Finding The Right Solution Through Dedicated Engineering Support

crate

Plastic crate in need of blow off after washing

An OEM of crate washing equipment in Lebanon recently contacted me about an application on one of their conveyors.  The conveyor carries a plastic crate out of a washer and excess water on the crate was presenting a problem in the application.  In order for the crate to move on to the next step in the machine, a blow off solution was needed, but the exit rate from the washer was inconsistent.  In a given minute there could be 5 crates exit the washer, or there could be 20.  So, the ideal solution needed to have intermittent control options with instantaneous on/off functionality.

We immediately began discussing Super Air Knives, not only because we show plastic crate blow off in one of our many videos, but also because these units are instant on/off with full compatibility with a flow control device.  Utilizing a flow controller, such as the EXAIR Electronic Flow Controller or PLC device, will allow for precise control of the blow off solution, limiting compressed air use to a minimum.

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The first blow off system design

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This layout utilizes Air Knives on each side of the blow off as well as the top

After discussing application details we came to the design shown above, using one 24” Air Knife on the top of the crate and two 9” Air Knives on the sides.  However, this OEM had purchased numerous 2” Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzles in the past (model 1122SS) and had a number available on site.  Modifying the system to utilize the nozzles already on-site, we came to this design:

system-layout

The finalized layout for this blow off system. Click for a larger view.

This layout utilizes (1) 24” Stainless Steel Super Air Knife on the top of the crate and (2) sets of (3) 2” Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzles on the sides, held in place with EXAIR Stay Set HosesNotice the independent pressure regulators for the nozzles and the knife.  This is to allow the customer to balance the air flows, because the 2” flat nozzles will create a higher force than the Air Knife when operating at the same pressure.

In this application we were able to help a returning OEM solve their problem with the right mix of needed products.  Exploring the problem and discussing numerous viable solutions led to the best fit for the application and customer.  That’s precisely why EXAIR Application Engineers are available for any application call or question.  If you’d like to explore an EXAIR solution we’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

 

Cookie Blowoff Using The Full-Flow Air Knife

A machine manufacturer was working with a food company who was looking to design a blowoff station for their cookie making process. During the production cycle, the cookie dough is put into a former that pushes the dough through round dyes that forms several rows of cookies across a conveyor. As the cookies travel down the conveyor, they are topped with ground peanut bits and sent through a flash freezing process. It was after this process, the company was looking to install the blowoff station to remove any excess peanut bits but were concerned if the air velocity was too high, they may remove too much of the ground peanuts or possibly blow the cookies themselves off of the conveyor. Another area of concern was the amount of space available to install the station was limited, so they were needing something “compact” so they could design the machine to take the least amount of real estate as possible.

The machine designer was somewhat familiar with our Air Knives, but was unsure which design would best fit the customer’s needs so they decided to reach out for assistance. After discussing the particulars, I recommended our 36″ Stainless Steel Full-Flow Air Knife Kit. Of the 3 designs of Air Knife we offer, the Super, Standard and Full-Flow, the Full-Flow Air Knife produces the lowest outlet velocities, it is also our smallest profile offering at only 1.25″ x 1″  for stainless steel construction. The Full-Flow Air Knife provides a laminar flow of air the entire length of the knife and uses a 30:1 amplification rate (entrained air to compressed air) for efficient compressed air usage. By incorporating the pressure regulator included in the kit, they would be able to easily control the exiting air velocity to effectively remove the excess peanut bits without ejecting the cookies from the line.

Full-Flow

The Full-Flow Air Knife is the ideal choice where mounting space is limited. Lengths available up to 36″ in aluminum or stainless steel construction.

For assistance in selecting the best Air Knife to fit your needs or for additional support with another application or EXAIR product, give me a call at 800-903-9247, I’d be happy to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Cooling Punch Points with a Super Air Knife

A stamping facility had a high speed perforating operation. The idea was to punch holes into a matrix at a fast feed rate.  In their operation, they started to see issues with the punched holes, and they also noticed that the punch points were prematurely failing.  With a tight punch-to-matrix clearance, heat was building up from the friction.  This effect was galling the material and affecting the hole appearance and dimensions.  They also noticed heat damage to the punch points.  They either had to slow their process down, or find a way to cool the punch points.  They contacted EXAIR to see if we could help.

