Six Steps to Optimization, Step 4 – Turn Off Your Compressed Air When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System is ‘Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use.’  Click on the link above for a good summary of the all the steps.

6 Steps from Catalog

Two basic methods to set up a compressed air operation for turning off is the ball valve and the solenoid valve. Of the two, the simplest is the ball valve. It is a quarter turn, manually operated valve that stops the flow of the compressed air when the handle is rotated 90°. It is best for operations where the compressed air is needed for a long duration, and shut off is infrequent, such as at the end of the shift.

manual_valves (2)
Manual Ball Valves, from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT

The solenoid valve offers more flexibility. A solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that uses electric current to produce a magnetic field which moves a mechanism to control the flow of air. A solenoid can be wired to simple push button station, for turning the air flow on and off – similar to the manual valve in that relies on a person to remember to turn the air off when not needed.

wa_solvalv
A Wide Array of Solenoid Valve Offerings for Various Flows and Voltage Requirements

Another way to use a solenoid valve is to wire it in conjunction with a PLC or machine control system. Through simple programming, the solenoid can be set to turn on/off whenever certain parameters are met. An example would be to energize the solenoid to supply an air knife when a conveyor is running to blow off parts when they pass under. When the conveyor is stopped, the solenoid would close and the air would stop blowing.

The EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control) is a stand alone solenoid control system. The EFC combines a photoelectric sensor with a timer control that turns the air on and off based on the presence (or lack of presence) of an object in front of the sensor. There are 8 programmable on/off modes for different process requirements. The use of the EFC provides the highest level of compressed air usage control. The air is turned on only when an object is present and turned off when the object has passed by.

efcapp
EFC Used To Control Bin Blow Off Operation

By turning off the air when not needed, whether by a manual ball valve, a solenoid valve integrated into the PLC machine control or the EXAIR EFC, compressed air usage will be minimized and operation costs reduced.

If you have questions about the EFC, solenoid valves, ball valves 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 Blog: EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab

If you’d like to know how efficient (or not,) quiet (or not,) and effective (or not) your current compressed air devices are, the EXAIR Efficiency Lab can help.  For more details, we hope you’ll enjoy this short video.

If you’d like to talk about getting the most out of your compressed air system, we’d love to hear from you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Many Ways to $ave on Compressed Air Costs

Using compressed air in the plant is common for many types of processes.  Typical uses are drying, cooling, cleaning and conveying. Compressed air does have a cost to consider, and there are many ways to keep the usage and the costs as low as possible.  The first step is to use an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product, which has been engineered to provide the most performance while using the least amount of compressed air. The next step is to control the use of the air, to only have it on when needed.

EXAIR offers the EFC – Electronic Flow Control.  It offers the most comprehensive method to maximize the efficiency of compressed air usage.  It combines a photoelectric sensor with a timing control that operates a solenoid valve to turn on and off the air as required. With 8 different program types, an on/off mode that works with any process can be programmed ensuring that the minimum amount of compressed air is used.  You can use the online EFC Savings Calculator to see how quickly the savings add up!

EFCp4
EFC – Electronic Flow Control

Another method would be to use a solenoid valve with some other method of control. Depending on the process, the solenoid could be energized via a machine control output, or as simple as an electrical push button station. EXAIR offers solenoid valves in a variety of flow rates (from 40 to 350 SCFM) and voltages (24 VDC, 120 VAC and 240 VAC) to match the air flow requirements of the products we provide, while integrating into the facility and available supply voltages.

For control of the Cabinet Cooler Systems, the ETC – Electronic Temperature Control, uses a thermocouple to measure cabinet temperature and cycle the system on and off to maintain a precise cabinet temperature, and provides a digital readout of the internal temperatures and on the fly adjustment.  Also available is the Thermostat Control models, which utilize an adjustable bimetallic thermostat to control the solenoid valve, also cycling the unit on and off as needed to maintain a set cabinet temperature.

ETC CC
ETC – Electronic Temperature Control

There are several manual methods that can be used to control the compressed air.  A simple valve can be used to turn the air off when not needed, whether at the end of the work day, at break time, or whenever the air isn’t required.  We offer several options, from a foot controlled valve, to a magnetic base with on/off valve, to a simple quarter turn ball valve.

footpedalvalve (2)dualstand (2) manual_valves (2)

 

To discuss your processes and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can control the air supply and save you money, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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FREE TESTING!!!! EXAIR’s Award Winning Efficiency Lab Saves Air and Money

EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab is now the “award-winning Efficiency Lab”. Thank you to Environmental Protection Magazine for recognizing the value and importance of this EXAIR service.

epawinner2016_400x

 

I have blogged about this many times and we continue to help customers by using our free Efficiency Lab service that EXAIR provides to customers throughout the USA.  The EXAIR Efficiency Lab allows customers to send in their existing blow off device and we will test it for compressed air consumption, sound level, and force.  Ideally we try to take these measurements at the same operating pressure that is being supplied in the field so that we can compare it to an EXAIR product and offer the customer the best solution, the safest solution, and an engineered solution capable of saving them money through air savings and effectiveness.

