Controlling Compressed Air can be Easy, and Save Thousands of Dollars

The history of automated controls can be traced back to inventors in ancient Greece & Egypt, who sought ways to keep more accurate track of time than afforded by sundials and hourglasses.  Their efforts, dating as far back as 300BC, produced devices actuated by water flow, which is actually quite reliable and repeatable: a set amount of water will flow via gravity through a fixed conduit in the exact same amount of time, every time.  These were in fairly common use until the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century.

The Industrial Revolution grew the need for automated processes exponentially…the need to control objects or tooling in motion, fluid flow, temperature, and pressure, just to name a few.  As time passed, the sky was literally the limit: modern aircraft & spacecraft rely on a staggering amount of automated processes from production to operation.

All throughout history, though, the benefits of automation remain the same: making processes more efficient.  That’s where the EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control comes in, for automating processes involving compressed air use, by turning air flow off when it’s not needed.  In fact, not only do they provide simple on/off control to blow only when a part is “seen” by the photoelectric sensor, there are eight distinct modes to incorporate delay on or off, flicker on or off, signal on/off delay, interval, or “One-Shot,” where the sensor detects the part, delays opening the valve per the timer setting, and blows for one second.

EFC Electronic Flow Control Systems are already assembled & wired for quick & easy installation.

The EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control is a true “plug and play” solution for automating a compressed air application.  Mount the sensor, plumb the valve, plug it in, and you’re ready to go.  There’s no complicated PLC wiring or programming, although the aforementioned mode selections do offer a great deal of flexibility other than “on when the sensor sees it; off when it doesn’t” operation, if desired.  Here are some prime examples of that flexibility, and the monetary benefits due to the compressed air consumption savings:

(Left) On/Off Delay setting used in tank refurbishment application to operate a “halo” of Super Air Knives for blow off as tanks exit oven where old paint is burnt off – $3,393 annual air savings. (Center) Interval setting actuates a Super Ion Air Knife for flat panel display dust blow off/static elimination – $2,045 annual air savings. (Right) Interval setting actuates a “halo” of Super Ion Air Knives to clean & remove static charge from plastic automotive bumper covers prior to painting – $5012 annual savings.

If you’d like to find out more about the EFC Electronic Flow Control can save you time, air, and money, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Products in Construction Industry: Super Air Knife Helps Steel Door Drying

A manufacturer of both residential and commercial steel doors used in the construction industry recently contacted me for help with an application in their manufacturing process. They make a wide variety of exterior and interior doors as well as some custom doors that are sold to builders across the country.

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The raw material for the doors is formed, assembled, and welded together before it is then taken to a finishing step that involves grinding down the welds and sanding any rough spots on the door down to a smooth finish. This smooth finish creates a clean look and also helps with the application of paint at the end of the process.

After finishing, the doors are hung on an overhead conveyor where they pass through a machine that cleans off all of the surfaces and remain hanging until they dry. This air drying prevented them from continuously operating as they’d have to wait at least 10 minutes until the doors dried before they could apply any paint. In the summer, humid conditions in their plant further increased the time the doors took to air dry.

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Super Air Knife w/ Plumbing Kit Installed

Rather than waiting to dry, they wanted to blow off any remaining water from both sides of the door just after the washing operation. The solution was to install (2) Model 110048PKI Super Air Knives on either side of the door to blow off residual water as it moved along the conveyor. Since the spacing in between doors was 12’, they didn’t want to have to operate the knives continuously and waste unnecessary compressed air.

With the doors traveling slowly at about 30 ft/min and a significant space in between them, they also went with a Model 9064 Electronic Flow Controller to keep the air on only when necessary. A standard door height is just under 7′. At the speed they were traveling, it would take roughly 14 seconds for each door to pass through the flow of the knives while 24 seconds pass with no door.

With a minimum 10 minute dry time without the Super Air Knives, the overall drying time was reduced to 38 seconds. That’s a 93.6% improvement in the overall time of their drying process! By improving the drying process, they were able to increase their production to 100 doors per 8-hr shift.

(2) 48″ Super Air Knives operating continuously at 80 PSIG would require 278.4 SCFM of compressed air. The average cost of compressed air is $0.25/1000 SCF. So what did this cost when operating continuously with a 38 second blowoff time?

0.633 min x 278.4 SCFM = 176 SCF/door

176 SCF x 100 doors per shift = 17,600 SCF

17600 SCF x ($0.25/ 1000 SCF) = $4.40/ 8 hr shift

Over the course of a year that equates to $1,144 in operating costs. With the EFC implemented, the blowoff time was reduced to just 14 seconds per door.

0.233 min x 278.4 SCFM = 65 SCF/door

65 SCF x 100 doors per shift = 6500 SCF

6500 SCF x ($0.25/1000 SCF) = $1.63/ 8 hr shift

Not only were they able to increase their production rate by implementing the Super Air Knife, but by taking it one step further with the EFC they reduced the overall operating costs for a full year to just $423.80.

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If you have a similar application in the construction industry and would like to speak to an Application Engineer please give us a call!

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

Door photo courtesy of ErikaWittlieb via Pixabay

EXAIR’s Long Super Air Knives Dry Auto Bodies

I was recently contacted by an automobile manufacturer that was looking for a quote for a system of Super Air Knives for a current process they were replicating at a new facility. The customer had an existing application where they’re using the Super Air Knife to dry the body of the car after a washing operation and before it enters into an oven. Any large water droplets remaining when the body enters the oven cause water spots that must then be cleaned off, adding an additional step in their process.

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The solution was working well to dry the bodies, they just needed a quote so that they could implement the very same process in the new plant. As this was an installation that had been in place for many years, they had an older style of Long Super Air Knife that consisted of two shorter knives coupled together. In 2014, EXAIR began manufacturing our Long Super Air Knives in one single piece (available from stock up to 108”!!).

So, now, rather than having two individually coupled knives they could order (1) single 84” knife with a consistent flow all the way across and no dead spots. They ordered one for the top, one for each side and replicated the already successful application.

EXAIR’s industry leading Super Air Knife dramatically reduces compressed air usage and noise when compared to other blowoff methods. The Super Air Knife is available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and in Aluminum, 303 Stainless Steel, 316 Stainless Steel, and PVDF for corrosive applications. Even at high pressures of 80 psig, the Super Air Knife is able to maintain a sound level of just 69 dBA for most applications! Air is entrained from the ambient environment at a rate of 40:1, maximizing the force and flow from the Super Air Knife. In addition, these knives meet or exceed OSHA maximum dead-end pressure and noise requirements.

Adjustability of both the force and flow from the Super Air Knife is infinitely adjustable. Right out of the box from the factory the Super Air Knife comes stock with a .002” thick shim installed. This sets the gap between the body and cap of the knife and determines how much compressed air can flow through the precise, slotted orifice.

An accessory that EXAIR has available for the Super Air Knife is the shim set. For the aluminum knives, a .001”, .003”, and .004” plastic shims come in the shim set. To reduce the flow and force, a .001” can be used. If more force is required, a thicker shim can be installed. For the stainless steel and PVDF knives, (3) .002” shims are included in the set. Stainless steel shims for the stainless knives and a PTFE shim for the PVDF. These, as well as the plastic shims, can be stacked on top of one another to create an even larger gap. One thing that is important to keep in mind however, the larger the air gap the greater the air consumption. Installing a .004” shim in a Super Air Knife will double the force, flow, and consumption of the knife when compared to the stock .002” shim.

If you have a new application (or need to replicate an existing one) for the Super Air Knife, don’t hesitate to reach out to an EXAIR Application Engineer for assistance. With a highly-trained team coming from multiple different industry backgrounds, we’re ready to help.

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

What’s So Great About Air Entrainment?

Air entrainment is the phenomenon that occurs when air (or any gas) under pressure is released from a device in such a way that a low pressure is generated in the immediate area of the air (or gas) discharge.  Air (or gas) from the surrounding environment is then pulled (or entrained) into the discharged air stream, increasing its volumetric flow rate.  EXAIR Corporation has been engineering & manufacturing compressed air products to take maximum advantage of this phenomena since 1983…and we’ve gotten better & better at it over the past 36 years.

Obviously, the first thing that’s so great about air entrainment is…free air flow.  Every cubic foot that’s entrained means that’s a cubic foot that your compressor didn’t have to spend energy compressing.  Considering the EXAIR Super Air Knife’s entrainment ratio of 40:1, that makes for a VERY efficient use of your compressed air.

Another thing that’s so great about air entrainment is…it’s quiet.  As you can see from the graphic at the top of this blog, the Super Air Knife entrains air (the lighter, curved blue arrows) into the primary compressed air stream (the darker, straight blue arrows) from above and below.  The outer layers of the total developed flow are lower in velocity, and serve as a sound-attenuating boundary layer.  The sound level of a Super Air Knife (any length…here’s why) is only 69dBA.  That means if you’re talking with someone and a Super Air Knife is running right next to you, you can still use your “inside voice” and continue your conversation, unaffected by the sound of the air flow.

I always thought it would be helpful to have more than just a graphic with blue arrows to show the effect & magnitude of air entrainment.  A while back, I accidentally stumbled across a stunning visual depiction of just that, using a Super Air Knife.  I had the pleasure of talking with a caller about how effective a Super Air Knife might be in blowing light gauge paperboard pieces.  So I set one up in the EXAIR Demo Room, blowing straight upwards, and tossed paper plates into the air flow.  It worked just as expected, until one of the paper plates got a little closer to the Super Air Knife than I had planned:

As you can see, the tremendous amount of air flow being entrained…from both sides…was sufficient to pull in lightweight objects and ‘stick’ them to the surface that the entrained air was being drawn past.  While it doesn’t empirically prove the 40:1 ratio, it indisputably demonstrates that an awful lot of air is moving there.

If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, and OSHA compliant solution for cleaning, blow off, drying, cooling…anything you need an even, consistent curtain of air flow for – look no further than the EXAIR Super Air Knife.  If you’d like to discuss a particular application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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