Opportunities To Save On Compressed Air

If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:

EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

This guideline is as comprehensive as you want it to be.  It’s been applied, in small & large facilities, as the framework for a formal set of procedures, followed in order, with the goal of large scale reductions in the costs associated with the operation of compressed air systems…and it works like a charm.  Others have “stepped” in and out, knowing already where some of their larger problems were – if you can actually hear or see evidence of leaks, your first step doesn’t necessarily have to be the installation of a Digital Flowmeter.

Here are some ways you may be able to “step” in and out to realize opportunities for savings on your use of compressed air:

  • Power:  I’m not saying you need to run out & buy a new compressor, but if yours is
    Recent advances have made significant improvements in efficiency.

    aging, requires more frequent maintenance, doesn’t have any particular energy efficiency ratings, etc…you might need to run out & buy a new compressor.  Or at least consult with a reputable air compressor dealer about power consumption.  You might not need to replace the whole compressor system if it can be retrofitted with more efficient controls.

  • Pressure: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure.  In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental for the pressure to be too high.  Depending on the layout of your compressed air supply lines, your header pressure may be set a little higher than the load with the highest required pressure, and that’s OK.  If it’s significantly higher, intermediate storage (like EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank, shown on the right) may be worth looking into.  Keep in mind, every 2psi increase in your header pressure means a 1% increase (approximately) in electric cost for your compressor operation.  Higher than needed pressures also increase wear and tear on pneumatic tools, and increase the chances of leaks developing.
  • Consumption:  Much like newer technologies in compressor design contribute to higher efficiency & lower electric power consumption, engineered compressed air products will use much less air than other methods.  A 1/4″ copper tube is more than capable of blowing chips & debris away from a machine tool chuck, but it’s going to use as much as 33 SCFM.  A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (shown on the right) can do the same job and use only 14 SCFM.  This one was installed directly on to the end of the copper tube, quickly and easily, with a compression fitting.
  • Leaks: These are part of your consumption, whether you like it or not.  And you shouldn’t like it, because they’re not doing anything for you, AND they’re costing you money.  Fix all the leaks you can…and you can fix them all.  Our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector (right) can be critical to your efforts in finding these leaks, wherever they may be.
  • Pressure, part 2: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure (seems I’ve heard that before?)  Controlling the pressure required for individual applications, at the point of use, keeps your header pressure where it needs to be.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product Kits come with a Pressure Regulator (like the one shown on the right) for this exact purpose.
  • All of our engineered Compressed Air Product Kits include a Filter Separator, like this one, for point-of-use removal of solid debris & moisture.

    Air Quality: Dirty air isn’t good for anything.  It’ll clog (and eventually foul) the inner workings of pneumatic valves, motors, and cylinders.  It’s particularly detrimental to the operation of engineered compressed air products…it can obstruct the flow of Air Knives & Air Nozzles, hamper the cooling capacity of Vortex Tubes & Spot Cooling Products, and limit the vacuum (& vacuum flow) capacity of Vacuum Generators, Line Vacs, and Air Amplifiers.

Everyone here at EXAIR Corporation wants you to get the most out of your compressed air use.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air Use in the Food and Beverage Industry

On our Website we have a comprehensive database of applications we have worked on with our products. These are pretty easy to find, Johns Blog will walk you through the process on how to access these applications.  While John covered Compressed Air Use in the Construction Industry, I will be covering Compressed Air Use in Food and Beverage Industry.

Appdata2
Application Database

EXAIR products are very commonly used in the food and beverage industry, from blowing water off cans before labeling, to conveying food products to hoppers for processing.  See three examples from our application data base;

foodbev1
Super Air Knife in meat processing
foodbev2
EXAIR Line Vac used in almond packaging process
foodbev3
Super Air Knife clean excess flour off belt

Use our Application Assistance Worksheet to submit information about your application. When you submit this information, we will respond with our recommendation for the EXAIR product best suited for the application. Please complete the Application Assistance Worksheet and click submit or print the completed .pdf file and fax it to us at (513) 671-3363. For immediate help, call our Application Engineering Department at 1 800 903-9247.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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No Matter The Size of The System, Air Leaks Should be Fixed

Just last night I was in my garage tinkering around with a vintage Coleman Camping lantern from 1949 that I am working on refurbishing. I grabbed my parts washing bin (A bread pan my wife let me have because she didn’t like the way it cooked bread) and was reminded that I had been soaking a helmet lock from a friends dirt bike in a penetrating oil. I removed the lock from the pan, wiped it down, then went to my trusty 30 gallon compressor to use a Safety Air Gun to blow the residual oil out of the lock.

When not in use my compressor stays turned off and I modified the factory outlet to include a quarter turn ball valve so that I can retain all air in the receiver tank and not have to charge the tank up every time that I use it. As I turned the valve on I was reminded that I have a rather large air leak that can drain the 30 gallon tank down from 150 psig to 60 psig within a few hours.

While my air system is almost as simple as it can be, single air hose real with an additional quick disconnect before the hose reel for small quick blow offs, it still has over a dozen connections within the system. While my worst offending leak is audible to my slightly aged ears there are other leaks that I cannot see or hear. That is unless I use one of two methods I know to find leaks.

The easiest is right out of our 6 Steps of Compressed Air Optimization, the Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD). The ULD is a versatile, low cost, hands free electronic device that will quickly and easily detect the general vicinity of a leak and then easily pinpoint the exact point of the leak. In conducting a test, it took right at twenty minutes to test each of the connections within my system and identify which connections had leaks. The actual repairs of the leaks around an hour. Before fixing though I timed the amount of time it took a friend to use the soapy water method to detect the same leaks.

The soapy water method timed in at around thirty-five minutes for the same number of connections. This was due to a few of the fittings needing to be tested multiple times because of small leaks. It then took an additional fifteen minutes to wipe up all the soapy water that was now dripping down the air line and around the fittings.

While both methods found the same leaks and the ULD performed the task quicker and without any cleanup required, the true focus was on all leaks being repaired. My system has a dozen connection points for a two outlet compressed air system that are regulated and filtered at a single point. This system was draining a 30 gallon tank within a few hours which costs me every time I used my compressor and did not shut off the valve that shuts off the system.

This burden on my electrical bill was removed with less than two hours of labor and I can now leave the compressor fully charged and have air as soon as I need it rather than having to wait for the tank to charge up. Had this been in a production environment the cost could have crippled production resulting in catastrophic.

If you would like to discuss how leaks within your system can easily be found by using the ULD or would like to learn more about the other five steps in our Six Steps To Compressed Air Optimization, contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Ph. 1-513-671-3322
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

EXAIR Air Nozzles – Here’s Their Simple ROI

Return on Investment, or ROI, is the ratio of profit over total investment.  Many people use it to check stocks, financial markets, capital equipment, etc.  It is a quantitative way in determining the validity for an investment or project.   You can use the ROI value to give a measurable rate in looking at your investment.

For a positive ROI value, the project will pay for itself in less than one year.  Any negative values would represent a high-risk investment.  In this blog, I will compare the ROI when replacing a ¼” NPT open pipe with a model 1122 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle.  Let’s start by looking at Equation 1 to calculate the Return on Investment:

Equation 1:  ROI = (Total annual savings – Total Project Cost) / Total Project Cost * 100

The second part of the equation, Total Project Cost, is the cost of the nozzles plus the labor to install them onto the machine.  The model 1122, 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle, has a price of $70.00 each.  The cost of a ¼” NPT Pipe that is roughly 2” long is around $1.50 each.  What a difference!  How could EXAIR been in business for over 35 years?  Let’s continue on with the Return on Investment…

The amount of time required to install the nozzles to the end of a pipe is 1/2 hour (generously).  The labor rate that I will use in this example is $75.00 per hour (you can change this to your current labor rate).  The labor cost to install a nozzle is $35.00.   The Total Project Cost can be calculated as follows: ($70 – $1.50) + $35.00 = $103.50.  The next part of the equation, Total annual savings, has more complexity in the calculation, as shown below.

As a reference, EXAIR Super Air Nozzles for compressed air would be considered like LED light bulbs for electricity.  The open pipes and tubes would represent the incandescent light bulbs.  The reason for this parity is because of the amount of energy that the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles can save.  While LED light bulbs are a bit more expensive than the incandescent light bulbs, the Return on Investment has a high percentage, or in other words, a short payback period.  On the other hand, the open pipe is less expensive to purchase, but the overall cost to use in your compressed air system is much much higher.  I will explain why.

To calculate the Total Annual Savings, we need to generate a blow-off scenario (You can use your actual values to calculate the ROI for your project).  In this example, I will compare the ¼” NPT open pipe to the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle.  (The reason behind this comparison is that the model 1122 can screw directly onto the end of the 1/4” NPT pipe.)   The amount of compressed air used by a 1/4” NPT open pipe is around 140 SCFM (3,962 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  The model 1122 has an air consumption of 21.8 SCFM (622 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  At an electrical rate of $0.08 per Kilowatt-hour, we see that the cost to make compressed air is $0.25 per 1000 standard cubic feet, or $0.25/1000SCF.  (Based on 4 SCFM per horsepower of air compressor).

To calculate an annual savings, let’s use a blow-off operation of 8 hours/day for 250 days a year.   Replacing the ¼” NPT open pipe with a model 1122, it will save you (140 SCFM – 21.8 SCFM) = 118.2 SCFM of compressed air.  To put this into a monetary value, the annual savings will be 118.2 SCFM *$0.25/1000SCF * 60 Min/hr * 8hr/day * 250 day/yr = $3,546/year.  Now if you have more than one blow-off spot in your facility like this, imagine the total amount of money that you would save.

With the Total Annual Cost and the Project Cost known, we can insert these values into Equation 1 to calculate the ROI:

ROI = (Total annual savings – Total Project Cost) / Project Cost * 100

ROI = ($3,546 – $103.50) / $103.50 * 100

ROI = 3326%

With a percentage value that high, we are looking at a payback period of only 9 days.  You may look at the initial cost and be discouraged.  But in a little over a week, the model 1122 will have paid for itself.  And after using it for just 1 year, it will save your company $3,546.00.  Like with any great idea, the LED light bulb clicked on in my mind.  What could be the total savings if you looked at all the blow-off applications in your facility?

EXAIR Nozzles

In my experience, a loud blowing noise from your equipment is generally coming from an open pipe or tube.  With these “cheap” ways to blow compressed air, it will cost your company a lot of money to use as shown in the example above.  If you would like to team up with EXAIR to set up ways to increase savings, improve productivity, and increase safety, you can contact an Application Engineer to get started.  It can be as simple as screwing on a Super Air Nozzle.

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

Effectively and Efficiently Remove Chips and Debris from Blind Holes

I was recently contacted by an automotive parts manufacturer that was looking for a solution for cleaning out blind holes in a variety of machined parts. After discussing the application, we settled on a 1697SS-6-CS VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun with Pico Nozzle, 6” Extension, and a Chip Shield. The small M5 nozzle at the tip of the gun allowed them to insert it inside of the hole and dislodge the hard-to-reach chips inside of the holes.

1697SS VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun

This worked very well for removing the chips, but they were encountering an unexpected issue as these chips were now getting lodged in other areas of the part as they were ejected. They then had to visually inspect the entire part after each blowoff to ensure that everything was completely removed.

What they thought to be an ideal solution, ended up not being the best fit. They gave us a call back to inquire about an alternative solution. We offer another product, the Deep-Hole Vac-U-Gun, that is capable of both removing chips and debris from blind holes and also vacuuming it away simultaneously.

This addresses the problem of dislodged chips being caught elsewhere on the parts. Fortunately, EXAIR offers an unconditional 30-day guarantee for all stock products. They were able to return the previously purchased gun and apply the credit towards the purchase of the Deep Hole Vac-u-Gun system.

The Deep Hole Vac-u-Gun is a low-cost solution to quickly remove chips and contaminants from grooves, containers, and drilled holes. In applications where simply blowing the debris out of the hole isn’t suitable, simply position the Deep Hole Vac-u-Gun over the hole and press the trigger. A small blow tube (3) dislodges and lifts the chips while the large suction tube (5) vacuums them away. The operator is then protected from flying debris since the contaminants are then contained within the suction tube and directed into a filter bag or other container with the included vacuum hose.

Sometimes we don’t always get it right on the first try. But, with the ability to take advantage of the 30-day guarantee we’ll make sure to get the best product to you for your application. With same day shipments with orders received by 3:00 ET for stock products, EXAIR can get a solution out to you quickly!

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

Airguns, OSHA, And You

Depending on the context, those may be three words you DON’T want to hear in the same sentence. Case in point…a caller I spoke with recently, who works at a large steel forging plant. During a recent inspection, management was surprised (and disappointed) to find out that, unbeknownst to them, some of their operators had modified some of their compressed air blow off devices.

These modifications left them in violation of both OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) (limit on outlet, or dead end pressure) and 1910.95(a) (limits noise level exposure.)  The OSHA inspector left them with an $8,000.00 fine, and a promise to return with an even higher one if the situation wasn’t corrected.

We discussed the ways their current devices were supplied, the conditions they were operating in, what they were used for…and why the operators had modified them.  Sadly, we found the devices were underperforming due to air supply issues – hoses that were too small in diameter and/or too long, with restrictive quick connect fittings.  And some of their modifications (drilling out the discharge) just exacerbated those problems.

Most of their applications were pretty typical – blowing flash, chips, oil, coolant, etc. from processed metal parts.  Typical enough that a couple of EXAIR Safety Air Guns would allow them to determine what they would need, by taking them around to various stations in the plant and trying them out.

My caller ordered a Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with a Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle (our most popular for typical blow off applications,) and a Model 1260 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with a High Force 1/2 NPT Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle (the most powerful one available on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.)

Here’s Model 1210-6-CS, fitted with a Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle on a 6″ Rigid Extension & Chip Shield.  All EXAIR Safety Air Guns are compliant with OSHA Standard 1910.242(b).

I feel pretty good about the chances of publishing a future blog about the success of this application.  If you want to keep up, I encourage to follow the EXAIR blog – there’s a link to the right to provide your email address – for more on this one, other applications, and a wealth of expert writings on how to get the most out of your compressed air system.

As always, if you’d like to discuss a particular compressed air application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Manufactures Custom Solutions with Precision and Speed

Customs
An Air Amplifier with a PTFE plug (left,) a curved Super Air Knife (center,) and a flanged Line Vac are just a few ways EXAIR has provided custom solutions.

Because EXAIR designs and manufactures our own products here in Cincinnati, we can take advantage of the speed, control, and flexibility that comes with full service manufacturing. If you need a customization of a current production product or if you would like to start a compressed air application from scratch, we can probably help. This is true throughout our entire product line, the following custom examples are of our Super Air Knife products.

Do you have an application that may not be best served by one of our stock Super Air Knife products? While we have quite a variety of both materials, sizes, and connection types sometimes a special application requires a special solution. For this reason,  EXAIR manufactures special Super Air Knives suited EXACTLY for the type of application or environment that it’ll be operating in.

Unique applications are fairly common, and the Super Air Knife provides a great solution to many of them.  Consider these situations:

  • A machine builder had to fit an air knife in a 43″ channel.  We had it covered: we made them a custom (non-stock) 43″ 303SS Super Air Knife and shipped it in three days.
  • A user needed 15″ (and only 15″) of air flow.  A Model 110018 18″ Aluminum Super Air Knife, off the shelf, would provide an “overflow” which would disturb product in the vicinity of the blow off.  We had it covered…a custom shim can be made to provide 15″ (and only 15″) of air flow out of an 18″ Super Air Knife.  It only takes a couple of days to get the special shim. We can make shims to center the airflow, keep it all on one side of the knife, have it come out two separate areas etc.
  • Our customer needed the lightweight of the aluminum air knife, but the ambient air temp was causing the stock plastic shim to melt and cause leaks. So we made a custom 4″ Super Air Knife and installed a Stainless Steel Shim.

custom air knives
If your application is more challenging than a custom shim, we’ve also made Air Knives with (left to right) curved radius, special material (glass filled PEEK shown here,) flat, double-sided, and even one with end-mount threaded holes.

We’ve also made a variety of special Air Knives, when more than just length is a consideration.  So, even if your application is “Unique” it’s very likely that we still have you Covered. Give us a call and we can prove it to you!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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