A honey producer sells their product in specialty glass jars. They pay a premium for these jars, as they enhance the appearance of their product, so the “visual” is obviously very important to them. So much so, that they’re willing to go to great lengths to make sure that the jars are sparkly clean and pristine before filling them with honey.
It’s a given that the inside needs to be clean…it’s a food product, so, of course, there’s a thorough cleaning process for that. The outsides of the jars, though, would sometimes have a little dust or debris left over in the ‘nooks and crannies’ which took away from the crystal clear appearance of the rest of the jar.
They got a Model 8494 GEN4 Ion Air Jet Kit, which they use to remove all of this dust & debris from the outside of the bottle, and then they got another Model 8194 GEN4 Ion Air Jet (which uses the same Power Supply, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator from the 8494 Kit) to blow an “insurance” blast of ionized air inside the bottle…just in case. “You can’t be too careful” is a popular mantra for folks who make food products, it seems!
Ionized air is extremely effective for ensuring the cleanliness of glass surfaces. Window makers love our Super Ion Air Knives. Some big name sunglasses manufacturers use our Ion Air Jets to ensure the highest quality and consistency of their products. Ion Air Jets and Ion Air Cannons are commonly used to keep optics clean & clear in critical vision inspection systems. If you’d like to find out more about improving “visuals” with ionized air, give me a call.
Blowing off bottles is such a popular application for the EXAIR Super Air Knife, it’s been featured on the cover of our Catalog…several times…and is the “banner” pictures on the Super Air Knives page on our website:
I had the pleasure of helping a caller from a bottling plant recently with just such an application. Thing is, they run a couple of different size bottles, and it’s not a very big facility…they didn’t want to, or have room to, install different lengths of Air Knives, and also didn’t want to waste air flow when they were running the shorter bottles.
9″ Air Knives were required for the taller bottles, but their shorter bottles were a little under 6″ tall. They had considered buying both 6″ and 9″ Air Knives, but called me to see if there was a less expensive, and possibly, easier way. (There is!)
EXAIR makes, and stocks, every product in our 208 page catalog right here in this building in Cincinnati, Ohio. We also make custom parts when the need arises…and custom Air Knife shims were the solution to this customer’s application.
By installing two Model 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives, one on either side of the conveyor (just like the photo above,) they’re able to blow off the taller bottles. When they run the shorter bottles, they change out the shims for ones that limit the flow to a 6″ curtain.
So…for a little under $50.00 (2017 cost for those custom shims,) they’re going to save almost $550.00 per year in compressed air costs – AND make sure that their compressed air system is optimized & available for other loads throughout the plant.
EXAIR offers the Super Air Knife in lengths from 3″ to 108″, with a 0.002″ shim installed. They’re ideal for most industrial and commercial blow off applications, right out of the package. If your application calls for something a little “outside the box,” you may only be a shim away from success. If you have such an application, give me a call.
The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.
The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:
This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.
In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.
Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.
Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.
Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.
As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:
Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:
52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually. Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*
Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles. The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set. But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*
*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar. You’re welcome.
That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.
Sometimes you just need a little adjustment. I received a call from a customer that had 2 pieces of our model 110018SS stainless steel Super Air Knives. They were blowing water off the bottles before labeling. They increased their production rate to 300 bottles/minute, and they started seeing issues with the labeling process. They determined that the bottles needed to be drier and wondered if we could help. This customer has been using these air knives for over 5 years without any issues. With the increase in production rate, they wondered if they needed to add a shim to increase the performance of the Super Air Knives. I wanted to verify that he was maximizing the efficiency of the Super Air Knives before we started to make any changes.
The customer sent me pictures of his operation for diagnosis (reference above), and I noticed that the Super Air Knives were blowing air right at each other. The position of each Super Air Knife from top to bottom was correct. This is recommended for removing water in a counter-flow direction (when the bottles are traveling from the right side of the picture to the left side). But the blowing direction was incorrect for optimal efficiency. For an application similar to this, we want to increase the contact time on the bottles. The longer the bottles are in the path of the Super Air Knives, the more time we have in removing the water. I sent him a picture of an application that was very similar to his (reference below). It shows the Super Air Knives at the correct blowing angle. As you can see, the Super Air Knives are aimed more toward the center of the conveyor, and not at each other.
In the first picture, I noticed that this customer also purchase the model 9060 Universal Air Knife Mounting System to go with his Super Air Knives. This mounting system is designed with stainless steel hardware for secure, precise positions, and it allows the air knife to quickly and easily be mounted and adjusted. With a quick turn of the knobs, he was able to set the correct angle very simply, and improve his operation. Sometimes you can step back for a moment and return to the basics to improve your system. In this case, he did not have to add a shim to blow more air, but just reposition the Super Air Knives for a more efficient process.
Swivels, an accessory for our air nozzle product line, provide a similar function and allow customers to adjust air nozzles to their most effective position. If you believe that you are not getting the most out of your compressed air system, you can contact an Application Engineer at 800-903-9247.