Return On Investment: Does It Matter, And How Much?

I have a friend who participates in a process known as “extreme couponing.” She has multiple subscriptions to the Sunday edition of our major newspaper, and a couple of local papers that also have coupon inserts. When I see her at the grocery store, she’s got two 4″ binders full of baseball card holders, all stuffed with multiples of clipped coupons, organized by store aisle. The insane amount of money saved is a big factor in her being able to be a stay-at-home mother, which is something else she’s pretty good at.

If you get stuck at step one…or even two…extreme couponing may not be for you!

Now, extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. Even beginners to the process can buy a year’s worth of paper towels for next to nothing. However, that may take up so much room in their house that they need to rent a storage facility for other belongings that folks like you and me simply keep in the garage or basement. It also takes a LOT of time and effort to do it right – as well as discipline. Saving half (or more) on a truckload of stuff you don’t need (or will never use) is a waste of money, time, and space. In fact, I know people who have abandoned extreme couponing for those very reasons…the “return on investment” just isn’t there.

That’s the deal in industry too.  Anyone tasked with finding and exploiting efficiencies – or finding and eliminating inefficiencies – is going to be looking at return on investment.  Like extreme couponing, though, it has to make sense in all aspects of the operation.  For example:

*An OEM taking advantage of a quantity discount for components or subassemblies has to not only have the storage space available, but also has to consider the turnover rate…it costs money to keep product on the shelf.

*A machine shop considering a tooling upgrade has to compare the cost difference with the increased performance and/or lifespan of the “new and improved” product.  A tool that costs 10% more but lasts twice as long is probably a good deal.  A tool that costs twice as much but lasts 10% longer might not provide the “bang for the buck.”

*Any facility, before switching a service or utility provider, will “run the numbers” on promotional rates, contract terms, etc. before making a commitment.

Unlike extreme couponing, EXAIR makes it easy – and beneficial – to evaluate the return on investment:

*Our catalog (if you don’t have the latest, get it here) has complete performance & operational data on all of our products.  This is great if you know what you want it to do.

*If you’re not quite sure, our catalog also has a good number of actual application write-ups for most of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  You may be able to find something that’s similar to what you want to do, and further inform your selection from there.

*Once you’ve chosen a product, you can use the Calculator Library on our website to determine actual dollar cost savings associated with replacing a current compressed air powered device with an EXAIR product.

*Application Engineers are available to discuss your application and/or product selection via phone, email, or Live Chat.

*No matter how detailed the discussion, and how confident a plan we may make, the age-old saying about how it “looked good on paper” proves itself every now and again.  When this happens, all catalog products are covered by our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  If you’re not satisfied for any reason within 30 days of purchase, we’ll arrange return for full credit.

*Let’s assume that we’re pretty good at this (because we are) and it actually DOES work out (because it usually does) – we can calculate your new (and improved) operating costs and compare them with the cost of your previous devices.  If you don’t have the instrumentation (flow meters, sound level meters, etc.,) this is a free service we provide in our Efficiency Lab.  Send it in, and we’ll do a full performance test & issue a comprehensive report, all at no charge.  And if you qualify for a Case Study, we can even save you some money on your next order.  Contact me for more details if you’re interested.

Free testing. Verifiable data. EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Coupon Pile Stock Photos courtesy of Carol Pyles  Creative Common License

Standards, Compliance, And You. And EXAIR.

I’m pretty impressed with the number of safety features my car has. Aside from the literal lifesaving functions like seat belts and air bags, it’s got anti-lock brakes…if you’ve ever had to counter-steer out of a skid on an icy road, you will appreciate the value of this for sure.  Those are just some of the ones I’m keenly aware of – the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards comprise dozens of regulations in three categories: crash avoidance, crashworthiness, and post-crash survivability.  None of these prevent me from operating my vehicle at an unsafe rate of speed…an expensive reality that an Ohio State Highway Patrolman dutifully reminded me of last Sunday afternoon.

