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;

efcapp

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.

EFC287x250

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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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.

20160530_093039
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

3D Printing with Chocolate

Everyone seems to be talking about 3D printing lately. Last week, I received an email from a customer who had a new idea for 3D printing.

Chocolate!

Well I was intrigued. The customer wanted to modify current 3D Printing technology to work chocolate. There was obviously several hurdles. For instance, using a vat of molten chocolate as opposed to typical material, cleaning, and replacement parts to make a food safe low-cost printer. Her biggest problem was how to cool the chocolate after the application of each successive layer upon dispensing, so the chocolate didn’t pool into an amorphous blob.

She came to me asking about the Adjustable Spot Cooler. This product caught her attention because of the ease of installation with the magnetic base, the adjustable temperature control and instant cold air response. The magnetic base could be incorporated into her design fairly easily. The adjustable temperature control would allow her to decrease the temperature and decrease the cold flow at the same time. If she found that the force of the compressed air was damaging the printing process, reducing the cold flow would allow her to use a colder temperature to harden the layer that had just been used.  Finely the compressed air could be rapidly controlled with a solenoid to only run when the cold air is needed, which would limit compressed air cost.

Because of the high freezing point of chocolate and overall size constraints, I recommended that she first try a model 3204 Vortex Tube. A small Vortex Tube, which could use as little as 4 SCFM of compressed air and provide up to 3.2 SFCM of cold air at fifty degrees below the compressed air temperature, would be more than capable of forming a shell on the surface area of each extrusion. It is reasonable to assume that this air temperature would be around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which could create a delicious chocolate shell for the next layer of chocolate be deposited.  She was able to buy the magnetic base, model 9029, separately to aid in her installation.Chocolate tools

Hopefully, you read this after lunch, because I made myself hungry looking for chocolate pictures, but I found what I would print for Christmas.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
davewoerner@exair.com
@EXAIR_DW

 

Compressed Air and Halloween Candy

Tomorrow night is Halloween. I live in a suburban subdivision with a high ratio of young families, which makes for a target-rich environment for Trick or Treaters…my boys included. We’ll allow them to enjoy a sensible portion of their haul tomorrow night, and the rest will go into the cabinet over the stove for rationing out over the next week or so.

First to disappear will be the brand name chocolates, candy bars, peanut butter cups, etc. The occasional bags of pretzels/salty snacks will find their way into school lunch bags quickly. Novelty lollipops – the kind with candy or gum in the middle – go fast in my house, but only after the chocolate has been completely exhausted. Individual hard candies linger at the bottom until they’re forgotten about, and eventually get thrown away the next time we need one of those pans we keep in that cabinet…usually when we’re preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

One of the trade publications I read regularly is “Compressed Air Best Practices” Magazine. Every month, there are featured articles that highlight how someone just saved a TON of compressed air by applying various methods and fixes to their systems. Understandably, the opportunities for the largest savings are the most popular…let’s call these the “brand name chocolates.” Common examples of this are:

  • Fixing leaks – I know of a company that saved a million SCF per year this way. (Spoiler alert: it was us.)
  • Replacing open ended blow offs with engineered products. (Spoiler alert again: we’re the undisputed industry leader for this.)

Of course, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you’re serious about efficiency, you’ve already got flow meters in place. If not, it’s time for a look at what’s available, and how much of a benefit you’ll get from knowing what your usage is at any given time. Continuing with my candy surplus analogy, these could be considered the novelty lollipops. Departing from the analogy, though, this should be done first (OK; it’s not a perfect analogy). An EXAIR Digital Flowmeter will give you instant, accurate indication of your air usage, and you can make a “before/after” comparison, once those leaks are fixed and your blow offs are upgraded.

Lastly, don’t forget about regular maintenance. Our USB Data Logger is a great addition to the Digital Flowmeter – it allows you to track your usage over time. Those leaks you just fixed weren’t there when the system was new. If you start to see your usage creeping up, you’ll want to find out why. Our Ultrasonic Leak Detector is a great tool for periodic checks. Use it to find any new leaks that pop up, and you’ll stop throwing away compressed air like it was candy.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
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Sugar Coatings That Shouldn’t Be

Since most people are still on a sugar high from “sharing” their children’s candy after trick or treating, I thought I would blog about sugar coatings that shouldn’t be.   Now I must disclaim, I have not tried some of these but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a line that got crossed.

This past week I went to the grocery store to find they have an entire counter dedicated to freshly chocolate covered items.  The two that struck me as odd were chocolate covered potato chips, and chocolate covered bacon.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love bacon, just don’t think I can mix bacon and chocolate. There are certain things to me that shouldn’t have a sugar coating.

This brings me to the key point of the blog.  When it comes to consumption, sound level, and force values of any product in our catalog, EXAIR doesn’t sugar coat.  Some companies will rate items for their peak performance that they saw on a prototype for a fraction of a second.  Others will give sound level and consumption ratings at 72 psi then record force at a higher pressure.   This isn’t the case with EXAIR, we use very easily repeated values all at the same inlet pressure to the device which is 80 psig.  That is except for our Spot Cooling products which are  rated at 100 psig but it is clearly noted.

We don’t try to sugar coat any performance statistics of EXAIR Products because we don’t have to.  They perform that sweet straight out of the package and you aren’t stuck with something you don’t like, like chocolate covered carrots.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF