Return On Investment: Does It Matter, And How Much?

I have a friend who participates in a process known as “extreme couponing.” She has multiple subscriptions to the Sunday edition of our major newspaper, and a couple of local papers that also have coupon inserts. When I see her at the grocery store, she’s got two 4″ binders full of baseball card holders, all stuffed with multiples of clipped coupons, organized by store aisle. The insane amount of money saved is a big factor in her being able to be a stay-at-home mother, which is something else she’s pretty good at.

If you get stuck at step one…or even two…extreme couponing may not be for you!

Now, extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. Even beginners to the process can buy a year’s worth of paper towels for next to nothing. However, that may take up so much room in their house that they need to rent a storage facility for other belongings that folks like you and me simply keep in the garage or basement. It also takes a LOT of time and effort to do it right – as well as discipline. Saving half (or more) on a truckload of stuff you don’t need (or will never use) is a waste of money, time, and space. In fact, I know people who have abandoned extreme couponing for those very reasons…the “return on investment” just isn’t there.

That’s the deal in industry too.  Anyone tasked with finding and exploiting efficiencies – or finding and eliminating inefficiencies – is going to be looking at return on investment.  Like extreme couponing, though, it has to make sense in all aspects of the operation.  For example:

*An OEM taking advantage of a quantity discount for components or subassemblies has to not only have the storage space available, but also has to consider the turnover rate…it costs money to keep product on the shelf.

*A machine shop considering a tooling upgrade has to compare the cost difference with the increased performance and/or lifespan of the “new and improved” product.  A tool that costs 10% more but lasts twice as long is probably a good deal.  A tool that costs twice as much but lasts 10% longer might not provide the “bang for the buck.”

*Any facility, before switching a service or utility provider, will “run the numbers” on promotional rates, contract terms, etc. before making a commitment.

Unlike extreme couponing, EXAIR makes it easy – and beneficial – to evaluate the return on investment:

*Our catalog (if you don’t have the latest, get it here) has complete performance & operational data on all of our products.  This is great if you know what you want it to do.

*If you’re not quite sure, our catalog also has a good number of actual application write-ups for most of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  You may be able to find something that’s similar to what you want to do, and further inform your selection from there.

*Once you’ve chosen a product, you can use the Calculator Library on our website to determine actual dollar cost savings associated with replacing a current compressed air powered device with an EXAIR product.

*Application Engineers are available to discuss your application and/or product selection via phone, email, or Live Chat.

*No matter how detailed the discussion, and how confident a plan we may make, the age-old saying about how it “looked good on paper” proves itself every now and again.  When this happens, all catalog products are covered by our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  If you’re not satisfied for any reason within 30 days of purchase, we’ll arrange return for full credit.

*Let’s assume that we’re pretty good at this (because we are) and it actually DOES work out (because it usually does) – we can calculate your new (and improved) operating costs and compare them with the cost of your previous devices.  If you don’t have the instrumentation (flow meters, sound level meters, etc.,) this is a free service we provide in our Efficiency Lab.  Send it in, and we’ll do a full performance test & issue a comprehensive report, all at no charge.  And if you qualify for a Case Study, we can even save you some money on your next order.  Contact me for more details if you’re interested.

Free testing. Verifiable data. EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Coupon Pile Stock Photos courtesy of Carol Pyles  Creative Common License

Compressed Air Uses In Industry

Air Compressor

There are so many uses for compressed air in industry that it would be difficult to list every one of them as the list would be exhaustive.  Some of the uses are the tools used in production lines, assembly & robotic cells, painting, chemical processing, hospitals, construction, woodworking and aerospace.

It is considered as important as water, electricity, petroleum based fuels and often referred to as the fourth utility in industry. The great advantage of compressed air is the high ratio of power to weight or power to volume. In comparison to an electric motor compressed air powered equipment is smoother.  Also compressed air powered equipment generally requires less maintenance, is more reliable and economical than electric motor powered tools.  In addition they are considered on the whole as safer than electric powered devices.

Even amusement parks have used compressed air in some capacity in the operation of thrill rides like roller coasters or to enhance the “wow factor” of certain attractions. Compressed air can be found in your dentist’s office where it is used to operate drills and other equipment. You will find compressed air in the tires on your car, motorcycle and bicycles. Essentially, if you think about it, compressed air is being used nearly everywhere.

Here at EXAIR, we manufacture Intelligent Compressed Air Products to help improve the efficiency in a wide variety of industrial operations. Whether you are looking to coat a surface with an atomized mist of liquid, conserve compressed air use and energy, cool an electrical enclosure, convey parts or bulk material from one location to another or clean a conveyor belt or web, chances are we have a product that will fit your specific need.

Atomizing nozzle
Atomizing Nozzles Can Apply Even Coatings
Super Air Amplifier
Air Amplifiers pull in a large volume of ambient air to increase air flow volume and are great for cooling applications!
Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac
For conveying heavy or abrasive products the Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vacs have male NPT Threads to make permanent and rigid installation into a piping system a breeze.

If you would like to discuss quiet, efficient compressed air products, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Vortex Tube Overview

VT_air2

A Vortex Tube uses an ordinary supply of compressed air as a power source, creating two streams of air, one hot and one cold – resulting in a low cost, reliable, maintenance free source of cold air for spot cooling solutions.

The EXAIR Vortex tubes are made of stainless steel, which provides resistance to wear, corrosion and oxidation – ensuring years of reliable, maintenance free operation

How_A_Vortex_Tube_Works

The cold air flow and temperature are easily controlled by adjusting the slotted valve in the hot air outlet.  Opening the valve reduces the cold air flow and the cold air temperature.  Closing the valve increases the cold air flow and and the cold air temperature.

EXAIR Vortex Tubes come in three sizes. Within each size, a number of flow rates, which are dictated by a small internal generator, are available. Selection of the appropriate Vortex Tube can be achieved either by knowing the BTU/hr (Kcal/hr) requirements or the desired flow and temperature requirements. Selection is then based on the specification table (BTU/hr or Kcal/hr is known) or the performance tables (flow and temperature is known.)

Capture
Vortex Tube Specification Tables

 

Cold Fraction
Vortex Tube Performance Tables

The performance of a Vortex Tube is reduced with back pressure on the cold air exhaust. Low back pressures up to 2 PSIG ( 0.1 Bar) will not change performance and a 5 PSIG (0.3 Bar) will change the temperature drop by approximately 5°F (2.8°C)

The use of clean air is essential, and filtration of 25 microns or less is recommended.  EXAIR offers filters with 5 micron elements and properly sized for flow.

A Vortex Tube provides a temperature drop to the incoming supply air.  High inlet temperatures will result in a corresponding rise in the cold air temperature.

EXAIR offers mufflers for both the hot and cold air discharge.  If the cold air is ducted, muffling may not be required.

For best performance, operation at 80 to 110 PSIG (5.5 to 7.6 Bar) of supply pressure is recommended. The Vortex Tubes have a maximum pressure rating of 250 PSIG (17.2 Bar) and a minimum requirement of 20 PSIG (1.4 Bar)

To discuss your application and how a Vortex Tube or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Helping Within Our Community

Throughout my tenure here at EXAIR I have seen the company give to many different organizations and to the team members here.   Recently we implemented a program where employees are allowed to choose a charity of their choice to go and volunteer for a day each year.  This year for my volunteer day a group of seven members from EXAIR went to help a non-profit organization that focuses on helping students and teachers in 16 local counties.

The organization, Crayons to Computers is a free store for teachers in these counties that surround Cincinnati.  The store is stocked with donations from corporate and private entities and staffed by volunteers.  Their inventory can be anywhere from classroom supplies, books, decorations, technology equipment, even stocked book bags to give to students.  The store is the largest of its kind here in the United States and has been serving the Cincinnati area for 20 years. Their belief is that a teacher should not have to spend money out of their pocket to supply students in need with school supplies and to ensure that schools in need have access to supplies that aren’t always easily available.

