Compressed Air Knives Perform Better than Blower Air Knives for this Bottle Drying Application

Sometimes you need more power.  I spoke with a customer from a beer bottling facility that was using blower operated air knives, not compressed air air knives.  They were needing to increase the amount of force to dry the bottles.  Their production rate was 580 bottles/min, and they were seeing issues in the labeling process due to residual moisture being left on the bottles.  Their operation consisted of a wash cycle, rinse cycle, drying cycle, then labeling.  They determined that the bottles were not getting dry enough before the labels were applied.  They used a blower system, and they were having difficulty when they reached the maximum bottle rate.  This meant that they would have to increase the size of their blower system; and, with the capital cost of blower systems, they decided to call EXAIR to see if we could help them with their drying application at a lower purchase price.  

Compressed air is the best way for establishing a strong blowing force.  Instead of air pressures in the range of inches of water, the compressed air system can generate over 40 times the amount of force than a typical blower system.  EXAIR products use the power of the compressed air system to give a wide range of blowing forces for drying, cooling, or moving products.  With our Super Air Knives, we have a 40:1 amplification ratio which means for every 1 part of compressed air, we bring in 40 parts of ambient air.  This adds mass to the airstream to make our Super Air Knives very efficient and effective. 

For the customer above, their system filled two different sizes of beer bottles.  The first bottle had a capacity of 16.9oz (500ml) with a height of 10 ½” (267mm); and the second bottle had a capacity of 28.7oz. (850ml) with a height of 12” (305mm).  For optimum blowing, we wanted to set the air knife at an angle to force the water to the bottom of the bottle.  We also want to have good contact time and blow in a counter-flow direction.  This will keep the bottles that have been dried, dry.  For Food and Beverage applications, EXAIR offers two types of stainless steel, 303SS and 316SS.  Since this was a non-contact drying application, 303SS was appropriate.  So, I recommended two units of a model 110218SS Super Air Knife kit to place one knife on each side of the bottles.  This would cover the entire bottle height with an appropriate blowing angle. 

110218SS Super Air Knife Kit

The kit includes the Super Air Knife, a filter, a regulator, and a shim set.  They mounted one knife on each side of the bottles to blow off and remove the liquid after the rinse cycle.  Even at the increased bottle speeds, the EXAIR Super Air Knives had no issues in keeping the bottles dry.  With the regulator and shim set, it was easy for them to dial in the correct amount of force without using too much compressed air.  The labels remained glued and the bottling process ran smoothly.  Because this company was impressed by the Super Air Knives, they wanted to comment on the comparisons between the blower knife and the Super Air Knife.

Comparison EXAIR Super Air Knife vs Blower type
  1. Cost:
    1. Blower System – The reason for contacting EXAIR.  Blower-type air knives are an expensive system.  They need a blower, ducting, and knives.  To have any variability in force, a control panel with a VFD will be needed.
    1. Super Air Knife – It is a fraction of the cost.  With their system, we were roughly 1/10 the cost; even with the kit.  No capital expense report would be needed for the two air knives.    
  2. Installation:
    1. Blower System – They stated that it took them a week to install the entire system before they were able to use.  They had to run electrical wires, controls, ducting, and they even had to change the conveying system slightly to accommodate the blower size. 
    1. Super Air Knife – They mounted the filter and the regulator on the conveyor, and ran compressed air line to the Super Air Knives.  Even with a fabricator to make a bracket for the Super Air Knife, they had the system up and running is less than two hours.    
  3. Size:
    1. Blower System – The foot print of the blower is large and it takes up floor space.  The 3” (76mm) ducting had to be ran to oversized air knives.  With the congestion of the bottle system, it made it difficult to optimize the position and the blowing angle to adequately dry the bottles.      
    1. Super Air Knife – With the compact design, the Super Air Knife packs a large force in a small package.  It has a footprint of 1 ¾” (44mm) X 1 ½” (38mm) X 18” (457mm) long.  The air knife only required a ¾” compressed air line to supply the compressed air.  It opened up the floor space as well as the bottling area. 
  4. Maintenance:
    1. Blower System – The blower filter had to be changed regularly, and the system had to be checked periodically.  Being that the blower motor is a mechanical device, the bearings will wear and the motor will fail over time.  These items should be checked quarterly as a PM which increases the cost to run the system.    
    1. Super Air Knife – No moving parts to wear out.  The only maintenance would be to change the filter within the Filter Separator once a year. 
  5. Quiet:
    1. Blower System – With the blower and turbulent air flow, the units are very loud.  It had a sound level near 93 dBA, and with the operators working around the system, they needed PPE for hearing. 
    1. Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet.  At 80 PSIG, the sound level is only at 71 dBA for the Super Air Knife.  This was very nice for the operators to work around as it wasn’t a constant noise nuisance. 

