If at First You Don’t Succeed Try, Try Again!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been going back and forth with my phone provider over some technical issues I’ve been having with the device. After some troubleshooting, we were able to conclude that the antenna has likely become loose, leading to the phone periodically not receiving service. Naturally, we’re outside of the 1-Year “Warranty” period that covers a defective device. I paid my insurance deductible and received a “refurbished” phone the following day. Unfortunately, this refurbished phone was unable to take pictures with the front-facing camera. I know what you’re thinking, how on Earth can I take selfies without a front-facing camera? So it was back to the phone provider to get another replacement, fortunately this time they sent a brand new device.

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get something to work right out of the box, only to experience issues. Whenever a customer is having an issue with a particular product, there’s a certain progression that we go through in order to assess the problem and determine the root cause. In some cases it is something simple, others it can be a few individual problems that are compounding each other. I recently assisted a customer that was having problems with his 110 Gallon Reversible Drum Vac System. He was having difficulty pumping water out of a container and into the 110 gallon drum. He stated that he just received the unit and was unable to get it to work.

RDV pic

EXAIR’s Reversible Drum Vac installed on a 110 Gallon Drum

This is a call that we get from time to time, and is generally remedied pretty quickly. Our first step is to check the air pressure at the inlet of the Reversible Drum Vac while it is operating. We recommend an inlet pressure of at least 80 PSIG for proper operation. By installing a pipe tee with a pressure gauge directly at the unit, we can not only verify the inlet pressure but also that the Reversible Drum Vac is being supplied with an adequate volume of compressed air. If the pressure on the gauge begins to decrease once the unit is in operation, we can conclude that the volume of compressed air to the Reversible Drum Vac is insufficient. This can be due to the use of restrictive quick disconnect fittings, improper line size, or a compressor that is undersized.

If the air supply is sufficient, we then inspect the system for vacuum leaks. If the drum does not have a complete seal, the system will not function. If there’s no vacuum leak and there is an adequate supply of compressed air, the Reversible Drum Vac likely needs to be cleaned. It took us a few tries to get there but through a little bit of trial and error, we were able to determine that this was exactly the case in this scenario. Even though the system was new, it had been supplied with compressed air that was not properly filtered. Some scale, rust and debris from the customer’s supply lines made its way into the body of the Reversible Drum Vac, impeding the flow of air. Here is a video that shows the cleaning procedure for the Reversible Drum Vac. Over time the Reversible Drum Vac can accumulate debris inside of the plenum chamber. Regular maintenance of the unit will ensure that it stays within specifications for when it’s needed most!

If you have an EXAIR product that’s not performing as well as it used to, give us a call. One of the Application Engineers will be able to walk you through the steps to ensure that you’re getting the most out of our products!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: tylerdaniel@exair.com
LinkedIn: @EXAIR_TD

Maintenance Free And Proud Of It

Caller: Do you sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, but…why?

This is a WAY oversimplified summary of the start of a popular conversation that an EXAIR Application Engineer might have with a caller looking to restore a particular product to proper operation. Truth is, most of our products have no moving parts, and if you supply them with clean, dry air, they’ll run maintenance free, darn near indefinitely. We’ve documented this in specific cases regarding a Reversible Drum Vac from 1999, a Vortex Tube from 1987, and a Cold Gun from 1985.

Product & year of manufacture, from top left: Reversible Drum Vac (1999,) Cold Gun (1985,) Vortex Tube (1987.) All still performing within factory specifications.

Product & year of manufacture, from top left: Reversible Drum Vac (1999,) Cold Gun (1985,) Vortex Tube (1987.) All still performing within factory specifications.

Caller: So…DO you sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, but…only when necessary.

It’s important to note that none of the products mentioned above needed any parts replaced to return to service. Sometimes, a good cleaning is all that’s required. We can help you with a video tutorial if you want to know how to restore a Reversible Drum Vac, an Air Knife, or an Atomizing Spray Nozzle, for instance.  And we’re making new videos all the time for product maintenance, operation, tips & tricks, etc.

Caller (again): So…you DO sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, of course!  I mean, who wouldn’t sell rebuild kits for their products?

Take our Safety Air Guns, for example. We offer Service Kits, if the trigger and/or internal valve of a Soft Grip or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun starts to wear or leak, it’s super easy to replace. We’ve also got replacement springs for the “fail shut” feature of the ball valve of a Super Blast Safety Air Gun. Just about anything else that could be wrong with a Safety Air Gun’s performance can be addressed by cleaning the nozzle.

We also recently added Rebuild Kits for our Atomizing Spray Nozzles to inventory. These contain all of the seals (and moving parts, for the No-Drip models) to restore an EXAIR Spray Nozzle to rated performance.

Keep your EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzle (left) in perfect working order with a simple & inexpensive Rebuilt Kit (right of the nozzle.) Contact an Application Engineer to select the one for your product.

For other products, we can also provide replacement gaskets & seals for the Reversible Drum Vac & Chip Trapper products, O-rings for the Line Vacs, Chip Vacs, and Heavy Duty Dry Vacs, new elements for Filter Separators & Oil Removal Filters…just to name a few.

Bottom line: if your EXAIR product isn’t performing the way it used to, give me a call.  It will be my pleasure to help you get it working like new, so that you can continue to get the most out of it.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Here’s what the Freon-based Air Conditioner Manufacturers Won’t Tell You

Many times when we are asked to make a comparison of our Cabinet Cooler Systems to Freon-based Cooling Systems for electrical panels, the customer only wants to know what the energy consumption will be as this is their only focus.

But what most Freon cooling system owners don’t seem to be concerned about, until it is too late, is the maintenance headache that Freon-based cooling systems present to their maintenance schedule, personnel and production schedule.  Below is just one example of what a typical industrial Freon-based Cabinet Cooling system user must go through each month just to keep their panels cool enough to keep production going.

A Freon cooling system user contacted me about a problem they have with their existing units. The setting is a machine shop located somewhere in Indonesia where the temperatures can exceed 40°C and Relative Humidity Levels around 85%. They have 4 units keeping a bank of panels cool for a transfer line which includes CNC machining centers. Photo showing coolers installed below.

AC 3 and 4 Cleaning (6)

Freon Panel Coolers on Transfer Line

The problem they have is that the dirt, dust and coolant which are present, deposit on the internal workings of the Freon Coolers, reducing their cooling efficiency to a point where over-heat condition becomes a problem. This occurs so frequently that the customer is having to completely remove and clean all 4 Freon cooling units for a full 8 hour shift, 1 day every month. That’s almost 3 weeks of lost production per year!  Obviously, that is a huge drag on the customer’s productivity.

IMG_1708

Dirt and Coolant collect on inside reducing cooling efficiency

And so, a certain amount of buyer’s remorse pervades for those folks who own and have to maintain Freon system just to keep their production up and running.

So, what does EXAIR offer?  EXAIR’s Cabinet Cooler Systems offer the customer freedom from all of this downtime, maintenance and loss of productivity. How?

  1. We are selling reliability with our Cabinet Cooler systems. No maintenance is required on the cooler system or on the cabinet to which it is installed. Because there are no moving parts to wear out. A simple, periodic check on a compressed air filter element is all that is necessary.
  2. We are selling the fact that our Cabinet Cooler Systems maintain a positive pressure on the customer’s panel. This condition keeps all of this dirt, coolant spray and any other contamination out due to the positive pressure that is placed on the panel while the Cabinet Cooler System is operating. Air is always moving from inside the panel to the outside, so dust, dirt and other debris never has a chance to enter through vents or other openings.
  3. We are selling longevity with our Cabinet Cooler Systems. Because there are no moving parts, the life span of EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems is in the range of 20+ years. The Freon based systems operating under these mildly harsh conditions will last 5 years at most. So in the life span of one EXAIR Cabinet Cooler, the Freon cooling system user will have been through at least 4 different units during that time. And still have all the monthly maintenance hassle come along with it.

The general point I wish to make with this real-world example is to think about the total cost of ownership when considering your next panel cooling system purchase. It is not all about energy consumption. Energy use is important, but by no means should that be your only consideration when deciding on what type of panel cooling system is right for you as the person charged with keeping the overall production line up and running.

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

Making Safety A Priority

Everyone has heard the term “idiot-proof,” and most of us know what a misnomer it is. No matter how hard we try to ensure that nothing can go wrong with a plan, there’s always going to be that possibility. And when it does, it’s frequently going to be traceable back to human error. Of course, material failures happen, and they can be darn near impossible to predict…anyone who’s ever owned an automobile for any length of time surely knows this.

Sometimes, not keeping up with regular maintenance is to blame...

Sometimes, not keeping up with regular maintenance is to blame…

...but, it can happen to anyone, it seems.

…but, it can happen to anyone, it seems.

In the Navy, we had another term, which, curiously, none of us ever regarded as derogatory: “sailor-proof.” It, of course, meant the same thing, and its use always provoked the same warning about how difficult it was to achieve. Of course, our training, attention to detail, and self-preservation instincts ensured a pretty good track record, as far as safety goes.

I was thinking about all this when I saw, in recent news, that a British submarine shipyard had trapped two workers inside a ballast tank by accident. When banging on the hull with a tool didn’t attract anyone’s attention, one of them was able to find a spot, near the top of the tank, where his cell phone got reception and was able to call for help.

At EXAIR, we’re dedicated to safety. Not only in providing Intelligent Compressed Air Products that comply with OSHA standards in regard to use for cleaning (1910.242(b)) – and noise levels (1910.95(a)), but also in the way we do business here. We have regular “all hands” training on subjects such as hazard communication & forklift safety. We’ve got ready access to Safety Data Sheets on any product used in the shop. Clear and visible signs indicate where personal protective gear (i.e. safety glasses, ear plugs, etc.) are required. Fork lift paths are clearly defined, and nobody operates one without current and specific certification. I’ve said it before and I’m proud to say it again: Getting hurt on the job is the last thing someone has to worry about here, because safety is the first thing everybody is thinking about.

Is your company paying that kind of attention to safety? If you use compressed air products for cleaning, blow off, cooling, etc., we’ll be happy to discuss that aspect with you, just to make sure. Give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Aston Martin Vantage S broken down image courtesy Paul Townsend. Creative Commons License.

busted image courtesy Jenny oh. Creative Commons License.

Troubleshooting 101: Super Air Knife

Yesterday, I was working with a customer on troubleshooting a Super Air Knife. He had brought the knife into EXAIR’s demo room so I was able to verify a few items very easily.  When trouble shooting air knives there are no moving parts, so it is very small list of items to check.

  1. Check the Air Supply

  2. Check the plumbing

  3. Check the inside of the Air Knife for debris

The customer had a 36″ Super Air Knife ,and he was seeing some weak spots in the air flow as well as a gradient in flow from one side of the knife to the other.  The first thing I did was to install a pipe tee with a pressure gauge in both ports on the bottom of the knife.  This would allow me to monitor the pressure we were supplying to the knife to calculate the air consumption and ensure the our piping was not starving the knife for air.

IMG_3735

Feeding the knife with equal pressure from both sides, is necessary for any air knife 24 inches or longer. The customer immediately noticed that the flow from the knife lost any sort of gradient, once it was fed in (2) locations. Still the air knife exhibited a spot in the flow where air velocity significantly decreased.  Since we were getting correct pressure and supplying enough air, we decided to remove the cap from the Super Air Knife.  Under the cap we found a variety of debris and one dreaded piece of PTFE plumbing tape. The plumbing tape was suppose to prevent air leaks throughout the compressed air system, but a piece had become lodged in the air gap of the Super Air Knife preventing air flow through a small portion of the Super Air Knife.  As you can see, once we followed a few simple steps to ensure proper installation of the Super Air Knife, it was quick and easy to narrow down what caused the lack of performance. This is yet another reason to make sure you have clean and dry compressed air, as well as use a point of use filter separator.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

Compressed Air Calculations, Optimization, and Tips

EXAIR uses our blog platform to communicate everything from new product announcements to personal interests to safe and efficient use of compressed air. We have recently passed our 5 year anniversary of posting blogs (hard for us to believe) and I thought it appropriate to share a few of the entries which explain some more of the technical aspects of compressed air.

Here is a good blog explaining EXAIR’s 6 steps to optimization, a useful process for improving your compressed air efficiency:


One of the Above 6 steps is to provide secondary storage, a receiver tank, to eliminate pressure drops from high use intermittent applications. This blog entry addresses how to size a receiver tank properly:

Here are 5 things everyone should know about compressed air, including how to calculate the cost of compressed air:

These next few entries address a common issue we regularly assist customers with, compressed air plumbing:

In a recent blog post we discuss how to improve the efficiency of your point of use applications:

Thanks for supporting our blog over the past 5 years, we appreciate it. If you need any support with your sustainability or safety initiatives, or with your compressed air applications please contact us.  

Have a great day,
Kirk Edwards
@EXAIR_KE

Improve Your Compressed Air System: Improve Point of Use Applications

While compressor controls and efficiency are an important part of any comprehensive compressed air audit, so too, are your point of use applications. Many times these point of use locations are quickly and inexpensively improved. The first step is to identify which area of your system you would like to improve first. Certainly you will have that “problem area”, the part of the plant you know is using compressed air more than it should. This area of your plant is usually outfitted with open tubes that have the ends crimped down as a homemade nozzle or the operators are using blow-guns with commercial grade nozzles or worse yet, no nozzle at all. It’s the area of the plant that may require hearing protection due to the loud hissing of air or where that pipe with drilled holes was the quickest and cheapest fix for the application (or so you thought).

Document these areas of the plant and address these points of use by measuring the current consumption. Many times, we find, the volume of air provided by open tubes, inefficient nozzles and drilled pipes is much more than is required for the application.  Accurate compressed air measurement will be important to properly calculate the compressed air cost and savings. These points of use can be retrofitted or optimized in a couple of ways. First, you can retrofit open tubes by placing a compression fitting and engineered air nozzle on it. This will both reduce the air consumption and noise levels within the plant. Drilled pipes have holes, or slots, along the length to provide a wide area blow off. These applications can show dramatic improvement by using compressed air knives or air amplifiers which are engineered to reduce air consumption, reduce noise and maintain OSHA Compliance for dead end pressure. The second way to improve these end use applications is to install pressure regulators and lower the end use pressure which will result in lower air use.

Don’t let these end use applications go unchallenged, just because they were this way when you joined the firm does not mean they should not, or cannot be improved upon. If you get the right folks involved and keep them updated about the actions or changes you are making, you will find advocates for the projects. Remember that quantifying the savings is key so don’t start without measuring how much air you are currently using at these problem areas. Flow meters on each leg of your system or at specific high use areas of the plant will prove invaluable to providing data expressed in dollars of savings to those making decisions within your firm. The compressed air supply side personnel will also be helpful in locating or prioritizing where to start saving compressed air. Keep employees and management informed of savings and improvements and the savings ball will have more potential to keep on rolling.

Remember:

  • Measure – baseline the current conditions of compressed air use with flow meters
  • Upgrade – retrofit inefficient open blow offs, commercial grade nozzles, drilled pipes etc. with engineered  and intelligent compressed air products
  • Control air pressure – lower pressure results in lower air consumption

If you would like any assistance or support to improve your compressed air system, we’re here to help.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
@exair_ke

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