Likewise, there are many regulations to ensure safety and prevent hazards of all kinds in industry, administered by a host of agencies that are either subordinates of, or accountable to, the federal government.  When you manufacture products that are used with high energy sources (compressed air or high voltage electricity,) a strong commitment to safety is not negotiable.  So, at EXAIR, we commit considerable resources towards the best engineering and manufacturing practices to make our products as safe as possible.  That includes compliance with a number of standards and certifications:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.  Their mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”  They are a regulatory body in the truest sense, in that they don’t offer certification or approval of products, processes, etc.; they publish guidelines and standards for manufacturers and users to comply with.  OSHA Standard 1910.242(b), for instance, limits the downstream pressure of a compressed air operated device used for cleaning purposes to 30psi. Now, you can regulate the supply pressure to meet this, but that also limits the effectiveness of the air flow generated.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are all designed and manufactured to be in compliance with this standard, at any supply pressure.  Take, for example, our Super Air Nozzles:

Because none of our products can be dead-ended, there’s always a relief path preventing the downstream pressure from exceeding that level.

OSHA also has Standard 1910.95(a), that sets limits for maximum allowable noise exposure.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, with the exception of some our largest and most power Super Air Nozzles (which aren’t normally used in areas that don’t already require hearing protection anyway) meet the 8-hour exposure limits of this standard.

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.

CE marking indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold withing the European Economic Area.  Unlike OSHA standards, responsibility for CE marking falls solely with the seller of the product – a CE marked product has been tested and certified to have been made in such a way to meet safety & quality benchmarks specified for that type of product.  All EXAIR products that are defined under applicable directives have been tested according to these standards, and carry the CE mark.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS, is another standard borne from the European Union, and is geared towards public & workplace safety by restricting the use of hazardous materials in the manufacture of electronic & electrical equipment.  Since its inception in 2006, similar standards have been vigorously adopted around the globe.  Electrical portions of EXAIR’s Static Eliminators, EFC Electronic Flow Controls, ETC Electronic Temperature Controls, Digital Flowmeters, Solenoid Valves, and Thermostats all comply with the RoHS Directive.

Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act doesn’t address a concern for product users, but rather a particularly troubling human rights issue – Conflict Minerals.  For almost two decades, trade in tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been used by some very bad people to finance violent campaigns against their neighbors.  EXAIR thoroughly and systematically documents our supply chain compliance with this act.  We are proudly committed to our support for this effort to the world a better place for everyone…especially those in desperate circumstances beyond their control.

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products have been successfully implemented into a variety of uses where application- or industry-specific standards are in force.  We’re happy to work with you to determine if our products meet those standards…or can be made to meet them.  If you’ve got such an application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

The Case For The Flat Super Air Nozzles

What do you think of when someone says “air nozzle?” Is it a crimp or a “crush” on the end of a piece of tubing? Is it a device that attaches to the end of a pipe or a hose? If so, does it have engineered features that focus the stream, amplify the flow (through entrainment, perhaps,) reduce the noise level, or provide an element of safety?

If so…you’re right. Any of the above descriptions, strictly speaking, qualify as an “air nozzle,” in fact, just a plain open-ended pipe or tube meets the criteria. As long as it serves to discharge a stream of air towards a target, it’s an air nozzle.

Even the devices with those efficient, quiet, and safe engineered features come in a variety of styles, types, and models. Consider EXAIR’s product line of Air Nozzles and Jets…we have seventy-two distinct models, in a range of sizes, materials of construction, and performance.  That’s a LOT to choose from, and it doesn’t even take into account the products that can be fitted with different shims that, technically, make them a wholly different nozzle, performance-wise.  Which brings us, dear reader, to the focus of today’s blog: the Flat Super Air Nozzle.

Flat nozzles are not unique to EXAIR…there are dozens of others on the market in a variety of sizes and materials.  What IS unique about EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles is their performance…

Efficiency: When a competitor’s flat nozzle was replaced with a Model 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, consumption was reduced from 31 SCFM to 21.8 SCFM.  Since the nozzle was operated 24/7, this resulted in a savings in compressed air cost of $3.31 per day…meaning the nozzle paid for itself in under three weeks.

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles have been blowing away the competition since 2003.

Durability: Both our 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles are available in rugged Zinc Aluminum alloy, or heat & corrosion resistant Type 316 Stainless Steel.

Zinc aluminum models are perfect for general purpose blow offs (left,) while 316SS models are specified for food/pharma and high heat or corrosive environments (right.)

Versatility: A 0.015″ thick shim is installed in the Flat Super Air Nozzles.  These provide optimal performance in a wide variety of typical industrial and commercial blow off applications.  We also offer High Power versions, with a 0.025″ thick shim, for additional flow and force.  You can also experiment with other shims, from 0.005″ to 0.030″ in thickness, for customized applications.  These shims are all 316SS, and are available in sets, or individually.  The patented design of these shims, in fact, is key to their high efficiency, as explained in this video:

Ingenuity: While this EXAIR characteristic is not specific to the Flat Super Air Nozzles, our most recent ingenious development features them: the Super Air Scraper.  By combining a scraping blade with the 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, we’ve turned our very popular Soft Grip Safety Air Gun into the perfect tool for easy removal of sticky or stubborn debris from most any flat surface.

Scrape off, and blow away, stubborn debris with the Model 1244-48 Soft Grip Super Air Scraper.

EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are Intelligent Compressed Air Products with a 15 year history of successfully solving all kinds of air blowing applications.  To find out more about how they can work for you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Accessories and the Value Added

The word “accessory” can come with some baggage… it’s become synonymous with “add-on” and “up-sell,” and cost-mindful consumers may see them as just another way for a slick salesperson to make an extra buck. And frankly, they wouldn’t have that reputation if there wasn’t some truth to it.  The server at your favorite restaurant will offer appetizers, or recommend side dishes to go with your entree. If you go to buy a new car, you’ll get a pitch for a variety of aftermarket add-ons.  The paint counter folks at the hardware store always tell me what specific brush and/or rollers I should use with the paint I’m buying…and it’s never the 10-pack of economy brushes that costs less than the single, premium quality brush they recommend.  In all of these cases, these employees are trained, constantly encouraged, and hopefully rewarded on the success of these “up-sell” strategies.

Of course, my boys and I can devour even the largest plate of chili cheese nachos long before the rest of meal comes out.  My wife absolutely loves the remote starter function that the dealership installed on the new car she bought last year.  And, if you’ve ever painted a well-lit room, you know the difference between a $1 paint brush and a $10 paint brush.  So if my server gets a little bigger tip, my car dealer salesperson gets a little more commission, or the paint counter folks get a bonus, then it’s a win-win, as far as I’m concerned.

EXAIR carries a variety of accessories for our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  Some aid in mounting & installation:

Clockwise from top: Universal Air Knife Mounting System, Stay Set Hoses, Cabinet Cooler Side Mount Kit, Mounting Brackets for Line Vac, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator, Swivel Fitting for Super Air Nozzle, Tool Holder for Industrial Vacuum Drums, Spray Nozzle Mounting Clip.

Others make it easy to ensure adequate supply conditions:

The performance of many EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can be altered by replacing the shim:

From left to right: Super Air Amplifier, Super Air Knife, 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, High Velocity Air Jets, and Air Wipe all feature replaceable shims to modify performance.

In addition to these product-specific accessories, EXAIR carries a complete line of:

Filter Separators are rated for air flow up to 400 SCFM; Oil Removal Filters, up to 310 SCFM.

*Filter Separators to remove water, dirt, and rust from your compressed air system.  Our Automatic Drain Filter Separators have a 5 micron particulate element, and a centrifugal vane to remove moisture.

*Oil Removal Filters with coalescing elements that remove any trace of oil, and also provide additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.

 

*Pressure Regulators, so you can “dial in” the performance you need, so you don’t overpower the application, or waste compressed air.  They come in sizes from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT, and are rated for flows up to 700 SCFM.  A pressure gauge provides accurate indication of outlet pressure, and the adjustment cap can be removed to prevent tampering.

*Mounting Brackets and Modular Coupling Kits for our Filters and Regulators.  The latter are especially handy for easy, compact, and leak free installation.

