Compressed Air Usage in Food & Beverage Industry: Bottle Blowoff with Super Air Knives

When it comes to the usage of compressed air in the food & beverage industry, applications for EXAIR products are abundant. The range of sizes (3″ through 108″) and materials (aluminum, 303SS, 316SS, and PVDF) allow us to handle corrosive, high temperature and chemical environments.

One common process that we’re able to help improve is on bottling or canning lines for a wide variety of different companies in the beverage industry. These processes generally run at a very high speed and need a way to complete the process with as little manual intervention as possible.

I recently helped a customer that was looking for a better solution for their bottle processing line. The company produces bottled water in South America and was dealing with a series of quality issues. After the bottles are filled and sealed, they go through a washing operation to remove any contaminants from the outside of the bottle. Afterwards, they make their way along a conveyor where a label is applied around the outside of the bottle. The bottles aren’t always completely dry by the time they get to the labeling step. Any residual moisture on the outside of the bottle can present a problem where the label doesn’t fully adhere to the bottle.

After complaints from their customer about product being received with labels that were peeling off, they implemented a quality check to ensure that the bottles that weren’t properly labeled were fixed before they were shipped out. While this resolved the problem for their customer, it required an extra step. Not only does this add an entire step to the process, but it requires several additional operators to perform the manual task of removing and replacing faulty labels.

After searching and discovering EXAIR’s Super Air Knife they reached out for assistance. Due to the variability of the bottle sizes, they needed a solution that was easily adjusted based on what product was being run that day. Fortunately, EXAIR offers a Universal Mounting System for our Super Air Knives that’ll allow them to easily position their blowoff as they need.

The solution was to install (2) 110036 36” Super Air Knives with (2) Universal Mounting Systems for each. Any knife 24”-54” will necessitate (2) Universal Mounting Systems, 55”-71” will require (3), 72”-95”, and 96” and over will require (5) to sufficiently support the weight of the knife.

The knives provided a strong blast of air that was able to remove any residual moisture from the exterior of the bottles. This eliminated the need to have a post labeling inspection and the bottles were labeled properly on the first go! Adjustments in between different bottle sizes were made simple with the help of the Universal Mounting System.

SAK pre label blowoff
(2) 110036 Super Air Knives positioned with Universal Mounting System

At EXAIR, we’re all about providing safe, efficient, and reliable solutions to a host of industry related problems. With same day shipment for stock items with an order received by 2:00 ET and a team of highly trained Application Engineers, we’re ready to take your call and get a solution out to you today. Don’t just take my word for it, find out for yourself!

Tyler Daniel, CCASS

Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

So… You went and got yourself a Super Air Knife. Now what?

So you went and got yourself a Super Air Knife and now you need to mount it, and start “cutting”. There are a few things we need to review in order to get these installed and functioning correctly. First, let’s take a moment and make sure that your compressed air system has enough air to run this Super Air Knife at its optimal level. Number 1-9 of the top 10 reasons these do not work are linked to the customers lack of air to the Super Air Knife. Step one of this process is to make sure that you have a pressure gauge at the point of use of your Super Air Knife. Knowing that your plant runs 120 psig throughout the system is not a measurement, there are many things that can inhibit this performance from point A to the point of use… Engineering best practices are to have a pressure gauge at each point of use.

Next, we need to make sure your compressor is large enough. At 80 psig, you will need 2.9 SCFM per INCH of Super Air Knife (see table below). 3rd grade math tells us that a 36″ Super Air Knife will need 104.4 SCFM to run efficiently at 80 psig. When given the correct amount of air, this should feel as if you are driving down the road at 50 MPH and you put your hand out the window. This 50 MPH example is true for any length of air knife, at 80 psig, as long as there is enough SCFM. If your Super Air Knife does not feel this way, it is not getting the air it needs…

Back to the 104.4 SCFM. A general rule of thumb is that 1 HP give us @4 SCFM. So in this example, you will need at least a 27 HP compressor to run this 36″ Super Air Knife, and ONLY this Super Air Knife. When sizing EXAIR products, we have to look at the air pressure, and the air volume. One will not work without the other.

Now as we look at this 27 HP (108 SCFM) of compressed air coming to this 36″ Super Air Knife, we need to address how it is getting to the Super Air Knife. How far away from the air compressor is it? Even though the inlet size on the Super Air Knife is 1/4″ NPT, the line from the compressor needs to be big enough to bring the right amount of air to the Super Air Knife. Right off the bat, I can see that any line smaller than a 3/4″ will not work, regardless of how close it is to the compressor. I can also see that this 3/4″ line will only work if the Super Air Knife is 20′ or less away from the compressor. When you bump the line size to 1″, this will allow you to be up to 100′ away. If you have questions on your line sizes, please feel free to ask us to help.