They have a sales floor where the teachers shop and then a large warehouse where the donations are all sorted and stocked for easy pull to the sales floor when needed.  This is where our team spent the day.  We did jobs like sorting books by reading level, organizing / packaging chair mats, unloading trucks, and finally, consolidating over 30,000 boxes of 24 count crayons so that their valuable warehouse space was being used more efficiently.  These crayons were all donated by financial institutions here locally that had challenged each other to see who could donate more.  It still isn’t the amount of crayons that they will supply to teachers within this school year, but it helps tremendously.

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By volunteering our time we were also able to give 10 teachers who’s school would not normally qualify for shopping at Crayons To Computers the ability to go and shop for a day.  This was an added bonus that we were made aware of after the fact.  This is yet another way that Crayons to Computers gives to our community.

One of the best takeaways I have from this year is that I got to give back to an organization that my amazing wife would shop at when she was teaching students in need.  It was organized by someone here on our team that had no knowledge of my personal connection. We ended up getting more done than they had ever hoped to get out of 7 volunteers.  This was all made possible by a company that doesn’t just focus on making excellent products and providing top notch customer service.  EXAIR is also focusing on making sure our team members interests are embraced by letting them choose how to give their time and the companies time to a cause they believe will give back to our local community.

If you would like to inquire about donations or how you could help Crayons to Computers, please check out their site directly.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF
1-800-903-9247

 

Standards, Compliance, And You. And EXAIR.

I’m pretty impressed with the number of safety features my car has. Aside from the literal lifesaving functions like seat belts and air bags, it’s got anti-lock brakes…if you’ve ever had to counter-steer out of a skid on an icy road, you will appreciate the value of this for sure.  Those are just some of the ones I’m keenly aware of – the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards comprise dozens of regulations in three categories: crash avoidance, crashworthiness, and post-crash survivability.  None of these prevent me from operating my vehicle at an unsafe rate of speed…an expensive reality that an Ohio State Highway Patrolman dutifully reminded me of last Sunday afternoon.

Likewise, there are many regulations to ensure safety and prevent hazards of all kinds in industry, administered by a host of agencies that are either subordinates of, or accountable to, the federal government.  When you manufacture products that are used with high energy sources (compressed air or high voltage electricity,) a strong commitment to safety is not negotiable.  So, at EXAIR, we commit considerable resources towards the best engineering and manufacturing practices to make our products as safe as possible.  That includes compliance with a number of standards and certifications:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor.  Their mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”  They are a regulatory body in the truest sense, in that they don’t offer certification or approval of products, processes, etc.; they publish guidelines and standards for manufacturers and users to comply with.  OSHA Standard 1910.242(b), for instance, limits the downstream pressure of a compressed air operated device used for cleaning purposes to 30psi. Now, you can regulate the supply pressure to meet this, but that also limits the effectiveness of the air flow generated.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are all designed and manufactured to be in compliance with this standard, at any supply pressure.  Take, for example, our Super Air Nozzles:

Because none of our products can be dead-ended, there’s always a relief path preventing the downstream pressure from exceeding that level.

OSHA also has Standard 1910.95(a), that sets limits for maximum allowable noise exposure.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, with the exception of some our largest and most power Super Air Nozzles (which aren’t normally used in areas that don’t already require hearing protection anyway) meet the 8-hour exposure limits of this standard.

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.

CE marking indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold withing the European Economic Area.  Unlike OSHA standards, responsibility for CE marking falls solely with the seller of the product – a CE marked product has been tested and certified to have been made in such a way to meet safety & quality benchmarks specified for that type of product.  All EXAIR products that are defined under applicable directives have been tested according to these standards, and carry the CE mark.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS, is another standard borne from the European Union, and is geared towards public & workplace safety by restricting the use of hazardous materials in the manufacture of electronic & electrical equipment.  Since its inception in 2006, similar standards have been vigorously adopted around the globe.  Electrical portions of EXAIR’s Static Eliminators, EFC Electronic Flow Controls, ETC Electronic Temperature Controls, Digital Flowmeters, Solenoid Valves, and Thermostats all comply with the RoHS Directive.

Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act doesn’t address a concern for product users, but rather a particularly troubling human rights issue – Conflict Minerals.  For almost two decades, trade in tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been used by some very bad people to finance violent campaigns against their neighbors.  EXAIR thoroughly and systematically documents our supply chain compliance with this act.  We are proudly committed to our support for this effort to the world a better place for everyone…especially those in desperate circumstances beyond their control.

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products have been successfully implemented into a variety of uses where application- or industry-specific standards are in force.  We’re happy to work with you to determine if our products meet those standards…or can be made to meet them.  If you’ve got such an application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Heat Transfer – 3 Types

When you have two objects and they are of different temperatures, we know from experience that the hotter object will warm up the cooler one, or conversely, the colder object will cool down the hotter one.  We see this everyday, such as ice cooling a drink, or a fan cooling a person on a hot day.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that heat (energy) transfers from an object of a higher temperature to an object of a lower temperature. The higher temperature object has atoms with higher energy levels and they will move toward the lower energy atoms in order to establish an equilibrium. This movement of heat and energy is called heat transfer. There are three common types of heat transfer.13580963114_f222b3cdd9_z

Heat Transfer by Conduction

When two materials are in direct contact, heat transfers by means of conduction. The atoms of higher energy vibrate against the adjacent atoms of lower energy, which transfers energy to the lower energy atoms, cooling the hotter object and warming the cooler object. Fluids and gases are less heat conductive than solids (metals are the best heat conductors) because there are larger distances between atoms.  Solids have atoms that are closer together.

Heat Transfer by Convection

Convection describes heat transfer between a surface and a liquid or gas in motion. The faster the fluid or gas travels, the more convective heat transfer that occurs. There are two types of convection:  natural convection and forced convection. In natural convection, the motion of the fluid results from the hot atoms in the fluid moving upwards and the cooler atoms in the air flowing down to replace it, with the fluid moving under the influence of gravity. Example, a radiator puts out warm air from the top, drawing in cool air through the bottom. In forced convection, the fluid, air or a liquid, is forced to travel over the surface by a fan or pump or some other external source. Larger amounts of heat transfer are possible utilizing forced convection.

Heat Transfer by Radiation

Radiation refers to the transfer of heat through empty space. This form of heat transfer does not require a material or even air to be between the two objects; radiation heat transfer works inside of and through a vacuum, such as space. Example, the radiation energy from the sun travels through the great distance through the vacuum of space until the transfer of heat warms the Earth.

EXAIR‘s engineered compressed air products are used every day to force air over hot surfaces to cool, as well as dry and/or blow off hot materials. Let us help you to understand and solve your heat transfer situations.

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

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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The picture “Energy Transfer – Heat” by Siyavula Education is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Product Overview: EXAIR Line Vacs

Line Vacs can convey many things.

Do you have operators climbing steps to dump bags of material into hoppers?  Do you need a faster way to remove scrap from a process?  Do you have budgetary constraints in trying to move material from punt A to point B?  If you answered yes to any of these, EXAIR may have a simple solution.  We manufacture an air-operated conveyor that does not have any moving parts, has a very compact design, and generates a high throughput capacity.  They can attach easily to standard hoses, pipes, or sanitary flanges to convert your piping system into a powerful conveying system.   EXAIR manufactures these air-operated conveyors and trademarks them as Line Vacs™.

EXAIR Line Vacs use a small amount of compressed air to generate a powerful vacuum by a Venturi effect.  The unique design of the generator creates a high velocity of air to create a low pressure on one side and a powerful thrust on the other.  The Line Vac can pick up and move solid material from light and fluffy batting to steel components.  They can transfer product horizontally up to 100 feet (30 meters) away and vertically up to 20 feet (6 meters) high.  You can watch a video on the operation of a Line Vac HERE.  Compared to other vacuum or conveying systems, the EXAIR Line Vacs are very quiet, rugged, and powerful.  EXAIR makes a variety of Line Vacs in different sizes, styles, and materials to best fit your application.

 

The standard Line Vac is the most versatile product in this family.  EXAIR stocks a wide range of sizes, materials, and styles for targeting the best solution for moving material.  We have two types of connections, slip-on ends for hose connections and threaded ends for pipe connection.  EXAIR can swap the connections with a slip-on hose on one end with a threaded connection on the other.  They range in diameters from 3/8” (10mm) up to 5” (127mm).  We manufacture the Line Vacs in aluminum, 303SS, and 316SS; but don’t let that deter you if your need them manufactures in any other type of material.  We have high temperature models that can withstand temperatures up to 900 deg. F (482 deg. C).  These Line Vacs work great in applications for loading plastic pellets in hoppers, discarding scrap pieces, trim removal, and transferring material.  If an operator has to carry a container of dry material and climb stairs, a Line Vac could be a much better alternative.

Heavy Duty Line Vac: Hardened Alloy Construction and High Performance

The Heavy Duty Line Vacs are made from a hardened alloy steel for abrasion resistance.  The generators inside these Line Vacs are more powerful than the standard models; so, that they can convey heavier materials at higher conveyance rates.  They can reach rates as high as 40 lbs./min. (18.2Kg/min) of material.  With the hardened alloy construction, they are great for sand blasting applications, ceramic, glass and steel shot.  They are manufactured with inlet and outlet connections for ship-on hoses or threaded pipes.  EXAIR stocks the Heavy Duty Line Vacs in the range from ¾” (19mm) to 3” (76mm) for both hose and NPT connections.  These Line Vacs are our most powerful design with great wear resistance.

EXAIR’s Light Duty Line Vac

On the other end of the Line-Vac spectrum, EXAIR also created the Light Duty Line Vac.   They use much less compressed air than the other Line Vacs which work great for moving lightweight materials over short distances.  They can also be used for removing smoke and fumes from a work area.  The Light Duty Line Vac ranges from ¾” (19mm) up to 6” (152mm) diameter for slip-on hose connections.  This two-piece design provides an effective way of moving material at a lower cost.  It can be used in applications like hopper loading, fiber tensioning, filling operations, and smoke removal.   For moving material within a short distance, the Light Duty Line Vac could be the proper product to use.

Model 161200-316 – 316 Stainless Steel Sanitary Flange Line Vac

Our latest engineering design within the Line Vac family is the Sanitary Flange Line Vacs.  They can fit within sanitary piping systems to convert pipes into a useful conveyor for bulk material and waste removal.  They use an ISO2852 flange for easy disassembly and cleaning to reduce bacterial entrapment.  They ae made from 316 stainless steel material for superior corrosion resistance.  They come in four different sizes to fit the sanitary flanges from 1-½” up to a 3” flange.  For sensitive applications where cleanliness is a major requirement, the Sanitary Flange Line Vac are manufactured for these conditions.

With all of the EXAIR Line Vacs above, they can be sold as kits.  A kit will include a filter, regulator and a bracket.  (A bracket is not sold with the Light Duty Line Vac kits.)  The filter will help keep the Line Vac clean as well as the product that it is conveying.  The regulator is a great tool to vary the conveyance rates for better control.  The bracket helps to mount the Line Vac to a sturdy base for support.  A useful accessory to conveniently hide the compact Line Vac for ease of use and operation.

If you need to convey solid materials in a quick and easy way, an EXAIR Line Vac could be a solution for you.  We have them in a variety of formats to match your application.  They are compact, quiet, and simple to use without any moving parts.  As compared to a conveying system which is bulky and rigid, the Line Vacs are flexible and inexpensive.  Ergonomically, they can save the back-wrenching labor of picking up bags, climbing stairs, and dumping material into hoppers.  If you want to know if the EXAIR Line Vac could work for you, please fill out the Line Vac Data Sheet (click HERE).  An Application Engineer at EXAIR will help to recommend the best unit for you.

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