If at First You Don’t Succeed Try, Try Again!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been going back and forth with my phone provider over some technical issues I’ve been having with the device. After some troubleshooting, we were able to conclude that the antenna has likely become loose, leading to the phone periodically not receiving service. Naturally, we’re outside of the 1-Year “Warranty” period that covers a defective device. I paid my insurance deductible and received a “refurbished” phone the following day. Unfortunately, this refurbished phone was unable to take pictures with the front-facing camera. I know what you’re thinking, how on Earth can I take selfies without a front-facing camera? So it was back to the phone provider to get another replacement, fortunately this time they sent a brand new device.

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get something to work right out of the box, only to experience issues. Whenever a customer is having an issue with a particular product, there’s a certain progression that we go through in order to assess the problem and determine the root cause. In some cases it is something simple, others it can be a few individual problems that are compounding each other. I recently assisted a customer that was having problems with his 110 Gallon Reversible Drum Vac System. He was having difficulty pumping water out of a container and into the 110 gallon drum. He stated that he just received the unit and was unable to get it to work.

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EXAIR’s Reversible Drum Vac installed on a 110 Gallon Drum

This is a call that we get from time to time, and is generally remedied pretty quickly. Our first step is to check the air pressure at the inlet of the Reversible Drum Vac while it is operating. We recommend an inlet pressure of at least 80 PSIG for proper operation. By installing a pipe tee with a pressure gauge directly at the unit, we can not only verify the inlet pressure but also that the Reversible Drum Vac is being supplied with an adequate volume of compressed air. If the pressure on the gauge begins to decrease once the unit is in operation, we can conclude that the volume of compressed air to the Reversible Drum Vac is insufficient. This can be due to the use of restrictive quick disconnect fittings, improper line size, or a compressor that is undersized.

If the air supply is sufficient, we then inspect the system for vacuum leaks. If the drum does not have a complete seal, the system will not function. If there’s no vacuum leak and there is an adequate supply of compressed air, the Reversible Drum Vac likely needs to be cleaned. It took us a few tries to get there but through a little bit of trial and error, we were able to determine that this was exactly the case in this scenario. Even though the system was new, it had been supplied with compressed air that was not properly filtered. Some scale, rust and debris from the customer’s supply lines made its way into the body of the Reversible Drum Vac, impeding the flow of air. Here is a video that shows the cleaning procedure for the Reversible Drum Vac. Over time the Reversible Drum Vac can accumulate debris inside of the plenum chamber. Regular maintenance of the unit will ensure that it stays within specifications for when it’s needed most!

If you have an EXAIR product that’s not performing as well as it used to, give us a call. One of the Application Engineers will be able to walk you through the steps to ensure that you’re getting the most out of our products!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: tylerdaniel@exair.com
LinkedIn: @EXAIR_TD

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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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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Music And The Mini Cooler

Recently, EXAIR Corporation offered CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training to employees. I already carry certification, so I held down the fort while some of the other Application Engineers received this training. As a middle aged man, I have to admit that my interest in my co-workers’ abilities to respond to a matter of this nature is not entirely unselfish.

One of the key parts of CPR training is the rate of the chest compressions. While most people couldn’t accurately replicate 100 beats per minute on demand, almost everyone is familiar enough with some popular songs with a rhythm close to that.  The song they always bring up in CPR training is “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Depending on how you feel about disco, another option is “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Pro tip: it might be considered bad form to sing that one out loud while performing CPR.

Speaking of music, while I was holding down said fort during this morning’s training session, I had the pleasure of assisting a caller in the music business: a piano restoration & tuning professional. A frequent job for them consists of resetting tuning pins, which requires drilling numerous small holes (a grand piano can have as many as 250) into a hardwood board. They’re pressed in, so it’s critical that they fit the newly-drilled hole precisely. If the drill bit gets too hot, it can expand in diameter, making the hole ever-so-slightly bigger than it should be. The heat can also cause the surface of the hole ID to glaze. Both of those things can cause problems with the pin fitting securely in the hole.

The EXAIR Model 3808 Mini Cooler System was an ideal solution – it’ll keep the drill bit cool & clean with a constant stream of cold air. It’s compact and quiet, and only uses 8 SCFM @100psig…well within the capacity of many smaller air compressors.

If you’d like to “get in tune” with a spot cooling solution, I can help…call me. Oh, and in case you wanted to know which song with about 100 beats per minute I’d use for CPR:

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Will It Spray?

Video showing the intended use of EXAIR Atomizing Nozzles, illustrated with a green spray pattern.

 

One of the common questions we receive with regards to our Atomizing Spray Nozzles, is whether they will spray a specific liquid.  Most of the time this is a simple answer, found by referencing the viscosity of the liquid and the viscosity range of the specific atomizing nozzle in question.  But, sometimes the viscosity of a fluid isn’t readily available and the best path forward is testing of the specific fluid or application.

Such was the case with the videos above and below.  This application was to spray a specific mixture comprised of catnip biomass onto materials as they pass along a conveyor.  There was no specific flow rate required, we simply needed to spray a specific width at a specific distance away from the product.

The video above shows the desired spray pattern from the nozzles, something with a wide angle and flatpattern, and the video below shows the most suitable solution we found in testing at EXAIR.

The suitable nozzle in this application was our model AD2010SS, an internal mix nozzle with deflected flat fan spraying pattern and a patented technology to prevent liquid flow after compressed air to the nozzle is turned off.  This nozzle provided the right solution for this application, and shipped from stock on the same day we received the order.

Fast forward a few weeks and this same application found benefit from an Electronic Flow Controller (EFC) model 9057.  The EFC allows for sensor-based control of compressed air flow, and thereby control of liquid flow to the AD2010SS nozzles.  This prevents operation of the nozzles when there is no need to spray the liquid.

The discussion, testing, and implementation of this solution are an excellent example of the engineering support available behind EXAIR products.  We really do help our customers find solutions, and if there is an unknown in an application we’re willing to find the answers together.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System Meets High Demands Of Sea Duty

I joined the Navy, right after high school, to get out of Ohio, see the world, and never come back. “My recruiter said” (if you are considering military service, those can be famous last words, just so you know) that I would be a good candidate for Nuclear Power School, so I took the test. As a math & science nerd scholar, I qualified for admission easily.  About halfway through Nuke School, I volunteered for submarines.  My decision was based in no small part on the sea stories of our instructors, the strong reputation of better food, and my deep appreciation for the movie “Operation Petticoat.”

Upon graduation, I was assigned to a new construction Trident submarine.  I did not see the world…I saw the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, and Naval Submarine Base King’s Bay, Georgia.  Hilarity occasionally ensued, but never in the context of that movie I so adored.  I moved back to Ohio (on purpose) soon after my enlistment was up.  The food WAS good…I can unreservedly vouch for that.

In the new construction environment of the shipyard, I became quite familiar, and developed a deep respect for, the high level of attention paid to the materials and workmanship that a seagoing vessel demanded…not to mention, one with a nuclear reactor on board.  Reliability and durability are obviously key factors.

I had the pleasure recently of assisting an electrical contractor who was looking for a cooling solution for a new Variable Frequency Drive enclosure installation on a cement barge.  The ship’s engineer (a Navy veteran himself) had told the contractor that his priorities were reliability, durability, and dust exclusion.  He couldn’t have made a better case for an EXAIR Cabinet Cooling System.

Based on the specified heat load of the VFD, the size of the enclosure, and its location, a Model 4380 Thermostat Controlled NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler System, rated at 5,600 Btu/hr, was specified.  This equipment is internal to the ship; had it been exposed to the elements, a NEMA 4X system would have been presented.

Up to 2,800 Btu/hr cooling capacity with a single Cabinet Cooler System (left) or as much as 5,600 Btu/hr with a Dual system (right.)

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems have no moving parts to wear, no electric motor to burn out, and no heat transfer surfaces (like a refrigerant-based unit’s fins & tubes) to foul.  Once it’s properly installed on a sealed enclosure, the internal components never see anything but cold, clean air.

If you have a need to protect an electrical enclosure in aggressive environment, give me a call.  With a wide range of Cabinet Cooler Systems to meet a variety of needs, we’ve got the one you’re looking for, in stock and ready to ship.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Troubleshooting Vortex Tube Performance

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This Vortex Tube was not operating properly when initially connected to compressed air

One of the fun parts of Application Engineering at EXAIR is explaining the operation of Vortex Tubes to our customers.  Sometimes they’re described as a “reverse tornado” inside of a tube, spinning a pressurized airstream and converting it into a hot and cold flow.  Other times we describe it through the generation of two vortices with differing diameters, and the difference in diameters results in one vortex shedding energy in the form of heat.

But, no matter the way we explain their operation, we always stress the importance of proper compressed air plumbing.  If the compressed air piping/hoses/connections are not properly sized, performance problems can arise.  (This is true for any compressed air driven device.)

This fundamental came to light when working with one of our customers recently.  They were using a medium sized Vortex Tube to provide spot cooling in an enclosed space, but were not seeing the flow and temperature drop they knew to be possible with an EXAIR Vortex Tube.  And, after looking at installation photos of the application, the root cause was quickly spotted.

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The red arrow in the bottom right corner of this image shows the beginnings of a reduction in compressed air supply.

I noticed what looked to be a very small hose connected to the inlet of the Vortex Tube in the image above.

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In this additional image, the small compressed air line is in full view. This was the root cause for performance problems in this application.

After further inspection of another photo, the small diameter tube was in full view.  This small hose serves as a restriction to compressed air flow, which in turn limits both flow and operating pressure of the downstream devices.  What that meant for this application, was poor performance from the Vortex Tube, all stemming from this reduction in piping size.

When looking to find the root cause of a performance issue with a compressed air driven unit, things aren’t always as easy as they were with this application.  A visual inspection is always a good idea, but if everything looks correct, here is a list of troubleshooting steps to consider:

  1. Check for quick-disconnects in the plumbing system.  Quick-disconnects are great from an operator’s perspective, but they can wreak havoc on compressed air flows due to small inside diameters and air volume restriction.
  2. Determine the operating pressure at the device.  This is imperative.  In order to make proper decisions to correct the performance concern, good information is required.  Knowing what is happening at the device is crucial for proper understanding.  There may be 100 PSIG at the main compressed air line, but only 60 PSIG at the device due to plumbing problems. A pressure gauge at the inlet of the compressed air product can provide this information.
  3. Check that the compressed air system has enough volume to properly supply the device.  A compressed air driven unit without the correct volume of compressed air is just as bad as having a lack of pressure.
  4. Check for leaks.  The US Department of Energy estimates that 20-30% of compressor output in industrial facilities is lost as leaks.  If your system and devices aren’t operating as they’re supposed to, check for leaks.  They may be contributing to the poor performance.  (Don’t know where your leaks are coming from?  Use our Ultrasonic Leak Detector!)

Fortunately for this customer, after improving the size of this tubing performance was on par with our published specifications and this customer was back in operation.  If you have a question about how to improve the utilization of the compressed air devices in your application, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

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