Super Air Knife Removes Excess Water from Produce Totes

I recently worked with a customer that had an issue with residual moisture left on the outside of some plastic totes used to house produce. The produce went through a washing station and some of the residual water was ending up on the outside of the crate, most notably the top. After the totes were filled and weighed, they were placed on a conveyor to be labeled and processed. The residual water on top of the crate was causing an issue when the machine applied the label. These labels would slide off further down the line, resulting in an inability to recognize the tote. This causes a halt in production and the contents must be identified and relabeled before resuming. They stumbled upon the EXAIR website and reached out to us for assistance.

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Top of the plastic tote

The solution was to install a Model 110018SS Super Air Knife, positioned above the totes against the direction of travel. The term we use for this is counter-flow. By having opposite directions of travel between the airflow and the tote, the Super Air Knife is able to blow the water back into the direction from which it came. This led to the totes being dried and labels had no problem sticking to the dry surface of the plastic tote. They needed a quick resolution as this was causing major headaches and slowing their production. EXAIR ships stock products same day for domestic orders received by 3:00 pm EDT. They were able to place an order that day and have the knife installed just days later.

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EXAIR’s Model 110006SS 6″ SS SAK

EXAIR manufactures the Super Air Knife in lengths from 3”-108” to solve any of your application needs. If lengths longer than that are required, our Model 110900 Coupling Kit will allow you to couple multiple knives together to achieve the desired length. No matter the blowoff, no matter the size, EXAIR has a Super Air Knife that can suit your needs. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to take a look at your application and determine the most suitable solution.

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

Cleaning A Cookie Cutter Die Using A 24″ 316SS Super Air Knife

I recently worked with a food manufacturer who was looking for a way to clean the die roller in their cookie cutting process.The cutting machine is fed by a ribbon of extruded dough that is cut into various shapes as it passes by a 24″ wide roller. After the cookies are cut, the finished product then travels down a chute to a feed tray where it is conveyed to a packaging area. They were starting to see an increase in rejects as some cookies were being “double stamped” as a result of residual dough sticking to the die. They tried to install a brush traveling the span of the roller in an effort to wipe it clean but this wasn’t very effective and also caused some contamination as some of the bristles would break loose. They then tried having an operator use an air gun to manually clean the roller and while this did work, it severely slowed the process down, reducing production and negatively affecting their bottom line.

That’s a lot of cookie cutters!

After discussing the details of the application, I recommended the customer use our 24″ 316ss Super Air Knife in the application. The Super Air Knife produces a laminar sheet of air across the length of the knife and consumes only 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife length when operated at 80 PSIG. The 316ss construction resists pitting and is the preferred choice when being applied to a food process as it minimizes the potential for metal contamination.

SS Super Air Knife available in lengths from 3″ up to 108″

When it comes to wide area treatment, an Air Knife is the optimal choice. If you have a similar application that requires assistance, please contact an Application Engineer at 1-800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Largest collection of cookie cutters I’ve ever seen image courtesy of Steven-L-Johnson via Creative Commons license.

 

EXAIR Super Air Knives Provide more Benefit than Blower Air Knives for Green Bean Processing

A customer who was experiencing some issues with a blow off process in their facility contacted EXAIR for a solution. This customer performs post-harvest processing operations on green beans and other vegetables after they’ve been picked. They were having a problem being able to remove excess moisture after the beans had been washed in cold water and keep additional moisture from forming once packaged. The process involved green beans exiting a wash cycle and moving along a belt conveyor. From there, they are dried by a series of blower style air knives. Shortly after being blown off, the beans are weighed and bagged. Once bagged, it was determined that there was too much moisture inside the package and they could not be shipped.

One common issue with blower style knives, and the fundamental issue in this application, is that the air is heated as it moves through the blower. Depending on the type of blower, outlet air temperatures in excess of 180°F are normal. The effect, in this case, was similar to a convection oven where hot air is circulated over the food to cook it. While the beans were not exposed for a long enough time to actually cook, the high temperature air exiting the blower was enough to raise the temperature of the beans. This caused additional moisture to come out from inside the beans after they were bagged and sealed. This is a condition that the customer wanted to avoid because it would lead to the beans drying out and losing their freshness which is a quality issue for the customer.

A second problem was the turbulent airflow from the blower knives causing the beans to be blown all around on the conveyor. The customer effectively had no control over how forcefully the airflow from the blower powered air knives impacted his product. They were either full-on or full-off. This resulted in less than desirable results from a dryness perspective and also caused damage to the product from the high impact disturbance of the blower air knives.

After talking it over with the customer and learning the specifics of the application, we determined that EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Kit Model 110212SS is able to address both of these issues. The airflow would be at ambient temperature, keeping the product at a desired colder temperature. The blowing force could be precisely adjusted with a pressure regulator so as not to cause damage to the product and provide a laminar airflow to strip the water from the product.

EXAIR’s Super Air Knives are available in 303 or 316 grade Stainless Steel to meet the more stringent requirements of many food grade applications. They also operate at a far lower sound level than blower powered air knives, are more compact for easier mounting, and do not involve the purchase of a blower package and associated ducting.

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Model 11006SS Stainless Steel Super Air Knife

Our Application Engineers can work closely with you to resolve any issues you may be having, even if compressed air isn’t currently a part of the process. If your process involves washing, drying, conveying, or packaging food or other products and you can relate to any of the issues above, please keep EXAIR Corporation in mind as a viable solutions provider. Contact an Application Engineer today and we’ll do our best to help you solve your application problems.

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

Stainless Steel Super Air Knife Used in Mango Processing

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303 Stainless Super Air Knife in Mango de-watering process

Recently, I was working with a customer who specializes in post-harvest fruit processing. In this case, they were processing mangos from complete fruit down into cubes which are subsequently cleaned and packaged into plastic bags and then cardboard boxes for use in other food products.

When the customer contacted me, they were using a stainless steel pipe with holes drilled into it to de-water the fruit chunks after being sprayed to clean the individual pieces. They were using stainless steel pipe as they had a requirement for stainless steel construction due to being food grade facility. The problem with the pipe was that the airflow didn’t provide an even blowing force across the full, 30 inch width of the vibratory conveyor. The pipe solution also used quite a lot of compressed air. Unfortunately the customer could not measure what it was, but they gave me the number and size of the holes drilled into it. From that information, we could determine that they were using about 150 SCFM of compressed air at this one location.

And so, with the ineffectiveness of the pipe as well as the high air consumption, the customer went looking for something better. That’s when they found EXAIR Stainless Steel Super Air Knives on our web site. After some quick discussion to sort out the width of the conveyor and to establish what the need was, we settled on model 110030SS (30” 303 Stainless Steel Super Air Knife) to be mounted across the width of the conveyor (see photo above).

With the Super Air Knife installed, the customer was able to achieve the effectiveness he needed for the de-watering and at an airflow rate that was 42% less compressed air use than what he had before. Some of the other benefits that they were able to achieve without even being conscious of it were the enhanced safety of the OSHA compliant Super Air Knife and the sound level was cut dramatically as well.

EXAIR’s Super Air Knives are used many times in processing and packaging applications to provide a non-contact method for de-watering, blowing off dust, moving product off to one side, drying, ejecting and many more applications like these.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR

 

A Super Air Knife Improves Bagel Operations

Plain Bagel
Plain Bagel

Did you ever wonder how that deep brown crust is created on pretzels and bagels? There’s just a little more to it than toasting them under a burner.

A process engineer from a well-known bagel company contacted me about a problem in their operation. They were having issues containing the lye solution in a dip tank that the bagels are run through. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, is a very corrosive, alkali substance.  When handling this liquid solution,  personnel protection equipment (PPE) is required to protect skin and eyes.  The engineer found evidence of the lye solution dripping from the conveyor onto other components in the process.  For safety, maintenance and cleanliness, he needed to find a way to contain the lye in the dip tank area.

The conveying system used a gear-driven sprocket to move the conveyor. The conveyor was a 30” wide open-mesh belt with chain links attached to the outside for the sprocket.  It was used to move the bagel dough into a dipping station which contained the lye solution.  As you can imagine, there are plenty of areas for the solution to collect into these voids of the belt and drip downstream.  The dough would soak up the solution and then travel into the oven for baking.  As the dough is heated, the lye will start to react with the steam and bagel proteins, turning it into something safe to eat. This Maillard reaction creates the browning of the dough and that yummy crust on the outside.

SS Super Air Knife
SS Super Air Knife

To keep the process safe and clean, they had to keep the lye solution in the dipping area. Because the concentration of the lye was very low, we recommended a stainless steel Super Air Knife.  (EXAIR offers a variety of materials for different types of chemicals)  The engineer ordered model 110030SS Super Air Knife, mounted it above the conveyor, and aimed it in a counter-flow direction to the conveyor travel.  As the belt exited the solution, the Super Air Knife would blow the excess from the mesh and the links back into the dip tank.  This kept the area clean and safe from the caustic solution.

If you have similar processes with caustic or corrosive chemicals that need to be contained, we would be glad to discuss your application and determine which of our products would be helpful to keep your processes, personnel and facility safe.

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

 

“Plain bagel” image courtesy of dreamcatt115Creative Commons License

Stainless Steel Line Vac Conveys Egg Shells from Harvester to Waste Bin

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Our customer has a process where they de-cap eggs which are used in a variety of processes ranging from large scale bakery uses to medical uses for developing vaccines. The problem is they are left with a reasonable amount of egg shell waste that needs to be cleaned up after each cycle in the de-capping process. The previous method relied simply on friction and gravity to get the egg shell to go into the direction the customer wanted.

The problem with this method is that reliability was quite low. Egg shell would remain inside the egg, inside the tooling and pretty much everywhere around the de-capping process. The customer wanted to clean things up in the process a bit and increase the reliability that the shells go where they want them to which is a waste container about 5 meters away from the de-capper. The rate of shell flow was about 20 kilos per hour.

The customer made a search on the Internet for Air Vacuum conveyors and found EXAIR Corporation. After a short discussion to find out the specifics concerning rate of flow, distance, density of the product and available air pressure, we were able to make a suitable recommendation.

We ended up recommending EXAIR Model 6963 (1-1/2” Stainless Steel Line Vac kit). Having the full kit available allows the customer to install the Line Vac using included bracket for mounting as well as the air filter/separator and compressed air regulator with gauge to allow for accurate tuning of the air pressure to get just the right amount of suction from the Line Vac unit.

The customer purchased the recommended kit and installed on their machine. They have claimed the reliability has gotten to the point where the problem has nearly gone away. They still had some issues with the blades used, which they intend to sort out as a next step in their process of continuous improvement.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com