Chip Shields, OSHA, And You

Safety is a key part of our culture at EXAIR Corporation.  We have regularly scheduled, all-hands required, safety training on a number of topics.  Our Order Entry team can likely tell you as much about our lockout/tagout procedures as our Machinists can.  Nobody even thinks about entering The Shop without safety glasses, and it’s not just because of the signs.

We pay attention to these…
…so we don’t ever have to use this.

OSHA 1910.242(b) states that “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. (emphasis mine)  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to meet the requirements of the first part (30psi outlet pressure to prevent dead ending…we’ve written about that numerous times, including here, here, and here) and we can also provide pre-installed devices to satisfy the second part:  the EXAIR Chip Shield.

Any EXAIR VariBlast or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun can come fitted with a Chip Shield, and any Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, except for those with Stay Set Hoses, can as well.  Safety Air Guns with Back Blow Nozzles automatically come with a Chip Shield. The principle is simple: a clear polycarbonate (so you can still see what you’re doing) round disc slips over a short (or long if you want) pipe extension between the gun & the nozzle.  It’s fitted with a rubber grommet so you can position it to where it’s most effective – sometimes that might be closer to the part being blown off; sometimes it may be back a little closer to the operator.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

If you already have an air gun that’s doing the job, you can easily add an EXAIR Chip Shield to it.  They’re made to fit a wide range of extension diameters, and can even come with the extension if you need it.  We also stock a number of adapter fittings; if you know what threads your air gun has (or if you can send us some photos) we can quickly & easily spec those out for you.

Convenient and inexpensive “thumb guns” with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.
We can provide a Chip Shield for most any device with a threaded fitting. I couldn’t find a way to re-use the non-OSHA-compliant nozzle that came with this gun (thank goodness.)
Another example of a larger air gun fitted with a more powerful cross drill nozzle (left) that can be made totally OSHA compliant with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center.) An EXAIR High Force Super Air Nozzle (right) keeps the power, while reducing noise level and compressed air consumption (right.)

Since 1983, EXAIR Corporation has been manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry (emphasis mine.)  If you have concerns or questions about safety in regard to your compressed air use, call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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A Brief History of Compressed Air

So where exactly did compressed air come from? How did it become so widely used and where will it go? Both of these are great questions and the answers lie below.

Compressed air can be traced all the way back to the classic bellows that were used to fuel blacksmith fires and forges.  These started as hand pumped bellows, they then scaled up to foot pumped, multiple person pumped, oxen or horse driven and then eventually waterwheel driven.  All of these methods came about due to the demand for more and more compressed air. These bellows did not generate near the amount of air pressure or volume needed for modern day practices yet they worked in the times.  These early bellows pumps would even supply miners with air.

With the evolution of metallurgy and industry these bellows were replaced by wheel driven fans, then steam came about and began generating more industrial sources of power.  The main issue with steam was that it would lose its power over longer runs of pipe due to condensing in the pipes.  Thus the birth of the air compressor was born. One of the largest projects that is noted to first use compressed air was in 1861 during the build of the Mont Cenis Tunnel in Switzerland in which they used compressed air machinery.  From here the constant need and evolution for on-demand compressed air expanded.  The picture below showcases two air compressors from 1896.

compressed_air_28189629_281459402261829
Air Compressors from the old days.

The compressors evolved over time from single stage, to two-stage reciprocating, on to compound, rotary-screw compressors, rotary vane, scroll, turbo, and centrifugal compressors with variable frequency drives.  The efficiency of each evolution has continued to increase.  More output for the same amount of input.  Now we see a two-stage compressor, considered old technology, and wonder how the company can get any work done.

All of the technological advances in compressor technology were driven by the demand sides of the compressed air systems.  Companies needed to power more, go further, get more from less, ultimately increase production.  With this constant increase in demand, the supply of compressed air increased and more efficient products for using compressed air began to evolve so the air was used more efficiently.

Enter EXAIR, we evolved the blowoff to meet the increasing demands of industrial companies to get the same amount of work done with less compressed air. We have continually evolved our product offering since 1983.  It all started with just a few typed pages of part numbers and has evolved to a 208 page catalog offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® for industry.  We will also continue to evolve our product designs for continued improvement of compressed air usage.  This is all to better help companies retain their resources.

cat32_500p
EXAIR Catalog 32

If your company uses compressed air and you aren’t sure if it is efficiently being utilized, contact an Application Engineer.  Thanks for joining us for the brief history lesson, we look forward to hearing from you and seeing what the future brings.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_BF BrianFarno@EXAIR.com

 

Compressed air (1896) (14594022618).jpg – Wikimedia Commons – Internet Archive Book Images – Link

 

Save Thousands of Dollars – Just Like You Did When Upgrading Your Light Bulbs

lightbulb-1875247_1920

The cheapest and easiest solution isn’t always necessarily the best. The best example I like to use to highlight this is the incandescent light bulb. They’re definitely the cheapest to buy, but over the useful life it will cost more in electricity to operate and it won’t last nearly as long as an LED light bulb. When you compare the costs of electricity as well as the lifespan of an incandescent bulb, it becomes quite clear that the initial price difference between the two will be quickly recouped over the lifetime of the LED bulb. Once it pays for itself, it doesn’t just stop saving you electricity. These savings continue to compound.

The same can be said when comparing the Super Air Knife to a commonly seen homemade alternative, drilled pipe. While it only takes a matter of minutes to drill a few holes into a section of pipe, the operating costs (electricity required to generate the compressed air) are significantly higher than that of the Super Air Knife. In addition, it’s not nearly as effective and is considered unsafe under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.242 (b) and depending on operating pressure is likely also considered dangerous due to the high sound levels as outlined in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

Air exiting out of drilled holes in a pipe will create a turbulent airstream. This turbulence not only contributes to the high sound level but it’s ability to entrain surrounding ambient air is minuscule. The air entrainment ratio of a compressed air solution refers to the relationship between supplied compressed air and the free ambient air that is brought into the primary airstream. The higher the amplification ratio, the less compressed air necessary to complete a similar task. For a drilled pipe, the amplification ratio is generally around 3:1. With the Super Air Knife, this is dramatically increased with an amplification ratio of 40:1.

SAK vs drilled pipe

The Super Air Knife has a precisely set air gap across the full length of the knife, allowing for an efficient and quiet laminar airstream. When compared to a drilled pipe, the air consumption is dramatically reduced as is the sound level. For example, let’s take an 18” section of drilled pipe, with 1/16” diameter holes spaced out every ½”. At 80 PSIG, each hole consumes 3.8 SCFM. With a total of 37 holes, this equates to a total of 140.6 SCFM.

3.8 SCFM x 37 = 140.6 SCFM

A Super Air Knife, operated at 80 PSIG with .002” stock shim installed will consume a total of 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife. An 18” SAK would then consume just 52.2 SCFM.

2.9 SCFM x 18 = 52.2 SCFM

140.6 SCFM – 52.2 SCFM = 88.4 SCFM saved 

Replacing an 18” drilled pipe with a Super Air Knife represents a total reduction in compressed air consumption of 63%! How much does this equate to in $$$? A reasonable average of cost to generate compressed air is about $0.25/ 1000 SCF. Let’s assume just a 40hr workweek:

88.4 SCFM x 60 mins x $0.25/1000 SCF = $1.33/hr

$1.33 x 40hr workweek = $53.20 USD

$53.20 x 52 weeks/year = $2,766.40 USD in yearly savings

The 2019 list price on a Model 110018 Super Air Knife is $397.00. By replacing the homemade solution with an 18” Super Air Knife, the return on investment is just over 38 working days of an 8-hr shift. If your plant runs multiple shifts, or works on weekends, it pays for itself even quicker.

 

exairsak_colormedia_600x

Once the knife has paid for itself, it doesn’t just simply stop saving you money. That savings continues to compound and add to your bottom line. Don’t waste unnecessary air (and money) by using solutions that aren’t engineered to do the job in a safe and efficient manner. Reach out to an Application Engineer and get yourself an Intelligent Compressed Air Product that’s Built to Last.

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

Light bulb photo courtesy of Pixabay.

EXAIR Standard Air Knife: Engineered For Performance

In 1983, EXAIR Corporation was founded with the goal of engineering & manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  By 1988, the EXAIR-Knife (now known as the Standard Air Knife) was quickly becoming the preferred choice for replacing loud and inefficient drilled pipes, long nozzle manifolds…anywhere an even, high velocity curtain of air was required.

The EXAIR Standard Air Knife’s design takes advantage of a fascinating principle of fluidics to achieve quiet and efficient operation: the Coanda Effect, which is the tendency of a fluid jet to stay attached to a convex surface.  If you want to see it for yourself, hold the back of a spoon, handle up, under the kitchen faucet.  Those who haven’t seen it before may assume that gravity will take over and the water will fall from the bottom of the spoon’s ‘bowl’ – but it doesn’t:

Likewise, the air flow (which is just another example of a fluid jet) exiting the Standard Air Knife’s shim gap follows a convex surface (which we call the “Coanda profile”) causing it to entrain large amounts of air from the surrounding environment:

Compressed air flows through the inlet (1) to the Standard Air Knife, into the internal plenum. It then discharges through a thin gap (2), adhering to the Coanda profile (3) which directs it down the face of the Air Knife. The precision engineered & finished surfaces optimize entrainment of air (4) from the surrounding environment.

