Solving Performance Issues of Air Operated Industrial Vacuums

This blog will focus on the EXAIR Chip Vac, but the troubleshooting process and steps for achieving optimal performance are consistent among EXAIR’s entire line of air operated industrial vacuums.

There’s really not that much that CAN go wrong with an EXAIR Chip Vac System. They have no moving parts to wear or electrical components to burn out. As long as they’re supplied with clean air, they’ll run darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.

Murphy’s Law, of course, is still in full force, so if something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong.  The Chip Vac is, alas, no exception.  Good news is, because of the Chip Vac‘s simplicity, troubleshooting is simple as well.  The most common problems we see with ANY of our engineered compressed air products (not just the Industrial Vacuums) are related to compressed air supply:

  • New users might not consider the air demand required by a new product, and may provide an inadequate supply line.  The Chip Vac, for example, will consume 40 SCFM @80psig for rated operation, and will need a 1/2″ (inside diameter) hose to supply that, assuming a length of no more than 20ft.  Hooking one up to a common 3/8″ hose on a 50ft reel, for example, will “starve” the Chip Vac, resulting in degraded performance.
  • Also, the preferred method of connection is a hose with threaded fittings on the ends.  A local hydraulics/pneumatics shop can likely make these, while you wait.  Push-to-connect quick connect fittings are restrictive by nature, and should be avoided.  Quarter turn claw-type fittings are great…the main drawback (which can be solved with an upstream shutoff valve) is the line has to be depressurized to make or break the connection.
  • If you absolutely want to use a push-to-connect type, you can oversize it (use one made for larger hose with, say, 3/4 NPT fittings) and use bushing/adapters to get to your actual hose size.

    If you must use quick connects, the 1/4 turn claw type (left) is the least restrictive. Push-to-connects (center) are likely to starve your product, unless you oversize them (right) like we do in our Efficiency Lab.
  • Speaking of supply issues, make sure nobody’s bumped into a valve handle & partially closed it (I have,) ignored the maintenance schedule & didn’t change a clogged filter element (I have,) or ran something into a copper line hard enough to crimp it, but not rupture it (I haven’t…that was Tim, who, aside from this incident, was really pretty good with a forklift.)

The issues above apply to not only any compressed air system, but most fluid power/fluid handling systems.  Since this blog is about Chip Vac troubleshooting, let’s move on to some specifics.  If you’re sure you’re getting proper air supply to the Chip Vac (by the way, a pressure gauge right at the inlet – like the one that comes with our Premium Chip Vac System’s air hose – will eliminate any doubt,) then let’s look at some potential issues downstream:

  • Dirt & debris can collect inside the Chip Vac itself, obstructing the outlet holes, and lowering your vacuum flow.  You can disassemble and clean it pretty easily, though.
  • The Filter Bag can get clogged, especially if you’re vacuuming up a lot of dust or powdery materials.  If this happens, turn the Chip Vac off and shake the Filter Bag to dislodge the material, allowing it to fall back into the drum where it belongs.
  • Speaking of which, if you find that, all of a sudden, the Filter Bag is clogging, remove the drum lid and check for the Silencing Hose.  This serves two functions…the first is in the name (just a little discharge hose mitigates the sound level of the Chip Vac‘s exhaust flow.)  Secondly, it directs the vacuumed material positively into the drum, limiting the amount that is “dust-storms” in the upper area of the drum, where it’s more prone to make it into the Filter Bag.
Pro tip: check for the Silencing Hose when you remove the lid to empty the drum. DON’T throw the Silencing Hose in the trash.

I’m not going to unequivocally state that this is an all-inclusive list (see “Murphy’s Law,” above,) but these are the Usual Suspects if you’re just not getting the most out of your Chip Vac.  If you ever have any questions, though, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air Operated Industrial Vacuum Helps Reclaim Grass Seed and Save Thousands

A customer who produces bags of grass seed were experiencing a large amount of lost product due to spillage during the bagging process. Any spillage they would typically sweep up and throw away. This sweeping would take a good amount of time. Their goal was to determine a way to speed it up the cleaning and see if it was possible to reclaim the seed that was currently scrapped.

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EXAIR has a broad line of industrial vacuums for a variety of jobs. In this case we recommended our Chip Vac.

