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.

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

Stay Set Ion Air Jet Removes Dust From Bottle Filling Application

A few days ago I was working with a customer who was having a dust issue with their bottling line. As the polypropylene bottles travel down the slow moving conveyor, they are rinsed with an antibacterial solution then blown dry. After that, they pass under an inspection “eye” where they are checked for impurities before being filled with their herbal supplement tablets. When any dust is detected, the conveyor shuts down and the bottles have to be removed from the line and manually cleaned, then the system has to be reset to resume production. With the frequency of rejects increasing and the loss of production time, they decided to contact EXAIR for assistance.

After discussing the application with the customer, their immediate needs were two fold:

1. Remove any contaminants in the bottle.

  1. Install a sensor on the line to detect the bottle, so they only use compressed air when needed.

For their first requirement, I recommended our Stay Set Ion Air Jet. Because dust and debris can stick to plastic bottles due to a static charge and because I had learned the bottles did rub against each other and plastic guide rails, the static eliminating qualities of  Stay Set Ion Air Jet could be helpful. This would provide a focused, high velocity flow of ionized air capable of eliminating the static inside the bottle, while the airflow carries any particulate away. The unit features our Flexible Stay Set Hose which allows an easy way to direct the air to the critical area while holding position and a Magnetic Base for easy installation.

Stay Set Ion Air Jet

Model # 8494-9362 Stay Set Ion Air Jet Kit

Secondly, I recommend our EFC Electronic Flow Control to address their compressed air usage concern. The EFC incorporates a timing controlled (0.10 seconds to 120 hours) photoelectric sensor that sends a signal to the solenoid valve to turn off the compressed air supply when there are no parts detected. There are also eight additional programmable on/off modes that can be easily tailored to fit a specific demand.

A

EFCp4

EFC Electronic Flow Control turns off compressed air supply so it’s only uses when needed.

For help with your specific application, please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

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