Using EXAIRSUniversal Air Knife Mounting System greatly ease’s the installation of all Air Knives (Except PVDF). It will save you the time and expense of designing and fabricating your own mounting system which will maximize your uptime and keep your staff focused on key plant tasks!
A few weeks ago, for the first time this season, I had to scrape ice off of my windshield before heading to work. Living in the Midwest, this is the first sign that winter is coming. The colder climate doesn’t just alter my typical morning rituals but it also brings with it much drier air. This dry air can create static problems in your facility that will wreak havoc on your processes and sometimes the operators.
I recently had the pleasure of working with a customer in Vietnam that was having some issues with static electricity in a labeling process. The company makes dishwashing liquid and before bottling they must label the PET bottles. They were not able to get the labels to properly adhere to the bottle. This forced them to periodically stop the line and have two operators manually rub the surface of the label to get it to stick properly. They knew there had to be a better way. After spending some time searching the internet for solutions, they stumbled upon the EXAIR website and reached out to us for help.
The solution was to install (2) 112012 12” Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives, one on either side of the bottles. They were installed at about a 45° angle with the airflow pattern against the direction of travel of the bottles. This counter-flow as we call it, maximizes the time in contact that the bottles have with the static eliminating ionized airflow. Mounting them in this manner gives the best possible chance of success in any static eliminating, cleaning, drying, or blowoff application. The airflow is able to reach the bottles much earlier up the line than if it were to be simply blowing perpendicular to the bottles.
Unfortunately in this case the customer was unable to quantify their production gains. But they were able to remove the additional process of manually fixing the labels and could operate continuously without interruption. By eliminating the tedious step of inspecting bottles and fixing the labels, worker morale and job satisfaction was significantly improved.
If the cold, dry winter climate has you worried about static issues in your facility, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to determine a solution from our wide range of Gen4 Static Eliminators.
Sometimes you need more power. I received a phone call from a bottling facility that was currently using a blower style type of air knives. They increased their production rate from 220 bottles/min to 300 bottles/minute, and they started to see issues in the labeling process. Their operation consisted of a wash cycle, rinse cycle, drying cycle, then labeling. They determined that the bottles were not getting dry enough during the drying cycle before the labels were applied. They had a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) for the blower system, and they reached the maximum rate. Still the bottles were not getting dry enough to allow the label to stick to the surface properly. This meant that they would have to increase the size of their blower system. With the capital cost of a blower system, they decided to call EXAIR to see if we could help them with the drying application.
Compressed air is the best way for establishing a strong blowing force. Instead of air pressures in the range of inches of water, the compressed air system can generate over 40 times the amount of pressure than a typical blower system. EXAIR products uses this power of the compressed air to give you a wide range of blowing forces for drying, cooling, or moving products. For the above application, I recommended two model 110212 Super Air Knife kits. The kit includes the Super Air Knife, a filter, a regulator, and a shim set. They mounted one knife on each side of the bottles to blow off and remove the liquid after the rinse cycle. Even at the increased bottle speeds, the EXAIR Super Air Knives had no issues in keeping the bottles dry. With the regulator and the shim, it was easy for them to dial in the correct amount of force without using excess compressed air. The labels remained glued and the bottling process ran smoothly. Because the company was impressed by the Super Air Knives, they wanted to comment on the comparisons between the blower knife and the Super Air Knife.
Blower System – The reason for contacting EXAIR. Blower-type air knives are an expensive set up. They require a blower, ducting, and a knife. To have any flexibility, a control panel with a VFD will be needed.
Super Air Knife – It is a fraction of the cost. With their system, we were roughly 1/10 the cost; even with the kit. No capital expense report would be needed for the two air knives.
Blower System – They stated that it took them a week to install the entire system before they were able to operate. They had to run electrical wires, controls, ducting, and they even had to change the conveying system slightly to accommodate the blower size.
Super Air Knife – They mounted the filter and the regulator on the conveyor, and ran tubing to the Super Air Knives. Even with a fabricator making a bracket to fit into their system, they had the system up and running is less than two hours.
Blower System – The foot print of the blower is large and it takes up floor space. The 3” ducting had to be ran to an oversized air knife. With the congestion of the bottle system, it made it difficult to optimize the position and the blowing angle to adequately dry the bottles.
Super Air Knife – With the compact design, the Super Air Knife packs a large force in a small package. It has a footprint of 1 ¾” X 1 ½” X 12” long. The air knife only required a ¼” NPT compressed air line to supply the compressed air. It opened up the floor space as well as the bottling area.
Blower System – The blower filter had to be changed regularly, and system had to be checked. Being that the blower motor is a mechanical device, the bearings will wear and the motor will fail over time. These items should be checked quarterly as a PM which increase the cost to run the system.
Super Air Knife – No moving parts to wear out. The only maintenance would be to change the filter once a year.
Blower System – They did have a VFD to control the blowing force. But it was still very limited. With a 36% increase in the bottle speed, they went beyond the maximum capacity of the blower.
Super Air Knife – With a regulator and the shim set, the blowing force can be controlled easily from a breeze to a blast. With their application, the customer only required 40 psig with a standard 0.002” shim to clean and dry the bottles. They had the option to adjust the regulator or change the shim to get the appropriate amount of blowing force. So, with any changes in the bottling operations, the Super Air Knife could easily be adjusted. Also, with the blowing force being optimal from a distance of 3” to 12” from the target, they had more flexibility in angle and distance to hit the moving target.
Blower System – With the blower and turbulent air flow, the units are very loud. It had a sound level near 93 dBA, and with the operators working around the system, they needed PPE to protect them from the high potential of noise induced hearing loss.
Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. At 40 PSIG, the sound level is only at 61 dBA. (Even operating at a pressure of 100 PSIG, the sound level is only 72 dBA). This was very nice for the operators to work around as it wasn’t a constant noise nuisance.
In using the compressed air, the Super Air Knives are engineered to be very efficient. The design creates a 40:1 amplification ratio which means that for every 1 part of compressed air, 40 parts of the ambient air is entrained. But, even with the use of compressed air, the customer still wanted to share the ease of installing, the effectiveness of blowing, and the improvements to their process. With the 6 points noted above, the customer wished that they would have contacted EXAIR at the beginning.
When a customer has a problem with a labeling process within their operation, many times they call EXAIR to provide a solution. The company in this example manufactures honey and dispenses it into jars and squeeze bottles. Due to an increase in demand, they were looking to increase their output. To do this, they simply increased the speed of their conveyor to accommodate approximately 70 jars per minute instead of their typical 50 jars per minute. This began to present a problem and they reached out to EXAIR for a solution.
After dispensing the honey, the jars and bottles travel through a washing station. The containers pass through a heated chamber that dries the excess water from the jar. At the higher speed, they were experiencing some residual water left on the containers. This began to pose an issue when they reached the labeling process. With water remaining on the jars, the labels adhesive would not adhere properly. This led to an increased amount of rejections and additional rework time to remove the rest of the label and re-run the defective containers.
They had a point in the conveyor just prior to labeling that the sides of the jar would be exposed. My recommendation was to install (2) 110009 9” Super Air Knives on each side of the conveyor to remove the water that was left after exiting the drying chamber. This worked like a charm and the customer was able to maintain an increased level of output without experiencing any further complications. Their previous rate of production without the Super Air Knives was approximately 50 jars per minute. By installing the Super Air Knives, they were able fully realize their 70 jars per minute goal and increase their production by 40%!
The laminar flow that exits the Super Air Knife wraps itself around the outside of the jar, stripping away any leftover moisture. Supplied at 80 PSIG, each knife will consume only 26.1 SCFM of compressed air at a sound level of just 69 dBA. The flow and force from the knife are infinitely adjustable by dialing in the operating pressure with a pressure regulator or swapping out the shims with a Super Air Knife Shim Set. If you’re experiencing an issue with residual water or liquid on your product that is causing a problem during production, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to take a look and recommend the most suitable blowoff solution!
The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.
The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:
This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.
In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.
Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.
Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.
Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.
As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:
Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:
52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually. Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*
Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles. The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set. But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*
*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar. You’re welcome.
That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.
I recently worked on an application with a manufacturer who was having issues with their labeling process. The sticker label is applied to the side of their container by a print roller and then passes by a 6” homemade manifold system with 3 nozzles to help permanently affix it n(see below). They were experiencing irregularities/air bubbles in the label and realized they were getting an uneven airflow which was stronger at each end nozzle but the middle nozzle had very little flow. They were operating at around 80 PSIG and previously tried to lower the pressure but the label would start peeling off. If they increased the pressure they were experiencing tearing and ripping in certain areas of the label. Another issue was the loud noise level. They were having to stop the line and turn off the air so an operator could manually replace the label. They emailed me a picture of the manifold and asked if EXAIR could improve their process.
After reviewing the picture and further discussing their application, I recommended using one of our 6” Aluminum Super Air Knives. The Super Air Knife , with a 40:1 amplification rate (surrounding ambient air to compressed air), provides a high velocity laminar sheet of airflow the entire length of the knife. By continuing to operate at 80 PSIG, the Super Air Knife will produce a velocity of 11,800 feet per minute (6” away from target object) and consume only 17.4 SCFM (2.9 SCFM per inch of knife) with a low noise level of only 69 dBA.
By replacing the manifold, the customer was able to improve their process, decrease their air consumption and increase their personnel’s safety.
If you are experiencing a similar issue or need help with a different compressed air application, please give us a call.
I worked with a customer recently who was experiencing a static issue when trying to apply a bar coded label to their cardboard box. The boxes travel down a conveyor then passes by a labeler that uses a mechanical arm with air vacuum to hold the label in place. As the box passes by a sensor, the arm applies the label to the corner (front and side) and then the box passes by an applicator brush that ensures the label is firmly applied.
They were starting to see wrinkles in the label as it passed by the brush and were thinking the label was holding a static charge which was making it be rejected by the box during the process. They were experiencing this about every other box. When it would occur, they would need to stop the line and manually check to make sure the label was seated properly. As a result, this was negatively affecting their production time and increasing wasted labels.
Since they thought it was the label holding the static charge, they wanted to use one of our Ionizing Bars to remove the static from the label as it was attached to the arm. The Ionizing Bar produces a high concentration of positive and negative ions able to dissipate 5 kV in 0.30 seconds, 2” from the object’s surface. It is also UL listed for safety and RoHS compliant.
The customer is local, so they asked if someone from EXAIR could visit their location and take a look at their process. I was able to make the appointment for the next morning and brought a few of our Static Eliminating products and a Static Meter to take some measurements. By measuring within 1” of the surface of the product, the Static Meter measures the voltage and polarity up to +/- 20 kV.
Upon arrival, I was directed to the labeler and took a measurement – I was only getting a reading of about 0.2 kV. I then decided to take a reading on the box itself as it traveled down the conveyor. Now I was getting a reading of 3 – 5 kV, which meant that it was the box and not the label that was holding the static charge.
Since the customer could get within 2” of the surface of the box, they were able to mount a 6” Ionizing Bar vertically to remove the static prior to the labeling process. This helped to greatly reduce the downtime of the line.