Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 3 – Use Efficient and Quiet Engineered Products

Compressed air is expensive, and you should treat it that way.  Frequent readers of the EXAIR Blog are familiar with our Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, and you may have seen these recent installments on Steps 1 and 2:

Six Steps to Optimization: Step 1 – Measure the Air Consumption

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 2 – Find and Fix Leaks

Now, there isn’t a strict order in which you MUST perform these steps, and they’re not all applicable in every air system (looking at you, Step 5: Use Intermediate Storage,) but these are likely the steps that a certified auditor will take, and the order in which they’ll take them.  If you’re looking for immediate, quantifiable results, though, Step 3 is a great place to start.  Consider:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube blow off can consume as much as 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll give you a good, strong blow off, for sure.  You can crimp the end and get that down to, say, 20 SCFM or so.  Or, you can install a Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with a compression fitting, and drop that to just 14 SCFM.
    • If you’re tracking your compressed air usage, you’ll see that replacing just one of them saves you 45,600 Standard Cubic Feet worth of compressed in one 5 day (8 hour a day) work week.  That’s $11.40 in air generation cost savings, for a $42 (2020 List Price) investment.
    • If you spend time in the space where it’s installed, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the noise situation.  That sound level from the copper tube is likely over 100 dBA; the Super Air Nozzle’s is only 74 dBA.
This user was only a handful of compression fittings & nozzles away from over $800 in annual compressed air savings.
  • Drilled pipes are another common method to create a blow off.  They’re easy & cheap, but loud & expensive to operate.
    • A pipe drilled with 1/8″ holes and supplied @80psig will consume 13 SCFM per hole, and the holes are typically drilled on 1/2″ centers.
    • An EXAIR Super Air Knife consumes only 2.9 SCFM per inch of length, and because it’s an engineered product, it’s a LOT quieter as well.  Drilled pipes are, essentially, open ended blow offs just like the copper tube mentioned above.  When you let compressed air out of a hole like that, all the potential energy of the pressure is converted to force…and noise.
    • Drilled pipes are among the worst offenders; almost always well in excess of 100 dBA.  Super Air Knives generate a sound level of only 69 dBA with 80psig compressed air supply.  They are, in fact, the quietest compressed air blowing product on the market today.
This Model 110048 48″ Aluminum Super Air Knife replaced a drilled pipe for over $5,000 annual compressed air savings.

These aren’t just theoretical “for instances” either – the data, and the photos above, come from actual Case Studies we’ve performed with real live users of our products.  You can find them here, and here (registration required.)

These are two examples of EXAIR product users who only used Step 3 of our Six Steps, although BOTH of them were already practicing Step 4 (Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use)…they had their blow offs supplied through solenoid valves that were wired into the respective machine controls, and the Air Knife user HAD to do Step 6 (Control the air pressure at the point of use) to keep their product from being blown clear off the conveyor..

But we’ll be happy to help you with optimizing your compressed air system using any or all of the Six Steps. Give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Blast Safety Air Gun Improves Cleanup Process

I had the pleasure of helping a caller out with a cleanup problem not long ago.  Normally, calls involving cleanups involve a discussion of how our Industrial Housekeeping Products might replace an electric shop vacuum or sump pump, but this one was about replacing a broom…with a Super Blast Safety Air Gun.

Now, I need to mention that the folks at Compressed Air Challenge have a list of Inappropriate Uses Of Compressed Air.  Using compressed air for cleaning is on that list, and I couldn’t agree more…as a blanket statement, that is.  Of course, the last paragraph of their document makes it clear that good judgement can, and should, always rule the day: “if safety enhancements, significant productivity gains, or labor reductions will result,” they say, a compressed air solution is certainly worth considering.

That’s exactly what the caller and I did.

See, he works in an equipment service shop.  Their technicians make the company money through billable labor – the time they spend fixing their customers’ equipment.  Of course, they have to spend time on tasks that aren’t billable to jobs…like tool maintenance, paperwork, and keeping a clean shop.  A particular item from a shop audit that caught his attention was the amount of time spent sweeping the floor in the welding area.  Not only did slag & dust get all over the floor out in the open, it accumulated under tables and behind the welding machines themselves.  This meant that technicians had to get down on their hands & knees, and reach brooms under those tables.  Not only was this cumbersome; it wasn’t even 100% effective…when replacing a machine recently, they discovered a surprising amount of debris in a “blind spot” that the broom just couldn’t reach.

After a discussion of the engineered Super Air Nozzles that are available on the Super Blast Safety Air Guns, the caller liked the idea of the Model 1213-7-3.  The hard hitting, tight air flow pattern of the Super Air Nozzle Cluster at the end of a 3 foot extension gave the perfect combination of power & reach for his application.

Super Blast Safety Air Gun makes short work of large area cleanup.

So, at the end of the day, (literally…that’s cleanup time, right?) a task that previously took about 10 minutes for them was reduced to just under two minutes.  Of course, that doesn’t figure in the cost of the compressed air.  The Department of Energy uses a thumbrule that states it costs $0.25 to generate 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air.  At 98 SCFM @80psig, the Super Blast Safety Air Gun’s Cluster DOES use a decent amount of compressed air, so we did the math:

98 SCFM X 2 minutes X $0.25/1,000 SCF =   $0.049

We didn’t need to get in to payroll records, employee benefit packages, etc., to realize that an 80% reduction in labor, improved cleanup (air reaches where the brooms couldn’t,) and worker satisfaction (no more crawling along the floor beside the tables) was worth a nickel a day.

The Super Blast Safety Air Gun can be fitted with a variety of Super Air Nozzles, from our Model 1112 3/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (4.5lbf at 12″) , to our Model 1120 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (23lbf at 12″).

As an Application Engineer, I’m always looking for the best ways to apply our products, and quantify the benefits.  If you call me to discuss an application and the math doesn’t prove it out, I’ll let you know.  If you have a task you’re considering a compressed air solution for, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Knife Prevents Errant Failure Readings On Vision Testing Of Parts

“False Positives” have been in the news a lot recently regarding COVID19 testing. We’re all hoping for better news on that soon, but all I have to offer about that, right now, are my hopes that you and yours are well and safe…and that we’re all in this together, and I’m pulling for you (us).

Manufacturers of precision products often use an automated vision system to inspect parts for defects. These systems can operate at a high rate of speed, and the sensors are capable of reading a very fine resolution, so even very slight blemishes on the surface of a critical part can be detected, allowing for instantaneous rejection of that part…a process that EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are commonly used for.

Model 1104 High Force Super Air Nozzle ejects a rejected package from a high speed conveyor line.

The ejection part of the process, however, is only as effective as the detection operation.  I recently had the pleasure of assisting a caller whose sensor was mounted at the outlet of a wash/rinse tank.  Some moisture carryover (and, at times, just the humidity) would cause moisture to collect or condense on the sensor lens, giving a “false positive” defect signal for a (presumably) perfectly fine part.

The sensor lens itself is 4.5″ in diameter and slightly convex.  They bought a Model 110206 6″ Aluminum Super Air Knife Kit:

  • The Air Knife itself is installed to blow a curtain of air across the lens at all times to keep it clean and free of moisture & condensation.
  • The Automatic Drain Filter Separator keeps the air supply clean & moisture free…remember, whatever’s in your air supply will get on whatever you’re blowing it onto.
  • The Pressure Regulator allows them to dial in the flow & force of the air curtain.  They really only need a good, stiff breeze running across this, so hitting it with full line pressure would just be a waste of perfectly good compressed air.
  • They can even use the 0.001″ thick shim from the Shim Set to dial down their consumption even more, if desired (and why wouldn’t that be desired?)
Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator.

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the most efficient, and quietest, compressed air blow off product on the market today.  They’re on the shelf in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet.  Our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee allows you to try one out, risk free, for up to a month.  What’s stopping you from saving money on compressed air, lowering your noise levels, and (very likely) improving the performance of your air blowing application?  Call me; let’s talk.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Safety Air Guns: Quiet, Safe, And Efficient Blowoff (Literally) In The Palm Of Your Hand

One of the more popular uses in industry for compressed air is blowing off parts or products, and one of the more convenient methods of doing so is by use of a handheld blow off device.  Given this combination of popularity and convenience, the manufacture and use of air guns is prolific.  They come in all shapes & sizes, and can be made simply and cheaply.

Simple and cheap is fine, in most cases, for the air gun itself.  The part that the air comes out, however, can make all the difference in the world when looking at the cost of operation, environmental effects, and the ability to use the device safely:

  • Cost of operation: the simplest design of an air gun is a trigger device that starts & stops the flow of compressed air through an open discharge.  Throttling this down through a narrow passage increases the velocity of the air flow, making for a more powerful blast of air.  Thing is, this still uses a LOT of compressed air to create that powerful blast…much more than an engineered product. 
  • Environmental effects: By this, I mean noise.  Air guns with a simple open discharge can be LOUD – over 100 dBA in many cases.  It’s been well documented, for a long time, that high noise exposure is bad for operators’ health…and not just in the obvious manner of hearing loss.  Among these other effects are high stress, hypertension, and sleep disorders.
  • Safe use: Open ended blow offs are in violation of OSHA’s directive 1910.242(b,) which regulates the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes.  The big hazard is dead-ending the device into your body…the pressurized air can literally tear your skin open, and inject itself inside.  This creates a dangerous and often life-threatening condition known as an embolism.
Thumb guns are a perfect example of the above mentioned “popularity and convenience.”  They can be made efficient, quiet, and safe by replacing the open end discharge fitting with an engineered product like the EXAIR Super Air Nozzle.  Chip Shields provide additional protection for blown back particulate as well.

EXAIR Corporation offers a diverse line of Safety Air Guns that address all three of these items:

  • Our Super Air Nozzles use a smaller amount of compressed air flow to entrain an enormous amount of “free” air from the surrounding environment to generate a resultant high volume, high velocity air flow.  So you get the same job done, using less compressed air.
  • Another benefit to their specific design is that the entrained air forms a boundary layer that attenuates the sound level of the primary flow, resulting in extraordinarily quiet operation, while still producing a very usable air flow.
  • And…they’re fully compliant with OSHA 1910.242(b) because they can’t be dead ended.

If you’re looking for additional encouragement to try one out, consider this:  Order an EXAIR Safety Air Gun right now, and get a FREE Model 1126 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle.  This versatile little engineered blow off device has a number of applications…not the least of which involves its installation on an air gun.

Whichever Safety Air Gun you buy, you get to try a 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle too.

If you’d like to talk about efficiency, sound level reduction, and safety in regard to your use of compressed air (hand held or other,) give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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