EXAIR’s Chip Vac is a compressed air operated industrial duty vacuum designed for vacuuming up dry (or mostly dry) products. The powerful vacuum is suitable for use with metal, wood, or plastic chips and is designed to thread into the 2” NPT bung on standard drum lids. The Chip Vac can handle dry or coolant soaked chips from fixtures, floors and work surfaces of machining centers, lathes, saws, mills, and a variety of other industrial equipment. It was also very suitable for this grass seed application.

Electrically powered vacuums or shop vacs are not designed to be operated in a rugged industrial environment. Filters clog, motors wear out, and you find yourself frequently replacing them. EXAIR’s Chip vac has NO moving parts to wear out, doesn’t require maintenance, and needs nothing but a source of compressed air to operate. In addition, the sound level produced is half of that produced by an electric vacuum.

Chip Vacs-all
From left to right: 5 gallon, 30 gallon, 55 gallon, and 110 gallon Chip Vacs are sized for any cleanup need.

Using the Model 6193 Chip Vac System they were able to reclaim lost product in and around the machines in less time and more efficiently.  While the recovered seed could not be used in their certified premium product, they were able to add it to the “contractors” blend. Saving them around $2,500 annually!

Don’t waste your time, get yourself a vacuum designed for the job. One that’ll last year after year! With these systems in stock, ready to ship with an order by 3:00 ET, a unconditional 30 day guarantee and backed up by our 5-Year Warranty, there’s no reason not to give one a try!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Images Courtesy of Oregon Grass Seed Bag Creative Commons.

HEPA Vac Improves Cleaning Process AND Keeps Operators Safe!

On a recent visit with our Hungarian Distributor, I had the pleasure of visiting an automotive leather manufacturing plant. They process and cut to order a wide variety of different styles of leather used in the manufacturing of European automobiles. In one of their machines, a grinding process is performed that smooths out the cut edges of the material before they’re stitched together.

The grinding process itself is self-contained within the machine, but the significant amount of leather dust created needs to be periodically cleaned out. If not, it ends up accumulating on some of the internal components and increasing the downtime and maintenance required on the machine. Due to this, they implemented a 2x per shift cleaning operation.

The machine has several tight spaces inside where the dust accumulates. They’d shut off the machine and blow out the dust. Then, sweep up all of the dust into a dustpan and dump it in the trash. This entire process took approximately 30 minutes each time for 1-hr/shift. With three shifts operating 24/7, that’s 3-hrs/day of lost production time for this particular cleaning process, still less than what they were experiencing as a result of the machine downtime when they weren’t regularly cleaning it.

HDHEPAVac559

However, the primary concern of theirs was that they were now blowing dust all over the shop causing a potential health hazard to their operators. They wanted a solution that would allow them to clean the machine, without presenting an additional hazard. We tested with a Mini Chip Vac first, but the dust was a bit too fine and was still passing through the filter bag.

For fine dusts such as this, the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac is the more suitable option. After testing the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac, it was clear that this was the solution they were hoping for. The high-powered vacuum made quick work of the dust inside, while keeping it contained inside of the drum by the HEPA filter.

They still need to stop and clean the machine out 2x/shift, but now the process only took 10 minutes. They reduced their overall downtime on this machine per day by 2/3 to just 1hr, while keeping their operators safe. While this wasn’t the reason for looking at new solutions, it was definitely an added benefit. If you’re looking for a maintenance-free vacuum system for cleaning up in your facility, EXAIR has a wide range of Industrial Housekeeping solutions available from stock.

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

Compressed Air Use in the Food and Beverage Industry

On our Website we have a comprehensive database of applications we have worked on with our products. These are pretty easy to find, Johns Blog will walk you through the process on how to access these applications.  While John covered Compressed Air Use in the Construction Industry, I will be covering Compressed Air Use in Food and Beverage Industry.

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Application Database

EXAIR products are very commonly used in the food and beverage industry, from blowing water off cans before labeling, to conveying food products to hoppers for processing.  See three examples from our application data base;

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Super Air Knife in meat processing
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EXAIR Line Vac used in almond packaging process
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Super Air Knife clean excess flour off belt

Use our Application Assistance Worksheet to submit information about your application. When you submit this information, we will respond with our recommendation for the EXAIR product best suited for the application. Please complete the Application Assistance Worksheet and click submit or print the completed .pdf file and fax it to us at (513) 671-3363. For immediate help, call our Application Engineering Department at 1 800 903-9247.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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Compressed Air Use in the Construction Industry

EXAIR uses many different methods to connect with our customers.  We have our website, social media, blogs, publications etc. We like to share solutions for some of the most common pneumatic problems in the industry.  EXAIR generated a large collection of application information where EXAIR products have solved problems and improved processes.  We organized them by Application and by Industry.  In this blog, I will show you how to use the Application database; specifically, for the Construction Industry.

Compressed Air Systems are considered to be a fourth utility within industries because they use a large amount of energy.  Whether it is an air compressor using fuel for portable units or electricity, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible.  This would apply to the construction industry.  From blowing off sheets of lumber to cleaning sites with an EXAIR Industrial Vacuum to cooling hot melt on window frames, EXAIR has a library of different processes in which we already accomplished these improvements.  We like to use the expression, “Why re-invent the wheel” at EXAIR.  If you are in the construction industry, it would benefit you to take a peek at the implementations where we already improved, made safe, and saved money.

Here is how you can find this library.  First, you will have to sign into EXAIR.  Click here: Log In.  Once you fill in the proper information, you can then retrieve a great amount of resources about EXAIR products that we manufacture.   The Application Database is under the Knowledge Base tab.  (Reference photo below).

At the Application Search Library, we have over one thousand applications that we reference.  In the left selection pane, we organized then in alphabetical order under two categories, Applications and Industry.   (Reference photo below).

Scroll down in the selection pane until you come to the sub-category: Industry.  Under this Sub-category, you will find three selections that are related to this blog: Construction; Construction and Mining Equipment; and Construction, Lumber.  You will find many applications that EXAIR has already improved and documented.

Why is this important?  If you are a plant manager or owner, the value of the Application Database can improve your current processes with pre-qualified results.  Within the construction industry, simple solutions can be found to address those “nagging” issues that you encounter every day.  For crisis situations and shutdowns, EXAIR categorized these applications in a way to reference quickly and easily.  And since EXAIR has a high volume of stocked items, we can get the product to you very fast; minimizing downtime.

In today’s market, companies are always looking for ways to cut cost, increase productivity, and improve safety.  EXAIR can offer engineered products to do exactly that.  With the “been there and done that” solutions already described in the Application Database; you can have confidence in finding a way in solving pneumatic issues.  If you do not sign up at www.EXAIR.com and take advantage of these offerings, you will be missing out on a great tool in optimizing your compressed air system.

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

Porous and Non-Porous E-Vac Vacuum Generators

Getting a vacuum from compressed air seems a bit like magic, but it works and it works well. EXAIR’s E-Vac® Vacuum Generators are compressed air powered, single stage vacuum generators. They are a low cost way to create vacuum for pick and place, clamping, lifting, chucking, vacuum forming and other applications.

The Low Vacuum Generators are ideal for ‘porous’ types of applications.  When we say ‘porous’ we are describing those processes where a lighter vacuum level combined with higher vacuum flows are needed. A good example of this is lifting a cardboard box. The cardboard is not air tight, and when you place a vacuum on it, air is able to be pulled through the cardboard. To maintain the vacuum level, the air needs to be able to be pulled through the cardboard and exhausted as fast as it is being pulled through in order to maintain the vacuum level. This requires higher vacuum flow and the design of the Low Vacuum Generator allows for the development of a good vacuum level and a high rate of vacuum flow.

The High Vacuum Generator is ideal for ‘non-porous’ type of applications. ‘Non-porous’ are those processes where the material is air tight, and no or very little air can pass through. Material such as glass, ceramic, and steel are ‘non-porous’. Because little or no air passes through, the need for high vacuum flow is not as important, and the highest of vacuum level can be achieved. A perfect vacuum is 29.92 in-Hg, and the High Vacuum Generator is designed to reach vacuum levels of 27 in-Hg, or a 90% vacuum level.

 

E-Vac Video

 

Click above Image to View the Video

Both the Low Vacuum and High Vacuum Generators come in 7 different sizes, ranging from light to very strong vacuum capabilities, to match any application. Special Kits are  available as a way to experiment with an assortment of vacuum cups to determine the best configuration.

evac_nonporouskit
E-Vac Kit

And for maximum flexibility, EXAIR offers the Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator. Engineered for high efficiency, compressed air can be minimized due to the ability to adjust and tune the vacuum flow and level to perfectly match the application requirements.

adjevac
Lifting a Concrete Block with the Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator

If you have questions about vacuum generation and the E-Vac 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
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Video: EXAIR Drum Vacs Selection For Solid Materials

EXAIR Corporation has engineered compressed air solutions for Industrial Housekeeping…among them, a full line of drum mounted vacuums for dry/solids cleanup.

If you’d like to find out more, please give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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