Air Operated Conveyor helps Aluminum Smelting Process

An aluminum smelting plant had been using our model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vac for over a year.  They wanted to share how extremely satisfied that they were with this product.  They were expanding their operations, and it was easy for them to contact EXAIR to buy two more units.  In this blog, I will share why they initially contacted EXAIR and why they continue to do so.

This company had a reactor that would melt 10 mm aluminum granules for die casting parts.   They had a portable hopper that was filled with aluminum pellets (reference photo above).  Before they started using the Heavy Duty Line Vac, the operators would have to use shovels to move the aluminum from the catch bin located below the hopper to the crucible inside the reactor.  This operation was tedious, back-breaking, and time-consuming.  After filling the crucible, they would have to do some housekeeping for the granules that fell during transport.  With safety concerns and slow operations, they needed a better way to move the aluminum granules to the reactor.  Hence, the reason for the first purchase of the model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vac from EXAIR.

To expand a bit more on their operation, the hopper was placed roughly 10 feet (3 meters) away from the reactor, and the reactor used a hatch door that was 2 feet (0.6 meter) in diameter to expose the crucible.  Since the crucible was inside the reactor, they wanted to govern the velocity to feed the aluminum pellets at a controlled rate.  From flow and speed calculations, I found that the model 150300 would work the best for this particular application.  As an added feature to the EXAIR Air-Operated Conveyors, the Heavy Duty Line Vac is easy to control with a simple compressed air regulator to balance the speed and vacuum to move the material in a manageable way.  With the compact design, it worked well to attach a conveyance hose that would move the aluminum pellet directly through the hatch door and right into the crucible.  This was a benefit for quick filling without much manual labor or cleanup.

The reasons that EXAIR continues to grow as a business are the quality of our products, the enormous stock that we carry, and the exceptional customer service.  For these reasons, customers continue to return to EXAIR for solutions to pneumatic applications.  The quality of our products is second to none.  For the Heavy Duty Line Vacs, they are made from a hardened alloy material which makes them resistant to abrasion and wear.  They also do not have any moving parts or motors; so they are reliable and long-lasting.  The smelting company above have used the Heavy Duty Line Vac for over a year, and it is still working.  Can you imagine the number of shovel scoops that was eliminated with the purchase of this air-operated conveyor?  And, the work environment was safer ergonomically by removing the shovel loads and reducing cleanup.  As for customer service, EXAIR is staffed with Application Engineers that are Subject Matter Experts.  We can make recommendations to give you the best EXAIR product for your application.  With our technical support, fast deliveries, and problem-solving products; it was an easy decision for the above company to purchase two more model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vacs.

If your company relies on moving product from point A to point B, EXAIR has a range of Air Operated Conveyors to do this type of operation for you.  From Threaded Line Vacs to Sanitary Flange Line Vacs to Heavy Duty Line Vacs, EXAIR stocks a variety of materials, types, and sizes to fit into your application.  An Application Engineer is sitting by to help improve your system as we did with the smelting company above.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Many Air Knife Materials and Shim Options to Suit Your Application

The EXAIR Super Air Knives are used in many applications ranging from part drying, to web cleaning, to conveyor blowoff, and many other uses. For most processes, the aluminum models provide the performance required and withstand the environmental conditions present.

Ambient temperature limits for the aluminum models is 180°F (82°C). EXAIR also offers the air knives in types 303 and 316 Stainless Steel, which increase the temperature limit to 800°F (427°C) and provides a great degree of corrosion resistance. For the harshest, most corrosive environments, an air knife constructed of Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) with a temperature limit to 275°F (135°C) is available.

Super Air Knives
Aluminum, Stainless Steel and PVDF Super Air Knives

But what can we do about those applications where the increased corrosion resistance isn’t needed and the temperatures do not approach anywhere near to 800°F (427°C)?

The solution to this situation is an aluminum air knife with a custom stainless steel shim. The aluminum material is rated to 400°F (204°C) and the shim is good to 800°F (427°C) so this knife can be used in those hotter environments up to 400°F (204°C). This option helps to keep the cost of the knife low, by utilizing the lower cost aluminum for the body and cap.

The table below details the materials of construction options for the Super Air Knife – a wide array of material offerings to suit even the hottest, harshest conditions.

Air Knife Temperature Table

We recommend consulting with an Application Engineer to review the application, process, and environmental conditions, and we can present best options.

And don’t forget, the shims can be further customized for special blowoff requirements. See the blog that my colleague, Russ Bowman, posted here.

If you have questions about Super Air Knives 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
Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Super and Adjustable Type Air Amplifiers

The EXAIR Air Amplifiers are a powerful, efficient and quiet air mover, whose power can be harnessed for blowoff, cooling and ventilation applications. Using a small amount of compressed air, air amplifiers pull in large amounts of surrounding air to produce a high volume, high velocity outlet flow.  Quiet and efficient, output flows with amplification ratios of up to 25 times are possible. There are two types, the Super Air Amplifier and the Adjustable Air Amplifier.

The Super Air Amplifier, with sizes ranging from 3/4″ to 8″, has a patented design (patent #5402938) that uses a special shim to maintain critical position of the components parts. It is through this critical gap setting that a precise amount of compressed air is passed at exact intervals controlled by the shim toward the center of the of the Super Air Amplifier.  The jets of air create a high velocity flow across the entire cross sectional area, which in turn pulls in large amounts surrounding air, resulting in the amplified outlet flow.  Because the outlet flow remains balanced and minimizes wind shear, sound levels are typically three times lower than other types of air movers. The shims are available in thicknesses of 0.003″ (supplied as standard), 0.006″ and 0.009″, and changing to a larger shim will increase the force and flow of the outlet air. The 8″ Super Air Amplifier is supplied with a 0.009″ shim, with a 0.015″ shim available.

2″ Super Air Amplifier and Patented Shim Design

For high temperature applications (up to 700°F/374°C) a special 1-1/4″ High Temperature Air Amplifier is available, with performance equal to the 1-1/4″ Super Air Amplifier. Its surfaces are protected from heat stress by a mil-spec coating process. The High Temperature Air Amplifier is highly effective at pushing large amounts of hot air to areas that typically remain cool.

The Adjustable Air Amplifier, with sizes ranging from 3/4″ to 4″, does not use a shim, and has an infinitely adjustable air gap, which regulates the air consumption and outlet flow from a light breeze to a powerful blast. A highly effective air mover, it can be tailored to meet the exact air flow and force of your specific application. They are available in aluminum and in stainless steel (Type 303) for food service, higher temperatures (400°F/204°C) and corrosive environments.

6042.jpg
2″ Adjustable Air Amplifier, in Aluminum or Stainless Steel

Force and flow of the Adjustable Air Amplifier is changed by loosening the knurled lock ring and turning the exhaust end to open or close the gap.  Once the desired force and flow is achieved, the knurled ring can be tightened to lock the device at the current setting. Typically, an air gap of 0.002″ to 0.004″ provides the required performance.

The table below summarizes the key features of the Super Air Amplifier and Adjustable Air Amplifier.  Please contact an Application Engineer if you need assistance in making a selection.

Air Amp Selection Chart

Note that EXAIR can manufacture special Air Amplifiers to your specification including special flanged mounting style or with a PTFE plug to avoid sticky material build up.

To discuss your application and how a Super or Adjustable Air Amplifier or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop

pile-of-product
Piles of material underneath conveyor in aluminum making process

Recently, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum initiated a study to determine the costs associated with material spillage in their facilities.  The purpose of their internal investigation was to quantify the time, money, and production losses derived from material spillage and accumulation in their rodding shop (the portion of the aluminum making process in which the anode rods are recycled).  Their findings were astounding.

sak-before
Material buildup underneath conveyor in rodding shop

Underneath the conveyors in the rodding shop were mountains of spilled material.  This material would accumulate to dangerous levels, causing safety hazards for workers to potentially slip or trip, interference with conveyor belt operation, an inability to service the conveyors, and a constant cleaning requirement.  Essentially, the accumulation of material would reduce the lifespan of conveyor components while simultaneously preventing maintenance personnel from being able to service the failed components.

failed-roller-1
Failed rollers, pulled from conveyors in the rodding shop

So, the spilled material would be vacuumed from the affected area, conveyor maintenance would be performed, and then the (vicious) cycle would repeat.

Overall, these spills cost over $85,000 per year in cleaning costs (vacuuming spilled material weekly at a cost of $1,650.00), 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime loss (the process must be stopped during vacuuming and repair to the conveyors), an increased safety risk due to slips and trips on the spilled material, and reduced life of their conveyor belting, rollers, and pulleys due to operating in bath of rubble and dust.

Finding a solution for this problem was no small matter.  This customer needed a permanent and reliable solution to eliminate the mountains of material underneath their conveyors.  And that solution was to install EXAIR Super Air Knives on the underside of the belts, aimed opposite the direction of belt travel, and aimed toward the dust collection system, as shown below.  Before and after photos of the installation are shown below as well.

sak-installed-underneath-belt
An aluminum Super Air Knife (with plumbing kit from EXAIR) installed on the underside of a conveyor.
sak-before
Seven days of accumulation without the Super Air Knife installed
sak-after-pile-was-there-before
Seven days of accumulation with the Super Air Knife installed. Note: the pile in the background was there from the previous week.

The images above show how the Super Air Knives perfectly solve this problem.  They prevent the accumulation of material underneath the conveyors, eliminating $85,000/year in cleaning costs and 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime, removing the safety and maintenance concern, and adding longevity to the conveyor components.

Cleaning intervals were revised from daily requirements to an interval up to 12 weeks in some locations.  (The shortest interval was revised from daily to every 3 weeks.)

return-roller
No more of these. This is a failed end roller, replaced after only two weeks in service. Lifespan for conveyor components was greatly improved after the installation of Super Air Knives.

So, the burning question is “How much did this solution cost the end user?”

Total costs to implement this solution were $16,000.00.  Based on the cleaning costs alone, the return on investment for this project was under three months.  When the downtime and additional conveyor maintenance is factored in, ROI is realized even faster, perhaps in under two months.

For EXAIR Application Engineers, thoroughly identifying customer problems and integrating an optimal solution is one of our specialties.  In this case we were able to see the benefits our products can have on a single process, saving the customer tens of thousands of dollars per year.

If you have a problem plaguing your facility and would like to discuss potential solutions using EXAIR products, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE