EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products Are Automation’s Best Friend

For decades, children and adults (really cool ones, anyway) have enjoyed the popular board game, Mouse Trap:

The fun of the game is that it exaggerates the notion of providing an overly complicated solution to a simple problem – a notion made famous by Rube Goldberg, whose namesake machines are as thought-provoking as they are entertaining to watch.

As fun as Rube Goldberg machines are, there are actually ways to engineer something “just enough” – that’s what automation engineers strive to do every day; and EXAIR is here to help.

Probably the most popular feature, for automated applications, of engineered compressed air products is instantaneous performance.  For example:

  • When an electric motor-powered blower is used for a blow off, cooling, or drying application, there’s going to be a “ramp-up” period to reach full rated flow.  Not so with an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product, like a Super Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, Super Air Amplifier, etc.  They are generating their rated flow as fast as you can open the supply valve.

    EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products such as (left to right) the Super Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, and Super Air Amplifier provide instant on/off performance, at rated levels.
  • Likewise, vacuum pumps necessarily take some time to develop their rated vacuum level.  But the venturi in an EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generator draws its full rated vacuum flow as soon as the compressed air is turned on.  The peak vacuum level is achieved in the amount of time it takes to pull the air out of the lines or vessel.

    These are all examples of how an E-Vac pick-and-place system is just a solenoid valve away from being an automated process.
  • All EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles can be fitted with a No Drip feature, which allows instant on/off control, simply by opening/closing a valve in the compressed air supply line.  This is often done with a solenoid valve tied in to the machine controls, or with an EXAIR EFC, Electronic Flow Control (more on that in a minute.)  They can handle up to 180 cycles per minute, for quick bursts of atomized mist, on demand.  No other method of liquid flow control can match that kind of performance.

    Fine mist liquid spray, on demand, from an EXAIR No Drip Atomizing Spray Nozzle.
  • EXAIR Spot Cooling Products, Cold Guns, and Cabinet Cooler Systems all use Vortex Tube technology.  This “splits” a supply of compressed air into a hot, and cold air flow.  Unlike refrigerant, chilled water, or cryogenic gas methods, they don’t rely on conduction or convection heat transfer between materials, so cold (and hot) air is produced, at rated flow and temperature, instantly.  They, too, can be turned on & off as often as needed…there are no moving parts to wear or damage.

    The unique phenomenon of the Vortex Tube principle makes cold air instantly for as long – or short – a time as needed.

Automation projects often incorporate existing logic, controls, timers, etc. to actuate the process.  For example, if you wanted to use a Chip Vac to vacuum debris from a chop saw, you can simply wire a solenoid valve into the power switch of the saw…it’ll run while the saw runs, and stop when the saw is turned off.

EXAIR’s award winning EFC Electronic Flow is ready to go, right out of the box.

If there are no existing logic, controls, timers, etc., EXAIR has a solution for those cases too: the EFC Electronic Flow Control.  We have four models to accommodate up to 350 SCFM of compressed air flow – that’s ten feet worth of Super Air Knives.  The EFC consists of a photoelectric sensor that opens/closes a solenoid valve, based on the programming of the integral timer.  It’s a stand alone system that doesn’t require input from, nor is it affected by, any external factors.

Automation projects can get pretty intricate.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are aimed at keeping their involvement as simple as possible.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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There Must Be A Better Way To Save…

 

I’m writing this blog at almost the top-dead-center midpoint of Spring Break week. My teenage sons have been “enjoying” their time off thus far with the housekeeping duties their mother has been assigning them, and the labor they’ve been providing their uncle, as he installs a new garage door for us…the one my mother-in-law paid for. I definitely married out of my league.

The last half of Spring Break, though, we’re taking a little vacation. We looked at the activities and attractions at our destination, came up with a plan on what to do and when (including an analysis of the 10 day weather forecast…which prompted me to find our rain ponchos) and have even purchased some tickets in advance, because advertising “5% SAVINGS!” on stuff really works on me, even when it’s on a $20 ticket. Before you grab your calculator, yeah…that’s a dollar. But since there are four of us, I’ve multiplied our savings by 400%! Yes; I know…four bucks.  Still, I’ll take it.

We talk to folks almost every day who want, like I do, to save money on goods and services they’re going to purchase anyway. Some have performed comprehensive energy audits, and identified opportunities to lower their compressed air generation and/or consumption rates. Others have just been looking at the bent copper tubes that are blowing off their parts and thinking there has to be a better way.

(Full disclosure: I’ve had these two exact conversations so far this week.)

Today, I want to tell you about the latter: It’s an aluminum casting plant with about a dozen lines where a robot grabs a fresh casting from the machine, dips it in a quench tank, and holds it in front of an array of copper tube blow offs for a few seconds before placing it in a bin, bound for the machine shop. Not only were they blowing at it from both sides with the copper tubes, but they were also blowing continuously…including the majority of the cycle time that did NOT include holding the part in the air flow.  Dear reader, if you’re familiar AT ALL with the EXAIR blog, you’ll know that we simply cannot abide that. Continuous flow when flow is only needed a fraction of the time is wasteful and expensive. Not to mention blowing air out of open tubes is dangerous, loud and requires and unneccessary volume of compressed air.

It's like they WANT to upset us.  What's up with that?
It’s like they WANT to upset us. What’s up with that?

They installed (2) Model 110018 18” Aluminum Super Air Knives, in place of the copper tubing, which cut down on their air consumption…and noise levels…considerably. I gave them some further recommendations on reprogramming the robot to turn the part in front of one Air Knife, and using an EFC Electronic Flow Control to turn the air off when a part was not present.

EXAIR's EFC automatically turns the air off when a part is not present.
EXAIR’s EFC automatically turns the air off when a part is not present.

Is there a better way to use the compressed air in your facility? Whether you’ve got comprehensive data from a detailed audit, or if that open pipe is just too darn loud, all the time – give me a call…we’ll find out.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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