This entrainment does two things for us:

  • First, because we’ve engineered the design for maximum entrainment, it’s very efficient – creating a high flow rate, while minimizing air consumption.  In the case of the Standard Air Knife, the entrainment ratio is 30:1.
  • Secondly, this entrainment forms an attenuating boundary layer for the air flow, resulting in a high velocity, high volume airflow that is also incredibly quiet.

The EXAIR Standard Air Knife comes in lengths from 3″ to 48″, and in aluminum or 303SS construction.  All sizes, in both materials, are on the shelf and available for immediate shipment.  For most applications, we recommend the Kit, which includes a Shim Set (to make gross changes to flow & force,) an Automatic Drain Filter Separator (keeps the air clean & moisture free,) and a Pressure Regulator (to dial in the performance.)  Deluxe Kits add our Universal Air Knife Mounting System and EFC Electronic Flow Control.

(From left to right) Aluminum Standard Air Knife Kit, SS Standard Air Knife Kit, Deluxe Aluminum Standard Air Knife Kit, Deluxe SS Standard Air Knife Kit.

If you need a hard hitting curtain of air for blow off, drying, cleaning, cooling, environmental separation, etc., the EXAIR Standard Air Knife is an easy and economical solution.  If you’d like to discuss your application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air Operated Conveyors for a Multitude of Jobs

With 119 distinct Models, EXAIR Line Vacs are used to convey everything from down feather to steel shot.  They’re versatile, reliable, durable, and incredibly easy to install and operate. Most applications can be completed using one of our many stock Line Vacs. Additional applications include part transfer, waste or trim removal, hopper loading, filling operations, chip removal and fiber tensioning.

line vac family
Lightweight and durable aluminum is the most popular choice, but we make them in stainless steel (Types 303 and 316) for heat and corrosion resistance. For extreme heat, the High Temperature option affords protection to 900F (482C) in either 303SS or 316SS.

They are available from 3/8″ to 5″ diameters, for use with hose, tube or pipe. Line VAcs have smooth ends for hose or tube. The threaded models use NPT threads from 3/8 NPT to 3 NPT to turn ordinary pipe into an air conveyor! They can also be bought with sanitary flange ends for easy disassembly when necessary for cleaning or maintenance.

Materials include aluminum, Type 303 and Type 316 stainless steel or a hardened steel alloy for moving abrasive materials like garnet, glass, or blasting media.

With that being said, there are always applications that need a special product. And because of that we do make “special” or custom products when the need arises.

Special PVDF Line Vac

For example this Live Vac has the sanitary flange design, but the customer needed it made from a special material so their product passing through it wouldn’t be contaminated by metal. So we did just that, we designed built and shipped this line vac and it worked amazingly well!

Accessories include the transport hose, mounting brackets, filter and regulators.  A filtering drum cover is very useful to keep material and/or dust inside, when transporting materials into a drum.

No matter what kind of bulk material you need to move, or what type of special conditions you have. EXAIR has a Line Vac product for it.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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You Don’t Need to Spend Thousands to Optimize Your Compressed Air System

There is no denying it, saving compressed air is a process.  This process often involves some type of energy audit or at the very least an evaluation of something going wrong with production and a way to improve it.  Many programs, consultants, and sales reps will devise a solution for the problem.

Often times the solution is to create a more efficient supply side of the compressed air system. The supply side is essentially everything within the compressor room or located in close proximity to the actual air compressor. While optimizing the supply side can amount to savings, many of these solutions and services can involve great expense, or capital expenditure processes.  These processes can often lead to delays and continued waste until the solution is in place.  What if there was a way to lower compressed air usage, save energy, solve some demand issues on the compressed air system and save some money while the capital expenditure process goes through for the larger scale project.

These solutions are a simple call, chat, email or even fax away. Our Application Engineers are fully equipped to help determine what points of your compressed air demand side can be optimized. The process generally starts with our Six Steps To Compressed Air Optimization.

6 Steps from Catalog

Once the points of use are evaluated the Application Engineer can give an engineered solution to provide some relief to the strain on your compressed air supply side.  For instance, an open copper pipe blow off that is commonly seen within production environments can easily be replaced with a Super Air Nozzle on the end of a Stay Set Hose that will still bend and hold position like the copper pipe does while also saving compressed air, reducing noise level, and putting some capacity back into the supply side of the compressed air system.

engineered nozzle blow offs
Engineered solutions (like EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products) are the efficient, quiet, and safe choice.

One of the key parts to the solutions that we offer here at EXAIR is they all ship same day on orders received by 3 PM ET that are shipping within the USA. To top that off the cost is generally hundreds, rather than thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. Well under any level of a capital expenditure and can generally come in as a maintenance purchase or purchased quickly through the supply cribs.  Then, to take this one step further, when the EXAIR solution shows up within days and gets installed EXAIR offers for you to send in the blow off that was replaced and receive a free report on what level of compressed air savings and performance increases you will be seeing and provide a simple ROI for that blow off (though we would also encourage a comparison before a purchase just so you have additional peace of mind).

This amounts to saving compressed air and understanding how much air is being saved, adding capacity back into your supply side which will reduce strain on the air compressor, give the ability to increase production while the capital expenditure for the end solution of controls and higher efficiency on the supply side is approved to then save even more compressed air and energy.

The point is this, savings and efficiency doesn’t have to involve a capital expenditure, if that is the end game for your project that is great! Let EXAIR provide you a solution that you can have in house by the next business day to save money NOW and then put that savings towards another project. No matter the method, it all starts with a call, chat, email or fax.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Solving Performance Issues of Air Operated Industrial Vacuums

This blog will focus on the EXAIR Chip Vac, but the troubleshooting process and steps for achieving optimal performance are consistent among EXAIR’s entire line of air operated industrial vacuums.

There’s really not that much that CAN go wrong with an EXAIR Chip Vac System. They have no moving parts to wear or electrical components to burn out. As long as they’re supplied with clean air, they’ll run darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.

Murphy’s Law, of course, is still in full force, so if something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong.  The Chip Vac is, alas, no exception.  Good news is, because of the Chip Vac‘s simplicity, troubleshooting is simple as well.  The most common problems we see with ANY of our engineered compressed air products (not just the Industrial Vacuums) are related to compressed air supply:

  • New users might not consider the air demand required by a new product, and may provide an inadequate supply line.  The Chip Vac, for example, will consume 40 SCFM @80psig for rated operation, and will need a 1/2″ (inside diameter) hose to supply that, assuming a length of no more than 20ft.  Hooking one up to a common 3/8″ hose on a 50ft reel, for example, will “starve” the Chip Vac, resulting in degraded performance.
  • Also, the preferred method of connection is a hose with threaded fittings on the ends.  A local hydraulics/pneumatics shop can likely make these, while you wait.  Push-to-connect quick connect fittings are restrictive by nature, and should be avoided.  Quarter turn claw-type fittings are great…the main drawback (which can be solved with an upstream shutoff valve) is the line has to be depressurized to make or break the connection.
  • If you absolutely want to use a push-to-connect type, you can oversize it (use one made for larger hose with, say, 3/4 NPT fittings) and use bushing/adapters to get to your actual hose size.

    If you must use quick connects, the 1/4 turn claw type (left) is the least restrictive. Push-to-connects (center) are likely to starve your product, unless you oversize them (right) like we do in our Efficiency Lab.
  • Speaking of supply issues, make sure nobody’s bumped into a valve handle & partially closed it (I have,) ignored the maintenance schedule & didn’t change a clogged filter element (I have,) or ran something into a copper line hard enough to crimp it, but not rupture it (I haven’t…that was Tim, who, aside from this incident, was really pretty good with a forklift.)

The issues above apply to not only any compressed air system, but most fluid power/fluid handling systems.  Since this blog is about Chip Vac troubleshooting, let’s move on to some specifics.  If you’re sure you’re getting proper air supply to the Chip Vac (by the way, a pressure gauge right at the inlet – like the one that comes with our Premium Chip Vac System’s air hose – will eliminate any doubt,) then let’s look at some potential issues downstream:

  • Dirt & debris can collect inside the Chip Vac itself, obstructing the outlet holes, and lowering your vacuum flow.  You can disassemble and clean it pretty easily, though.
  • The Filter Bag can get clogged, especially if you’re vacuuming up a lot of dust or powdery materials.  If this happens, turn the Chip Vac off and shake the Filter Bag to dislodge the material, allowing it to fall back into the drum where it belongs.
  • Speaking of which, if you find that, all of a sudden, the Filter Bag is clogging, remove the drum lid and check for the Silencing Hose.  This serves two functions…the first is in the name (just a little discharge hose mitigates the sound level of the Chip Vac‘s exhaust flow.)  Secondly, it directs the vacuumed material positively into the drum, limiting the amount that is “dust-storms” in the upper area of the drum, where it’s more prone to make it into the Filter Bag.
Pro tip: check for the Silencing Hose when you remove the lid to empty the drum. DON’T throw the Silencing Hose in the trash.

I’m not going to unequivocally state that this is an all-inclusive list (see “Murphy’s Law,” above,) but these are the Usual Suspects if you’re just not getting the most out of your Chip Vac.  If you ever have any questions, though, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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