Here is a recent example of  a product sent in by a customer concerned with compressed air consumption and safety of their people. The  hose they sent in was actually designed to be used with liquid coolants and was a very large consumer of compressed air.

A flexible blow off with .495" openings. Designed for liquid but used for compressed air. Enormous waste of air and a huge safety risk.
A flexible blow off with .495″ openings. Designed for liquid but used for compressed air. Enormous waste of air and a huge safety risk.

The hose shown above was being used at 40 psig inlet pressure.  The device is not OSHA compliant for dead end pressure, nor does it meet or exceed the OSHA standard for allowable noise level exposure.   The hose was utilizing 84.64 SCFM of compressed air and was giving off 100.1 dBA of sound.

OSHA Noise Level

As seen in the chart above, an employee is only permitted to work in the surrounding area for 2 hours a day when exposed to this noise level.   The amount of force that the nozzle gave off was far more than what was needed to blow chips and fines off the part.   The EXAIR solution was a model 1002-9230 – Safety air Nozzle w/ 30″ Stay Set Hose.

The EXAIR products were operated at line pressure of 80 psig which means they utilized 17 SCFM of compressed air and gave off a sound level of 80 dBA.  On top of saving over 67 SCFM per nozzle and reducing the noise level to below OSHA standard, the EXAIR engineered solution also meets or exceeds the OSHA standard for 30 psig dead end pressure.   In total this customer has replaced 8 of these inefficient lines and is saving 541 SCFM of compressed air each time they activate the part blowoff.

If you would like to find out more about the EXAIR Efficiency Lab, contact an Application Engineer.

We look forward to testing your blow off and being able to recommend a safe, efficient, engineered solution.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Save Money By Using Your Own Thermostat? Well…

Last week, I wrote about what a great idea it is to use a thermostat with a Cabinet Cooler System. I’ll let another cat out of the bag right now and tell you that there are less expensive thermostats than ours. But just like the savings you might realize on the purchase by foregoing a thermostat, using a poorly specified thermostat can also be the last savings you see.

In a Cabinet Cooler System application, we’re refrigerating air. This makes for a cool, clean, and dry atmosphere for your electrical & electronic components to operate in.

UL Listed & CE Compliant, EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems maintain NEMA 4, 4X, or 12 integrity.
UL Listed & CE Compliant, EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems maintain NEMA 4, 4X, or 12 integrity.

Not all thermostats are designed to read air temperature – in fact, a LOT of common, commercially available thermostats are designed for use with liquid. Using these to control air temperature will lead to slow response times. That means one of two things will happen:

When the air inside the enclosure is cooled to the thermostat’s set-point temperature, it won’t shut off the compressed air flow to the Cabinet Cooler unit, resulting in unnecessary compressed air consumption.  And that’s a shame.

OR:

When the air inside the enclosure is heated to the thermostat’s set-point temperature, it won’t start the compressed air flow to the Cabinet Cooler unit, resulting in a potential overheating of those expensive…or critical…or both…electronic components.  And that’s a REAL shame.

We don’t want to see you using any more compressed air than you need to.  And we SERIOUSLY don’t want to see you fry your electronics.  If you’d like to find out more about EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Nozzle Separation

We have customers that call because they feel the pressure of trying to save money by saving compressed air.  One such customer that contacted us for this exact reason, had an operation that was working fine, but management had to reduce cost by saving compressed air.  The operation included a robotic “pick and place” machine to move sheets of corrugate from a stack to a converter machine.  When they first started their operation, they had issues with the corrugate “sticking” together.  The speed of pulling the corrugate from the stack would create a vacuum strong enough to pull the sheet behind it.  This would cause the operation to stop.  To fix this issue, the maintenance manager placed a ¼” (6 mm) poly tube at each corner of the stack to help separation.  This would break the seal between the two sheets, allowing only one to be picked.  The problem was solved.  Or was it?

Sometimes when you place a band aid on a situation, you can cause problems in other areas.  The other area in this case was on the side of money to make the compressed air.  More companies are trying to save money by being more efficient with their compressed air usage.  The quickest and easiest way is by retrofitting open tubes and pipes with EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles.  With this application, the customer used the model 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzle.  It is specifically designed to create a wide flat air stream.  The tube would create a round pattern hitting a larger area than the target area.  Being that the target area is just between two flat cardboard pieces, the Flat Super Air Nozzle can localized the compressed air to make it more effective.  Because it was more efficient and effective, we were able to reduce the number of compressed air blowing points from four to two.

Model 1122 Super Flat Air Nozzle
Model 1122 Super Flat Air Nozzle

After the suggestion of the model 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles, the maintenance manager, of course, asked “How much will it cost me”?  This is an interesting question.  Compared to the initial cost against a poly tube, we are higher.  But, over time, the poly tube will cost him much much more.  Here is an estimation:

Model 1122                                                                        Model 1122

Imperial units                                                                    Metric units

Qty: 2 pcs. per machine                                                 Qty: 2 pcs. per machine

Flow: 21.8 SCFM per nozzle @ 80 psig                     Flow: 622 SLPM per nozzle @ 5.5 bar

Total per machine: 2 * 21.8 = 43.6 SCFM                Total per machine: 2* 622 = 1,244 SLPM

¼” Poly tube                                                                      6mm Poly tube

Imperial units                                                                    Metric units

Qty: 4 pcs. per machine                                                 Qty: 4 pcs. per machine

Flow: 33 SCFM per tube @ 80 psig                            Flow: 934 SLPM per tube @ 5.5 bar

Total per machine: 4 * 33 = 132 SCFM                     Total per machine: 4 * 934 = 3,736 SLPM

 

For each machine, the model 1122 Super Flat Air Nozzle will save the company, 132 – 43.6 = 88.4 SCFM (3,736 – 1,244 = 2,492 SLPM) of compressed air.

Perhaps you can see the savings in compressed air.  But, people understand money better than SCFM or SLPM.  So, let’s look at the amount of money that they will save over a year.  The cost to produce compressed air is roughly $0.25/1000 cubic foot of air (This is an estimation on the average price per KWh of electricity in the U.S., $0.10/KWh).  For an 8 hour operation, the yearly amount of time in minutes is 60 minutes * 8 hours * 250 days = 120,000 minutes/year.  With a quick calculation, we get a savings of 88.4 SCFM * 120,000 minutes * $0.25/1000 SCF = $2,652/year per machine.

If we look at the ROI for this, the model 1122 has a price of $62.00 ea.  Each machine would require 2 pcs. * $62.00 = $124.00.  The ROI will be about 12 days.  So, when the maintenance manager asks me “How much will it cost me?”, I believe he meant to say, “How much will it save me?”.  If you ever need to save on compressed air and money, you can contact one of our application engineers to help you.

 

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

EXAIR Super Air Knife: Reduce Cost, Reduce Noise, Increase Safety

This question from end user’s comes up again and again:

“I know EXAIR makes Air Knives. Do you have one for this application?”

We can answer, almost unequivocally, with a resounding “YES!” Whether we can meet the needs of the application with a stock product, or through manufacturing a specially made unit, we make every effort to provide the needed solution.

Super Air Knife Replaces Drilled Pipe Blow Off

Case in point, in the application above, a specific length Air Knife was desired to remove debris from material as it goes into a processing chamber. The current setup (outlined in red)  uses drilled holes in a section of pipe which are costly, loud, and unsafe.

How costly, you ask? Our customer stated this knife was 100″ long with 3/32″ holes on 2″ centers (50 holes). EXAIR test results on 3/32″ drilled holes confirm 15 SCFM per hole at 80 PSIG inlet pressure. The customer also estimates this drilled pipe operates for a total of 1 hour every day, 250 days per year. Using $0.25 per 1000 SCFM we can calculate the following:

  • 50 holes x 15 SCFM = 750 SCFM at 80 PSIG
  • 750 SCFM x 60 minutes per day = 45,000 SCF per day
  • 45,000 SCF x 250 days = 11,250,000 SCF per year
  • 11,250,000/1000 x $0.25 = $2812.50 cost per year

How loud, you ask? Our customer confirmed all personnel near the application were require to wear ear protection at all times. Though they were unable to provide a decibel (dBA) level, the need for hearing protection would indicate this pipe was operating in excess of 100 dBA.

How unsafe, you ask? Air can be dangerous when the outlet pressure of a hole is greater than 30 PSIG. In the event any of the holes were blocked by a hand or other body part, air may enter the bloodstream through the skin, resulting in serious injury. All of the Air Knives manufactured by EXAIR have been engineered for safety. They are all safe to be supplied with higher pressure compressed air and meet OSHA standard CFR 1910.242(b). Drilled holes in a pipe DO NOT MEET this OSHA standard.

Initially, discussions with this end user focused on a custom length, custom built Super Air Knife. Given the dimensions of the processing environment, we determined the desired length and the end user was thrilled we could not only make to their specifications, but offer 3 day delivery as well.

As the discussion carried on, we realized that the special length Super Air Knife, while applicable, was not a critical requirement for the application. With this new consideration, a stock length knife was chosen, and just like any stock EXAIR product, we had it on the shelf, ready to ship the same day.

This application highlights several benefits of the EXAIR Super Air Knife solution – compressed air savings, noise reduction, providing safety, and quick delivery. EXAIR Super Air Knives solve multiple problems for end users and OEM’s in a variety of applications.

Compressed Air Savings: 

  • 96″ knife with 2.9 SCFM per inch consumption at 80 PSIG = 278.4 SCFM at 80 PSIG
  • 278.4 x 60 minutes per day = 16,704 SCF per day
  • 16,704 SCF x 250 days = 4,176,000 SCF per year
  • 4,176,000/1000 x $0.25 = $1044 cost per year
  • $2812.50 (drilled pipe annual air cost) – $1044 (EXAIR 96″ Super Air Knife air cost) = $1768.50 SAVINGS the first year!

Noise levels reduced to under 80 dBA. 

SAFETY: EXAIR Super Air Knives meet the OSHA standard CFR 1910.242(b).

Switching this customer over to an engineered solution provided a win in these three important areas of any operation. If assistance is needed determining which Super Air Knife best suits your application, contact an Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE