EXAIR Products Are No Strangers To The Assembly Line

Although most folks think of Henry Ford as the inventor of the assembly line, there’s evidence that “division of labor” was practiced in ancient China, where metal products were mass produced by skilled workers performing a specific evolution and then passing it on to another person for the next step. In fact, Oldsmobile’s assembly line actually predates Ford’s by a few years, but a host of innovations by Henry Ford and his team of engineers reduced the assembly time of a Model T from a day and a half, to an hour and a half. Maybe that’s why he gets so much credit for it.

Through the 20th Century, technological advances continued to revolutionize the process. Automation and robotics have allowed a combination of speed & precision that would have impressed even Henry Ford. The guy was a genius, so he would have caught on pretty quick, I’m sure. If you hadn’t guessed, it, yeah; I’m a big fan.

In addition to all the technological marvels on display, our visit to The Henry Ford museum also allowed my brother and me a cool photo-op with our all-time favorite vehicle.

EXAIR products are used for a variety of applications on assembly lines…blow off, static elimination, painting/coating, and even cleanup. I had the pleasure of assisting a user with that last one recently.

Turns out, they make automobile windows, and in the process of handling the glass windows, the metal & plastic frame pieces, the rubber seals, the protective tape, etc., they end up with a LOT of scrap as these parts go down their assembly conveyor. According to this caller, it looked like “New Year’s Eve at the end of every shift” when they stopped to clean up. By installing EXAIR Model 130200 2″ Light Duty Line Vacs at strategic locations, they’re able to pick up almost all of the debris from the whole process.

EXAIR Light Duty Line Vacs come in sizes from 3/4″ to 6″ to accommodate a wide variety of conveyance needs.

If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can make an impact in your facility…safety, noise, efficiency, or otherwise…give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Keeping Sensitive Equipment Cool with an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler

The image above shows a sophisticated microscope used in a highly controlled environment to monitor living cells.  The end user of this microscope recently contacted the Application Engineering department at EXAIR in search of a method to cool the internal temperature of the microscope chamber from 22°C (72°F) to 14°C (57°F).

The small space of this application made the use of a typical refrigerant based air conditioner an impossibility.  But, near to this microscope is a source of very dry, clean, oil free compressed air – perfect for operating a Cabinet Cooler.

The internal heat load of this application was known by the end user, but the effects of external heat load on the application were still unclear.  In order to determine the full heat load of the application a Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide must be used to perform heat load calculations.  This document, once complete, allows EXAIR to determine both internal and external heat loads, which in turn allows us to determine the required Cabinet Cooler model number.

This application was served by the model 4325 Cabinet Cooler, which allowed for a cooling solution in tight spacing where a traditional air conditioning unit wouldn’t work.  The small and compact design of the Cabinet Cooler was the perfect fit for this customer and application need.  If you have an application in need of a cooling solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Camera Lens Cooling with EXAIR Vortex Tubes in a High Temperature Environment

Connection side of camera lens housing. Dimensions shown are in cm.

A customer in Russia contacted our distributor in Moscow about an application to monitor the flow of melted glass.  In their application, the end user had installed (4) camera “eyes” with thermal insulation to instantaneously measure the melted glass flow.  But, the high ambient temperatures would cause the temperature of the camera lens to slowly increase during operation, eventually resulting in an overheating condition.  This overheating condition rendered the cameras inoperable until they were cooled below a temperature of approximately 40°C (104°F).

What this end user (and application) needed was a suitable solution to cool the lens of the camera to a temperature below 40°C (104°F).  A typical refrigerant based air conditioner wouldn’t work for this application due to space and temperature constraints, as the cameras are located close to the furnace with ambient temperatures of 50°C (122°F) or higher.

What did provide a viable solution, however, were High Temperature EXAIR Vortex Tubes.  Suitable for temperatures up to 93°C (200°F), and capable of providing cooling capacities as high as 10,200 BTU/hr., these units fit the bill for this application.

Full view of the camera lens housing. The camera lens is the portion protruding from the far left of the housing.

After determining the volume of compressed air available for each camera, and after discussing the solution options and preferences with the customer, they chose (4) model BPHT3298 Vortex Tubes, using (1) Vortex Tube for each camera.  The cold air from the Vortex Tube will feed directly onto the camera lens, keeping it cool even in the hot ambient conditions.  This removes lost productivity due to machine downtime, which in turn increases output and reliability from the application process.

High Temperature Vortex Tubes provided a solution for this customer when other options were unable to deliver.  If you have a similar application or would like to discuss how an EXAIR Vortex Tube could solve an overheating problem in your application, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to help.

 

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Another Label Problem, Another Super Air Knife Solution

Last week, I used this space to brag on our Super Air Knives, and how they solve a common problem in bottling applications: label adhesion. This week, I have another opportunity to brag on the Super Air Knife. AND it’s another solution to a labeling problem.

Self-adhesive labels are commonly applied to goods are they travel on high speed conveyors. If they’re going onto a flat, smooth surface (like a box,) it’s pretty easy…they come right off a timed roller with a wheel that presses them in place. This can even work with round containers (like drums, jars, or bottles) by putting an idler on the wheel to take up the slack as it rolls over the rounded surface.

Sometimes, the label needs to go around the corner of a box. This requires the roller to turn that corner. Or two rollers to pull the old “one-two” on the label. Either way, that’s going to slow down the speed at which the conveyor can be run. And time is money.

Enter the Super Air Knife…mount it so it’s blowing at the corner. The laminar, high velocity air flow will then press the label in place on each adjacent surface.

With a laminar curtain of air traveling as fast as 13,500 feet per minute, an EXAIR Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for corner labels.

Another benefit: when supplied with clean, dry air, the Super Air Knife will run darn near indefinitely, maintenance-free. Those rollers get dirty, and the bearings will fail eventually. Same with the idlers, and they’ll need adjusted from time to time.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need for long term operation & performance.

The Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3″ to 108″ – if you’d like to discuss how these, or any of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products, can make a difference in your processes, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Removing Chips from a Plastic CNC Router

These CNC routers needed a viable solution to remove and collect plastic chips and debris created during machine operation.

Our distributor in Poland recently emailed me about an application in need of a method to collect plastic chips from the CNC router tables shown above.  These machines are used for precision cutting, but face a problem when the cutting edge of the machine comes into contact with the chips and debris created during normal use.

The end user had considered a blow off device such as a nozzle or Air Knife, but this raised concerns with material collection.  Ideally, the customer wanted to be able to capture the chips and debris for recycling.

So, we looked into a method of removing the chips with a Line Vac, conveying the debris to a stationary drum for collection and recycling.  This type of solution has proven to be effective many times in the past, as shown in the image below. A Line Vac can be mounted at the cutting head to vacuum chips and debris as they are created by the cutting process.

This Line Vac provides vacuum to a drill head to remove debris.

Using the model 6081 Line Vac we can remove the plastic debris from the plotter as it is generated, and convey it to a drum located within the workspace.  And, to facilitate collection of the plastics for recycling, we can use our model 6850 drum cover to separate the conveyed chips from the air used to move the materials.

By providing a dynamic solution for this application, the Line Vac is able to lessen the workload of machine operators, allowing them more time to perform value added tasks rather than cleaning.  And, the solution is easy to install, requires little to no maintenance, and provides instantaneous vacuum only when needed.

If you have a similar application or would like to discuss problems facing your facilities, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’re available by phone, email, and online chat.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Super Air Knives Make Beer Bottle Labels Stick; EFC Optimizes Efficiency

The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.

The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:

This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.

One of the many simple and effective ways an EXAIR Super Air Knife is commonly used.

In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.

Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.

Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.

Click here to calculate how much you can save with an EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control.

As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:

Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:

52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually.  Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*

Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles.  The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set.  But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*

*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar.  You’re welcome.

That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.

If you’d like to find out how much you can save with EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Why Measure Compressed Air Use?

Model 9097-M3 Digital Flowmeter installed on 3″ compressed air line

One of the best analogies I’ve heard to explain the importance of monitoring compressed air related to banking.  With any bank account there are deposits and withdrawals, and if withdrawals exceed deposits, problems ensue.  So, most people/businesses/institutions have systems in place to monitor their banking accounts, ensuring that there is always enough of a balance in the account to cover expenses.

The same is true for a compressed air system.  If the demand exceeds the supply, problems ensue…Lowered pressure and force from compressed air driven blow offs, irregular performance within pneumatic circuits of CNC machines, and general decline of any devices on the system all begin to occur when demand exceeds supply.  So, this begs the question of how to prevent a mismatch between compressed air demand and available supply.

Enter the Digital Flowmeter.  The entire purpose of the Digital Flowmeter is to provide a method to see (in real time or over a specific period of time) what the existing demand is within a compressed air system.  This quantifies the “withdrawal” into an output that can be compared to what is produced by the compressor, allowing for analysis and proper balance of the system.

This Digital Flowmeter allows for monitoring compressed air usage quickly and easily. The USB Data Logger installed onto this unit allows for collection of compressed air flow data.

The application photo at the top of this blog shows the DFM being installed to do just that.  This unit is being set up to use a USB Data Logger to capture compressed air flows at a customer-chosen time interval.  By monitoring their compressed air flow, this customer can optimize their compressed air system (align output of the compressor with demand of the facility), determine whether there are any leaks in the system, and determine the effectiveness of the compressed air which is being used.

It is important to remember that compressed air is the most expensive utility in any industrial facility.  Failing to monitor the system is akin to blindly writing checks on your bank account.  Proper system performance starts with proper monitoring, which the Digital Flowmeter easily provides.

If you’re interested in learning more about monitoring your compressed air system, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to discuss specifics and options available.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

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