So now that we are confident you have the right amount of air at the point of use, we are ready to mount this bad boy. Obviously we want to look at the angles and positioning, and something we call counter flow. We generally want the air from the Super Air Knife stay in contact with the surface it is cleaning (blowing, cooling, warming, coating, covering etc…) for the maximum amount of time possible. To accomplish this, we need counter flow as seen in the picture to the right. Basically the air is blowing in the opposite direction that the belt is moving.

The last part to discuss here is the physical practicalities of mounting the Super Air Knife. One option is our handy dandy Universal Air Knife Mounting kit seen here to the left. These are a perfect solution for easy and quick installation. You can simply adjust the angles and tighten. You can eventually add thread lock, or something similar for permanent installation. You may need more than one. We recommend one for Air Knives up to 23″, for those 24″-54″ Air Knives we recommend two, 55″-71″ = three, 72″-95″ = four and 96″-108″ = five of these.

This is not the only way to mount these. There are size 1/4″-20 screws every 2 inches in the Super Air Knives. You can simply remove these screws, and attach any type of brace, or mounting bracket to these holes. If our screws are not long enough to fit your bracket, these are pretty easily found locally.

The Super Air Knives is an amazing tool. It can assist in many ways. If you would like to discuss more about these, or any other EXAIR product, please reach out.

Thank you for stopping by,

Brian Wages

Application Engineer

EXAIR Corporation
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Cover picture by PIRO4D and licensed by Pixabay

EXAIR Case Studies Share Succe$$

EXAIR provides many informative tools to help you decide which of our products will work best for you. We have a qualified staff of Application Engineers, a comprehensive catalog, Installation Sheets, Blogs, and a library of Case Studies, to name a few. Following is more about our Case Studies and how they can be helpful.

EXAIR keeps a library of Case Studies for your reference. The Library s is also organized by product so you can easily find the information and product you have interest. These case studies summarize how our customers have purchased, used, and benefited from our products and their purchase. These studies focus on our products and your project, we do not use our customer names and only use photos and verbiage that you approve and share with us.

The process to develop a Case Study is as easy as talking to one of our Application Engineers. We will discuss your project and work with you to decide the wording and photos that you approve for the study. Once the study has been completed and approved we can discuss a credit on your purchase or percentage discount on your next purchase. This becomes a “win, win” for both you and EXAIR.

EXAIR appreciates a good success story, and we want to encourage you to share your success from using one or more of our products. This is why EXAIR incentivizes Case Studies. We will offer a discount to any company who will provide enough information to produce a case study. If you have interest to create a Case Study (and save money) on your next project please contact one of our Application Engineers so we can discuss your application and goals.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK

Laminar and Turbulent Air Flow

I have a manufacturing background primarily with automotive and plastic injection molding. I used compressed air but I will admit that I did not know the difference between Laminar and Turbulent air flow. You’ll often hear EXAIR refer to laminar vs turbulent flow when discussing our blow off of products. I will briefly describe the difference between the two and hopefully we all learn something new. In any blow off process or application, laminar airflow is going to be much more effective at eliminating pressure drops, blowing product and reducing noise levels than the turbulent air flow. To read more about the math behind it, check out my colleague John Ball’s previous post here.

A good example of an EXAIR product that delivers a laminar air flow are our Super Air Knives. The super air knife offers a more efficient way to clean, dry or cool parts, webs or conveyors. They deliver a uniform sheet of “Laminar” airflow across the entire hard-hitting force. The Super Air Knives deliver a uniform sheet of air that has the same force across the entire length.

The efficiency of EXAIR’s Super Air Knife delivering the laminar air flow becomes more valuable when comparing the effectiveness to a blower operated knife or fans. A fan “slaps” the air, resulting in a turbulent airflow where the airflow particles are irregular and will interfere with each other. A laminar airflow, by contrast, will maintain smooth paths that will never interfere with one another, which allows for maximum velocity and can produce higher force levels.

EXAIR had a customer needing help applying icing on snack cakes. As baked sponge cakes moved down a conveyor, a continuous ribbon of icing was applied to the individual cakes. Trying to make a clean break in the icing was next to impossible. Mechanical blades needed constant cleaning. Compressed air through a series of holes in drilled pipe used too much air, was noisy and did not make a clean break.

The solution was using an EXAIR Stainless Steel Super Air Knife. A photo eye detected space between cakes turning the compressed air on at the precise moment to apply a uniform airflow and velocity against the ribbon of icing, creating a nice clean break. The stainless steel Air Knife was the best choice for this application. Since there was no contact with the icing, no additional cleaning was required. The Laminar flow of the Super Air Knife had uniform velocity across the entire length and broke the ribbon of icing evenly. This successful result would never have been possible with turbulent air from drilled pipe, nozzles or a blower.

The Super Air knives are just one of many of EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air products. When planning your next project that requires compressed air please contact one of our many Application Engineers for assistance. EXAIR takes pride in our products and customer service.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
Twitter: Twitter: @EXAIR_EK