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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Adjustable E-Vac Saves Coolant

Many EXAIR Corporation blogs could use this formula as the title:

[EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Productsaves  [valuable commodity in customer’s facility]

Popular examples might be:

But how exactly does an Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator save coolant?  Isn’t that what the Chip Trapper Systems do?  (It is, and that’s been covered extensively here, here, and-my personal favorite-here.)

Our E-Vac Vacuum Generators are probably most commonly used in pick-and-place applications, in conjunction with our Vacuum Cups.

From a lightweight manual operation to an automated system with large or heavy objects, the EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generators can solve the application.

The Adjustable E-Vacs, however, have a unique feature – a relatively large throat diameter – that makes them well suited for suctioning up liquids.  And I recently had the pleasure of helping a caller with just such an application.  They make machinery for the automotive industry, and in one particular operation, coolant gets left behind in ‘pockets’ of a particularly unwieldy piece.  They can drain most of it at the machine, but what gets left behind in these pockets makes a real mess as it goes to the next fabrication point, and, although it’s a small amount in each pocket, it adds up to a finite amount of wasted coolant.  It’s not practical to use an electric shop vacuum, but an operator could easily use a handheld device to suck up these little puddles.

Enter the Adjustable E-Vac…with the wide throat diameter I mentioned above and compact design, they were able to install a short suction hose (via a threaded push-in connector) to the vacuum port, and a little longer discharge hose to the exhaust port, and they have a quick and easy, portable, maneuverable coolant transfer system.  Here’s a short video I made in the Demo Room, once upon a time, showing how it works:

Saving air.  Saving coolant.  Saving money and time, one compressed air application at a time.  If you have one you’d like to discuss, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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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.

Appdata2
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;

foodbev1
Super Air Knife in meat processing
foodbev2
EXAIR Line Vac used in almond packaging process
foodbev3
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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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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The Super Air Knife Vs. a Homemade Drilled Pipe Solution

A drilled pipe has been used for many years to blow compressed air across a span for cleaning, cooling, and drying.  They are a simple tool that was created from spare parts and many holes.  The cost to make this type of product is not expensive, but to use this product in your application is very expensive.  Similarly, an incandescent lightbulb is inexpensive to purchase, but it will cost you much more in electricity than a LED light bulb.  Since 1983, EXAIR has been innovating safe and efficient products to be used in compressed air systems.  In this blog, I will compare the drilled pipe with the Super Air Knife.

Even though you can find the components relatively easily to design your own drilled pipe, this blow-off design is very costly and stressful to your compressed air system.  Typically, the holes along the pipe are in a row next to each other.  As the airstream leaves from each hole, it will hit the airstream from the one next to it.  This will cause turbulent air flows which has inconsistent forces and loud noises.  Also, with turbulent air flows, the ability to entrain the surrounding ambient air is very small.  We call this the amplification ratio.  The higher the amplification ratio, the more efficient the blow-off device is.  For a drilled pipe, the amplification ratio is near 3:1 (3 parts ambient air to 1 part compressed air).

A colleague, Brian Bergmann, wrote a blog about the amplification ratio of the EXAIR Super Air Knife.  (Read it HERE.)  This blog demonstrates how EXAIR was able to engineer an efficient way to blow air across a span.  The unique design of the Super Air Knife creates an amplification ratio of 40:1 which is the highest in the market.   Unlike the drilled pipe, the gap opening runs along the entire knife for precise blowing.  This engineered gap allows for laminar air flow which has a low noise level, a consistent blowing force, and maximum amplification ratio.  With these benefits, the Super Air Knife can reduce the amount of compressed air required, which will save you money and save your compressed air system.

In comparing the drilled pipe to the Super Air Knife, I will relate both products in a simple cooling application.   Thermodynamics expresses the basics of cooling with an air temperature and an air mass.  Since both products are represented in the same application, the air temperature will be the same.   Thus, the comparison will be with the amount of air mass.  In this example, the customer did some calculations, and they needed 450 Lbs. of air to cool the product to the desired temperature.  At standard conditions, air has a density of 0.0749 lbs/ft3.  To convert to a volume of air, we will divide the weight by the density:

450 lbs. / (0.0749 lbs./ft3) = 6,008 ft3 of air

To meet this requirement, reference Table 1 below.  It shows the volume of air required by your compressed air system to meet this demand.  As you can see, your compressor has to work 13X harder to cool the same product when using a drilled pipe.  Just like the LED light bulbs, the Super Air Knife has more efficiency, more innovation, and uses less compressed air.  In turn, the Super Air Knife will save you a lot of money in electrical costs.  If you would like to see how much the Super Air Knife can save compared to the drilled pipe, we have that information in this blog.  (Read it HERE.)  For my reference, it will reduce the stress of your compressed air system.

if you would like to compare any of your current blow-off devices with an innovative EXAIR product, you can contact an Application Engineer.  We can do an Efficiency Lab to shine an LED light on saving energy and money with your compressed air.

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

Replacing a 1/4″ Open Copper Tube With a 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle Leads To Quick ROI

The generation of compressed air accounts for approximately 1/3 of all energy costs in an industrial facility and up to 30% of that compressed air is wasted through inefficient operation. Open pipes or homemade blowoffs waste a ton of compressed air, resulting in high operating costs. By replacing these devices with an energy efficient, engineered solution, you can reduce this waste and dramatically cut energy costs.

For example, let’s look at the average operating costs for a single 1/4″ open copper tube. (If you don’t know you current energy costs, a reasonable average to use is $ 0.25 per every 1,000 SCF used, based on $ 0.08/kWh.

1/4″ Copper tube

A single 1/4″ open copper tube consumes 33 SCFM @ 80 PSIG and costs roughly $ 0.50 per hour to operate. (33 SCF x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000 = $ 0.50). For an 8 hour shift, the total cost would be $ 4.00 ($ 0.50 x 8 hours = $ 4.00).

If we were to replace the 1/4″ open copper tube with our Model # 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with 1/4″ FNPT inlet, the air consumption would be reduced to 21.8 SCFM @ 80 PSIG. This may not seem like much of an air usage reduction, but when you look at the monetary, total cost of ownership for purchasing and operating the nozzle, the savings can quickly add up.

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

The operating cost for a 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with 1/4″ FNPT inlet is $ 0.33 per hour (21.8 SCF x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1,000 = $ .033) or $ 2.64 per 8 hour shift ($ 0.33 x 8 hours = $ 2.64).

We can now compare the operational cost between the 2 devices:

1/4″ open copper tube operating costs:
$ 0.50 per hour
$ 4.00 per day (8 hours)

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle operating costs:
$ 0.33 per hour
$ 2.64 per day (8 hours)

Cost Savings:
$ 4.00 / day (open copper tube) –  $ 2.64 / day (2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle) = $ 1.36 savings per day

The Model # 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle has a list price $ 67.00 USD.

ROI or Return On Investment calculation:
$ 67.00 (Cost) / $ 1.36 (savings per day) = 49.26 days.

The 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle would pay for itself in just over 49 days in operation. This is the savings for replacing just ONE 1/4″ open copper tube with an engineered solution! In most industrial plants, there could be several of these which presents even more opportunities to reduce the overall operational costs.

Our focus here at EXAIR is to improve the overall efficiency of industrial compressed air operating processes and point of use compressed air operated products. If you are looking to reduce compressed air usage in your facility, contact an application engineer and let us help you optimize your current system.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN