Stories From The Field: Automotive Plant Tour

Throughout my years I have been in many manufacturing facilities. Oddly enough, I have seen nearly every part of a passenger car manufactured and then fully assembled. The amount of compressed air applications in automotive supplier and manufacturing facilities are tremendous. Here are some stories from just a few we have encountered over the years, and all of them can be found in our Application Database.

Air Wipe – How it works
  1. A component manufacturer, specifically a steering and transmission component manufacturer was having issues with machined parts coming out of a CNC machine with too much oil based cutting fluid on them and not passing inspection process because the oil would throw off the automated measuring system. The part was a splined shaft that the high surface tension oil stayed in the splines. The part was removed from the machine via robotic loader and set onto a fixture. The path to the fixture was outfitted with a Super Air Wipe so the robotic loader could move the part into and out of the air wipes’s airflow and remove the oil. The converging airflow of the Super Air Wipe was ideal to keep the peaks and valleys of the shaft clean of oil and they were able to direct oil back into the cutting machine so no separate collection system was needed.
Robotic Welder fitted with EXAIR Super Air Wipe

2. A seat bracket manufacturer had issues protecting the lenses on their vision systems from welding spatter. They were again able to reduce the replacement / repair downtime by installing a 9″ Super Air Wipe in front of the robotic mounted lens and keep the spatter / fumes from ever making it to the lens, resulting in expanded run times between repair / downtime.

Cooling with Air Amplifiers

3. A forging company manufacturing the pistons was having issues reducing the temperature of the pistons as they were assembled to the connecting rods. The solution for them was to install a series of Super Air Amplifiers over the fixtured, indexing line and at each dwell station a Super Air Amplifier would activate and cool down the assembly by moving large volumes of ambient air mixed with small amounts of compressed air onto the surfaces.

4. An automotive manufacturer had issues with stamping shavings and welding debris staying on the surface of parts and fixtures resulting in rework and defective parts. Implementing a series of Super Air Nozzles, and Super Air Knives resulted in debris removal that saved tooling rework as well as production reject parts.

5. Another automotive / recreational vehicle manufacturer needed help with their torture test machine for suspension components. They were utilizing fans to try and keep shock sensors cool and replicate air movement. electric fans were not able to provide a focused airflow and so enter the Super Air Amplifiers. These have also been utilized on engine torture test machines.

1 – Chevrolet Corvette C7 2014 – LT1 Engine Testing on Dyno

These are just a select few of the actual applications that I have actually help with over the course of the years. As a whole, we have helped endless number of automotive industry applications. It doesn’t matter if you are in the automotive industry or just a garage tinkerer, contact and Application Engineer and let us help you with your point of use compressed air application today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

1 – Autoblog_gr; Chevrolet Corvette C7 2014 – LT1 Engine Testing on Dyno – retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3h8imnOPwU on 8/31/2022

3-1/2 EXAIR Pro Tips for Compressed Air Use

EXAIR offers industry leading Intelligent Compresses Air Products. Our products are engineered to comply with all relevant OSHA standards and are CE certified. When you purchase an EXAIR product, be it a Super Air Knife or a brass bulkhead fitting, you are expecting to receive a high quality and high performing product, and you will. If the product is not performing there is a very high probability that the problem is not the product.

So whatever could it be? And how can we fix the issue? Air supply going to the product is a common issue, so first we need to insure that there is a steady flow of the appropriate pressure and volume of air. Even though you may have a 100HP compressor, the distance form the product, the size of the pipes delivering the air, the smoothness of the inside of the pipes (is there internal rust and buildup), leaks and other restrictions of air flow rate all contribute to the overall performance.

A large majority of the product performance issues that are brought to us are caused by insufficient air supply in one form or another. Sometimes this is due to the overall size of the system, but many times it is at the point of use. Let’s assume that you have the right sized compressor to power all features in the shop. These next items are where we would want to focus and correct.

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

Pro tip #1 – Use EXAIR Digital Flowmeters to monitor your air consumption. You should have a log of how much each compressed air tool / machine uses, and compare that to how much air is traveling down that leg of your facility. Leaks, corrosion, rust, and accidents happen. By monitoring and logging your SCFM in each major leg of your system, you will easily be able to narrow down root problems, and track leaks. You will also have solid answer when asked – “Do you have enough air for this?”.

Pressure Regulators “dial in” performance to get the job done without using more air than necessary.

Pro Tip #2 – Use a Tee Fitting and install a Pressure Regulator with Gauge at the point of use. This allows you to see, and control the pressure for each product. This removes all questions of air pressure at the point of use. Although your system seems large enough, many times the pressure is less at the point of use, due to restrictions, unknown leaks etc… Having the information from tip #1 and #2, you will easily be able to identify if your issue is the system, or the tool.

Pro Tip #2.5 – Turn it down (the pressure) if you can… Operate each compressed air application at a pressure just high enough for your desired result – not necessarily full line pressure. We have discussed in many other blogs how compressed air is your 3rd or 4th highest utility. If you optimize the pressure per application, you can save dollars. As a rule of thumb, if your system is operating at the 100 psig level, lowering the pressure by 2 psig will save 1% of energy used by the air compressor. A great example of this would be our Super Air Knives. Optimal use is at 80 psig, and “X” SCFM (based upon length of the Super Air Knife). At 80 psig and the proper SCFM, this flow will feel like having your hand out the window of your car when you are driving about 50 MPH. Your application may not need that much air flow, to get the job done. Turn it down and test it. Start at 80 psig and using the tools from tip #2, turn it up or down until your needs are met. Many of our products do not need to be used at full pressure to effectively solve your process problem.

Pro tip #3 – Use the proper sized lines, connectors and fittings. Pipe restriction can kill performance. Quick connects can be very problematic. Most quick connects are rated at the same size as the incoming pipe, tube or hose, but may actually have a much smaller inner diameter. As you can imagine, this oversight can cause significant performance issues, and end up costing more lack of production or defective product. Be it a quick connect, or any other connector or fitting, it is imperative not to restrict the air. This will result in problems, and lack of performance.

Please do not hesitate to reach to discuss any performance issues, or find out how we can help.

Thank you for stopping by,

Brian Wages

Application Engineer

EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Wipes can Help to Protect a Camera Lens

2403SS

An oil and gas company was using a camera to watch a drilling rig.  During the operation, water and mud could be slung toward the camera lens, and create spots.  An operator would have to leave their position to clean the lens.  Since they were looking for a way to force the water and mud away from the lens, but it had to be clear.  Since air is transparent, they contacted EXAIR for our expertise. 

As an air barrier, customers have used the Super Air Knives to separate material/heat/gases from different areas in similar applications.   But, for this customer, they were interested in the Super Air Wipe; and at EXAIR, we state that there is more than one way to solve a riddle.  With the speed of the water and mud, I was not keen on the ability of how well the Super Air Wipe could work.  So, I decided to test it. 

At EXAIR, we offer customers the option for us to test our products in different applications.  This could also include testing your items with our products.  EXAIR offers an Application Assistance form to help get this started.  If we have the capabilities, we can setup a “mock” system to test and verify, and we can shoot a short video to present the information to you.  This can include conveyance testing, product comparisons, cleaning, cooling; and, for the customer above, air barrier testing. 

Their current operation was using a wiper to clean the glass.  Like with any wiper, material can get wedged under the wiper and cause streaks, and it could scratch the glass lens.  To stop replacing the wiper blade or in some instances, the glass lens; they were looking for a non-contact way to keep the water, sand, mud from the camera lens.  Since it was difficult for them to determine the velocity of the material that would be heading toward the camera, they requested that I use water for my test.  With a 1/4” (6 mm) O.D. tubing, they believed that it could represent a good velocity with a pressure of 20 PSIG (1.4 Bar) and a flow of 30 GPH (113.6 LPH).  This would create a velocity of 9.3 mph (15 kph).  Since the lens had a diameter of 2” (51mm), I recommended the model 2403SS, 3” Stainless Steel Super Air Wipe.  Here is a video of the results with the inlet air pressure at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).

Water Test

To expand a bit more on the Super Air Wipe, it is designed to blow compressed air in a 360-degree flow pattern.  This air pattern is directed at a 30-degree angle toward the center to blow the debris back away from the camera lens, just like a cone.  The Coanda effect maximizes the entrainment of ambient air into the compressed air.  This makes the unit very efficient and very powerful.  The model 2403SS Super Air Wipe has an I.D. of 3” (76 mm) which gives it enough clearance away from the view of the camera.  It is constructed of 303 stainless steel construction for corrosion resistance with a stainless-steel braided hose that connects the two halves together.  The design is very rugged for outdoor use. 

At EXAIR, we offer a 30-day unconditional guarantee on our stock products for US and Canadian customers to try things out.  But sometimes this may not be enough.  For the customer above, we were able to try something different to verify the effectiveness in keeping the camera lens clean.  And at EXAIR, we will take that extra step to help our customers.  If you have a pneumatic application that requires some additional service, you can fill out the Application Assistance form or contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you, and perhaps we can put some “focus” on a solution. 

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Super Air Wipes Cleaning Rubber Cables

A rubber cable manufacturer was looking for a better way to clean water from the surface of their product.  Their process entailed extruding a rubber cable from the machine through a cooling water bath to harden the material.  This machine was able to make eight lines at a time.  After the water bath, the cables would pass through homemade blow-off devices to remove the liquid water from the outside surface.  From here, the cables would move through an inkjet printing machine.  They were having issues with the inkjet markings as they were not able to remove enough water.  They decided to contact EXAIR to see if we could help. 

The extruded rubber cables were close to ½” (13mm) in diameter.  So, I recommended the model 2401 1” (25mm) Super Air Wipe.  This would give enough clearance to remove the water in a non-contact way.  I challenged them to compare their home-made devices with our engineered design.  With our 30-day unconditional guarantee for U.S. and Canadian customers, they took me up on that challenge.  They ran a test and videoed the results. 

Super Air Wipe cleaning the rubber cable

The test was a bit crude as the Super Air Wipe was not aligned correctly.  But, with a short trial run, they were quite impressed.  In the photo below, you can see the dryness of the conveyor belt after the Super Air Wipe as compared to the home-made devices.  They were fascinated on how effective the Super Air Wipe was able to remove the water.  They replaced all eight units and noticed an improvement right away in reducing their visual defects in the printing process. 

Besides reducing defects, they noticed a few more things.  The production process ran smoother; even at faster line speeds.  They also observed that the Super Air Wipes were much quieter.  With a decibel rating of 80 dBA at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar), the nearby operators were very happy with this choice during operations.  The biggest thing that they saw after a few weeks was the reduction in compressed air use as compared to their home-made devices.  Because the design utilizes the Coanda effect, “free” ambient air is drawn into the air stream, reducing the compressed air requirement.  They were using 30% less compressed air, which saved them a lot of money on their electric bill and operational costs. 

EXAIR offers a line of Super Air Wipes available to ship the same day from stock. The Super Air Wipe is available in aluminum construction in sizes ranging from 3/8” to 11” (10 to 279mm) in inner diameters.  All Super Air Wipes come with stainless steel hardware and stainless steel shims.  Sizes up to 4” (102mm) include a cross-over stainless wire braided hose to supply the other half of the Super Air Wipe.  In addition to the aluminum construction, the Super Air Wipe is also available in 303 stainless steel for corrosive or high temperature applications. The Stainless Steel Super Air Wipe can withstand temperatures up to 800°F and is available in sizes from ½”-4” (13mm – 102mm) from stock.

If you’re processing any type of hose, pipe, wire, or extruded shapes, the Super Air Wipe could benefit you in your process.  The customer above was able to reduce defects, decrease the noise level, and save compressed air with a simple replacement.  And if you wish to challenge your blow-off devices with an engineered EXAIR product, you can contact an Application Engineer for additional information.

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