty penny, but you’ll also see your electric bill go down.

EXAIR Corporation has a worldwide reputation for providing highly efficient compressed air products for industry.  Our Engineering Department has a company-wide reputation for being data fanatics…which is key to allowing us to provide our customers with ample information to make the best choices to optimize your use of your compressed air.

It’s not hard at all to calculate your potential savings from the use of an engineered compressed air product, assuming you know how much air your current device is using.  If not, we can tell you if you can send it in for Efficiency Lab testing (free and fast; call me to find out more.)  Here’s an example for a VERY typical situation: replacing an open copper tube blow off with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube uses 33 SCFM @80psig
  • A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM @80psig

33 SCFM X 60 min/hour X 8 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year = 4,118,400 SCF

14 SCFM X 60 min/hour X 8 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year = 1,747,200 SCF

4,118,400 – 1,747,200 = 2,371,200 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air savings

If you know your facility’s cost of compressed air generation, you can calculate the monetary savings.  If not, we can get a good estimate via a thumbrule used by the U.S. Department of Energy that says it typically costs $0.25 to generate 1,000 SCF of compressed air:

2,371,200 SCF X $0.25 ÷ 1,000 SCF = $592.80 annual monetary savings

In 2019, the cost of a Model 1100 Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle is $41.00.  Daily savings (not counting weekends) is:

$592.80 ÷ 260 days (5 days/week X 52 weeks/year) = $2.28 daily savings

Meaning the payoff time for the $41.00 investment in the Model 1100 is:

$41.00 ÷ $2.28 = 17.9 days

Or…just over three weeks.  Now that I’ve shown you the math, I’d like to introduce you to the EXAIR Cost Savings Calculator.  Just enter the data, and it’ll check your math (because I know you’re going to do the math anyway, just like I would.)  It even does the ROI for you too.

Engineered solutions (like EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products) are the efficient, quiet, and safe choice. Does the one on the right look familiar?  It’s literally the example I used for the above calculations.

If you’d like to find out more about how – and how fast – EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can pay off for you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Durable, Versatile, and Efficient – EXAIR Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

As compressed air technology advanced through the 20th Century, its uses multiplied.  Pneumatic cylinders became common for rolling and forming presses.  The convenience and portability of powerful pneumatic hand held tools spread in assembly and manufacturing facilities.  Along the way, operators also found that an open-ended compressed air line could be used for quick and easy blow off in a number of applications. There were, however, some pretty risky safety issues associated with this.

In December of 1970, the Occupational Safety & Health Act became the law of the land, and in 1971, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was created.  Among the many hazards in workplaces they targeted was compressed air use for cleaning.  The primary concerns were:

  • An open ended blow off could inadvertently be dead ended onto a person’s body, and if the pressure were high enough, it could break the skin and cause a deadly condition called an air embolism.  So they limited the outlet pressure to 30psi.
  • Blowing something off with air can (and usually does) result in airborne particulate traveling at a high velocity that can imbed in your skin or in your eye.  So they mandated the use of proper chip guarding, protective clothing, and eye protection.

This is where the history of the safety air gun begins.  Through the 1970’s & 1980’s, engineers rolled out product after product conforming with these new safety standards, sometimes looking for economy, sometimes efficiency…and occasionally, both.

It’s not hard to make a blow off nozzle that complies with OSHA’s dead end pressure requirement; you just need to provide a path for the air to escape in case the nozzle end is blocked.  Cross drilled nozzles (shown at right) are simple, cheap, and OSHA compliant, but they’re also loud & inefficient.

EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles not only protect against injury from dead ended high pressure air, their engineered design also makes them quiet, and efficient.  They are commonly installed on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.  Along with our Chip Shields (shown at right) and your personal protective equipment, you get OSHA compliance, AND lower air consumption & noise levels.

With the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, you also get a diverse range of options to suit the specific needs of numerous applications:

If you’re looking for a hand held blow off device, your choices are many.  If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, safe, and versatile one, your choice is easy:  the EXAIR Soft Grip Safety Air GunCall me and we’ll figure out which one you need.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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What’s So Great About The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun?