To remove heat, you need to have a fluid moving across the material to carry the heat away. For this customer, the fluid would be air.  Just like a hot cup of coffee, you can cool it by blowing across the top of it.  In this instance, EXAIR can blow a lot of air with using very little amount of compressed air.  Because of the gap opening of the tool die was narrow, I suggested the Super Air Knife.  It has a compact design and can blow nicely between the upper and lower die.  With slight modifications, they were able to mount the Super Air Knives right into the base set.  Because the tool die was a “bowl” type design, I suggested that they should use two pieces of the model 110206 Super Air Knife.  They could mount one to each side to make sure to hit all the punch points.  (Reference the picture below).

Punch Press with a Super Air Knife

Punch Press with a Super Air Knife installed

EXAIR Super Air Knives are the most efficient compressed air knives in the market. It is designed to have a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means for every one part of compressed air, it will entrain 40 parts of the free ambient air.  As with the coffee reference above, the more air that you can blow, the better the cooling effect.  With the Super Air Knife, we can reach a velocity of 11,800 feet per minute at 80 PSI.  After the customer installed the Super Air Knives, they were able to increase production by 10%.  Also, they found that the punch points were lasting twice as long.  They were so impressed with the effectiveness of the Super Air Knives, they mounted them to all their punch press machines.

Super Air Knife

Super Air Knife

If you find that heat is affecting your process, EXAIR could have a product to help you. We have a variety of efficient air movers to cool your parts.  As for this customer above, we were able to increase production and extend the life of their tools.

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

EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop

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Piles of material underneath conveyor in aluminum making process

Recently, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum initiated a study to determine the costs associated with material spillage in their facilities.  The purpose of their internal investigation was to quantify the time, money, and production losses derived from material spillage and accumulation in their rodding shop (the portion of the aluminum making process in which the anode rods are recycled).  Their findings were astounding.

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Material buildup underneath conveyor in rodding shop

Underneath the conveyors in the rodding shop were mountains of spilled material.  This material would accumulate to dangerous levels, causing safety hazards for workers to potentially slip or trip, interference with conveyor belt operation, an inability to service the conveyors, and a constant cleaning requirement.  Essentially, the accumulation of material would reduce the lifespan of conveyor components while simultaneously preventing maintenance personnel from being able to service the failed components.

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Failed rollers, pulled from conveyors in the rodding shop

So, the spilled material would be vacuumed from the affected area, conveyor maintenance would be performed, and then the (vicious) cycle would repeat.

Overall, these spills cost over $85,000 per year in cleaning costs (vacuuming spilled material weekly at a cost of $1,650.00), 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime loss (the process must be stopped during vacuuming and repair to the conveyors), an increased safety risk due to slips and trips on the spilled material, and reduced life of their conveyor belting, rollers, and pulleys due to operating in bath of rubble and dust.

Finding a solution for this problem was no small matter.  This customer needed a permanent and reliable solution to eliminate the mountains of material underneath their conveyors.  And that solution was to install EXAIR Super Air Knives on the underside of the belts, aimed opposite the direction of belt travel, and aimed toward the dust collection system, as shown below.  Before and after photos of the installation are shown below as well.

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An aluminum Super Air Knife (with plumbing kit from EXAIR) installed on the underside of a conveyor.

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Seven days of accumulation without the Super Air Knife installed

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Seven days of accumulation with the Super Air Knife installed. Note: the pile in the background was there from the previous week.

The images above show how the Super Air Knives perfectly solve this problem.  They prevent the accumulation of material underneath the conveyors, eliminating $85,000/year in cleaning costs and 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime, removing the safety and maintenance concern, and adding longevity to the conveyor components.

Cleaning intervals were revised from daily requirements to an interval up to 12 weeks in some locations.  (The shortest interval was revised from daily to every 3 weeks.)

return-roller

No more of these. This is a failed end roller, replaced after only two weeks in service. Lifespan for conveyor components was greatly improved after the installation of Super Air Knives.

So, the burning question is “How much did this solution cost the end user?”

Total costs to implement this solution were $16,000.00.  Based on the cleaning costs alone, the return on investment for this project was under three months.  When the downtime and additional conveyor maintenance is factored in, ROI is realized even faster, perhaps in under two months.

For EXAIR Application Engineers, thoroughly identifying customer problems and integrating an optimal solution is one of our specialties.  In this case we were able to see the benefits our products can have on a single process, saving the customer tens of thousands of dollars per year.

If you have a problem plaguing your facility and would like to discuss potential solutions using EXAIR products, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Explanation of OSHA Standard 1910.242(b)

Open air lines and homemade blow offs violate OSHA standard 1910.242(b) because of harmful dead end pressures. In 1972, OSHA established Standard 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 with the intent to protect workers from serious injury. They determined that when dead-ended against the skin, if the outlet pressure reached 30 PSI 0r higher,  it posed a risk of entering the bloodstream through the skin. This is commonly referred to as an air embolism – a serious condition which can be life threatening. Once air has entered the bloodstream, it can restrict the free movement of blood throughout the body, disrupting normal heart function, leading to abnormal heart rhythm, possible lung or brain damage, cardiac arrest, stroke or possible death.

OSHA explains that you can use compressed air for cleaning purposes, as long as the outlet or source is fitted with some type of relief device that drops the outlet pressure to below 30 PSI if dead ended. There are basically two ways to go about gaining compliance. The first is to regulate the operating supply pressure to less than 30 PSI, assuring that the outlet pressure doesn’t exceed the threshold. While this does comply with the Standard, it can negatively affect the performance by reducing the strength of the outlet flow, limiting the usefulness of the blowoff device.

The other method is to use some type of nozzle which includes a pressure reducer or a relief device which will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 PSI if the nozzle is dead ended.

For example, EXAIR engineered air nozzles are designed so the outlet holes cannot be blocked directly. Any potential obstruction of the outlet air holes results in the air having an alternative exit path to avoid injury to operators and personnel.

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With our Super Air Nozzles, the air exits through a series of jets, recessed behind an array fins so the exhausting airflow can never be blocked.

With the design of our Super Air Knife, the cap overlaps the body, leaving a gap on both sides of the knife, allowing the exhausting air to safely vent.

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Picture of the Super Air Knife, showing how the cap overlaps the body and cannot be blocked, providing a safe exit path.

ALL of EXAIR‘s engineered products incorporate these principles, providing some type of relief, allowing for the air to safely vent well below the 30 PSI requirement, meeting and in many cases, exceeding the OSHA Standard.

To discuss how EXAIR can help you gain OSHA compliance to improve operator safety, avoid costly fines and improve overall efficiency, contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Super Air Knife Shim Design Reduces Operation Costs

A customer of ours had an application where they needed to cool and dry parts on two conveyors that ran side by side.  A single 36″ Super Air Knife was chosen to provide coverage over the full width and to simplify the air plumbing and installation.  As we learned more about the application, it was discovered that there was 10″ section in the center where the the two conveyors butted up, where no parts would pass through, and hence no air was needed.

Fortunately, the EXAIR Super Air Knives can be supplied with custom shim designs to match the air flow requirements of the application.  These shims can be of various thicknesses to increase/decrease the air flow, of alternate materials such as a stainless steel shim in an aluminum air knife to increase the temperature range, or as in this case, designed to provide specific air flow patterns.

By utilizing the special shim design, it is estimated to save $865 per shift per year in compressed air costs versus the standard configuration.  That is a significant savings, and using less compressed air is high on everyone’s priority list.

Check out the video below to learn more about the EXAIR Air Knives.

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EXAIR manufactures 3 different types of air knives, in 4 different materials, up to 108″ in length.

To discuss your application and see how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

 

 

 

High Temperature Capability

Last week, a customer called in to talk about their application.  After aluminum and steel machining operations, parts are run through a washer system. The drying portion utilized a Super Air Amplifier to dry the sides and a Super Air Knife to dry off the top. The wash temperature was running at 185°F.  The customer wanted to review the application and make sure the EXAIR products utilized in the process were rated to this temperature and to check on high the products could go, since the maximum possible temperature for the washer was listed as 250 °F.

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Drying Section – Utilizing EXAIR Air Amplifier (near top) and Super Air Knife

The Super Air Amplifier is rated to 275°, above the maximum possible condition.  The Super Air Knife was pre-installed with a stainless steel shim, enabling a maximum temperature rating of 400 °F. Both of the components are rated for temperatures in excess of the maximum possible washer temperature condition, and the customer felt confident with the system design.

EXAIR has several options in the Air Amplifier and Super Air Knife product families to allow for operation in high temperature applications.  For the Air Amplifier, the Super Air Amplifier and Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier have a maximum temperature rating of 275°F.  The Stainless Steel Adjustable Air Amplifier is rated to 400°F, and for the hottest of conditions, the High Temperature Air Amplifier is rated to 700°F.

Relating to Super Air Knife, the aluminum Super Air Knife is rated to 180°F.  With a stainless steel shim installed, the maximum increases to 400°F. The PVDF Super Air Knife, used in applications where chemical resistance is needed, can withstand temperatures up to 275°F. And for the most extreme temperature environments, the Type 303 and Type 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knives are rated up to 800°F.

To discuss your application and how an Air Amplifier and Super Air Knife or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

Send me an email
Find us on the Web
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

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