The Victory is in Solving the Problem, No Matter the Size

I had an engineer from a welding company contact me about his application.  He was already using three EXAIR Super Air Knives for a cooling application.  He had the Super Air Knives mounted in a linear fashion, two model 110018 18″ Super Air Knives and a model 110012 12″ Super Air Knife. His system was designed to operate the different Super Air Knives to cool the corresponding tubes length after a welding operation.  (He purchased the EXAIR Super Air Knives because he wanted the best air cooling capacity with the highest efficiency.)

Super Air Knife

Because it was an automated system, timing was critical.  The system was designed to operate one 18″ Super Air Knife for an 18″ welded tube.  For a 36″ long tube, they would turn on both the model 110018 Super Air Knives.  For their longest tube, they would activate all three Super Air Knives to cool the 48″ welded seam.  The engineer was extremely happy with the effectiveness and the consistency of the Super Air Knives that he was able to create a timing sequence in his automated operation for a repeatable and reliable cooldown of the welds.

So, why did he decide to contact EXAIR? I was thinking the same thing when he was giving high praises about the EXAIR Super Air Knives.  It was because of their compressed air system.  In another section of the plant, they would use large air vibrators to break loose powder from a hopper.  These vibrating devices would use a large quantity of compressed air when they were turned on.  During this time, the compressed air system would drop in pressure throughout the plant. This would change the amount of compressed air available for his application; affecting his timing sequence to get adequate cooling.

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

Since that the engineer was happy with the efficiency and quality of our Super Air Knives, it was an easy decision for him to contact EXAIR about the Digital Flowmeters. He wanted to measure the amount of air flow to each Super Air Knife and continuously monitor the system for any low-flow conditions.  Since he was supplying the Super Air Knives with ½” NPT piping, he requested the model 9090 ½” Digital Flowmeter for each Super Air Knife.  I explained that the EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are very accurate and easy to install.  They have different ways to monitor the compressed air flow; 4 – 20 mA analog output, serial connection, or a Datalogger.  Since his PLC system had an analog reader, our Digital Flowmeters could supply the analog signal for flow measurements.   Currently the PLC was operating the solenoids to turn on and off sections of the Super Air Knives to cool the desired length of welds.  Now, he was looking to measure the amount of air flow with the PLC to verify that they did have adequate compressed air flow to the Super Air Knives.  If the flow was not sufficient, then he could trigger an alarm to delay the welding operation.  So, when the vibrators went offline, then they could restart their operation.

EXAIR routinely maximizes compressed air efficiency in an effective manner and I recommended, as an alternative, that he could use one 1½” Digital Flowmeter, model 9094, to monitor the air flow to all three Super Air Knives.  This would save him a lot of cost for his project in purchasing one larger Digital Flowmeter instead of three smaller ones.  Also, with the resolution of the flow meter and his ability to utilize the 4 – 20 mA analog signal, he could easily determine the required flow to one Super Air Knife, two Super Air Knives, or all three.  In the end, he was quite impressed with my recommendation to keep his system operating, even during times of depletion in his compressed air system.

At EXAIR, our first priority is to help the customer to correct their compressed air issues.  For this engineer, he was able to mount one Digital Flowmeter to monitor the compressed air flow to all three Super Air Knives. If you need real solutions to your compressed air applications, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and perhaps we can also reduce your project cost in the process.

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

An Ultrasonic Leak Detector can also help to improve your monthly electric bill

Leaks cost you money

In my blog last week, “A Digital Flowmeter can help to improve your monthly electric bill”, I wrote about a company that was being charged for compressed air that was being used in the facility.  To give you the short version, a Digital Flowmeter determined that the power supply company was not miscalculating the amount of compressed air usage, but the facility had compressed air leaks.

Now that he found the issue, he focused on the next step; to find and fix the leaks in his compressed air system.  Being that EXAIR already helped him in measuring the air flow, he wondered if we could also help him to find the leaks.  And we can.  I recommended the model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector.

Ultrasonic Leak Detector

Whenever a leak occurs, it will generate an ultrasonic noise.  These noises have a range of frequencies from audible to inaudible.  The frequencies in the range of 20 Khz to 100 Khz are above human hearing.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick up these high frequencies, and make the inaudible leaks, audible.  The model 9061 has three sensitivity ranges and LED display; so, you can find very small leaks at a great distance away.  This unit comes with two attachments.  The parabola attachment can locate leaks up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away.  This was great for locating leaks in pipes that ran in the ceiling.  Once you find an area with a leak, the tube attachment could define the exact location.  When he started using it, he was amazed with the performance.  The Ultrasonic Leak Detector found 44 leaks in his facility.  He tagged all the locations for the maintenance crew to fix.