Well, for one thing, it’s won ANOTHER award…in addition to the 2018 Plant Engineering Product of the Year (Silver Award, Compressed Air Category) for 2018, it’s now won the 2019 Industrial Safety & Hygiene Reader’s Choice Award.

But we didn’t need awards to tell us how great they are.  EXAIR Corporation has 35 years of continuously improving experience in the design, engineering, and manufacture of quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Guns are just another innovation that’s come to fruition, courtesy of the knowledge, experience, and dedication to quality from our R&D Engineering & Production departments.

Whatever your needs are, EXAIR has a Safety Air Gun for you.

But you don’t have to take OUR word for it: a satisfied customer base has proven the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun‘s success:  We offer a 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee on any catalog product.  That means you can put it through its paces for up to a month…if it’s not going to work out, for any reason, we’ll arrange return for full credit.  Of the dozens of VariBlast Safety Air Guns we’ve sold every month for the last two years or so, we have not had one returned.  Not. One.  To which I say: no wonder…check it out:

If you’re looking for an economical, efficient, quiet, variable flow, handheld blow off solution, look no further than the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun…just another award winning Intelligent Compressed Air Product, brought to you by EXAIR.  To the readers of Industrial Safety & Hygiene Magazine…thanks for noticing!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Engineered Air Nozzles vs. Commercial vs. Open Air Line

How much does your compressed air cost?  If you don’t know, there are some handy tools, like this one, that will help you calculate it precisely.  For estimating purposes, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that compressed air costs about $0.25 per 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet of mass to generate.  Again, this is an estimate based on different electric power consumption costs from around the country, varying efficiencies of different types & sizes of air compressors, etc., so, as the automobile folks say, “your mileage may vary.”

Regardless of whether you calculate it exactly or just estimate it, it’s going to come as no surprise that it isn’t cheap.  That’s why efficient use HAS to be taken seriously.  Luckily, there are steps you can take (six, specifically, see below,) that can help.

Step 3, dear reader, is the subject of today’s blog.

This is a common inquiry here at EXAIR Corporation.  It’s not hard to find a blog about them -like this one, or this one, or even this one.  Before we go any further….yes, this is ANOTHER one.

I recently had the pleasure of helping a caller who was using the male ends of pneumatic quick connect fittings to blow off steel tubes:

Cheap and easy…but loud & wasteful. Don’t let this happen to you.

They were operating these, for the most part, 24/7, as their production was continuous, although there were actually spaces between product at times.  They were using over 74 SCFM…that’s 750,000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air PER WEEK, or over 39 MILLION SCF per year…over $9,700.00* in generation cost.  After a brief discussion, they ordered & installed two Model 1101 Super Air Nozzles, which threaded right in to their existing fittings:

This was a “slam dunk” – no system modification was even required.

Not only were the Super Air Nozzles markedly quieter (sound level went from 90dBA to 72dBA,) air consumption was reduced to just 20.90 SCFM…a 72% reduction, which translates to an annual cost savings of over $7,000.00*.  But wait…there’s more.

See, that was just “step 3” – they also installed a solenoid valve in the supply line, actuated from their process control.  This turns off the compressed air in between cycles, roughly estimated at about half the time.  This gets them additional savings of almost $1,400.00* per year.  But wait (again)…there’s STILL more.

This is one of five lines that were (mis)using the pneumatic fittings.  With the dramatic improvements of the first line, they ordered Super Air Nozzles for the remaining four.  So, to recap…an investment of $440.00 (2019 List Price for the Model 1101 is $44.00,) plus their solenoid valves, they’re saving almost $42,000.00* per year in compressed air generation costs.

*using the DoE thumbrule of $0.25/1,000 SCF referenced in the first paragraph.

Engineered compressed air products like the Super Air Nozzles are a clear winner all day, every day, over any open-end type device.  If you’d like to find out how much EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products can save you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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