*Silencing Mufflers to reduce work area noise from compressed air exhausting from pneumatic cylinders, valves, etc.  There are several styles to choose from, depending on your needs:

  • Sintered Bronze Mufflers are simple in design, with minimal back pressure restriction, and come in sizes from #10-32 thread to 1-1/2 NPT.
  • Straight-Through Mufflers offer noise reduction up to 20 dB, and come in sizes from 1/4 NPT (up to 22 SCFM) to 3/4 NPT (up to 73 SCFM.)
  • Heavy Duty Mufflers have an internal stainless steel screen that not only protects the exhausting components from environmental contamination, but also keeps air system contaminants from being ejected at high speed into the work area.
  • Reclassifying Mufflers are an upgrade to the Sintered Bronze Mufflers and provide the highest level of noise reduction – up to 35 dB.  They also trap oil mist, eliminating breathing hazards to personnel.

*We have manual ball valves (1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT) and Solenoid Valves (120VAC, 240VAC or 24VDC) from 1/4 NPT to 1 NPT, and a Foot Valve, for hands-free operation.

*Swivel Fittings to securely install & aim many of our nozzles, from the Atto to the High Force 1 NPT Super Air Nozzles.  For a little more flexibility, Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases can be used for Air Amplifiers, Super Air Nozzles, and even short Air Knives.

*12 ft Coiled Hoses (1/4″ or 3/8″ ID) and Compressed Air Hose (3/8″ or 1/2″ ID; up to 50ft lengths) can be provided with any Intelligent Compressed Air Product.  We also have a full supply of fittings (tees, elbows, nipples, couplers, reducers, etc.) and adapters to fit our Super Air Nozzles to your existing air guns or blow off devices.

*Receiver Tanks are used to store a ready supply of compressed air.  If you have an intermittent demand of sufficient size, it can cause a pressure transient in your system, which can drag down the ability to supply other points of use.  Installed near the point of intermittent demand, they prevent pressure & volume fluctuations, keeping the operators at all points of use happy.  Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank has a capacity of 60 gallons, is rated to 200psig, and meets ASME pressure vessel code.

In closing, let me offer the following advice that’s served me well over the years:

*Be mindful of the valued added by the accessories & add-ons you’re presented during a purchase of capital equipment…or anything else, really.  Don’t buy something you don’t need, but if you need it…well…it’s OK to buy it.

*Don’t skimp on quality.  Odds are, if an accessory is offered by the manufacturer of the product, it’s going to work well for you.  They should be able to tell you if it will or won’t if you discuss your needs with them.  I know I will if you call me to discuss a compressed air product application.

*Get the big plate of nachos, especially if you’re dining with teenagers.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Where Has The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun Been All My Life?!?

Have you ever happened across something that would have been a real “game changer” at some time in the past? I’ll never forget the time that I went camping with my sons’ Boy Scout Troop, and I was introduced to the peanut butter and bacon sandwich. I still enjoy one from time to time, but my doctor does not enjoy hearing about it…

I’ve also written before (and before) about when I found out EXAIR Vortex Tubes were being used in some shipyards for freeze sealing pipes…a task that (when I worked in a shipyard) we used tanks of liquid nitrogen for.  I was amazed that such a cumbersome ordeal was replaced by something so simple and easy.

When we were developing the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun, a key feature…the variable flow trigger…also would have been real handy at a time in my not-so-distant past.  See, I used to run a small industrial equipment service department, and one time I found myself in a pinch to get a structural steel tube frame made for a support for a particular piece of equipment.  This wasn’t something we did all the time, and this particular job was a bit larger scale than most of what we’d done before.   It wasn’t really a big deal; I just had to cut some rectangular tubing to length with our band saw, drill some small holes (for bolts) and bore some larger holes (for cables & hose) along the length.

We had a small air compressor and a cheap commercial grade air gun, which served the purpose of our infrequent usage. Blowing the shavings away from those holes, and the inside of the tubing was a challenge…that air gun would just barely move them all the way from the holes near the middle, and when I blew out the holes near the ends, the spray of coolant-soaked shavings was making a heck of a mess in our relatively small shop.  After a while, I found that I could kind of “mash” the trigger a little to one side and get a rough measure of control…I was only going to have to mop about half the floor, instead of the whole thing, and I wasn’t going to have to wash the service truck parked in the closest garage bay to the shop area.

Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly ergonomic, and it was  real pain (literally) to use my left hand for a few days following.  Which, being left-handed, was kind of a drag.

Fast forward to just last year, when we rolled out the latest and greatest (in a distinguished line of latest and greatest) EXAIR product: the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun.  Now, individually, the key features might not be all that mind-blowing to the casual observer, but taken together, they’re a pretty big deal. Consider:

*Aluminum construction – lightweight, durable, corrosion resistant.

*Two compressed air inlets – one on the bottom (below your pinkie finger) and one on the rear (above your thumb;) your choice…whichever makes your task easier.

*Cast-in hanger – to keep it out of the way, but still handy, when you’re not using it.

*Chip Shield – you still have to wear safety glasses, but this will keep them cleaner.

*Wide selection of engineered nozzles – from our Atto Super Air Nozzle (2.5 SCFM; 2.0 oz force) to the 1″ High Power Flat Super Air Nozzle (17.5 SCFM; 16 oz force,) there are 20 distinct models in stock.  We can customize the performance of the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun to the specific needs of your intended use for it.

*Extensions – for applications that require a little (or a little more) reach, we offer the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun with rigid aluminum extensions up to 72″ in length.  These are particularly handy when used with the Atto Back Blow Nozzle.

*Variable pull trigger – as the name implies, you can “vary the blast” by how hard (or not) you pull the trigger.  Like I said before, you can do this – kind of – with a run of the mill commercial grade air gun, but it’s not very precise, and far from ergonomic.  Here’s a short video showing just how sensitive that trigger pull is:

If you’d like to give one a try, EXAIR offers these – and any catalog product for that matter  – with a 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  We invite you to put it through its paces for up to a month.  If it’s not going to work out for you, for any reason, we’ll arrange return for full credit.  Give me a call – we can talk about how you intend to use it, and which one’s right for you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

The Case For The Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator

Vacuum generation is vital to many industrial processes:

*Pick-and-place. Vacuum cup systems are used to move metal sheets onto laser & plasma cutting beds, precisely place parts for assembly using end-of-arm robotic tooling, or moving awkward objects, like plates of glass, by hand.

The same Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator can be used for a range of products, from the cinder bloc (left) to small pavers (right.)

*Bag/package opening.  When plastic bags come off a roll and are fed through an automated filler, vacuum cups can make quick work of opening them up, immediately before the filling operation.

*Vacuum filling.  A closed container can be easily filled, without a pump, by simply drawing a vacuum on it.  Same mechanism (and simplicity) as when you drink a beverage through a straw.

These are just a few of the typical uses for an EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generator…I’ve written before about how this is our most versatile product line (by number of different applications) but these in particular are the ones I want to use to make the case for the Adjustable E-Vacs.

EXAIR Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators are available in four distinct models, depending on the needs of your application.  Performance is variable not only by regulating the air supply pressure (like any compressed air product) but also by threading the plug into the body, which changes the size of the annular gap that feeds the Venturi, changing the vacuum and flow levels.  This can be used to overcome vacuum loss due to material porosity or vacuum cup leakage in a pick-and place application, to accommodate different bag sizes or types in an opening application, or to change the rate at which a liquid is moved in a vacuum filling operation.

With four to choose from, EXAIR has an Adjustable E-Vac that will fit your vacuum generating needs.

Because of their larger throat diameter, they’re also better suited for situations where particulates or moisture may be entrained…they won’t clog or ‘stall out’ as is common with other Venturi-type products.  This is especially useful in vacuum chucking/clamping, or when contaminants from dirty environments can make their way into the system.

EXAIR E-Vacs provide instantaneous vacuum response, and are engineered for high efficiency to minimize air consumption.

Like EXAIR In-Line Vacuum Generators, they instantly develop rated vacuum as soon as compressed air is supplied, so they’re well suited for fast moving operations.  With no moving parts, they’re durable, effective, and if you feed them with clean, dry air, they’ll operate a good long time, virtually maintenance free.

If you have a vacuum generating application you’d like to discuss, please give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Video Blog: EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles Product Line

Want to learn more about EXAIR’s line of Atomizing Spray Nozzles?  This short video will familiarize you with their benefits, features, and capabilities.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook