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.

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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.

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An aluminum Super Air Knife (with plumbing kit from EXAIR) installed on the underside of a conveyor.
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Seven days of accumulation without the Super Air Knife installed
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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

Super Air Knives Save The Day, a Saw Blade, and Production Schedule

A large manufacturing shop recently purchased a high speed band saw to cut aluminum. It was equipped with a mechanical rotating brush system to clean the blade as it ran, but this was unable to keep up with the volume of coolant-soaked chips that were produced at higher speeds. They had two options:

*Run the saw at a slower speed (and actually, their production schedule would not allow this, so technically there was only one option…)
*Come up with a reliable method of cleaning the saw blade (this is where EXAIR comes in.)

The Maintenance Supervisor was familiar with the capabilities of the Super Air Knife from past career experience, so he got two Model 110003 3″ Aluminum Super Air Knives installed:

Super Air Knives remove chips and coolant from high speed band saw blade.
Super Air Knives remove chips and coolant from high speed band saw blade.

This has made a “night-and-day” difference for this sawing operation:
*In the first week they had the saw, they went through four saw blades…when the teeth get clogged with chips, they don’t cut right; they get hot; and they fail.
*The inability of the brush system to remove the chips caused them to accumulate in the belt pulley housings…operators were spending 2-3 hours A DAY just to shut down the saw and clean them out.
*The excess of chips also caused the blade’s guide bearings to fail, which caused almost a day’s worth of down time to replace.
*The Maintenance Supervisor was called to the saw repeatedly during the work day to address these, and many other minor, malfunctions due to the inability to remove the chips.

This saw is now operating at the capacity they intended when they purchased it.  All for about $400, and that includes the door hinge they used to install it and allow for precise positioning (how cool is that?)

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products have a long reputation for saving the day…thirty-three years and counting.  How can we help you?  Give me a call and let’s find out.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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How To Choose An Air Knife

The EXAIR Super Air Knife has a prominent place near the front of our catalog, and THIRTEEN pages of photos, application details, performance data & specifications. It’s the most efficient and quietest product of its kind on the market, and our most diverse product offering in terms of size range, operational adjustability, materials of construction, and accessories available. For almost any general industrial air blow off application, the EXAIR Super Air Knife is the superior choice in terms of air usage, sound level, and capability.

EXAIR Super Air Knives come in a wide range of lengths, for a wide range of possibilities.
EXAIR Super Air Knives come in a wide range of lengths, for a wide range of possibilities.

As tireless champions of the causes of reducing air consumption and noise, we’re always going to promote these benefits of the Super Air Knife. Still, a caller asked me the other day, “Well, why do you still make the others?”…meaning, of course, our Standard and Full Flow Air Knives. Why, indeed:

*Given the same air supply pressure, the Standard Air Knife generates the highest force of our three styles. The amount of force applied isn’t always a prime consideration…if you think about one of the more “textbook” applications for an Air Knife, it doesn’t take a great amount of force to blow off dust and light debris from a conveyor belt…certainly this is a case where efficiency factors in: the lower air consumption of a Super Air Knife can pay for the cost difference between it and a Standard Air Knife in as little as three months of operation.

The Standard Air Knife has the highest force, for when it's needed.
The Standard Air Knife has the highest force, for when it’s needed.

Of course, if you’re blowing stubborn debris out of tight spaces, like gummy, greasy dirt that’s accumulating in the recesses of a finned tube heat exchanger, that extra force can make all the difference. No; the Standard Air Knife isn’t as efficient or quiet as the Super Air Knife, but it’s still a far cry better than a drilled pipe.

*While the Super Air Knife is pretty compact – you only need a few square inches of profile area to successfully mount it – the Full Flow Air Knife is even smaller, requiring not much more than one square inch of profile for mounting. With ports on the rear face (instead of the ends & bottom for the Super Air Knife,) they can fit in very tight quarters.

Low profile and lightweight, the Full Flow Air Knives are a great fit for tight quarters.
Low profile and lightweight, the Full Flow Air Knives are a great fit for tight quarters.

The Full Flow Air Knife is also the lightest weight for a given length. A 36” Aluminum Super Air Knife, for instance, weighs about 8lbs. The 36” Aluminum Full Flow Air Knife weighs less than 4lbs. Most of the time, 8lbs is a very manageable amount of mass to support, but there are situations where every ounce matters, and if yours is one of them, you’re looking at the Full Flow Air Knife all the way.

*The biggest (in the most literal sense) factor in Air Knife selection is, well…size. We make the Standard Air Knives in lengths to 48”, and the Full Flow Air Knives come as long as 36”. The Super Air Knives, however, are stocked in lengths from 3” to 108”, and can be coupled together for as long of an uninterrupted, steady, laminar air flow as you need.

At the end of the day, a majority of blow off applications can be handled just fine with any of our Air Knives. If you’d like to discuss your application and see which one is best for you, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
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