Another Label Problem, Another Super Air Knife Solution

Last week, I used this space to brag on our Super Air Knives, and how they solve a common problem in bottling applications: label adhesion. This week, I have another opportunity to brag on the Super Air Knife. AND it’s another solution to a labeling problem.

Self-adhesive labels are commonly applied to goods are they travel on high speed conveyors. If they’re going onto a flat, smooth surface (like a box,) it’s pretty easy…they come right off a timed roller with a wheel that presses them in place. This can even work with round containers (like drums, jars, or bottles) by putting an idler on the wheel to take up the slack as it rolls over the rounded surface.

Sometimes, the label needs to go around the corner of a box. This requires the roller to turn that corner. Or two rollers to pull the old “one-two” on the label. Either way, that’s going to slow down the speed at which the conveyor can be run. And time is money.

Enter the Super Air Knife…mount it so it’s blowing at the corner. The laminar, high velocity air flow will then press the label in place on each adjacent surface.

With a laminar curtain of air traveling as fast as 13,500 feet per minute, an EXAIR Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for corner labels.

Another benefit: when supplied with clean, dry air, the Super Air Knife will run darn near indefinitely, maintenance-free. Those rollers get dirty, and the bearings will fail eventually. Same with the idlers, and they’ll need adjusted from time to time.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need for long term operation & performance.

The Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3″ to 108″ – if you’d like to discuss how these, or any of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products, can make a difference in your processes, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Don’t Throw the Baby Out With The Bath Water – and How it Applies to Manufacturing

There are many curious sayings from history that are still part of our vernacular, and whose origins are debated.  Examples are ‘Spill the Beans’ and ‘Bite the Bullet.’  One of my first supervisors liked to use the expression ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.’  Initially, I didn’t quite understand what was meant by this, and then wasn’t sure it was relevant in some instances.  Fast forward many years, I hadn’t thought too much about it, but for some reason, the phrase recently came back into my thinking.

Today the phrase generally means not to get rid of something good when getting rid of something bad (when throwing out the dirty bath water, you don’t want to throw out the baby, too!)  As I look back to the supervisor that used it, it was for situations where the solution was within grasp, but due to recent shortcomings it may seemed out of reach. Scrapping the whole thing (the baby and the bathwater) and trying something new would not be the favorable way to proceed.

I remembered this phrase when recently a customer called in about the 3″ Line Vac they were using.  It was performing OK, but just was’t doing what they had hoped. They asked if it was still returnable under the 30 day guarantee (it was) and how to start the return process.

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EXAIR Line Vac Family

While we aim to make the return procedure simple and efficient, we will most likely ask a few questions.  We’ll ask ‘what are trying to do?’  ‘Can you send in any photos of the installation’ (we solve lots of issues by seeing something that can be easily remedied) and certainly we will ask ‘about the compressed air supply.’ In the recent customer call, the customer was trying to convey dog food, a distance of 25′ vertical and 18′ horizontal –  a fairly challenging distance, but not impossible.  A photo could be sent in if needed and then the discussion turned to the compressed air supply.  It was determined that the compressed air supply line was undersized for the 68.5 SCFM of 80 PSIG compressed air needed to for the Line Vac to operate to its full capability.  We reviewed the Installation and Maintenance Guide and suggested the proper pipe and air hose sizing for this installation. Armed with this new knowledge, the customer set about to modify the installation.

I got an email later that day from the customer.  Results were dramatically improved! Average of first measured trials yielded 50 lbs of material in 46 seconds, one of the fastest conveyance rates recorded for those types of distances. Customer was pleased and was looking forward to keeping the unit and getting the benefit that was expected.

In this case, the baby was not thrown out with the bath water.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can be a benefit at your facility, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Super Air Knives Used as a Non-Contact Barrier in a Non-Woven Application

An overseas customer manufactures a 2.2 meter wide non-woven material.  In one of their processes, the media would travel through a spray booth to apply a water-based surfactant.  The surfactant was atomized and blown onto the top and bottom of the material.  The spray booth was equipped with a fume hood to capture any excess mist.  The material would then travel out of the spray booth and into the oven to dry.

Area between Spray Booth and Oven

Area between Spray Booth and Oven

Because they were running at a speed of 160 m/min, a draft was being created as the media was exiting the spray booth.  This draft was strong enough to overcome the vacuum pressure from the fume collection system.  This would allow the excess mist to escape the spray booth.  It was then collecting on the surface of the oven and floor outside the containment area.  This created a safety issue as well as a large mess.

In looking at the problem area, the dimension of the opening of the spray booth was 2.65 meters by 300 mm.  To blow a good curtain of air to contain the mist, we needed to have a laminar flow to create that “wall”.  I recommended two pieces of a model 1102108 Super Air Knife Kits.  At 108” (or 2.74m) long, they are the longest Super Air Knives in the market.  With a steady flow of air along the entire 2.74 meter length, it can generate that curtain of air across the entire opening of the spray booth.  The laminar flow was key as they did not want to disturb the spraying nozzles inside the booth.

The Super Air Knife Kit also comes with a filter, a regulator, and a shim set.  With the included shim set, the force can be changed dramatically by using a different thickness of shim.  Since they did not need much force to keep the mist inside the spray booth, they opted to put a thinner shim inside the Super Air Knife.  This would reduce the amount of compressed air needed, and with a regulator, the customer could “dial” in the correct amount of force to create the proper air barrier.  The Super Air Knives were mounted above and below the material to blow directly across the opening of the spray booth.  Any fine mist that would come in contact with the air would be deflected back into the spray booth.  With the extra mist removed from the process, the fume extraction system could then perform its duties the way it was intended. With air being used to create that barrier, it did not disrupt the structure of the material or the surfactant on its surface.

Super Air Knife

Super Air Knife

If you require a non-contact barrier for your application, EXAIR Super Air Knives could be your solution.  For this customer, we were able keep the work place safe and mess-free.

 John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Offshore Pipe Welding Cooled with Series of EXAIR Super Air Nozzles

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EXAIR model 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles used to provide cooling blow off.

One of the services we provide to our customers, is assistance in selection of the most suitable product solution for their application.  For most applications we have solutions readily available from stock, though that wasn’t the case in the solution shown above.

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This unique blow off solution cools welds on 450mm (18″) pipes.

This configuration of model 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles is used to cool pipe welds in an application located off the coast of France.  Pipes with an OD of 450mm (~18”) are welded together, and in order for the welds to be of the highest quality, they must be cooled.  To cool the welds, this customer needed to blow ambient temperature air over the pipes.

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Closeup of nozzles used in this application

Initially, we explored a Super Air Wipe solution.  A Super Air Wipe can provide a full 360° blow off for this pipe, but there was an aspect of the application which led to a better solution through nozzles; an irregularity in position of the pipe.

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Another view of the 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles

The diameter of the pipes in this application is relatively constant, but there is some fluctuation in position as the pipe is moved.  If using a Super Air Wipe, this could mean contact with a precision machined surface, resulting in a change to the performance of the unit.  But, what if we could find a way to allow the blow off solution to have some “flex”.

swivels

Flat Super Air Nozzles with swivels provide the unique solution needed for this application.

“Flex” in this solution is provided through the use of EXAIR model 9053 swivel fittings, shown above with red circles, each used to mount an 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzle (16 of each).  These allow for proper placement of the nozzles, and also for movement if anything should ever contact the blow off solution.

An additional benefit of the EXAIR 1122 nozzles used in this application, is the ability to exchange shims inside the nozzle to increase or decrease the amount of force delivered from the nozzle.

Understanding the critical requirements of the customer led to this semi-custom solution using EXAIR Super Air Nozzles.  If you‘d like to explore an EXAIR blow off solution for your application, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Compressed Air Has Tremendous Power! Use It Safely

Just the other day, not far from here, a demolition crew at a shuttered factory and a local homeowner got this message, loud & clear, when the crew inadvertently cut into a still-pressurized compressed air cylinder.  It launched, like a missile (an apt description, given the fact that real missiles operate on this exact same principle) some 1,500 feet, across the neighborhood, and into the bedroom of a house, three blocks away.  Here’s what the local news reported on it:

Now, before you go turn your air compressor off and vent your system, let’s look at just a couple of other incredible dangers we place ourselves in close proximity to every day:

Driving a car: I came to work this morning in a 3,500lb mass of metal, plastic, and glass, hurtling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  This would be an insane thing to do, were it not for:

*The engineering, design, and maintenance that makes the vehicle safe to operate,

*The training, experience, and periodic re-licensing required to maintain driving privileges,

*The upkeep of roadways, bridges, traffic signals, etc., and

*The monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety measures by our law enforcement officers.

Operating electrically powered devices:  if you’re reading this on a computer screen, you’re likely surrounded by objects that are connected directly to 120 volts of alternating current electricity.  That stuff will stop your heart.  Thank goodness all that current is contained, isolated, and grounded to keep it out of our bodies, even when we have to touch the controls to turn those devices on & off.

Food: Don’t even get me started on the hazards of ingesting plant & animal product that used to live outside and was processed for transport hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of miles away.  It’s a wonder any of us have made it this long.  Well, except for the development and rigorous implementation of food safety and sanitation practices & policy.

Working with compressed air is no different.  A typical plant compressed air system will operate at about 100psig.  That literally means that there is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS OF FORCE being exerted on EACH AND EVERY SQUARE INCH of the inside of the pipes, hoses, tanks, etc., in the system.  If you don’t keep it under control, you can have some serious problems.  Fortunately, there are simple, straightforward, and easily accessible ways to do that.

This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, but let’s start with:

Design: Your piping and components have to be the proper pressure rating.  We’ve got some good piping information on our websiteAlso, keep your vehicle well maintained, periodically check your electric devices for frayed cables, and look at your meat packages’ labels for a USDA stamp and “use by” date.

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don't rely on smell or color; food package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don’t rely on smell or color; package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Controls: Make sure you’re using your compressed air safely.  OSHA Regulation 1910.242(b) governs the use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes…it limits you to no more than 30psi of downstream, static pressure at the discharge of your blow off device.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products comply with this regulation, by design.  Also, watch your speed on the highway, don’t plug too many strands of Christmas tree lights in to one outlet, and always cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165F (73.9C)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant - certificated available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don't overload the circuit (right.)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – certificate available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

Personal Protective Equipment: Any time you’re working with compressed air, you should be wearing eye protection and using appropriate chip guards to keep flying debris from coming back at you.  Certain applications may require more safeguards…check with your compliance coordinator or supervisor to make sure.  Also, don’t shift out of ‘park’ without your seat belt fastened, take care to unplug any appliance before servicing it, and don’t skimp on a decent pair of oven mitts if you plan on making a lot of baked goods.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes - it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes – it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR has been making quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products for 34 years now.  If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call and ask for an Application Engineer.  No; compressed air isn’t safe, in and of itself…but it CAN be used safely…and that’s the important part.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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ef2d_star_trek_oven_mitt picture courtesy of Cozinhando Fantasias

d2590-1 picture courtesy of US Department of Agriculture

Holiday fire safety – Power strip overloaded picture courtesy of State Farm

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Taming The Dust Cloud With EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles

Have you ever dropped one of your nice dinner plates on a tiled kitchen floor? And noticed how they seem to go in slow motion as they hurtle to their doom? I never cease to be impressed at how far some of the smaller pieces can go. I recently had to replace our oven, and I found broken dishware shards (and an impressive amount of trash scraps, pet toys, and ‘dust bunnies’) all the way against the back wall.

Curiously, as small as the pieces can be when a dinner plate meets its end, it started its life in even smaller pieces…as a fine ceramic powder, pressed into a mold and heated to a temperature that is WAY hotter than when the server at your favorite restaurant warns you that plate “might be hot.”

I’m writing about this because recently, I had the pleasure of assisting a maker of ceramic dishware with a messy little problem…this fine ceramic powder is moved from where it’s produced, to the various mold stations (dinner plates, salad plates, saucers, etc.) on a vibratory belt conveyor. The vibration keeps the powder loose and homogenous, both of which are extremely important to the molding & firing process. It also causes a cloud of dust to rise along the entire length of travel, and they wanted to minimize this. Their chemists had told the engineer who called me that they could live with a small amount of moisture, as long as it wasn’t enough to make the powder clump up – this would evaporate out at a point closer to the molds anyway.

This was an ideal application for the EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles…they produce a fine mist of liquid that is precisely controllable…one Model AW1010SS Internal Mix, Wide Angle Round Pattern Nozzle was installed near the beginning of the line, and once they find out how long it takes the dust-suppression supplied by the misted water to evaporate away, they will install more nozzles accordingly.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are a perfect solution for dust suppression.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are a perfect solution for dust suppression.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles are ideal for situations where you need a fine liquid mist and fine adjustment of the flow & pattern. With ninety models to choose from, we’ve got the one you’re looking for. Call me if you want to find out more.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Two Vacuums For The Price Of One

I recently noticed on my mortgage statement that I own more of my house than the bank does now. That made me feel good, and it also gave me pause for a moment of reflection on all the adventures I’ve had as a suburban American homeowner.  Good times…then, another adventure happened:

I’m in the middle of a major (to me) construction project in our house. Now, if you’ve ever worked with drywall, you know that anything you do to it creates dust….sometimes in great volume. No worries, though – I’ve got a real nice portable wet/dry vacuum that makes light work of drywall dust & scrap. So, when I’m done for the day, I leave the area as dust-free and tidy as it was before (“tidy” is relative…there are two teenagers and a dog in my house.)

For the record, the dog was more interested in the new hole in the wall than the teenagers.

For the record, the dog was more interested in the new hole in the wall than the teenagers.

Anyway, the adventure happened last Saturday morning, when the basement sump high level alarm went off. I had to get the water out of the sump, and fast, so I could find out what was wrong with my sump pump. No problem…I’ve got that real nice portable wet/dry vacuum, right? That was full of drywall debris. So, I hastily dumped it into the garage trash can (making another mess I had to clean up later) and removed the particulate filter so I could drain the sump. Which it did, like a champ. It was a stuck float on the sump pump, which I remedied quickly, and all was well with the world again. At least in my (and my bank’s) almost 1/4 acre of it.

Speaking of the different things you can use vacuums for, I had the pleasure of talking with a caller the other day about industrial vacuum applications. When they wash down a particular area of their facility, they end up with puddles of water, mixed with lots of solid debris, all over the floor. They were using electric wet/dry vacuums (like mine) but had a recent scare involving a damaged power cord on a wet floor. Luckily, someone saw it before anything bad happened, but it made them think about other options…like compressed air operated Industrial Vacuums.

They looked at some dual Venturi systems, which would indeed replicate the function of their electric vacs, but at a considerable rate of compressed air consumption…over 100 SCFM (over 25HP worth of typical industrial air compressor load.) Their compressed air system simply didn’t have the capacity for this. They already had an EXAIR Reversible Drum Vac, and had plenty of capacity to run it since it only requires 19 SCFM @80psig (about 5HP worth of compressor load,) but it wasn’t greatly effective at picking up the solid debris. That’s where the EXAIR Chip Vac comes in to our story…it uses only 40 SCFM @80psig (about 10HP worth of compressor load) to clean up the solid debris that doesn’t get sucked up with the puddles of water & sludge that the Reversible Drum Vac takes care of.

Reversible Drum Vac (left) and Chip Vac (right) – two EXAIR Industrial Vacuums for lower cost (purchase AND operation) than wet-dry combo air operated vacuums.

And…(back to the title of this blog)…a Reversible Drum Vac AND a Chip Vac STILL cost less to purchase than the dual Venturi system they were looking at. Lower purchase cost. Lower operating cost. Two independent systems. That’s a win-win-win.  If you have wet…dry…or wet & dry…messes to clean up, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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