As an example for how much compressed air costs, a 1/16” diameter leak in a compressed air line will lose roughly 4 SCFM of air at 100 psig.  An air compressor needs 1 horsepower of energy to make roughly 4 SCFM of compressed air.   As you can see, it take a lot of energy to supply a small leak.  If we go one step further to equate a cost to this leak, it costs roughly $0.25/1000 SCF (SCF is Standard Cubic Foot).  Being that this company was operating 5 days per week at 24 hours, this one small hole in a compressed air line would cost him $43.20/month.  With 44 leaks throughout his plant, you can see how this could add up to be a large amount of money at the end of each month.

The EXAIR Optimization line uses different devices to help you to get the most out of your compressed air system.  With this customer, he was “throwing” money away each month.  With the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, he could now put that excess money back into the company’s “pocket” for future use.

 

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

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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A Digital Flowmeter can Help Improve Your Monthly Electric Bill

No one likes paying their bills at the end of the month.  But, if you can save yourself some money, it helps to make it a little easier.  For this customer, he received a monthly bill for his compressed air.

Monthly Bill

An industrial facility consisting of four separate manufacturing plants and a power company that supplied all of them with utilities, i.e. hot water, natural gas, electricity, and compressed air.  The parent company decided to reorganize and sell the entities.  At the end of it, the power company was controlled by a different organization than the manufacturing plants.  The power plant was contracted to still supply the utilities to the individual plants, but now they would be charged individually on a monthly basis.

Being that compressed air is one of the most expensive utilities, the general manager of a solid-state electronic plant really noticed the charge on his bill.  He did an estimate on the amount of air that his equipment was using, and he compared it to the charges.  There was roughly a 20% difference in the figures.  Because of the excessive amount of money, he contacted EXAIR to see what we could offer.

In discussing their system, the compressed air was supplied through one 6” schedule 40 black pipe.  The pipe came into the facility in the ceiling and it branched off to supply the entire shop with compressed air.  He was looking for something to measure the compressed air flow with the ability to measure a cumulative amount.  He could use this amount to compare to his monthly usage.  He was also concerned about cutting into his compressed air line as this could cause him much downtime and additional costs.  He needed something easy to install, accurate, and versatile.

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

I suggested our 6” Digital Flowmeter with the Model 9150 Summing Remote Display.  EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are designed to measure flow continuously and accurately.  You do not need to weld, cut, or disassemble pipe lines to install.  With a drill guide, the Digital Flowmeter can be easily mounted onto the 6” black pipe by drilling two small holes.  After that, they just had to insert the Digital Flowmeter into the holes, and tighten the clamp around the pipe.  The total procedure took less than 30 minutes, so downtime was minimal.  The EXAIR Digital Flowmeter measures flow by comparative analysis with thermal dispersion; so, the accuracy is very high and recalibration is not required.

EXAIR Summing Remote

With the option of the Summing Remote Display, they could attach it to the Digital Flowmeter and display the flow remotely up to 50 feet away.  They mounted it on the wall next to his office for the operational functions.  With a simple press of a button, it can show the current flow rates, daily flow rates, and cumulative flow rates.  So, during the billing cycle, he was able to get the cumulative measurement to compare the results, and reset the counter to zero for the next month.

Believe it or not, the power company was correct in their measurements.  But, not to waste an entire blog, I did have him turn the compressed air supply off after business hours to watch the flow rate.  He did find his 20% difference in compressed air leakage.  The Digital Flowmeter was able to measure low flows to target other problem areas in your compressed air system.  Now he had another chore in leak detecting and pipe fixing.

EXAIR Optimization line has different products that can help you to get the most out of your compressed air system.  With the customer above, he was able to measure his compressed air flow with the Digital Flowmeter, as well as detecting other issues.  I will now have to talk to him about our Ultrasonic Leak Detector.

 

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Picture: Calculator Calculation Insurance by stevepb.  Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain

Why Measure Compressed Air Use?

Model 9097-M3 Digital Flowmeter installed on 3″ compressed air line

One of the best analogies I’ve heard to explain the importance of monitoring compressed air related to banking.  With any bank account there are deposits and withdrawals, and if withdrawals exceed deposits, problems ensue.  So, most people/businesses/institutions have systems in place to monitor their banking accounts, ensuring that there is always enough of a balance in the account to cover expenses.

The same is true for a compressed air system.  If the demand exceeds the supply, problems ensue…Lowered pressure and force from compressed air driven blow offs, irregular performance within pneumatic circuits of CNC machines, and general decline of any devices on the system all begin to occur when demand exceeds supply.  So, this begs the question of how to prevent a mismatch between compressed air demand and available supply.

Enter the Digital Flowmeter.  The entire purpose of the Digital Flowmeter is to provide a method to see (in real time or over a specific period of time) what the existing demand is within a compressed air system.  This quantifies the “withdrawal” into an output that can be compared to what is produced by the compressor, allowing for analysis and proper balance of the system.

This Digital Flowmeter allows for monitoring compressed air usage quickly and easily. The USB Data Logger installed onto this unit allows for collection of compressed air flow data.

The application photo at the top of this blog shows the DFM being installed to do just that.  This unit is being set up to use a USB Data Logger to capture compressed air flows at a customer-chosen time interval.  By monitoring their compressed air flow, this customer can optimize their compressed air system (align output of the compressor with demand of the facility), determine whether there are any leaks in the system, and determine the effectiveness of the compressed air which is being used.

It is important to remember that compressed air is the most expensive utility in any industrial facility.  Failing to monitor the system is akin to blindly writing checks on your bank account.  Proper system performance starts with proper monitoring, which the Digital Flowmeter easily provides.

If you’re interested in learning more about monitoring your compressed air system, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to discuss specifics and options available.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Digital Flow Meters Prevent Rework by Measuring Air Flow to a Paint Gun

EXAIR Digital Flowmeter

EXAIR Digital Flow Meters are used to measure compressed air use throughout a facility, and they can also provide preventive measurements for critical processes.

A customer of ours had a paint booth that was used to touch-up large metal panels.  Inside that paint booth, they had two, High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint spray guns.  These paint guns work well as they limit the air pressure to the air cap to reduce overspray and bounce back.  With the lower air pressure, the paint can have a tendency to dry and block a portion of the nozzle.  This can affect the atomization and the lay down of the paint.  To overcome this, operators have a tendency to increase the air pressure which can create other issues in spraying, as well as using excessive paint.  They decided to install some compressed air flow meters in their compressed air lines to monitor their paint system, and with the idea to prevent quality of spray problems before they occur.  They contacted EXAIR to get a better understanding on what we can offer.

In discussing their system, I learned they had an enclosed semi-downdraft spray booth.  They had two runs of ½” NPT Schedule 40 compressed air lines that came from the mainline above.  Both compressed air lines were positioned outside the booth in the left and right back corner.  (Each HVLP spray gun had its own compressed air supply).  The compressed air pipes ran down along the wall with standoffs in the back area.  From there, it elbowed into a filtration system then into the spray booth.  The customer mentioned that he did not have much room between the wall and the spray booth.  The booth had windows located in the door about 20 feet away.  As for their HVLP spray guns, they were set up to operate at 15 SCFM and 30 PSIG.  Depending on how often the spray guns were used during the operation, the paint had a tendency to dry and start to cause blockage.  Before the operator knew it, the paint gun started to become inconsistent, causing blemishes.  They would then have to rework the panel which was costly, affecting profitability.

The EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are designed to measure flow continuously and accurately.  You do not need to weld, cut, or disassemble pipe lines to install.  With a drill guide, the Digital Flowmeter can be easily mounted onto the pipe.  They did not need to unscrew filters, piping, etc. to install these in the back corners of the spray booth.  They just had to drill two small holes, insert the two probes into the holes, and tighten the clamp.  I recommended the model 9090 1/2″ Digital Flow meter.  It has a flow range from 0 to 90 SCFM which was perfect to monitor the HVLP spray guns.  The Digital Flowmeter measures flow by comparative analysis with thermal dispersion; so, the accuracy is very high and recalibration is not required.

Summing Remote Display

Since the Digital Flowmeter was located in the back corner, we needed to get a display over to the viewing window for the operators.  As an option, EXAIR offers a Summing Remote Display, model 9150.  This display has large LED numbers that can remotely displaying the flow from the Digital Flowmeter up to 50 feet away.  They installed the Summing Remote Display and mounted it outside the viewing windows of the spray booth.  The operator could now monitor the flow of the compressed air in real time with just a glance.  Now, when they were spraying paint, they could tell when the flow was starting to decrease.  They could stop and make the necessary changes to the nozzles, reducing the need to rework product.

Being able to measure the unknowns in your compressed air system as a prevention tool, it becomes much easier to evaluate, correct, and discover issues that may occur before they get out of hand.   The EXAIR Digital Flowmeters can give you the real-time flow measurements of your compressed air system to help identify problems.

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

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.

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