EXAIR, Manufacturing Locally Equals Quick Customizations

Dryer with corn cob material

A manufacturing company contacted EXAIR about their metal tube processing. They made industrial precision tubes from start to finish. This would include turning, cutting, coating, washing and drying metal tubes to specific diameters and lengths.

For one specific problem area, they manufactured a tube with the dimensions of 1” (25.4mm) in diameter and 6” (152mm) in length. They would run a batch of 750 tubes through a wash cycle and then through a vibrating dryer with a drying material made from corn cobs. At the bottom of the vibrating dryer, the tubes would fall to an open mesh shaker table to transfer the tubes to Quality Control. The idea was to remove the excess cob material from the surface of the tubes before inspection and to recycle the drying material. But the problem was static.

When non-conductive materials slide, hit, peel, and vibrate; electrons from the surface can move from one atom to another; thus, creating static. The type of material and the amount of movement governs the positive and negative charges, and the amount of static forces.

The corn cob material is a non-conductive material, but what about the metal tubes? Since the metal tubes were coated for corrosion and abrasion protection, the surface is now a non-conductive area which will contain static. Since opposite charges attract each other, the cob material would cling to the outside surface of the metal tubes (reference photo below). Being a precision tube manufacturer, they did not want to send “dirty” tubes to their customers or allow the drying material to contaminate their measuring equipment. And, with the required quality control, the measurements had to be exact.

Tubes with cob material

The shaker table was 8 feet (2.4 meters) long and 2 feet (0.6 meter) wide with rigid walls. The top of the shaker table was covered with a canvas to allow for a vacuum system to collect the excess material and dust. About half way down, there was a 2” (51mm) drop to help jolt additional cob material off of the tubes as they landed. But the static forces were too strong to release the material. Thus, the static had to be removed from the surface, so they contacted EXAIR to see if we could find a solution.

They sent photos of their setup which always helps us to diagnose and find solutions. The target place that they suggested would be near the 2” (51mm) drop as the tubes would be suspended for just a moment. My recommendation was to use a Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife to blow ionized air around the tubes as they fell. By blowing air, we can use the non-contact force to remove the static and the cob material at the same time. But we had two issues to overcome. The width was fixed at 2 feet (0.6 meter), and the operation controls were 10 feet (3 meters) away from the mid-section of the shaker table.

Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives

EXAIR stocks many Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives ranging from 3” (76mm) to 108” (2.74meters) in incremental lengths for quick shipments. But our standard 24″ product was not able to fit inside that area nor was the five foot electrical cable long enough to reach the control panel. (As a note, it was important for the operator to be able to manually turn on and off the unit from the control panel.)

EXAIR uses an electromagnetically shielded cable to carry high voltage from our Gen4 Power Supply to our shockless, non-radioactive Gen4 Ionizing Bar. Our  stocked length for our armored cable is 5 feet (1.5 meter). After discussing the amount of movement with the table and the desired distance to the control panel, EXAIR could not use an item off the shelf. But not to worry… Since we are the manufacturer, we have the ability to make a special design for this customer.

Super Ion Air Knife Part Numbering System

I recommended a model 112220-10 special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife Kit. (Reference model numbering system above). Specials are non-returnable and non-cancelable, but for this customer, it was exactly what they needed. The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives are engineered to efficiently blow ionized air to the target and remove static charge and debris.

For this special model, it was made to a specific width where the Super Air Knife was manufactured to a length of 20” (508mm), and the high voltage cable was lengthened to 10 feet (3 meters). The kit includes the Gen4 Power Supply to power the Ionizing Bar, a filter to clean the compressed air, a regulator to control the force, and a shim set to change force rates. This complete kit had everything required to begin operations to remove static and cob material from their precision tubes. The customer was able to mount the special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife within the shaker table and mount the power supply near the control panel.

Static can be an issue even with coated metal parts. For the customer above, EXAIR was able to make a special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife to work in their system. If you believe that static is causing issues, EXAIR has a great range of Gen4 Static Eliminators to remove that nuisance. You can discuss further with an Application Engineer as EXAIR for help; even if you need a custom product.

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

What Are Compressed Air Dryers and Why are They Necessary?

desiccant-dryer

When we talk with customers about their EXAIR Products, we also discuss the quality of their compressed air. Many of our products have no moving parts and are considered maintenance-free when supplied with clean, dry compressed air. One of the most critical aspects of a compressed air distribution system is the dryer.