In using compressed air, the EXAIR Super Air Knives are engineered to be very efficient and effective.  But, even with the use of compressed air, the customer still wanted to share the ease of installation, the effectiveness of blowing, and the improvements to their process.  With the five points noted above, the customer wished that they would have contacted EXAIR at the beginning.  Now, they were able to dry the bottles to allow for a strong adhesion of the labels.  If you wish to speak to an Application Engineer about your cleaning, drying, blowing or cooling applications, we will be happy to hear from you. 

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Application Database: Compressed Air Use in the Food & Beverage Industry

EXAIR uses many different methods to connect with our customers.  We have our website, social media, blogs, publications etc. We like to share solutions for some of the most common pneumatic problems in the industry.  EXAIR generated a large collection of application information where EXAIR products have already solved problems and improved processes.  We organized them by Application and by Industry.  In this blog, I will show you how to use the Application database; specifically, for the Food and Beverage Industry.

Compressed Air Systems are considered to be a fourth utility within industries because they use a large amount of energy.  Whether an air compressor uses fuel for portable units or electricity, it is important to use this system as efficiently as possible.  This would apply to the Food and Beverage industry.  EXAIR has a library of different processes in which we already improved these areas safely and efficiently.  If you are in the Food and Beverage industry, it would benefit you to take a peek at the implementations where we already improved, establish OSHA safety, and saved money.

Here is how you can find this library.  First, you will have to sign into EXAIR.  Click here: Log In.  Once you fill in the proper information, you can then retrieve a great amount of resources about EXAIR products that we manufacture.   The Application Database is under the Knowledge Base tab.  (Reference photo below).

At the Application Search Library, we have over one thousand application that we reference.  In the left selection pane, we organized then in alphabetical order under two categories, Applications and Industry.   (Reference photo below).

Scroll down in the selection pane until you come to the sub-category: Industry.  Under this Sub-category, you will find three selections that are related to this blog: Food and Beverage, Food Packaging, and Food Processing.  We have other applications that may relate to your process like; Beverage Bottling and Beverage.  You will find many applications that EXAIR has already helped to improve and it is documented.

Why is this important?  If you are a plant manager or owner, the value of the Application Database can improve your current processes with pre-qualified results.  Within the Food and Beverage industry, simple solutions can be found to address those “nagging” issues that you see every day.  For crisis situations and shutdowns, EXAIR categorized these applications in a way to reference quickly and easily.  And since EXAIR has a high volume of stocked quality items, we can get the parts to you very fast; minimizing downtime.

In today’s market, companies are always looking for ways to cut cost, increase productivity, and improve safety.  EXAIR can offer engineered products to do exactly that.  With the “been there and done that” solutions already described in the Application Database; you can have confidence in finding a way in solving pneumatic issues.  If you do not sign up at and take advantage of these offerings, you will be missing out on a great tool in optimizing your compressed air system.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb



Two Birds With One Stone (and A Shim)

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:

This always makes me thirsty for orange soda.

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.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Super Air Knives Increase Production of Jar Labeling Process

When a customer has a problem with a labeling process within their operation, many times they call EXAIR to provide a solution. The company in this example manufactures honey and dispenses it into jars and squeeze bottles. Due to an increase in demand, they were looking to increase their output. To do this, they simply increased the speed of their conveyor to accommodate approximately 70 jars per minute instead of their typical 50 jars per minute. This began to present a problem and they reached out to EXAIR for a solution.

honey SAKs
Honey jars traveling along conveyor and the recommended position of Super Air Knives.

After dispensing the honey, the jars and bottles travel through a washing station. The containers pass through a heated chamber that dries the excess water from the jar. At the higher speed, they were experiencing some residual water left on the containers. This began to pose an issue when they reached the labeling process. With water remaining on the jars, the labels adhesive would not adhere properly. This led to an increased amount of rejections and additional rework time to remove the rest of the label and re-run the defective containers.

They had a point in the conveyor just prior to labeling that the sides of the jar would be exposed. My recommendation was to install (2) 110009 9” Super Air Knives on each side of the conveyor to remove the water that was left after exiting the drying chamber. This worked like a charm and the customer was able to maintain an increased level of output without experiencing any further complications. Their previous rate of production without the Super Air Knives was approximately 50 jars per minute.  By installing the Super Air Knives, they were able fully realize their 70 jars per minute goal and increase their production by 40%!

The laminar flow that exits the Super Air Knife wraps itself around the outside of the jar, stripping away any leftover moisture. Supplied at 80 PSIG, each knife will consume only 26.1 SCFM of compressed air at a sound level of just 69 dBA. The flow and force from the knife are infinitely adjustable by dialing in the operating pressure with a pressure regulator or swapping out the shims with a Super Air Knife Shim Set. If you’re experiencing an issue with residual water or liquid on your product that is causing a problem during production, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to take a look and recommend the most suitable blowoff solution!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer

Twitter: @EXAIR_TD