Save Compressed Air with the EXAIR Electronic Flow Control

The best way to save compressed air is to simply turn it off when it’s not being used. This might seem pretty simple, but there may be processes in your facility where this couldn’t be achieved by just turning a valve. In applications where product is traveling along a conveyor, and must be dried, cooled, or blown off, there is likely some spacing in between the parts. It isn’t necessary to keep the blowoff running constantly if there’s periods of intermittent spacing. To help reduce the overall load on the air compressor, implementing a solution to shut the air off in between each part can have a dramatic impact. EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control, or EFC, is designed to improve efficiency by reducing overall compressed air usage. It utilizes a photoelectric sensor that detects when the part is present. When it’s not, it triggers a solenoid valve to close and shut off the compressed air supply.

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EXAIR EFC

One way to use the Electronic Flow Control would be for Turning a Atomizing Spray nozzle on to coat your product.  For example see the photo below where you could use the EFC to sense the pants coming down the line. Then turn the air supply on to spray a bleach solution to get the weathered look you are after. Once the pants pass the EFC will turn the nozzle off, replacing a manual operation awhile saving compressed air and your liquid solution!

Another use would be to tell when a hopper that is being filled by a Line Vac is empty or over filled.  You can adjust the sensor and the control module to sense that the hopper is empty and it will turn the compressed air on to the Line Vac to then feed the hopper.  Then set the timer module so it will run for the length of time it takes to fill the hopper.  The other way would be to place the sensor at the top of the hopper and have it sense when the pile of media has reached the full level.

The EFC models available from stock can accommodate flows up to 350 SCFM. For applications requiring more compressed air, EFCs with dual solenoids are also available. If you have an application in one or more of your processes where intermittent compressed air use could help save you money, give us a call. We’d be happy to take a look at the application and help determine just how quickly the EFC could start paying YOU

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Cold Gun Prevents Melting of Chocolate During Filling

With Valentine’s Day coming up in the U.S. many of us will be buying chocolates for our significant other. My wife (somehow) doesn’t particularly care for chocolate, so I buy some for her anyway knowing that it will sit around until I eat it. I think most of us would agree that chocolate is even more delicious when melted and drizzled all over the top of just about anything. But, melted chocolate isn’t always a good thing.

I recently worked with a company that manufactures chocolate products. They came out with a new line of small candies and were encountering an issue during packaging. In their process, the chocolates are formed, cooled, and packaged for resale. During the packaging process they were experiencing a problem that caused the chocolates to melt. The bags are heat-sealed along the sides and bottom. This heat was transferring from the bag to the chocolates and causing them to melt. Rather than having a finished package of individual candies, they were melting together to form one large lump. Not exactly what they are hoping to deliver to their consumers.

 

Video of the bag filling process

Fortunately, EXAIR offers a range of different products that are suitable for cooling. For this application, they utilized a Model 5330 High Power Dual Outlet Cold Gun. With the fan-type nozzle installed, they were able to cool both sides of the package immediately after sealing and just before filling the bags with chocolates.

EXAIR’s Cold Gun was a Product of the Year finalist in 2007. Using only a source of compressed air, the Cold Gun and High-Power Cold Gun produces a stream of clean, cold air 50° (28°C) below your compressed air supply temperature. The Cold Gun is very quiet at only 70dBA and has no moving parts to wear out. Just supply it with clean, dry compressed air and its maintenance free! It’s available as both a standard and High-Power option, providing 2x the cooling power. Each style is available with either a single or dual cold outlet flow.

The Cold Gun is pre-set to an 80% Cold Fraction. In other words, 80% of the compressed air supplied to it will exhaust from the cold end of the tube, 20% from the hot end. This prevents the Cold Gun from freezing up during use and optimizes the gun’s cooling capacity. The Cold Gun is an ideal alternative to messy and expensive coolant mist systems. It eliminates the cost of purchase and disposal of cutting fluids as well as worker related health problems from breathing airborne coolant or slipping on wet floors. Replacing a coolant-based system also eliminates the need for secondary cleaning operations after milling or drilling.

If you have an application that you believe would be better served by the use of an EXAIR Cold Gun, give us a call.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Candy Producer Saves $4600 in Compressed Air with EXAIR’s EFC

A few months ago, I took a phone call from a manufacturing engineer who worked at a large candy production facility here in the United States. Extra chocolate was dripping out of the candy molds onto the conveyor belt below.  Within a few hours the belt was dirty enough they would have to stop the line and clean the residual chocolate off the belt. 

The best solution I found was a 72” 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knife. It worked great when powered at 60 psig inlet pressure. The laminar flow of the Super Air Knife was perfectly suited for this application.  The knife was mounted between the mold and the belt to help solidify and blowoff the excess drips of chocolate. There was one drawback, the Super Air Knife was not needed to blow the belt continuously and the continuous demand was not desirable during peak production.

The simple solution for this was the EXAIR Electronic Flow Control, the EFC minimizes compressed air use by turning off the air when a sensor is triggered. Since there was a 4.5-minute time gap between each mold set this was a great solution. When the photoelectric eye saw a mold, it then told the solenoid valve to open and supply the knife with compressed air for 30 seconds while the mold was open and the excess chocolate would be dripping. See the Savings calculations below;

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Without using the EFC

(* Using $ 0.25 per 1000 SCFM used)

  • 72” Super Ion Air Knife = 165.6 SCFM @ 60 PSIG
  • 165.6 SCFM x 60 minutes x $ 0.25 / 1000 SCFM = $ 2.48 per hour
  • $ 2.48 per hour x 8 hours = $ 19.84 per 8-hour day
  • $ 19.84 x 5 days = $ 99.20 per work week
  • $ 99.20 per week x 52 weeks =$5,158.40 per work year without the EFC control

 

With the EFC installed (turning the compressed air off for 4 minutes 30 seconds with a 30 second on time = 6 minutes/hour compressed air usage)

  • 165.6 SCFM x 6 minute x $ 0.25 / 1000 SCFM = $ 0.25 per hour
  • $ 0.25 per hour x 8 hours = $ 2.00 per 8-hour day
  • $ 2.00 x 5 days = $ 10.00 per work week
  • $ 10.00 per week x 52 weeks = $520.00 per work year with the EFC control 

$ 5,158.40 per year (w/o EFC) – $ 520.00 per year (w/ EFC) = $4,638.40 projected savings per year by incorporating the EFC.

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This example illustrates, clearly, why choosing the EFC is a good idea. It has the ability to keep compressed air costs to a minimum and saves compressed air for use within other processes around the plant. With this type of compressed air savings, the unit would pay for itself in less than 3 months.

If you would like to see how we might be able to improve your process or provide a solution for valuable savings, please contact one of our Application Engineers.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

 

Super Air Nozzles Extend Maintenance Schedule in a Chocolate Factory

The process of making cocoa powder and chocolate products is fascinating to say the least.  The video above shows the process at the Hershey factory in a throwback “How Its Made” video from the 70’s. (I think; based on the hairstyles.  Also based on the video description, but mostly based on the hairstyles.)  It’s interesting to see the process and the mechanical aptitude it took to create the machines, especially with the weights and measures.  The level of complexity and number of steps involved can make you wonder how we ever figured it all out, but thankfully we did!

Current cocoa production follows the same basic process through harvesting, roasting, extracting cocoa butter, and grinding of cocoa cakes into powder.  And, like any manufacturing process, there are sure to be applications which demand unique solutions.  This is where a recent application took place for an EXAIR end user.

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The cooling carriage for the cocoa powder

Not shown in the video above is a cooling process for the cocoa powder.  During the cooling process the powder is transferred through a carriage system resembling a radiator without the fins.  Inside the carriage system cocoa powder can accumulate in the 180° bends, and the build-up over time can stop material flow.  So, these bends are serviced as part of a regular preventative maintenance program.

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Cocoa build-up in the curves of the carriage

The end user was looking for a way to extend the service interval length, hoping to find a solution to target the build-up areas in the 180° bends.  The current setup requires manual cleaning every 15 days of operation.  Modification of the existing setup is possible, provided it increases the time between maintenance procedures.

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The service procedure

The solution we devised is a series of 316 stainless steel Super Air Nozzles, fed into the curves of the cooling carriage to prevent accumulation of the cocoa powder.  The solution agitates any accumulating cocoa, removing the build-up and greatly extending the time between service intervals.

This solution can be implemented in one of two ways; either through periodic entry of the nozzles into the cooling carriage (a somewhat difficult solution to implement), or through permanent installation with guarding in place to protect the nozzles (even powders can deteriorate a material with direct contact over time).  A (very) crude representation of the permanent installation is shown below.

Cocoa curves
A quick sketch of the possible permanent solution

To install the nozzles into the curves of the cooling carriage, holes must be drilled into the curves.  Sealed bulkhead fittings can be installed into the holes, and the necessary compressed air lines can be fed through the sealed bulkhead fittings.  This will allow installation of the air nozzles in the needed locations.

The final detail left to be sorted in this application was the exact model Super Air Nozzle to be used.  The force requirement to dislodge the cocoa is highly specific and ultimately unknown, so we focused on a solution with what we deemed adequate force at an 80 PSIG operating pressure.  We chose a series of 1101SS Super Air Nozzles, remembering we can always reduce force and compressed air consumption through pressure regulation if needed.

We were happy to help implement a solution to provide the needed results with the most efficient use of compressed air.  After all, that’s what we do at EXAIR.  We help our customers find the most suitable, most efficient solutions for their applications.

If you have an application and would like to discuss a compressed air-based solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com