No matter where you are in the world, the atmospheric air will contain water vapor. Even in the driest place in the world, McMurdo Dry Valley in Antartica, there is some moisture in the air. As this air cools to the saturation point, also known as dew point, the vapor will condense into liquid water. The amount of this moisture will vary depending on both the ambient temperature and the relative humidity. According to the Compressed Air Challenge, a general rule of thumb is that the amount of moisture air can hold at a saturated condition will double for every increase of 20°F. In regions or periods of warmer temperatures, this poses an even greater problem. Some problems that can be associated with moisture-laden compressed air include:

  • Increased wear of moving parts due to removal of lubrication
  • Formation of rust in piping and equipment
  • Can affect the color, adherence, and finish of paint that is applied using compressed air
  • Jeopardizes processes that are dependent upon pneumatic controls. A malfunction due to rust, scale, or clogged orifices can damage product or cause costly shutdowns
  • In colder temperatures, the moisture can freeze in the control lines

In order to remove moisture from the air after compression, a dryer must be installed at the outlet of the compressor. There are three primary types of dryers used in the compressor industry: refrigerant, desiccant, and membrane. Each style has it’s own inherent applications and benefits.

Refrigerant type dryers cool the air, removing the condensed moisture before allowing it to continue through the distribution system. These will generally lower the dew point of the air to 35-40°F which is sufficient for most applications. So long as the temperature in the facility never dips below the dew point, condensation will not occur. Typical advantages of a refrigerant dryer include: low initial capital cost, relatively low operating cost, and low maintenance costs. This makes them a common solution used in an industrial compressed air system.

Another type of dryer is the desiccant dryer. I’m sure you’ve seen the small “Do Not Eat” packages that are included in a variety of food products, shoes, medications, etc. These are filled with a small amount of desiccant (typically silica gel) that is there to absorb any moisture that could contaminate the product. In a desiccant dryer, the same principle applies. The compressed air is forced through a “tower” that is filled with desiccant. The moisture is removed from the air supply and then passed into the distribution system. One minor drawback with a desiccant type dryer is that the desiccant material does have to periodically be replaced. Desiccant dryers can also be used in addition to a refrigerant dryer for critical applications that require all water vapor to be removed.

The third type of dryer is the membrane dryer. In this style, extremely low dew points are able to be achieved. This makes them the optimal choice for outdoor applications where the air could be susceptible to frost in colder climates. They are also ideal for medical and dental applications where consistent reliability and air quality is an absolute must. A membrane dryer does not require a source of electricity to operate and its compact size allows it to be easily installed with minimal downtime and floor space. Maintenance is minimal and consists of periodic replacement of the membrane. While they are good for some applications, they do come with limitations. They do limit the capacity of the system with variations ranging from as little as 1 SCFM to 200 SCFM. Because of this, they’re often used as a point-of-use dryer for specific applications rather than an entire compressed air system. Some of the compressed air must be purged with along with the moisture which consumes excess compressed air.

Regardless of what products you’re using at the point-of-use, a dryer is undoubtedly a critical component of that system. Delivering clean, dry air to your EXAIR Products or other pneumatic devices will help to ensure a long life out of your equipment.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Controlling Compressed Air can be Easy, and Save Thousands of Dollars

The history of automated controls can be traced back to inventors in ancient Greece & Egypt, who sought ways to keep more accurate track of time than afforded by sundials and hourglasses.  Their efforts, dating as far back as 300BC, produced devices actuated by water flow, which is actually quite reliable and repeatable: a set amount of water will flow via gravity through a fixed conduit in the exact same amount of time, every time.  These were in fairly common use until the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century.

The Industrial Revolution grew the need for automated processes exponentially…the need to control objects or tooling in motion, fluid flow, temperature, and pressure, just to name a few.  As time passed, the sky was literally the limit: modern aircraft & spacecraft rely on a staggering amount of automated processes from production to operation.

All throughout history, though, the benefits of automation remain the same: making processes more efficient.  That’s where the EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control comes in, for automating processes involving compressed air use, by turning air flow off when it’s not needed.  In fact, not only do they provide simple on/off control to blow only when a part is “seen” by the photoelectric sensor, there are eight distinct modes to incorporate delay on or off, flicker on or off, signal on/off delay, interval, or “One-Shot,” where the sensor detects the part, delays opening the valve per the timer setting, and blows for one second.

EFC Electronic Flow Control Systems are already assembled & wired for quick & easy installation.

The EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control is a true “plug and play” solution for automating a compressed air application.  Mount the sensor, plumb the valve, plug it in, and you’re ready to go.  There’s no complicated PLC wiring or programming, although the aforementioned mode selections do offer a great deal of flexibility other than “on when the sensor sees it; off when it doesn’t” operation, if desired.  Here are some prime examples of that flexibility, and the monetary benefits due to the compressed air consumption savings:

(Left) On/Off Delay setting used in tank refurbishment application to operate a “halo” of Super Air Knives for blow off as tanks exit oven where old paint is burnt off – $3,393 annual air savings. (Center) Interval setting actuates a Super Ion Air Knife for flat panel display dust blow off/static elimination – $2,045 annual air savings. (Right) Interval setting actuates a “halo” of Super Ion Air Knives to clean & remove static charge from plastic automotive bumper covers prior to painting – $5012 annual savings.

If you’d like to find out more about the EFC Electronic Flow Control can save you time, air, and money, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Founder’s Day 2020

EXAIR celebrates Founder’s Day each year on February 22nd (or the closest working day) in order to commemorate the birthday of our founder, Roy Sweeney.  He founded the company in 1983 and drove EXAIR to become the strong, successful and innovative company that it has over the years.  Today would have been his 86th birthday.

We choose to make this day a celebration and a day to mark our ongoing commitment to the service of others in keeping with the values that Roy and his wife Jackie felt (and feel) very strongly about.  It is now up to us to continue to look outside our company, outside ourselves and do what we can to improve the world around us.

As we do every year, EXAIR has made significant donations to organizations that are making a difference right here in our area.  We are proud to announce that we have chosen to support more charities than ever for Founder’s Day 2020:

  • Freestore Foodbank
    Supplies 33 million meals per year to those in need
    https://freestorefoodbank.org/
  • Lighthouse Youth and Family Services
    Supporting their Safe and Supported program for LGBTQ youth
    https://www.lys.org/safeandsupported/
  • DAV
    Supporting disabled American veterans and their families
    https://www.dav.org/
  • Arts Wave
    Funds and supports 100+ arts projects and organizations through impact-based grants
    https://www.artswave.org/
  • Cincinnati Works
    Partners with all willing and capable people living in poverty to assist them in advancing to economic self-sufficiency through employment
    https://cincinnatiworks.org/
  • Habitat for Humanity Greater Cincinnati
    Helps eliminate substandard housing locally and globally by building and renovating decent, affordable homes to sell to low-income first-time homebuyers.
    https://www.habitatcincinnati.org/
  • Matthew 25: Ministries
    Provides humanitarian aid and disaster relief along with partners in the Greater Cincinnati area, across the US and in more than 60 countries
    https://m25m.org/
  • SPCA Cincinnati
    Offers programs including animal adoptions, animal cruelty investigations, spaying and neutering shelter animals, companion animal and wildlife rescue
    https://spcacincinnati.org/
  • Tender Mercies
    Transforms the lives of homeless adults with mental illness by providing security, dignity, and community in a place they call home
    https://www.tendermerciesinc.org/
  • Bethany House
    Helps homeless and at-risk families with solutions to achieve housing stability and long-term self-sufficiency
    https://bethanyhouseservices.org/
  • Women’s Crisis Center
    Supporting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse
    https://www.wccky.org/

To further our commitment to others, EXAIR established an Employee Volunteer Program in 2018 that enables every full-time employee with at least 90 days of service to volunteer with organizations of their choice during the normal work week with full pay by EXAIR.  I am proud to say that sixteen employees volunteered their time helping other organizations in 2019.  Through this program, EXAIR and its employees can have a positive impact on dozens of organizations throughout the year.

So, as we celebrate today with lunch and funny memories, we wish Roy a happy birthday.  We miss having him here.  We remember what he did for all of us and for countless others.  And we pledge to continue his commitment to helping those who need it.

Happy Founder’s Day from everyone at EXAIR!

Bryan Peters
President
EXAIR Corporation

Swivel Fittings: Adjusting Their Way Into Your Application

Ever had that spot that you needed to blow off but no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t reach the spot with piping? Well here at EXAIR we’ve got a solution for you; Introducing the swivel fitting! When blowing off various parts it is better to have an angled sweep of air rather than blowing directly across or directly down onto the part. EXAIR’s Swivel fittings provide a movement of 25 degrees from the center, meaning a total of 50 degrees.

EXAIR’s Swivel Fittings Adjusted
Regardless of size of the air nozzle we can provide a swivel fitting to fit all of our nozzles starting at an M4 Thread up to a 1” NPT. The M4 (4mm), M5 (5mm), and M6 (6mm) swivel fittings come with a Female NPT to screw the nozzle into and a Male NPT to attach to the swivel fitting to the pipe. For our 1/8” Fitting up to the 1” Fittings a male NPT is used to connect the Nozzle and a female NPT is used to connect to the pipe. The swivel fittings can easily be adjusted by either loosening or tightening the center hex nut.
EXAIR’s Family of Swivel Fittings
If the swivel fitting doesn’t give you the adjustment that you need, they can be coupled with our Stay Set Hoses to give extra adjustment and positioning. Our stay set hoses come in lengths of 6” all the way up to 36” and provide easy positioning for your application. Of course, these hoses can also be used without a swivel fitting. 
EXAIR’s Family of Stay Set Hoses
Swivel fittings are not used with just air nozzles, in many cases swivel fittings have been used with our smaller Air Amplifiers and our 3” Air Knifes.

For more information on EXAIR’s Swivel Fittings, Stay Set Hoses, or any EXAIR‘s 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.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Why Start a Leak Prevention Program?

All compressed air systems will have some amount of leakage. It is a good idea to set up a Leak Prevention Program.  Keeping the leakage losses to a minimum will save on compressed air generation costs, and reduce compressor operation time which can extend its life and lower maintenance costs.

The Compressed Air Challenge estimates an individual compressed air leak can cost thousands of dollars per year when using $0.07/kWh.

  • 1/16″ diameter hole in excess of $700/year
  • 1/8″ hole in excess of $2900/year
  • 1/4″ hole in excess of $11,735 per year

There are generally two types of leak prevention programs:

  • Leak Tag type programs
  • Seek-and-Repair type programs

Of the two types, the easiest would be the Seek-and-Repair method.  It involves finding leaks and then repairing them immediately. For the Leak Tag method, a leak is identified, tagged, and then logged for repair at the next opportune time.

A successful Leak Prevention Program consists of several important components:

  • Document your Starting Compressed Air Use – knowing the initial compressed air usage will allow for comparison after the program has been followed for measured improvement.
  • Establishment of initial leak loss – See this blog for more details.
  • Determine the cost of air leaks – One of the most important components of the program. The cost of leaks can be used to track the savings as well as promote the importance of the program. Also a tool to obtain the needed resources to perform the program.
  • Find the leaks – Leaks can be found using many methods.  Most common is the use of an Ultrasonic Leak Detector, like the EXAIR Model 9061.  See this blog for more details. An inexpensive handheld meter will locate a leak and indicate the size of the leak.

    Model 9061
    Model 9061
  • Record the leaks – Note the location and type, its size, and estimated cost. Leak tags can be used, but a master leak list is best.  Under Seek-and-Repair type, leaks should still be noted in order to track the number and effectiveness of the program.
  • Plan to repairs leaks – Make this a priority and prioritize the leaks. Typically fix the biggest leaks first, unless operations prevent access to these leaks until a suitable time.
  • Record the repairs – By putting a cost with each leak and keeping track of the total savings, it is possible to provide proof of the program effectiveness and garner additional support for keeping the program going. Also, it is possible to find trends and recurring problems that will need a more permanent solution.
  • Compare and publish results – Comparing the original baseline to the current system results will provide a measure of the effectiveness of the program and the calculate a cost savings. The results are to be shared with management to validate the program and ensure the program will continue.
  • Repeat As Needed – If the results are not satisfactory, perform the process again. Also, new leaks can develop, so a periodic review should be performed to achieve and maintain maximum system efficiency.

An effective compressed air system leak prevention and repair program is critical in sustaining the efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness of an compressed air system.

If you have questions about a Leak Prevention Program or any of the 16 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.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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EXAIR FAQs: A Hidden Nugget of Information

The pneumatic industry is huge. Almost every manufacturing plant around the world uses compressed air in one way or another. EXAIR has manufactured Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983, and in that time we have gathered much information. We sorted this data and placed it in our Knowledge Base section for all to see. Now, if you have a compressed air system in your plant, EXAIR probably has information about usage, optimization, and application details where we were able to solve or improve the settings with cost savings, efficiency, and safety. In this blog, I will cover one section of the Knowledge Base categories; FAQs.

FAQ Page

FAQs, or Frequently Asked Questions, is a library of inquiries that our customers have asked in the past. We compiled this collection that end-users, resellers, OEMs and distributors asked; and, we placed them in one area to be found quickly and easily. The FAQ library is located under Knowledge Base (reference photo above). We separated the FAQs by product groups to find more information like maximum temperatures, pressures, viscosities, etc. This in-depth assortment of information can help to swiftly answer some obscure questions that may be important for your application.

RDV How It Works

As an example, I recently received a call from a customer requesting information about the Reversible Drum Vac. This product is a two-way pump that uses compressed air to transfer liquid in and out of steel drums. They do not have any motors to wear or electricity to work; so, they are very reliably and long-lasting. This pneumatic pump works wonderful for transferring coolants. But this customer wanted to know if it can transfer hydraulic fluids; and if so, how fast. I was able to direct them to our FAQ library. We found that it can pump 10 gallons/minute or 38 liters/minute of hydraulic fluid. They also noticed that the Reversible Drum Vac can pump even more viscous fluids, like 15W40 motor oil. It opened their eyes on the capabilities of the Reversible Drum Vac for other applications in their facility.

Of course, Application Engineers at EXAIR are always available to answer questions about our products or about your applications. But if EXAIR is closed and you want to buy right away, the FAQ section could be a great place to find that “nugget” for a quick answer.

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

Photo: FAQ Magnifying Glass by loufre. Pixabay License – Free for commercial use