Next Level Customer Service

I recently spoke with a customer who is a casting / machining manufacturer.  They had an automated cell that was finish machining a feature on a cast aluminum part then placing it on a conveyor belt for an operator to pick up and continue processing.

The parts were placed 3 pieces wide per row and the conveyor would index with every three parts.   The operator would pick three pieces up and transfer them to another station during the machining time.  These parts were carrying residual machining coolant and debris onto the outbound conveyor.

The operator would blow them off with a handheld blow gun and all the coolant and chips would generally end up on the floor in the area causing a slip hazard.  The focus of the project is to eliminate the safety hazards and leave the parts as clean as possible for the inspection and further process.

The metal parts were positioned similar to the parts I placed in the mock up picture below.  The conveyor the customer has is an open mesh conveyor so the process will work better than if it was a solid belt like in the mock up.

The bulk of the concern from the customer was the outside of the part and they stated that anything to blow out the internal is a bonus.  The objective is to get as much coolant off as possible.   For that we recommended they span the conveyor with a Super Air Knife Kit to blow all the parts off at once.  This is mounted closely in the mock up because the customer had space restrictions.

The Super Air Knife Kit with Universal Air Knife Mounting System will firmly mount the knife over the parts and leave adjustment if needed.
The model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles with Stay Set Hoses of various lengths easily bend into place and hold their positioning for the side hole on each part.

Then, because the parts are always placed in the same location with the same orientation we can locate the ID hole with a Mini Super Air Nozzle on a Stay Set Hose of varying length to reach each set of parts as they come through.  Once I had the idea and the products in place I delivered the customer  a quote and dimensional CAD file for each part.

Another recommendation was to use a regulator and filter to control just the knife then operate the three nozzles off their own regulator and filter so that the forces between the two can be varied and the performance of the other is not effected.  Accompanying the models were installation sheets for each item as well.   Followed by the pictures of this mock up for their application.

Needless to say the customer was amazed that we would go to such lengths just to give them more assurance than our 30 day guarantee.  They were extremely thankful and are pleased we shipped from stock and met their installation window.

If you are looking for a creative solution, next level customer service, same day product availability, or just a nice human to talk to about compressed air, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Adjustable Air Amplifier Transfers Plastic Bag Scrap

Many times EXAIR products are used to help sort materials based on their weight or their density by providing a consistent force against a series of targets that should be of the same density or weight, but when they are not, the airflow can be “tuned” to remove the non-conforming parts.

aal-vacuum
Model 6042 Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier rejects empty pouches.

In this case, our customer (a packaging automation specialist) was working with a form fill and seal machine that was dedicated to making pouches 2” x 8” and filling them with a food product. In some cases, the pouches would not become filled with product and needed to be removed from the line. So, our customer devised a way to mount model 6042 2” Adjustable Air Amplifier along-side the travel of the pouches and set the input pressure and air gap setting to get optimum vacuum capture velocity to suck away empty ones and leave the full ones in-tact. Above you can see a photo that the customer took while mocking up the application at their facility. You can see the hose connected to the output to direct the empty pouches to a wire basket below.

A couple of things in this application made use of the Adjustable Air Amplifier the best choice. The first was the funnel-shaped suction area on the back side of the Adjustable Air Amplifier. This optimizes the Air Amplifier’s ability to draw in ambient air to propel it to the outlet. In doing this the un-filled, light-weight, plastic pouch becomes caught in the high velocity stream and thus gets carried away as desired. The second thing is that since compressed air is the source of power, the customer has infinite adjustability over the amount of suction force that they can apply to the pouch in the application. They can adjust the air gap opening on the Adjustable Air Amplifier to have a coarse adjustment of air consumption as well as vacuum level. Then, they have a finer adjustment that a pressure regulator can provide to really dial in the suction force as they need it to be for removal of the empties.

The idea here is that while Air Amplifiers are generally used for their output flow to cool targets and provide a significant Blowoff force, they can also be used to draw in not only smoke and fumes but also other lightweight items like the empty pouches above.

If you have a need to set up any kind of sorting process, maybe just to separate two different recycling streams or perhaps it is a need to perform a quality control function as shown above, think about EXAIR and our many solutions in this area.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR

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
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Line Vac Helps Students With Automation Projects

Over the past year I received a contact from a professor and student combination from Madison Area Technical College inquiring about the sizes available for our Line Vac products.  They were using a 2″ Line Vac in one of their automation class labs and wanted to try something a little bigger for a new project.  The 2″ Line Vac was one they had used in the past on different projects and had always worked well.   The new project however increased the bag size and made the conveyance difficult for the 2″ Line Vac.


The Initial e mail received.
The Initial e mail received after a short conversation.

With the picture below of their current setup and a good understanding that they will be placing three items into a heat sealed bag that is roughly 3″ long and 2″ wide we settled on using the 3″ Aluminum Line Vac at a low pressure to convey the baggies to their secondary function.   As you can see in the video below, the Line Vac is activated by a sensor and operates for just seconds in order to convey the bag of parts successfully to the other side of the machine cell where the bag is then picked and placed by a robotic arm.

The existing 2" Line Vac they had in place.
The existing 2″ Line Vac they had in place.

After the project was completed we received a mention through social media, as well as a brief video showcasing the Line Vac in use.  The video showcases how easy it is to install an EXAIR Line Vac into a tight space where adding other conventional mechanical conveying systems would be considerably more elaborate.  The Line Vac is being controlled via a PLC that energizes a solenoid valve on a timer to convey the package in a matter of seconds.

 

Social Media Contact
Social Media Contact

We are very pleased to see the projects these kids turned out, and the leadership shown by Peter, their instructor. Manufacturing programs such as this one at Madison Area Technical College are important for our economy and for the future of these kids. We’d like to congratulate them all on their accomplishment.

If you have a project you are trying to move products from one point to another, contact us.  If you are a professor, student, or even a mentor to an educational program that would benefit from EXAIR products, please contact me directly.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

EXAIR Cabinet Coolers Nominated for Product of the Year

We have just found out that four of our new problem solving products have been nominated for Plant Engineering’s Product of the Year (Please Vote for us HERE).  The first candidate I would like to showcase is in the Automation & Controls category.  The Electronic Temperature Control for Dual Cabinet Cooler Systems effectively turn the compressed air supply to the Cabinet Coolers on and off as needed to maintain a constant temperature inside of a hot enclosure. Using the air intermittently to maintain a specific temperature is the most efficient way to operate.

Please Vote!
Please Vote!

The ETC Dual Cabinet Cooler Systems work in conjunction with EXAIR’s UL listed Cabinet Cooler Systems which provide cooling for your electrical enclosures without the use of refrigerant based coolants or fans.   The Cabinet Cooler Systems utilize a compressed air driven Vortex Tube which uses compressed air. This cold compressed air is exhausted into the enclosure which results in a cool working environment for your electronics. Warm air from inside the enclosure is vented safely back out of the cabinet through built in exhausts and the compressed air is only utilized when the internal air temperature reaches the digitally set temperature on the ETC.

How the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System Works
How the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System Works

Another added benefit of the ETC on the Cabinet Cooler system is the real time readout of the internal air temperature of your enclosures.  This is on top of the push button set point which will give you a +/-2°F ambient temperature inside of your enclosure.

EXAIR ETC Dual Cabinet Cooler System
EXAIR ETC Dual Cabinet Cooler System

The ETC Dual Cabinet Cooler Systems are designed for larger heat loads ranging from 3,400 BTU/hr. to 5,600 BTU/hr.   The units are available in NEMA 12, NEMA 4, and NEMA 4X ratings.   This means whether you are in a fairly clean environment or a dirty, hot, muggy environment, EXAIR has you covered.

If you would like to discuss either the ETC or the Cabinet Cooler Systems, please contact an Application Engineer.   If you would like to vote for our products, please check out the Plant Engineering Product of the Year page here.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

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
Find us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

When The Obvious Choice Isn’t

Do you have a copy of EXAIR’s Product Catalog? My opinion may be biased, but I think it’s one of the best ones out there. It’s arranged by product category, and gives you easy access to not only the model numbers of all of our stock products, but succinct and pointed details on principles of operation, examples of applications, dimensions, technical specifications, features & benefits, etc. They’re free for the asking – and if you don’t have the latest (as of this writing, #26), go ahead and ask too – you might be pleasantly surprised by what we’ve added recently!

Now, your application may be straightforward and simple, in which case, you can quickly and easily order any catalog product…almost all of them ship the same day. Our Design Engineers aim to make them simple to install and operate, so you could very well be “off to the races” in very short order. That’s our intent, anyway. But if your situation isn’t so clear cut, here’s a part of the catalog you should pay particular attention to:

tech800at120You’ll find this on the front cover, and the phone number is on darn near every page, too.

See, sometimes, “the usual suspect” isn’t the product that’s going to solve your application. Here’s a prime example:

willy wonka meme

A very popular candy maker (not this guy, but I do so love those Facebook memes) wanted to automate a part of their operation where they cut a large slab of chocolate into small squares, and then move them to a machine that individually wraps them. They were transferring them by hand, but figured they could improve efficiency by using a “pick and place” process, and were particularly interested in an air-operated vacuum system. On the surface, it looked like a “textbook” application for an E-Vac Vacuum Generator. Due to the delicate nature of the product, though, the higher vacuum levels produced would cause the lifting mechanism to mar the surface. And, as delicious as these candies are, it would be a shame if they didn’t look perfect too.

That’s where Application Engineering comes in. Like Joe Panfalone wrote about on Monday, we’ve got the education, and experience, that allow us to “marry the practical with the hypothetical to find the best answer.” We knew we couldn’t use high vacuum, but the pieces are so small and lightweight that a low vacuum level could be quite effective, if we had a decent vacuum flow. After discussion of the application and their expectations, we recommended a Model 120024 4” Super Air Amplifier which they fitted a stainless steel mesh screen to the inlet of, and were able to pick up the freshly cut chocolate squares delicately enough to prevent any marring of the surface at all. The automated process made it quicker and easier for the operators to get the candies to the wrapping machine, defect-free, every time.

So, no matter what the obvious choice (of product) may (or may not) be, the obvious choice for guidance with your compressed air application is EXAIR.  Call us and find out.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Blog: https://blog.exair.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair