Six Sigma and The Compressor Room

Throughout my undergrad courses as well as during my professional career I have encountered Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing in many facilities.  There is at least one component to the theory that can be implemented into any facility with a compressor room. That component is the practice of the 5 S’s.

The 5 S’s of Lean Manufacturing come from the Japanese terms  listed below with their English translations:

Seiri – Sort (Organize)
Seiton – Set in Order (Orderliness)
Seiso – Shine (Cleanliness)
Seiketsu – 
Standardize
Shitsuke –  Sustain (Discipline)

These 5 points can aid in keeping any air compressor room in a facility efficient, safe, and effectively supplying the company with compressed air. How you may ask.

Sort – Keeping a compressor room as originally laid out and preventing it from being a catch-all for items that have nothing to do with the compressed air system. This can easily happen when it is actually a room that has unused floor space in a small facility. By keeping the area clean and free of unrelated materials, maintenance and troubleshooting can be done quickly. Clear labeling of anything kept in the room is also ideal to make items easily identified.

Set in Order – To deliver the air in a single path/direction as well as keeping equipment in locations where they can be easy to maintain and clearly labeled eases the troubleshooting and understanding of how the system is laid out. Rather than having a spaghetti bowl of piping running all around the room to different components it is wiser to keep a flow that matches the process. From the compressor(s) to the receivers, dryers, filter, and regulators, out to the point of use. This shouldn’t be a tangled web of piping that introduces air to a process which bypasses key components such as the dryer or receivers.

Block diagram of a compressor room layout.

Shine – The compressor room shouldn’t be a dirty grungy area. The compressor pulls the air in from this environment. Any exposed components easily collect airborne debris. By keeping the equipment clean again makes labels easy to read and a clean machine is always easier to perform maintenance and sometimes even troubleshoot. If there are puddles of oil or other liquids on the floor and no surfaces are clean then any leak may not be easily spotted.

Standardize – The layout and processes used within the room should be repeatable. Maintenance tasks should be performed on a schedule, per a process that doesn’t allow for much differentiation on methods and end results. This mitigates errors and is always the desired result when focusing on lean manufacturing. LOWER THAT DELTA!

Sustain – This is sometimes the hardest part of any process. Getting the program up and running, starting with a fresh build is always the easiest.  Everything is fresh, new and you want to keep it shiny. Years later the desire to dust and maintain piping as well as keep receiver tanks and floors clean isn’t always at the top of the desired list.  It should always be a priority because cleanliness also promotes safety and reduces overhead by lowering downturns due to housekeeping related failures.

If you want to discuss how we can help lean out your compressed air usage, maintenance costs, and help to standardize the use of compressed air in your facility, contact an Application Engineer today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer – Green Belt Certified
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Labeling Process on Bottling Line

I recently worked with our Argentinian Distributor on an application for a local beverage manufacturer. The customer has a wide range of different beverages that they produce in various sizes and bottles and was having issues with a labeling operation.

plastic water bottles

After the bottles are filled and sealed, they go through a washing operation to remove any contaminants from the outside of the bottle. Afterwards, they make their way along a conveyor where a label is applied around the outside of the bottle. The bottles aren’t always completely dry by the time they get to the labeling step. Any residual moisture on the outside of the bottle can present a problem where the label doesn’t fully adhere to the bottle.

After complaints from their customer about product being received with labels that were peeling off, they implemented a quality check to ensure that the bottles that weren’t properly labeled were fixed before they were shipped out. While this resolved the problem for their customer, it required an extra step.

After searching and discovering EXAIR’s Super Air Knife they reached out for assistance. Due to the variability of the bottle sizes, they needed a solution that was easily adjusted based on what product was being run that day. Fortunately, EXAIR offers a Universal Mounting System for our Super Air Knives that’ll allow them to easily position their blowoff as they need.

The video below shows just how versatile the system is, once locked into position it will stay put until you reposition it! This way, they can set up prior to each shift according to the bottle they’ll be running through.

The solution was to install (2) 110036 36” Super Air Knives with (2) Universal Mounting Systems for each. Any knife 24”-54” will necessitate (2) Universal Mounting Systems, 55”-71” will require (3), 72”-95”, and 96” and over will require (5) to sufficiently support the weight of the knife.

The knives provided a strong blast of air that was able to remove any residual moisture from the exterior of the bottles. This eliminated the need to have a post labeling inspection and the bottles were labeled properly on the first go! Adjustments in between different bottle sizes were made simple with the help of the Universal Mounting System.

SAK pre label blowoff
(2) 110036 Super Air Knives positioned with Universal Mounting System

At EXAIR, we’re all about providing safe, efficient, and reliable solutions to a host of industry related problems. With same day shipment for stock items with an order received by 3:00 ET and a team of highly trained Application Engineers, we’re ready to take your call and get a solution out to you today. Don’t just take my word for it, find out for yourself!

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

 

Plastic bottle photo courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis via Creative Commons License

Universal Air Knife Mounting System Saves You Time & Money

Using EXAIRS Universal 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!

Please note the table below that highlights the recommended number of the Universal Air Knife Mounting System to use for the various length of Air Knives.

Length Of Air Knife Number of UAKMS
3″ – 18″ 1
24″ – 54″ 2
60″ 3
72″ – 95″ 4
96″ – 108″ 5

If you would like to discuss Universal Air Knife Mounting System, Air Knives or any EXAIR compressed air product, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer

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Cold, Dry Climates are a Recipe for Static Problems

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.

PET bottle
Empty PET dishwashing liquid bottle

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.

IMG20171107152410
Operators fixing the labels on the PET bottles

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.

GEN4-siakpconveyor_800xsq
A 6″ Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife removing static from labels

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.

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