Back To The Basics: Process Improvement Basics

We understand that it is more important than ever to realize savings within manufacturing processes. EXAIR can reduce compressed air consumption and provide simple ROI in a matter of weeks in MANY cases.

In the hustle and bustle of the daily grind wherever you are, there are certain processes that become muscle memory for you and certain processes that just work and don’t need any attention. Whether it be a login process for your computer network, the number of steps it takes to fill your coffee cup, or the compressed air applications in your facility.

You know what I am talking about, these items begin to get glanced over and often become overlooked. When going through process improvements or troubleshooting, it is easy to overlook processes which are not causing trouble or that have become “acceptable” because they are producing. EXAIR firmly believes compressed air applications are ripe for improvement, and our product lines are built to replace inefficient compressed air products with engineered and efficient solutions.

When evaluating a process for improvement creating a baseline is the necessary start. With this, we can then start to draw a realistic target of where the process needs to be in order to be optimized and document the changes from our starting baseline.

Much like the 6 Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, which starts with measuring compressed air consumption to provide a baseline.  Sometimes, this may require the installation of a Digital Flowmeter, others it may include taking advantage of our Efficiency Lab service for us to get a baseline of what air consumption and other key performance indicators are for your application.

Looking to “go green?” We can help.

Once we have the baseline and a target, we can then begin to design an improvement process. Whether this is implementing better controls for the air, such as pressure regulators, or implementing controllers such as the Electronic Flow Control, it may even be simply installing an engineered solution.  Once an improvement has been implemented we can then go on to the next testing phase to again gather data to see how much air was saved from the baseline.

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

Once the performance of the new process is determined then we can take the new cost of ownership numbers and give a simple return on investment back to determine what the actual savings by implementing these process improvements have amounted to.

The below example is from a customer who had already improved their static elimination application by using our Super Ion Air Knife instead of a homemade pipe with drilled holes. They further optimized the application with our Electronic Flow Control.

If you would like to talk through methods for process improvement or how we can help you determine these costs, please reach out.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer


Standard Air Knife – 24 Years in an Application and Counting

“I’ve  been using your Model # 2018SS 18″ Stainless Steel Standard Air Knife since 1992 and it’s STILL working great!”. This was the first thing a customer told me last week when we began our conversation. Of course we really appreciate hearing about success stories like this as it just further demonstrates our commitment to provide top quality, energy efficient, compressed air operated products.

Std Air Knife
Standard Air Knife – available in lengths from 3″ up to 48″ in aluminum and 303ss construction.


The next part of the conversation was a subject we don’t necessarily like hearing, as the customer was thinking of replacing our unit with a blower driven air knife due to the concern of the amount of compressed air usage and resulting energy costs.  They initially inquired about using the blower to supply our unit but all of our products require high pressure, compressed air to operate and wouldn’t run on a blower type system. They are using the Standard Air Knives on their extrusion operation where they have a unit mounted above and below the part as it exits the machine, to remove the remaining moisture from the part.

I explained that blower systems may seem like a more economical choice due to the lower energy demand compared to a compressor, but in actuality, they require a lot of maintenance hours in the form of replacing bearings, belts, filters, etc. Some of these repairs can’t be performed at the site and require the unit to be taken offline and sent back to the manufacturer for refurbishment, resulting in costly downtime. In addition, these type of systems require a large footprint for installation and large duct for the airflow.

EXAIR actually performed a comparison test putting our 24″ Super Air Knife up against common blowoffs in the form of drilled pipe, a manifold of inefficient flat nozzles and a blower driven air knife. Please note, the Super Air Knife is more efficient than the Standard Air Knife that the customer is using, but as you will see in the chart below, the minimal increase in compressed air requirement for the Standard Air Knife would be quickly offset by the overall bottom line.

Air Knife Blowoff Comparison

While the annual electrical/energy cost was higher for the Super Air Knife, the initial purchase price and annual maintenance costs were significantly lower, making the 1st year of ownership over 3.5 times less than that of the blower driven unit. Also, with the design of our Air Knives entraining large volumes of surrounding air, wind shear is reduced, which decreases the noise level generated. As a result, our units are going to produce sound levels well below the allowable noise exposure levels set forth by OSHA Standard 29 CFR – 1910.95(a) when compared to other devices.

After explaining this information to the customer, they are going to re-evaluate their requirements. As the customer put it, “it is kind of hard to argue against 24 years of successful operation with your product”. I would tend to agree!

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer

Save Money By Not Using A Thermostat? Well…

I’m going to let the cat out of the bag right now and tell you that a Cabinet Cooler System with Thermostat Control costs more to purchase than one without.  So yes, by passing on the Thermostat Control, you WILL save money on the purchase.  But that may be your ONLY realization of any money saved.  Let’s consider:

Recently, a customer submitted a Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide – our simple guide for gathering key pieces of information about the state of customer’s enclosures. An EXAIR Application Engineer can quickly & accurately calculate the actual heat load of an electrical enclosure, and specify the appropriate Cabinet Cooler System, when given the information.

You can submit your data via email or fax, or you can call an EXAIR Application Engineer for immediate assistance.
You can submit your data via email or fax, or you can call an EXAIR Application Engineer for immediate assistance.

I calculated the total heat load of their enclosure to be 2,200 Btu/hr, so I specified a Model 4340 NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler System rated for 2,800 Btu/hr, with Thermostat Control.  At this point, we’re occasionally asked about the down-side of not using a Thermostat.

The calculated heat load of 2,200 Btu/hr is 78.5% of the Model 4340’s 2,800 Btu/hr cooling capacity.  That means, theoretically, the Thermostat Control will turn off the compressed air supply 21.5% of the time:

40 SCF x 60 min x 8 hr x 5 days x 52 weeks x 21.50% = 1,073,280 SCF
min hr day week year year

At EXAIR, we know, first hand, the benefit of saving a million Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air.  We use a general thumbrule which holds that 1,000 SCF of compressed air costs $0.25 to generate.  So here it is, in dollars and cents:

1,073,280 SCF x $0.25 = $268.32 annual savings
year 1,000 SCF

In this example, the Thermostat Control will pay for itself within the first year.

Summer is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere.  If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems can protect your electrical and electronic components from heat damage, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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