6 Steps to Optimizing Your Compressed Air System: STEP 4 – Turn It Off!

If you’re a follower of the EXAIR Blog, you’re probably well aware that compressed air is the most expensive utility in an industrial environment. The average cost to generate 1000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air is $0.25. If you’re familiar with how much air you use on a daily basis, you’ll understand just how quickly that adds up.

To make matters worse, many compressed air systems waste significant amounts of compressed air just through leaks. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, a typical plant that has not been well maintained will likely have a leak rate of approximately 20%!! Good luck explaining to your finance department that you’re carelessly wasting 20% of the most expensive utility.

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6 Steps from Catalog

The best way to save energy associated with the costs of generating compressed air is pretty straightforward and simple: TURN IT OFF! Placing valves throughout your distribution system allows you to isolate areas of the facility that may not need a supply of compressed air continuously.

Even a well-maintained system is going to have a leakage rate around 10%, it’s darn near impossible to absolutely eliminate ALL leaks. By having a valve that allows you to shut off the compressed air supply to isolated areas, you’re able to cut down on the potential places for leaks to occur.

You’re likely not running each and every machine continuously all day long, if that’s the case why not shut off the air supply to those that aren’t running? When operators go to lunch or take a break, have them turn off the valves to prevent any wasted air. The fact of the matter is that taking this one simple step can truly represent significant savings when done diligently.

You wouldn’t leave your house with all the lights and TV on, so why leave your compressed air system running when it’s not in use? Even if everyone’s left for the day, leaks in the system will cause the compressor to keep running to maintain system pressure.

Taking things one step further, EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control (EFC) utilizes a solenoid controlled by photoelectric sensor that has the ability to shut off the compressed air when no part is present. If you’re blowing off parts that are traveling along a conveyor with space in between them, there’s no need to continuously blow air in between those parts. The EFC is able to be programmed to truly maximize your compressed air savings. The EFC is available in a wide range of different capacities, with models from 40-350 SCFM available from stock and systems controlling two solenoid valves for larger flowrates available as well.

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It’s no different than turning off your house lights when you leave for work each day. Don’t get caught thinking compressed air is inexpensive “because air is free”. The costs to generate compressed air are no joke. Let’s all do our part to reduce energy consumption by shutting off compressed air when it isn’t necessary!

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

Compressed Air Flowmeter Overview and Options

 

EXAIR Digital Flowmeters can be an important part of your compressed air system for optimization.  Flow is a measurement that is directly related to your cost for operation; and, it can help in determining efficiency, leak rates and the overall “health” of your pneumatic system.  Th Digital Flowmeters are easy-to-read, easy-to-install, and easy-to-record devices.  You will not have to disrupt your piping system with cutting, welding, or dismantling for installation.  In this blog, I will share some product information and options that work with the EXAIR Digital Flowmeters.

The EXAIR Digital Flowmeter is a thermal dispersion device that can accurately measure compressed air flows.  They use two sensing probes for comparative analysis.  One probe is a temperature sensing probe, and the other is a flow-sensing probe. By comparing these, the Digital Flowmeter can measure accurately even in low flow regions.  Also, they do not need to be re calibrated.  They are CE and RoHS certified., and they do not have any moving part to wear.  The EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are a cost-effective, simple way to measure compressed air flows.

To get started, I will go over the design of the Digital Flowmeter.  The two sensing probes as discussed above will have to be installed in the air stream.  This is done with the Drill Guide Kit.  This kit includes a guide to properly locate the two holes in the pipe and a drill bit for the correct clearance.  The Digital Flowmeter uses a clamp design to mount onto the pipe and to seal the area around the probes.  Once it is powered, the unit is ready to measure the air flow inside the pipe with a large LED display.  The display can be customized to show flow readings in three different units; SCFM, M3/hr or M3/min.  It can also display Daily Usage and Cumulative Usage. Overall, it only takes a few minutes to install and start using.

EXAIR stocks a large volume of Digital Flowmeters to ship same day.  We also offer a 30-day unconditional guarantee for domestic and Canadian customers to try them out.  The ranges that we stock are for pipe diameters from ½” NPT to 4” NPT Schedule 40 black pipe.  For non-stocked items, EXAIR can go as large as 8” NPT Schedule 40 black pipe.  We can also get Digital Flowmeters to use with copper pipes from 3/4” to 4” sizes, and to use with aluminum pipes with the O.D. ranging from 40mm to 101mm.  If you use other types of piping for your compressed air system, you can give us the material, outside diameter/inside diameter, and the wall thickness.  We may still be able to get a Digital Flowmeter for you to use.

What sets our Digital Flowmeters apart from other types are the features and benefits.  All of the units come standard with a 4 – 20mA analog output.  We can also offer this signal as a serial output per your request for RS-485 or Ethernet connections.  The maximum pressure for the units is 200 PSIG (13.8 Bar), but we have a high pressure option to go as high as 600 PSIG (41 Bar).  If your Digital Flowmeter needs better protection for splash resistance, we can also offer units with a NEMA 4 (IP66) rating.

What more can we offer with the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter?  Options.  Options upgrade the flow meters to better suit your application.  Here is a list below.

USB Data Logger: This option allows for a record of the flow information.  With a software download, you can setup the USB Data Logger to record the flows from once a second (roughly 9 hours of storage) to every 12 hours.  Once the unit has been configured, you just plug in the unit into the Digital Flowmeter and let it record the data points.  You can then upload the information into the software program to review.  It also has the ability to transfer the information into an Excel program to do further analysis.

Summing Remote:  With compressed air piping running along the ceiling and walls, it may be difficult to see the Digital Flowmeter.  The Summing Remote has a 50-foot (15 meter) cable to bring the flow measurements from the Digital Flowmeter for viewing.  The Summing Remote is powered by the Digital Flowmeter, and it can also show the daily and cumulative readings.  They can be positioned at eye level near stations, inside managers’ rooms, or around large equipment for monitoring.

Hot Tap:  This option is for Digital Flowmeters that are 2” and larger for steel and copper pipes.  It gives a quick and easy way to attach the Digital Flowmeter to the pipe without shutting down the compressed air line.  If you have a 24-hour operation or a critical process that needs to run, this option would be a great way to install the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter without disturbing the system.

Pressure Sensing:  If you would like to know the compressed air flow and the air pressure on the same unit, this option is able to do this.  They are available with the Digital Flowmeters for steel and copper pipes that are 2” and larger, and for the aluminum piping that are 50mm and larger.  This option can display the pressure units in either PSI or Bar right on the LED display.

Block-Off Rings:  If you want to relocate your Digital Flowmeter, the Block-Off Rings will be able to cover the openings.  They seal around the area when the Digital Flowmeter is removed from the pipe.  They are reusable; so, they can be removed if you want to remount the Digital Flowmeter in the same spot.  Or if you want to use one flow meter in different locations, the Block-Off Rings allow you do this.

Wireless Capability:  Our latest Digital Flowmeter now has wireless capabilities.  They use a Zigbee® communications to pick up flow readings from different flow meters without running communication wires.  The Gateway is a system that can detect over 100 Digital Flowmeters located throughout your facility.  From the Gateway, the information is transferred through a LAN to your computer.  You can record and analyze the flow information from each meter on the network with our EXAIR® Logger Software.  You can set limits to send warning when your compressed air system is using too much or too little of compressed air.  This technology makes it very easy for measuring your compressed air system in different areas without having to be there.

When you need to analyze your pneumatic components, flow is an important point in diagnosing the overall “health” of your compressed air system.  The EXAIR Digital Flowmeter can give you that important data point.  With this overview, you may have additional questions and that is great.  An Application Engineer at EXAIR is here to help.  We can support you in determining the product and options that will work best for you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com

Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Upgrade Blowoff Applications with Engineered Products to Increase Safety and Efficiency

At EXAIR, it’s our business to make sure that you get the most out of your compressed air system.  We’ve got a Six Step plan to help you do just that, and one of those steps is the topic of today’s blog:

We have a couple of ways to help with step #1.  You can use a Digital Flowmeter to measure your total compressed air usage, and take advantage of our Efficiency Lab service to determine the consumption of individual compressed air devices that may be running up the total.  Based on our performance tests of those devices, we can recommend suitable EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products to replace them with, along with the expected reductions in air consumption & noise levels…quieter is always better too.

We’re going to skip right over Step #2…just for now…but if you can’t wait, click on the picture above for more on finding & fixing leaks.

Once you get our recommended replacements in (I mean, why wouldn’t you?), they’re going to be part of your compressed air system, so naturally, we want to make sure you get the most out of them as well.  Key considerations are suitable supply lines, and proper installation.

In the case of a Super Air Nozzle or Air Jet, these are oftentimes one and the same.  They’re all small enough, and lightweight enough, to be adequately supported by compressed air piping (assuming the piping is adequately supported,) metal tubing (via a compression fitting adapter,) or even mounting solutions like our Stay Set Hoses.

Just a few ideas for installing an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle

Sometimes, though, you need a firm, vibration-resistant mounting…that’s where we recommend our Swivel Fittings.  A hex retainer tightly locks the ball in position, but allows for easy repositioning when loosened.  They come in standard NPT sizes from 1″ NPT down to 1/8″ NPT, and we even have them for the M4, M5, and M6 metric threads for our Atto, Pico, and Nano Super Air Nozzles.

Typical threaded fittings are limited in the angles you can achieve. EXAIR Swivel Fittings provide 50° of adjustability.

Even a highly efficient blow off needs to be aimed well in order to do its job well.  If you’d like to discuss how to get the most out of your compressed air system – or our products – give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air Flow Meter With Wireless Capability Makes Monitoring Demand Easy

Would you like the ability to monitor your plants compressed air usage from one convenient location?  If the answer is yes, EXAIR has just the solution to fit your needs, EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meter with Wireless Capability.

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Wireless capability is an option for EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter’s.  It is the efficient way to monitor your compressed air consumption wirelessly utilizing the ZigBee® mesh network.  This is accomplished by a module located within the meter that transmits data to an ethernet connected gateway.  Each meter has a range up to 100 feet (30 meters), however the ZigBee mesh network protocol is very versatile as it allows data to also be transmitted from meter to meter, effectively extending the distance over which the system can operate.  So large facilities with great distances to cover are not a problem.

The Digital Flowmeter with Wireless Capability is offered in a kit with a wireless output flow meter, wireless to ethernet gateway, drill guide, power supplies for each component, and ethernet cable for gateway connectivity.  These kits are best suited for new installations.  They are also available without a gateway if you are simply adding an additional meter to a pre-existing Gateway in your plant.  EXAIR simplifies this process by configuring each gateway to communicate with the flowmeter to provide the necessary communication for monitoring your system.  Models from 1/2″ to 4″  iron pipe are in stock. 5″, 6″ iron pipe,  copper pipe ranging from 3/4″ to 4″ diameter and aluminum pipe from 25mm to 101mm diameter are available with short lead time as a special product offering.  Each digital flowmeter is calibrated for the pipe size to which it is mounted and the large digital display shows air use in either SCFM or Cubic Meters per Hour.

Digital Flow Meter Kit
Digital Flowmeter w/ Wireless Capability, Gateway, and Drill Guide Kit

Setting up the EXAIR Digital Flow Meter with Wireless Capability is super easy.  After the meter is installed download the graphing software from our website and install on your computer.  There is also a video tutorial posted in the previous blog from Tyler Daniel, Video Blog: EXAIR’s New Wireless Digital Flowmeter Installation.

The Digital Flowmeter with Wireless Capability is designed for permanent or temporary mounting to the pipe.  It requires the user to drill two small holes through the pipe using the optional drill guide which includes the drill bit and locating fixture.  The two flow sensing probes of the flowmeter are inserted into these holes.  The unit seals to the pipe once the clamps are tightened.  No cutting, welding, adjustments or calibration are needed, ever!  If the unit needs to be removed, blocking rings are available for the 1/2″ to 4″  iron pipe sizes from stock with other sizes available on short lead time as special orders.

If you have questions on Digital Flowmeter’s, Digital Flowmeter’s with Wireless Capability or need expert advice on safe, quiet and efficient point of use compressed air products give us a call.   We would enjoy hearing from you!

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Video Blog: Customizing The Display on Your Digital Flowmeter

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EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeters are the easy way for you to monitor your compressed air consumption and waste. They provide a digital readout of the compressed air being used, allowing you to identify costly leaks or inefficient air products throughout the plant. They’re available from stock in sizes ranging from 1/2″-4″ for use with Schedule 40 iron pipe. Additional sizes and pipe materials are available as well, contact the factory for assistance in these applications.

The display on the Digital Flowmeter can be customized to show different values, units of measure, default display setting, resolution, etc. Check out the video below to see which settings are available and how you can adjust the display on your Digital Flowmeter.

 

If you have any questions give us a call, start an online chat from our website or send us an e-mail.

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

 

Ultrasonic Leak Detector: Because Leaks Won’t Find (Or Fix) Themselves

I once worked in an equipment repair shop with a small and simple compressed air system…just a 5HP single acting piston compressor that sat atop a 50 gallon tank, in the corner by “The Big Truck”. The majority of our work was field service, and management was big on maintaining our service trucks, so we checked tire pressures every Monday morning as we rolled out, and kept a tire chuck handy to ensure proper inflation. It was also used to supply a couple of air guns that were used at our drill press and soldering/assembly station. One morning, I noticed the air compressor was running when I arrived…I thought it was odd, because I knew for a fact it hadn’t been used in at least 16 hours, but that compressed air went someplace, right? We had a leak. Well, at least one.

This was mid-December, and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was characteristically slow, and typically devoted to a thorough shop cleaning. We also took the opportunity to get some bottles of soapy water and check for leaks at the handful of pipe fittings that comprised the system…for the uninitiated, if you have a leaky fitting, the escaping air blows bubbles in the soapy water (a cheap, messy way in other words). We found some bubbling, undid those fittings, cleaned them, and applied fresh pipe thread sealant (I don’t want to start any arguments, but I was taught that tape is more of a thread protectant than an effective sealing agent) and, in addition to replacing a couple of well-worn hoses, we were up and running.  And we never heard the compressor running first thing in the morning again.

Not all compressed air systems are as simple as that, though.  Many go from a room with several large & sophisticated air compressors, to corners of every building on the grounds.  Through valves & manifolds, to cylinders, machinery and blow offs, with more connections than you could soap-and-water check in a month.

In those cases, the EXAIR Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector makes short(er) work of finding the leaks.  With both visual (LED’s on the face) and audible (headphones) indications, even very small leaks are easy to detect with the parabola installed.  The precise location can then be found with the tubular extension.

EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector “hones in” on the exact location of a leak in a compressed air line.

You’ll still have to fix the leaks yourself, but finding them is oftentimes more than half the battle.  And, once fixed, it can be worth a million (cubic feet of compressed air, that is.)

EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detectors are not only useful for finding compressed air leaks; they’re popular in a variety of other areas:

Additionally, they can be used to identify faulty bearings, brake systems, tire & tube leaks, engine seals, radiators, electrical relay arcing…anything that generates an ultrasonic sound wave.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Cleaning Glass After a Cutting Machine, Super Air Knives to the Rescue

Glass cutting machine

A glass cutting facility was having issues with small shards of glass leaving the cutting machine.  After scribing and breaking individual panes, small pieces of glass would come apart from the edges of the glass.  These glass fragments would go downstream causing cuts on transport wheels as well as creating blemishes in the surface of the glass.  They needed a non-contact way to clean the glass as the panes left the cutting machine.

Their operation started with a 156” (3.96m) wide sheet of glass placed at the front of the cutting machine.  The glass was moved into the machine where it would scribe different dimensions and sizes to minimize any scrap.  As the machine was scribing, a protective separator would close off the cutting machine to protect the operators.  Once finished, the protective separator would open, allowing the glass sheet to exit on the other side of the machine.  As the glass was coming out, a break device would “crack” the glass panes on the scribed lines.  They wanted to clean the surface as the glass sheet was coming out to keep the fragments in the machine.

EXAIR Super Air Knife model 1100108

EXAIR has always been the leader in manufacturing the longest air knives in the industry.  The EXAIR Super Air Knives can be manufactured up to 108” (2.74m) long in one continuous length.  But, for this application, we had to tackle it in a different manner to reach across the entire width of 156” (3.96m).  EXAIR had a solution, the model 110900 Coupling Bracket Kit.  This can combine aluminum Super Air Knives for additional length.  It has all the hardware to securely attach the Super Air Knives end-to-end to get a continuous air flow along the entire length.  With the Coupling Bracket Kit, I recommended a model 110072, 72” (1.83m) long aluminum Super Air Knife with a model 110084, 84” (2.13m) aluminum Super Air Knife.  The customer was now able to clean the entire section of glass just in front of the exit of the cutting machine.  With the air knives directed to blow at a slight angle in the counter-flow direction, this non-contact form of cleaning was able to keep the shards inside the machine without scratching the surfaces.

Air Knife Coupling Bracket Kit

The Super Air Knives are designed to be the most efficient air knives in the market place.  It has a 40:1 amplification ratio which entrains 40 parts of ambient air to every 1 part of compressed air.  So, it will save you compressed air which in turn, will save you money.  Here at EXAIR, we like to go one step further for our customers.  EXAIR offers an Optimization product line to save the customer even more money, to reduce even more waste, and to become even more energy efficient.  For this customer above, I recommended an Electronic Flow Control, EFC.  This uses a photoelectric sensor to turn on a system only when compressed air is needed.  It is a small PLC unit with a timer control.  I recommended the model 9064-2 which has two solenoid valves to operate each Super Air Knife.  The photoelectric sensor can be adjusted for light and dark object, but for glass, we had to look for an alternative way.  I was able to have the customer place it on the protective separator.  Now, the Super Air Knives will remain turned off until after the scribing was completed. When the separator moved up, it would trigger the timing operation of the EFC.  By adding the EFC to their system, they were able to reduce the amount of compressed air by one-half.

click on picture for mor information

If you have a wide area that needs to be blown off, cooled, or dried; EXAIR may have a solution for you.  For the customer above, EXAIR was able to combine Super Air Knives with optimization for an efficient and effective way to clean a wide surface.  If you would like to discuss a solution for your “wide” application, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to discuss.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb