The Sweet Taste of Floss Part II

Floss Stick

Floss Stick

In The Sweet Taste of Floss Part 1, I explained the benefits of using our Atomizing Nozzles to apply a liquid flavoring onto floss sticks. With that same customer, we had another opportunity to save them on compressed air and on liquid flavoring.

As described in their setup, they had a mini conveyor that would carry a 24” rod that was filled with many floss sticks. This operation was manual.  It would take the operators roughly 45 seconds to load the floss sticks.  The conveyor would move the rod through the spraying compartment in about 15 seconds.  The customer was worried about the continuous spraying and wondered if we could help in this operation.

Electronic Flow Control

Electronic Flow Control

They had a good concern because with a constant spraying, they could have an issue with fogging the work area and wasting the liquid cherry flavoring. My suggestion was to use the EXAIR model 9055 Electronic Flow Control (or EFC).  The EFC is a user-friendly controller that combines a photoelectric sensor with a timer.  It has eight different programmable on/off modes to minimize compressed air usage and in this case, liquid spray.  For this type of operation, the EFC worked great.  They did not need to manually turn on and off the system, or purchase a PLC that would require programming.  The EFC is in a compact package that is easy to mount and setup.

In evaluating their application, the Signal “OFF” Delay would be correct setting to run in this operation. (The EFC comes factory set in this mode).  The sensor will detect the part and open the solenoid immediately.  Once the part clears the sensor, then it will keep the solenoid open for the set amount of time.  For this project, they set the timer for 15 seconds.  They mounted the photoelectric sensor at the beginning of the entrance to the spraying compartment.  Once the sensor detected the rod that was filled with floss sticks, it would turn on the compressed air to the Atomizing Nozzles.  After the timing sequence hits 15 seconds, the EFC would turn off the solenoid which would stop the spraying.  It would rerun this sequence every time a rod would pass by the sensor.  This optimized their operation; especially when they had any issues with loading the rod with floss sticks.  It reduced their liquid and compressed air usage by 75%, and it kept the work area free of fog.

If you need an easy way to save on compressed air usage or in this case fluid, the EFC could be the device for you. It can save you much money in your operational costs, and during these economic times, we know that every bit counts.  If you are still a little “foggy” on the EFC, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR for help.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo by homejobsbymom with Creative Commons license.

What’s In A Name?

Well, a lot, actually…if that name is EXAIR. I wrote a blog just last week about how a set of Super Air Knives solved a MAJOR problem with a brand new aluminum sawing application – the company got those Super Air Knives on the recommendation of the Maintenance Supervisor, who had used them, with great success, at a previous company.

Even more recently, I had the pleasure of helping a caller from an engineering firm that specifies a wide range of our products for use in their OEM machinery:

*Air Knives & Nozzles for automated blow offs.
*Cabinet Cooler Systems for electrical/electronics heat protection.
*E-Vac Vacuum Generators for end-of-arm robotics “pick & place.”

Turns out, they use a good amount of compressed air in their manufacturing facility and (did I mention they’re an engineering firm?) they’re interested in implementing a facilities resource management program. For one part of this, they want to know how much compressed air they’re using, when they’re using it, and what they’re using it for. And when presented with a question about compressed air, they thought about EXAIR…and wanted to know more about the Digital Flowmeter.

EXAIR's Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

We discussed everything from theory of operation, to best practices for installation (location, position, etc.,) to accuracy, to getting the flow data…and we’ve got a few options for that:

*The Digital Flowmeter itself can output a 4-20mA signal, or there’s an optional RS-485 output board available.
*The USB Data Logger connects directly to the Digital Flowmeter and records flow rate data – about 9 hours’ worth if measured once a second; 2 years’ worth if measured every 12 hours. When removed from the Digital Flowmeter and plugged into your computer, you can use its software, or Microsoft Excel, to view & analyze the data.
*The Summing Remote Display offers instant indication of current flow rate, previous 24 hours’ air consumption, and cumulative total usage, all at the push of a button.

EXAIR's Remote Summing Display - see current flow rate, previous 24 hours' consumption, or total cumulative usage, at the push of a button!

EXAIR’s Summing Remote Display – see current flow rate, previous 24 hours’ consumption, or total cumulative usage, at the push of a button!

The latter turned out to be the best fit for my caller – the main supply header runs right past his office, and, if he can sell his facilities folks on it, he can install the Summing Remote Display on the wall, right next to his desk.  Easy as that.

EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products have made a name for themselves in many places like this. Here at the factory, we’re all dedicated to spreading, and reinforcing, that reputation for excellence. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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I Love It When They Show The Math

In every math or science class I ever took – from high school Algebra I, to CHEM101 in college, or a variety of classified material courses in Naval Nuclear Power School – it was always good form to show your work. And by “good form” I mean “necessary to avoid an F.” I’ve found, through helping my teenage sons with their homework (whether they want me to or not, but that’s another story,) the same rules apply today. And rightly so.

My oldest is slightly (at least) more interested in athletics than academics. Sunday night, as I was going to bed, I saw him in the living room. His face was not obstructed by his cell phone and he didn’t have his headphones on, so I saw a rare opportunity for a real-time conversation. He was watching game 7 of the NBA Championship, and it was near enough to the end of the game that I figured I could watch it with him and not sacrifice too much desperately needed sleep.

If you watched the series, you saw some phenomenal play by both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. If you saw the end of game 7, you saw “the block” – Cleveland’s LeBron James came out of NOWHERE to rob Andre Iguodala of a quick two points on a breakaway lay-up. During the obligatory replays, I kept thinking that what James had done might border on the physically impossible. Then, ESPN’s “Sport Science” reel put into perspective just how close to that border he came:

Now, we don’t have anyone who can chase down a professional athlete and jump 12 feet in the air to take a basketball away from him, but we DO have a staff of engineers who can test air blow off products and “do the math” on how much better a fit to your application an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product would be. Our Efficiency Lab service is free and tests your current product to provide you a report comparing air savings, noise reduction, force values and a simple return on investment.

In our defense, I believe we are MUCH better at this than LeBron James or Steph Curry would be.

In our defense, I believe we are MUCH better at this than LeBron James or Steph Curry would be.

Do you want to find out how much quieter and efficient an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product might be than what you’re using now?  Give me a call…you can try one of our products in your facility, or we’ll test one of yours in ours.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Webinar- Intelligent Compressed Air®: Simple Steps for Big Savings

What makes a product “intelligent,” and how can you benefit in terms of compressed air use? We’re glad you asked…here’s our answer:

If you’d like to discuss a particular application and/or product selection, give me a call.  Thanks for watching.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Low Pressure Alarms Got You Down?

When the operating air pressure within a manufacturing facility drops it is easily noticed.  This is because the equipment that is depending on that air pressure to stay above a set point will generally stop working and halt in an alarm state safely.  (This is not always the case and in fact I have personally seen machines crash due to low compressed air pressure.)  This creates down time, safety hazards, equipment hazards and is all around not good for production.  This is why low pressure alarms are taken very seriously in most facilities.(See the video below.)

 

Sometimes the reason behind low air pressure in areas is easy to find.  If the alarm happens every time a machine reaches a point in the production cycle where air is used to blow parts off then the point of use blow off can be looked at to see how its efficiency can be maximized.   Other times it is not so simple.  There may not be a pattern to when the low pressure alarm goes off and therefore cannot be easily traced.   This is where the 6 Steps To Compressed Air Optimization comes in to play.  The best way to narrow down what area the fault is generating in is to get some base line measurements on the total air usage for the system by using a product like the Digital Flowmeter with USB Data logger.

EXAIR's Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

Once the baseline is known for the complete system, measuring the main branch lines for the systems will then need to be performed. This could be on the main header where it branches off to individual areas of the plant, or if it is a small shop any line that is off the main header.  By recording the usage over a period of time it will highlight use trends including low use/high use times and random spikes in demand you may not be aware of. The next step would be to then look further into the high use and random spikes. If a flow meter is placed on individual legs of the air system, it will be easier to determine what area of the plant is causing high use, or knowing what processes occur during the time period shown in the data.

By having flow meters on individual branches the cause of the high demand on the compressed air system will become very clearer, whether it be an open pipe blow off, stuck valve on a drain, or just an operator not paying attention, the cause will be able to be determined and eliminated.

EXAIR offers a full range of Digital Flowmeters with USB data loggers and we offer custom calibrations as well as sizes to fit virtually any compressed air piping you may have within your facility.   Feel free to contact an Application Engineer to discuss the possibilities.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

An Ultrasonic Leak Detector Helps a Fire Marshal With a Dry Sprinkler System

A dry sprinkler system? How will that help in a fire? The fire marshal snickered as he told me that this type of system was designed for cold weather fire protection.  Most sprinkler systems that we see in the ceiling are designed with water in the lines.  But, if you have areas that get below 40 deg. F (4 deg. C), the fire department will have you install a dry sprinkler system.  It uses compressed air to hold a valve shut to not allow the water to be inside the cold pipes. So, if you have an unheated crawl space, uninsulated attics, or an outside storage facility, you won’t have to worry about the water freezing and bursting your pipes or sprinkler heads.

The reason that the fire marshal contacted me was to help find a leak in a dry sprinkler system. A facility in his jurisdiction noticed that the air compressor that was assigned to the dry sprinkling system was cycling more often.  This was an indication of a leak, and just like any compressed air system, leaks occur over time at the connection points.  This facility had their pipes located in a crawl space, and there wasn’t much room for maneuvering.  Typically the normal protocol for a leak would be to go to each joint and spray it with soapy water.  If they saw bubbles, then they would fix that connection.  With the small space and the number of connections, he had to find a better way.

Model 9061

Whenever a leak occurs, it will generate an ultrasonic noise. The model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick up these high frequencies in the range of 20 Khz to 100 Khz, above human hearing.  This device makes the inaudible leaks, audible.  With three sensitivity ranges and LED display, you can find very small leaks, and with the two attachments, it can locate them up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away.  When he started using it, he was amazed with the performance.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector cut his time in the field and ensured that all the leaks were found.  In this instance, he was able to use the parabola attachment to locate the area of the leak from a distance.  He then crawled to that area and used the tube attachment to locate the exact location.  He found the leak and had it fixed.  If he did not have the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, he would have to maneuver his way throughout the small crawl space and spray soapy water on each fitting.

If you ever get stuck with a huge task with your compressed air system, like our fire marshal above, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if we can improve your situation.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Expert Product Support Is Second Nature at EXAIR

The other day, my good friend at our German distributor contacted me with a need for some help on a Digital Flow Meter. His customer made a test rig to put the Digital Flow Meter in-line with their machines on a per-machine basis to check for flow rates and leaks. That’s a great way to use the Flow Meters. But this customer was making some bench tests and were not getting what they felt to be proper flow rate readings and their readings were not consistent between the Digital Flow Meter readout and the data pulled from the USB Data Logger.

Luckily, my colleague and his customer thought to send me some photos of their set-up as well as a data chart output from the Data Logger. These made the job of sleuthing out the problem that much easier. You see, the customer took the time to read the instructions to know about how long to make the test pipe and where to locate the meter along the length of that test pipe. So, they wanted to show me that they had 30 diameters of pipe up stream and 5 diameters of pipe down-stream per the instructions.

When I viewed their photo as you will see below, I saw everything seemed to be laid out well and assembled with good technique. But one thing stood out to me. If the 30 diameters of pipe were up-stream of the meter. That meant the airflow was coming to the meter from the right in the photo. And as you can see, the meter is sitting upright so they can see the numbers on the readout properly.

Gesamt

Digital Flow Meter on Test Pipe

There is only one problem. In that arrangement, the meter display would actually need to be upside down. The root of the problem is that the meter was installed for ease of reading in this test procedure. The customer neglected to note that there is only one direction in which the meter can be installed. There is an arrow on the side of the meter box that indicates the direction of flow.

IMG_5492

Digital Flow Meter Flow Direction Indicator

When you mount the meter counter to that arrow, the readings given by the meter become distorted due to how the meter works. One probe is heated to maintain a set temperature differential and if installed in reverse order, the meter overcompensates in its power applied which then messes up the reading output. The solution to this problem was to simply un-bolt the meter from the pipe and flip it over to have the right orientation. Unfortunately, this is what can happen when the instructions are not consulted in their entirety. But then again, who of us haven’t been guilty of that at some point!

The other problem the end customer was having was a mismatch of readings between their meter and the USB Data Logger. So I reviewed their output flow graph and noticed right away the problem. See the graph below:

Capture

Flow Data Chart

When setting up the USB Data Logger through the software, they neglected to set the 4 mA base line to equal zero flow. So, whatever value was stored in the software ended up making 4 mA set to about 3 m3/minute according to the graph above. The top end of the flow meter’s capacity also has to be entered into the software as the 20 mA value so that the milliamp output truly mimics what the flow meter is seeing.

After a quick discussion with my colleague, he then turned to his customer to have the same discussion with them and all was working fine by the end of the day. The customer could get on to the original task at hand which was to discover leaks and baseline his machines for airflow.

If you ever have any difficulty with an EXAIR product, we have a full staff of Application Engineers who can assist you with these kinds of problems with the equipment. It is truly our goal to make sure that everyone’s experience with our company is top notch.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
EXAIR_NR

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