Solving Static and Increasing Print Quality on Food Packaging

Gen4 Static Eliminators

A yogurt company printed bar codes on every cup that they produced. This was necessary for registering and tracing their product. After failing a bar code reader quality test, they started noticing some print issues during batch runs. They would have to stop their system, clean the inkjet printer head, and scrap product that would not register with the bar code reader.

This affects production rates, scrap rates, and overall cost. They stated that they threw away 30 to 40 cases per batch of yogurt due to this problem. They had an EXAIR catalog where they found a similar application within our Gen4 Static Eliminator product line. They contacted us to see if we could find a solution.

With non-conductive material like plastic, static is easily generated; especially during cooler weather. Static can be in a negative state or a positive state dependent on the material. For opposite charges, things are attracted to each other and will “stick” like magnets. For similar charges, they will repel each other. The higher the static charge, the stronger the force.

For the company above, the yogurt cups moved along a 7” (178mm) wide conveyor before they reached the bar code printer. This movement causes static to be generated on the surface of the cups. But, what about the inkjet printer? The function of the printer charges the ink droplets for direction and positioning. Since the ink droplets and the cup surfaces have the same charge, the droplets were being “pushed” back toward the printing head (reference photo below). Thus, the ink would dry on the surface and affect the quality of the bar code.

Bar Code Printer

When it comes to removing static, EXAIR is a leader in this market. We have a large product line of different types of Static Eliminators. Our design generates both positive and negative ions to remove any type of static charge. Since we only had to remove the static from the surface of the cup, I recommended a Gen4 Ionizing Bar. With a quick static decay rate, we can remove the static right before the bar code printer with only one Gen4 Ionizing Bar. For this application, I recommended the model 8003 3” Gen4 Ionizing Bar and a model 7960 Gen4 Power Supply. Together, it was very easy to mount and start using. EXAIR stocks lengths from 3” (76mm) up to 108” (2743mm), and we can ship a solution the same day. When you are losing 30 to 40 cases, time matters. And for this company, they received the items the next day to correct the misprints and short printing runs.

Gen4 Ionizing Bar w/ power supply

When problems occur, time can be of the essence. This is why EXAIR stocks our cataloged items for fast delivery.  For the company above, they had an EXAIR catalog which helped them to find a solution. If you would like to have an EXAIR catalog, you can click here to get one.   After they started using the Ionization Bar, the static was removed, the bar code was clean, and the operation ran smoothly. If static is causing issues for you, you can contact EXAIR and speak to one of our Application Engineers. We will be happy to assist you.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Sanitary Flange Air Conveyors in Type 316SS

EXAIR currently offers a multitude of configurations when it comes to the Line Vac – air operated conveyors product line.  One of the easiest to install and best suited for food, pharmaceutical, chemical or other sanitary environments is the Sanitary Flange Line Vac¯.

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

These are offered in four standard pipe sizes, 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″ and 3″.  The models are only available from stock in 316 stainless steel.   The sanitary flange is designed to be compatible with ISO 2852.  These can easily be used with a “Tri-Clover” clamp and gaskets of varying materials to fit your needs.  They have no internal moving parts and offer a compact, high throughput, quiet conveyance for parts, gases or ingredients.

EXAIR’s Sanitary Flange Line Vacs are offered from stock in four sizes.
Easily install into existing pipe runs for improved process performance.

With the sanitary flange design installation or removal are simplified in order to remove the unit for cleaning or reversing.  If you would like to discuss just how easy these are to upgrade your existing system or to install into a new system, please contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

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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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

Benefits of Adding Thermostat Controls to Cabinet Coolers

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The image above shows a NEMA 4 Cabinet Cooler after years of use in a food production facility.  The head electrician at the facility which uses this unit, contacted me regarding the possibility of installing thermostat controls on a pre-installed Cabinet Cooler systems.  Apparently there are multiple EXAIR Cabinet Coolers in use around this facility, and as part of an improvement to compressed air efficiency, this facility wanted to explore automated regulation of the temperature in these enclosures (through thermostats). THis customer inquiry was about how to go about implementing such an upgrade.

It was refreshing for the end user to find that we have mechanical thermostat controls, solenoids, and even digital thermostatic solutions available from stock, making the upgrading process easy and pain-free.  After some conversations over the phone and emailing part numbers along with our Cabinet Cooler Installation and Maintenance Guide, which outlines how to install the thermostat for our Cabinet Cooler systems, this customer had everything required to do exactly what they needed in their facility.  (In this case, our model 9016 Solenoid Valve and Thermostat Kit met the voltage and compressed air flow requirements needed for the application.)

Providing efficient, controlled, and reliable solutions for industrial applications is all we do at EXAIR.  If you have an application in need of a complete solution, or just an upgrade, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’re happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

For the record, EXAIR recommends the use of 316 grade stainless steel Cabinet Coolers in food production facilities

Stainless Steel Super Air Knife Used in Mango Processing

SS SAK mango
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

 

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