Two basic methods to set up a compressed air operation for turning off is the ball valve and the solenoid valve. Of the two, the simplest is the ball valve. It is a quarter turn, manually operated valve that stops the flow of the compressed air when the handle is rotated 90°. It is best for operations where the compressed air is needed for a long duration, and shut off is infrequent, such as at the end of the shift.
The solenoid valve offers more flexibility. A solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that uses electric current to produce a magnetic field which moves a mechanism to control the flow of air. A solenoid can be wired to simple push button station, for turning the air flow on and off – similar to the manual valve in that relies on a person to remember to turn the air off when not needed.
Another way to use a solenoid valve is to wire it in conjunction with a PLC or machine control system. Through simple programming, the solenoid can be set to turn on/off whenever certain parameters are met. An example would be to energize the solenoid to supply an air knife when a conveyor is running to blow off parts when they pass under. When the conveyor is stopped, the solenoid would close and the air would stop blowing.
The EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control) is a stand alone solenoid control system. The EFC combines a photoelectric sensor with a timer control that turns the air on and off based on the presence (or lack of presence) of an object in front of the sensor. There are 8 programmable on/off modes for different process requirements. The use of the EFC provides the highest level of compressed air usage control. The air is turned on only when an object is present and turned off when the object has passed by.
By turning off the air when not needed, whether by a manual ball valve, a solenoid valve integrated into the PLC machine control or the EXAIR EFC, compressed air usage will be minimized and operation costs reduced.
If you have questions about the EFC, solenoid valves, ball valves or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
I was recently working with a process Engineer at a food packaging plant on installing a Super Air Knife to blow excess water off a food product. This product was moving single file on a conveyor belt with about 6 feet between each product. The belt was moving pretty slow so we wanted to turn the air knife on only when the product was in front of the knife, which saves compressed air and energy. To do this we used the ELECTRONIC FLOW CONTROL (EFC). If the knife ran the entire time it would be wasting any air blowing during one of the 6′ long gaps. This would also put an unnecessary strain on their already taxed compressed air system. The EFC let him only supply air to the Knife when it saw a product on the belt. To read more about the EFC click here!
This application worked perfectly, but they had one other issue. Throughout the day it seemed as if they were losing compressed air pressure at the knife. What they found was during peak compressed air usage in the plant the compressor couldn’t keep up with the demand. Fear not, the Super Air Knife was only running for 7 seconds and was off for 20 seconds. This was a perfect application for EXAIR’sReceiver Tank.
Receiver Tanks are great for applications that require an intermittent demand for a volume of compressed air. This can cause fluctuations in pressure and volume throughout the compressed air system with some points being “starved” for compressed air. EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 60 Gallon Receiver Tank can be installed near the point of high demand so there is an additional supply of compressed air available for a short duration. The time between the high volume demand occurrences should be long enough so the compressor has enough time to replenish the receiver tank.
If you have a process that is intermittent, and the times for and between blow-off, drying, or cooling allows, a Receiver Tank can be used to allow you to get the most of your available compressed air system. If you need any assistance calculating the need for a receiver, please let us help.
Note – Lee Evans wrote an easy to follow blog that details the principle and calculations of Receiver Tanks, and it is worth your time to read here.
If you would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
A few weeks ago, we posted a blog discussing how artificial demand and leaks can lead to poor performance and expensive waste. Today, I’d like to review how following a few simple steps can help optimize your current compressed air system and reduce compressed air usage.
The first step you want to consider is measuring the air usage in the system. To do this, you want to start at the compressor and check individual leads to each drop point to a blowoff device, record your findings to track the demand. By measuring your compressed air usage, you can locate the source of high usage areas and monitor the usage on each leg of the system. If the demand exceeds the supply, there is potential for problems to arise, such as lowered pressure and force from compressed air operated devices leading to irregular performance.
EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeters are designed to measure flow continuously and accurately to give you real-time flow measurements of your compressed air system to help identify problems areas.
Step 2 is to locate the source of waste. Again, compressed air leaks can result in a waste of up to 30% of a facility’s compressor output. A compressed air leak detection and repair program can save a facility this wasted air. Implementing such a program can be used as a way for a facility to “find” additional air compressor capacity for new projects. Whenever a leak occurs, it will generate an ultrasonic noise.
Our Ultrasonic Leak Detector is designed to locate the source of ultrasonic sound emissions up to 20’ away. These ultrasonic sound emissions are converted to a range that can be heard by humans. The sound is 32 times lower in frequency than the sound being received, making the inaudible leaks, audible through the included headphones and the LED display gives a visual representation of the leak.
The 3rd step involves finding the source of noisy and wasteful blowoffs, like open pipes or homemade blowoffs, and replacing them with an energy efficient, engineered solution. By replacing these devices, you are not only reducing the amount of waste but also improving operator safety by complying with OSHA safety requirements.
EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter is an easy to use instrument that measures and monitors the sound level pressure in a wide variety of industrial environments. The source of loud noises can be quickly identified so that corrective measures can be taken to keep sound levels at or below OSHA maximum allowable exposure limits.
The easiest way to reduce compressed air usage and save on operating expense is to turn off the compressed air to a device when it isn’t needed, step 4 in the process. Not only will this save money, in many cases, it can also simplify a process for the operator.
A simple manual ball valve and a responsible operator can provide savings at every opportunity to shut down the air flow.
For automated solutions, a solenoid valve can be operated from a machine’s control. For example, if the machine is off, or a conveyor has stopped – close the solenoid valve and save the air.
A foot pedal valve offers a hands free solution to activate an air operated device only when needed, such as being implemented in an operator’s work station.
For even more control, you can use a device like our EFC or Electronic Flow Control. This helps minimize compressed air usage by incorporating a programmable timing controlled (0.10 seconds to 120 hours) photoelectric sensor to turn off the compressed air supply when there are no parts present. It is suited for NEMA 4 environments and can be easily wired for 100-240VAC.
Step 5, intermediate storage. Some applications require an intermittent demand for a high volume of compressed air. By installing a receiver tank near the point of high demand, there is an additional supply of compressed air available for a short duration. This will help eliminate fluctuations in pressure and volume.
EXAIR offers a 60 gallon, ASME approved vertical steel tank with mounting feet for easy installation near high demand processes.
Many pneumatic product manufacturers have a certain set of specifications regarding performance at stated input pressures. In many applications, or in the case of using a homemade blowoff device like open pipe, these wouldn’t necessarily require the full rated performance of the device or full line pressure. Controlling the air pressure at the point-of-use device will help to minimize air consumption and waste, step 6.
By simply installing a pressure regulator on the supply side, you can start off at a low pressure setting and increase the pressure until the desired result is achieved. Not only will this help to conserve energy by only using the amount of air required for the application, it also allows you to fine tune the performance of the point-of-use device to match the application requirements.
If you have any questions, please contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.
This video highlights the value and benefits of an engineered blow off solution. We take a homemade open pipe blowoff and replace it with an EXAIR model 1100 Super Air Nozzle. This air nozzle is then controlled through our Electronic Flow Controller, allowing for intermittent On/Off of the compressed air flow. And, these solutions are wirelessly monitored via Zigbee network using our Wireless Digital Flowmeter. Implementing these solutions results in a compressed air reduction of over 90%!!!
Full calculations along with supporting flow values (pulled from the same data shown in the video above) are shown below.
The open pipe:
The first compressed air flow values to show up on the EXAIR Logger are for the open pipe blow off. At 1 BAR operating pressure, this “solution” consumes 22.3 SCFM of compressed air. At a cost of $0.25 for every 1,000 cubic feet of compressed air, this nozzle will cost $695.76 to operate 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year.
The engineered EXAIR Super Air Nozzle
Model 1100 EXAIR Super Air Nozzles consumes 4.7 SCFM at an operating pressure of 1 BAR – a reduction of 79% compared to the open pipe. These savings prove out in terms of operating cost as well – $146.64 per year, compared to $695.76.
The engineered EXAIR Super Air Nozzle with Electronic Flow Control (EFC)
By controlling the “ON” time for this application with an EFC, we are only blowing for 32% of the time for each minute of operation which changes the required compressed air flow from 4.7 SCFM to a peak value of 1.5 SCFM. This control saves an additional 68% of compressed air flow. And, these savings are compounded by eliminating the need for constant compressed air flow. Total annual operating cost for the EXAIR 1100 Super Air Nozzle with Electronic Flow Control is just $46.80.
Implementing an engineered solution can have a TREMENDOUS impact on energy costs and operating costs in your facility. Compressed air is the most expensive utility to produce and consume, making the impact of proper solutions of high value to any business. Let us help you utilize engineered compressed air solutions in your facility by contacting an EXAIR Application Engineer today.
For over 34 years, EXAIR has been the industry leader in providing Intelligent Compressed Air Products to the industrial marketplace. While much of our focus is to ensure our products are engineered to provide optimal performance, we are also dedicated to manufacturing products that meet a wide range of standards and directives to promote safety in relation to plant personnel.
For instance, all of our compressed air operated products meet or exceed OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b), requiring that the outlet pressure of an open pipe, nozzle, air gun, etc., when used for cleaning purposes, must remain below 30 PSI when dead-ended against the skin, as well as Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) as a way to protect workers from job related injuries related to dangerous sound levels of 90 dBA and higher.
Many of our products are also CE Compliant, meeting the mandatory requirements for products intended to be sold in the European Economic Area or “EEA”. For example our Electronic Flow Control and Electronic Temperature Control (ETC) meet the EU (European Union) Low Voltage Directive 2006/95/EC.
EXAIR electrically powered devices, like our Static Eliminators and Digital Flowmeters for example, comply with the “Restriction of Hazardous Substances” or RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU, including the amendment outlined in the European Commission decision L 214/65.
We are also committed to providing material that supports the conflict mineral free rule to help aid in the relief of illegal trade of exotic materials, like tungsten, gold, tin and tantalum in the DRC region. Using the CMRT 4.20 template, we document our supply resources to ensure we provide conflict free products, as outlined in Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Lastly, the European Union introduced the REACH program – Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, as a method to register chemical substances being imported into the EU to protect people and the environment, per Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 Title I, Article 3. Also noted in the program, Title II, Article 7, they state that any product with a substance intended to be released under normal operating conditions, must be registered for quantities totaling more than 1 metric ton per year. Since EXAIR products do not intentionally release or contain any such substances, registration to meet the program is not required.
If you have any questions about any of these Standards or Directives or about which EXAIR products comply, please feel free to contact an application engineer for assistance. We’d be happy to help!
I had the pleasure of speaking with a service technician with a pneumatics company recently…he was finishing up a large project for a customer that involved modifying some machinery to reduce compressed air consumption. After the performance of the newly modified machinery was verified, the customer wanted to know how they could be sure they were indeed saving the amount of air that the project engineer estimated that they would save. That’s when he called to ask about EXAIR Digital Flowmeters.
If you follow the famous (to EXAIR blog readers, anyway) Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System, you know that this is Step #1. So, was it too late to apply a measurement device? Of course not…in this case, the machinery’s original published compressed air consumption rates were used to compare the new actual usage according to the Digital Flowmeter, and it was simple arithmetic from there. They installed a Model 9095 Digital Flowmeter for 2″ Iron Pipe on the header supplying the machinery, and were not only impressed with the results of the upgrade, but also enjoy the at-a-glance verification of air flow.
Naturally, if you ask for our assistance in the planning stages of a compressed air optimization project, we’ll encourage you to follow the Six Steps in order. Depending on the nature of the problem(s) and the size & complexity of your system, there may be more or less attention paid to certain steps than others.