Crescent Hammers, Phillips Head Punches, and Other Cautionary Tales

I don’t want to sound “preachy,” but I’m a stickler for using the right tool for the job. Case in point: just the other day, I noticed (OK; my wife told me about) a loose drawer handle. I went to my toolbox in the garage to get a flat-head screwdriver, even though the drawer in question had a selection of butter knives, any one of which could have been used to tighten that screw.

I can trace this, without doubt or hesitation, to my service in the US Navy, under the direction of Senior Chief Cooper.  Proper tool selection & use was VERY important to him.  He stressed the issues of safety, quality, and performance, but if that didn’t work, he’d make his point with an offer to demonstrate the use of a specific tool (a ball peen hammer) on a sensitive part of your anatomy (it’s exactly the part you’re thinking of.)  At that point, it would have been unwise (and unsafe) to question whether that was a proper use of the tool or not.

Only one of these is a hammer………………..….only one of these is a punch………………..…..only one of these is a chisel.
Choose wisely.

Likewise, there are safety, quality, and performance issues associated with compressed air blow offs.  At EXAIR, we’re ALL sticklers about this, and we get calls all the time to discuss ways to get more out of compressed air systems by using the right products.  Here’s a “textbook” example:

A hose manufacturer contacted me to find out more about our Air Wipes, and how they might be a better fit for their various cleaning & drying applications (spoiler alert: they are.)  The blow offs they were using were made of modular hose, designed (and very successfully used) for coolant spraying in machine tools.

Only one of these is a compressed air blow off. Again…choose wisely.

The selection process was two-fold: they purchased one Model 2401 1″ Super Air Wipe to verify performance, and they sent in some of their modular hose assemblies for Efficiency Lab testing.  The first part was just as important as the second because, no matter how much air they were going to save (another spoiler alert: it was significant,) it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t get the job done.  At the station shown above, the Super Air Wipe resulted in superior performance, and a compressed air cost savings of over $400.00 annually.  For that one station.  Based on that, they outfitted TWENTY FIVE stations with engineered product sized for their different hoses, using our Model 2400 (1/2″), 2401 (1″), 2402 (2″) and 2403 (3″) Super Air Wipes.

If you’d like to find out how using the right product for the job can help your operation, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Non-Hazardous Purge Cabinet Cooler Solves Two Problems At Once

Electrical control panel above belt press machine

The image above shows an electrical panel located over a belt press machine.  Belt press machines can be used in a variety of mechanical separation applications, from juice manufacturing to de-watering of grains, and even algae extraction.  The use in this application, however, was to assist in the removal of liquid from styrene via multiple “wedge zones” which force the styrene between an upper and lower belt, applying increasing pressure and forcing the liquid from the styrene roll.

The Plant Manager of the facility which uses this cabinet contacted EXAIR in search of a solution to provide cooling for this enclosure, and wanted to know if we could also provide some means to provide a constant ventilation as well.  We discussed the merits of the Cabinet Cooler in terms of cooling power, and also discussed our Non-Hazardous Purge Cabinet Cooler systems which provide a constant feed of 1 SCFM of compressed air into an enclosure.  This slight airflow into the cabinet provides a slight positive pressure which further helps to prevent any dust from entering the cabinet.  For older cabinets with potentially weakened seals, these systems can provide an added level of protection against harmful dust in the ambient environment.

After sending a Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide and determining the proper model number (NHP4825), the customer asked about lead time.  They said that the machine was intermittently shutting down and they needed something FAST.  I informed them that EXAIR Cabinet Coolers ship from stock and we can even ship UPS Next Day Air if need be.

Knowledgeable engineering support coupled with a shoe-in solution and on-the-shelf availability got this application under control quickly.  If you’re having a similar experience with your electrical control panels, contact EXAIR’s Application Engineering department for a similar solution experience.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

The Importance Of Air Compressor System Maintenance

 

It should go without saying, but proper operation of anything that has moving parts will depend on how well it’s maintained.  Compressed air systems are certainly no exception; in fact; they’re a critical example of the importance of proper maintenance, for two big reasons:

*Cost: compressed air, “the fourth utility,” is expensive to generate.  And it’s more expensive if it’s generated by a system that’s not operating as efficiently as it could.

*Reliability: Many industrial processes rely on clean or clean & dry air, at the right pressure, being readily available:

  • When a CNC machine trips offline in the middle of making a part because it loses air pressure, it has to be reset.  That means time that tight schedules may not afford, and maybe a wasted part.
  • The speed of pneumatic cylinders and tools are proportional to supply pressure.  Lower pressure means processes take longer.  Loss of pressure means they stop.
  • Dirt & debris in the supply lines will clog tight passages in air operated products.  It’ll foul and scratch cylinder bores.  And if you’re blowing off products to clean them, anything in your air flow is going to get on your products too.

Good news is, the preventive maintenance necessary to ensure optimal performance isn’t all that hard to perform.  If you drive a car, you’re already familiar with most of the basics:

*Filtration: air compressors don’t “make” compressed air, they compress air that already exists…this is called the atmosphere, and, technically, your air compressor is drawing from the very bottom of the “ocean” of air that blankets the planet.  Scientifically speaking, it’s filthy down here.  That’s why your compressor has an inlet/intake filter, and this is your first line of defense. If it’s dirty, your compressor is running harder, and costs you more to operate it.  If it’s damaged, you’re not only letting dirt into your system; you’re letting it foul & damage your compressor.  Just like a car’s intake air filter (which I replace every other time I change the oil,) you need to clean or replace your compressor’s intake air filter on a regular basis as well.

*Moisture removal: another common “impurity” here on the floor of the atmospheric “ocean” is water vapor, or humidity.  This causes rust in iron pipe supply lines (which is why we preach the importance of point-of-use filtration) and will also impact the operation of your compressed air tools & products.

  • Most industrial compressed air systems have a dryer to address this…refrigerated and desiccant are the two most popular types.  Refrigerant systems have coils & filters that need to be kept clean, and leaks are bad news not only for the dryer’s operation, but for the environment.  Desiccant systems almost always have some sort of regeneration cycle, but it’ll have to be replaced sooner or later.  Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on these.
  • Drain traps in your system collect trace amounts of moisture that even the best dryer systems miss.  These are typically float-operated, and work just fine until one sticks open (which…good news…you can usually hear quite well) or sticks closed (which…bad news…won’t make a sound.)  Check these regularly and, in conjunction with your dryers, will keep your air supply dry.

*Lubrication: the number one cause of rotating equipment failure is loss of lubrication.  Don’t let this happen to you:

  • A lot of today’s electric motors have sealed bearings.  If yours has grease fittings, though, use them per the manufacturer’s directions.  Either way, the first symptom of impending bearing failure is heat.  This is a GREAT way to use an infrared heat gun.  You’re still going to have to fix it, but if you know it’s coming, you at least get to say when.
  • Oil-free compressors have been around for years, and are very popular in industries where oil contamination is an unacceptable risk (paint makers, I’m looking at you.)  In oiled compressors, though, the oil not only lubricates the moving parts; it also serves as a seal, and heat removal medium for the compression cycle.  Change the oil as directed, with the exact type of oil the manufacturer calls out.  This is not only key to proper operation, but the validity of your warranty as well.

*Cooling:  the larger the system, the more likely there’s a cooler installed.  For systems with water-cooled heat exchangers, the water quality…and chemistry…is critical.  pH and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) should be checked regularly to determine if chemical additives, or flushing, are necessary.

*Belts & couplings: these transmit the power of the motor to the compressor, and you will not have compressed air without them, period.  Check their alignment, condition, and tension (belts only) as specified by the manufacturer.  Keeping spares on hand isn’t a bad idea either.

Optimal performance of your compressed air products literally starts with your compressor system.  Proper preventive maintenance is key to maximizing it.  Sooner or later, you’re going to have to shut down any system to replace a moving (or wear) part.  With a sound preventive maintenance plan in place, you have a good chance of getting to say when.

If you’d like to talk about other ways to optimize the performance of your compressed air system,  give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Image courtesy of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet, Creative Commons License 

Not All Compressed Air Guns Are The Same

If you work in an industrial plant or manufacturing environment, chances are you use some type of compressed air gun for cleaning parts, work areas, etc. Many air guns purchased through large industrial suppliers are a common choice due to the cost of the gun but as the saying goes – “you get what you pay for”. These types of guns may be cheap to purchase but they are also made cheap and have parts that can break easily, like the trigger or nozzle. In many cases, the nozzles on these guns are also in violation of OSHA requirements, producing dangerous discharge pressures and loud noise levels, which can lead to costly fines or potentially deadly injuries.

EXAIR offers 5 different styles of Safety Air Guns that not only eliminate these concerns, but also provide a more efficient operation, which can reduce energy costs. All of our Safety Air Guns are fitted with our engineered Air Nozzles  which meet OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for 30 PSI dead end pressure, as they provide a relief or safe path for the air to exit if the nozzle were to be blocked or pressed against an operator’s body so the exiting air pressure will never reach 30 PSIG. They are also engineered to entrain surrounding air across the profile of the nozzle, which produces a smoother airflow, ultimately reducing wind shear, resulting in much lower sound levels, meeting OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

 

 

The Precision Safety Air Gun body is made of a durable high impact, glass reinforced nylon, providing for a lightweight, ergonomic operation. These guns feature a curved extension, ideal for delivering a powerful stream of air in hard to reach areas, like clearing debris from drilled holes. All of the nozzles used with these units are either 316ss construction for durable, corrosion resistance or PEEK plastic for non-marring applications. The air inlet is 1/4 FNPT and there is a convenient hanger available for safe storage.

 

 

 

Our NEW VariBlast Compact Safety Air Guns are ideal for light to medium duty processes, featuring a variable flow trigger to achieve different force levels ranging from 2.0 ounces up to 1 pound, depending on the nozzle. The body is cast aluminum and there are (2) 1/4 FNPT air inlets available, 1 on the bottom and 1 on the back of the gun, as well as a storage hanger, for easy installation. Nozzles are available in zinc aluminum alloy, 303ss, 316ss and PEEK plastic. These guns are available with aluminum extensions from 6″ up to 72″.

 

 

The Soft Grip Safety Air Guns are commonly used in long-term use applications as they feature a comfortable grip and long trigger which helps to reduce hand and finger fatigue. The cast aluminum construction is well suited for more rugged environments and again, features a hanger hook. These guns can be fitted with aluminum, stainless steel or PEEK plastic to meet the demands of a variety of applications and are available with 6″ – 72″ aluminum extensions for extra reach or Flexible Stay Set Hoses , allowing the user to aim the airflow to a specific target area. The air inlets for these guns are going to be 1/4 FNPT.

 

 

 

EXAIR’s Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns deliver higher force and flows than other air guns, as these units feature a 3/8 FNPT air inlet, which maximizes the compressed air flow to the engineered Super Air Nozzle. Like the Soft Grip, the durable cast aluminum body is designed for use in tough industrial processes, and the ergonomic and comfortable trigger are ideal for hours of use. Aluminum extension are available, again in lengths from 6″ up to 72″, but feature a larger diameter for optimal flow and superior durability.

 

The Precision, VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns are ALL available with an optional, polycarbonate Chip Shield to protect personnel from flying chips and debris, further meeting OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for the safe use of compressed air.

 

Lastly we offer our Super Blast Safety Air Guns. The Super Blast Safety Air Guns are ideal for wide area blowoff, cooling or drying a part, as well as long distances. They feature a comfortable foam grip and spring loaded valve that will shut off the airflow if the gun is dropped. These units use our larger Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Nozzle Clusters, providing forces levels from 3.2 lbs. up to 23 lbs. Depending on which nozzle is fitted on the assembly, air inlets will range from 3/8 FNPT up to 1-1/4 FNPT. Aluminum extensions are available in 36″ or 72″ lengths.

 

 

For help selecting the best product to fit your particular application, please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Digital Flowmeter Improves Production Scheduling And Upgrade Budgeting

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” might be the most popular axiom in any process improvement endeavor. And it’s true. We hear it almost every time we discuss a Digital Flowmeter application, and a conversation I just had with a customer was no exception.

Their business is growing, and they’re pushing the limits of their compressed air system. The use compressed air to run their CNC mills in their machine shop, for blow off/cleaning as they assemble products, as well as a variety of pneumatic tools throughout the shop. The CNC machines’ air load was pretty consistent…the rest of the shop; not so much. So they wanted to find out when their compressed air demand peaked, and what it peaked at, in order to make a more informed decision about upgrading their compressor.

From your Digital Flowmeter to your computer screen, the USB Data Logger tells you how much air you’re using…and when you’re using it!

So, they purchased a Model 9095-DAT Digital Flowmeter for 2″ SCH40 Pipe, with USB Data Logger. They installed it immediately, with the USB Data Logger set to record once a second…this told them their consumption at any given time over the course of the day. Every day at closing time, the shop manager pulls the USB Data Logger from the Digital Flowmeter and transfers the data to his computer. After just a few days, he knew exactly how much air they were using…and exactly when they were using it. He’s now using this data (in the short term) to plan certain operations around peak scheduling, and (in the long term) to know what they’re looking at for their next air compressor.

Do you know as much about your compressed air usage as you should? If you’d like to talk about how to measure…and manage…your air consumption, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Manufactures Custom Vortex Tubes

EXAIR is based in Cincinnati, OH and it is where we design and manufacture our products. Since we are the manufacturer, we can design and build custom product when your application demands particular features. Vortex Tubes are the foundation of our cooling products and can be customized to suit your needs in many ways…

Vortex Family

The EXAIR Vortex Tube uses compressed air to generate a cold air stream at one end and a hot air stream at the other end.  This phenomenon in physics is also known as the Ranque-Hilsch tube.  It can generate very cold or very hot air without any moving parts, motors, or Freon.  Thus; making it low cost, reliable, and maintenance free.  The EXAIR Vortex Tube can generate

  • Air temperatures from -50 to +260 deg. F (-46 to +127 deg. C).
  • Flow rates from 1 to 150 SCFM (28 to 4,248 SLPM)
  • Refrigeration up to 10,200 BTU/hr (2,570 Kcal/hr)

Cooling or Heating with the Vortex Tube

With a wide range of cooling and heating applications, the EXAIR Vortex Tubes can be an ideal product for you.  They are used for cooling electronics, CCTV cameras, and soldered parts.  They are also useful for setting hot melts, gas sampling, and environmental chambers.  With its very compact and versatile design, it can be mounted in tight places to apply heated or cold air to your process.  The Vortex Tubes are used for improving process times in cooling, protecting equipment, or setting specific temperature requirements.  If you need a Vortex Tube to be more specific to your application, EXAIR can manufacture a proprietary product in the following ways:

Preset Vortex Tubes – the standard Vortex Tube has a screw on the hot end to adjust the cold and hot air temperatures.  To make the Vortex Tube tamper-resistant, EXAIR can replace the screw with a preset hot valve.  If you can supply the temperature and flow requirements for your application, EXAIR can determine the correct diameter hole to give you a consistent temperature and flow from the Vortex Tube.

Materials – The standard Vortex Tubes has a maximum temperature rating of 125 deg. F (52 deg. C).  For elevated ambient temperature, we offer a brass generator which will increase the temperature rating to 200 deg. F (93 deg. C).  If other materials are needed for food, pharmaceutical, or chemical exposure, we can also offer stainless steel for the hot plug, cold cap, and generator. I have seen Vortex Tubes made entirely from 316SS and even one made with a brass body. There are EXAIR Vortex Tubes with special material o-rings and hot valves or with customized muffler assemblies.

Fittings – Our standard units have threaded connections on the Vortex Tube to connect fittings and tubing.  In certain applications to improve mounting and assembly, special fittings may be required for ease of installation.  EXAIR can attach or modify these parts to the Vortex Tube to meet your requirements.

At EXAIR, we pride ourselves with excellent customer service and quality products.  To take this one step further, we offer specials to accommodate your applications.  As a manufacturer of the Vortex Tubes, we can work with our customers to generate a custom product with high quality, fast delivery, and a competitive price.  So, if you do need a special Vortex Tube to give you a specific temperature, ease of mounting, or a proprietary product for your OEM design, you can discuss your requirements with an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems Vs. Refrigerant-Based Panel Cooling Options

If you’ve got an electrical enclosure that needs heat protection, you’ve got a good number of options at your disposal. Frankly, if any one of them were the “be-all and end-all” solution, the rest of us would be looking for something else to do. Fact is, there are certain situations where one particular method makes more sense than the others, and other situations where one method just won’t work but several others will.

In industrial and commercial settings, these situations will often present conditions where there is indeed an ideal solution. Today, we’ll explore the ones where the choice comes down to a compressed air-operated EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System or refrigerant-based panel cooling.  Let’s consider:

Environment – Now, we’re all going to make sure we protect our gear from the elements, as much as is humanly possible. Your company’s computer server is likely a lot closer to the climate controlled office spaces than the welding or grinding stations. But what happens when sensitive electronics need to be in close proximity to the machinery they’re controlling? And that machinery isn’t in climate controlled office spaces?

EXAIR NEMA 4 Cabinet Cooler System on an enclosure in a hot steel mill.

Even if an A/C type panel cooler would fit on this box, it would be problematic:

  • See all that dust on the ducts? And the belt? And the rails? And the…well, everywhere? Yeah; would be in the filters, condenser coils, the compressor motor bearings and eventually, inside the panel.
  • They make condensate. The big thing about air conditioners is that they lower the humidity…and that water has to go somewhere. Even if a small drain line is easy enough to run, what happens when it gets clogged (that dust is going to find its way here too, by the way)?
  • They’re sensitive to vibration. Every fastener, every brazed joint, every electrical connection, risks cyclical failure if they’re shaken about.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are impervious to all of these conditions:

  • The only air they use comes straight from your compressed air supply. We even provide Automatic Drain Filter Separators to make sure this is clean & dry.
  • There are no moving parts. Vibration is not a problem.
  • We offer different levels environmental considerations to meet most any challenge:
    *NEMA 12 (dust tight, oil tight) are ideal for general industrial environments.
    *NEMA 4 (splash resistant) keep liquids out too, and are indoor/outdoor rated.
    *NEMA 4X (corrosion resistant) also keep liquids out, and are stainless steel construction. They’re also available in 316SS construction for the most exacting, harshest, and critical environments such as food service, pharmaceutical, or highly corrosive atmospheres.
    *High Temperature Cabinet Cooler Systems are specified for installation in areas where ambient temperatures exceed 120°F (52°C.)

Location – Sometimes, there’s just not room to mount an air conditioner. The compressor, and, especially, the condenser coils have to take up a finite amount of space, by design.

When there’s no room to use a bulky air conditioner, a compact EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System is ideal.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems have a small footprint…a NEMA 12 550 Btu/hr system, for example, installs through a ½ NPS knockout, is under 6” tall, and just over 1” in diameter.

Reliability – We talk to callers all the time about the frustration of:

  • Having to replace a burned out Variable Frequency Drive because their panel cooler failed.
  • Constantly resetting controls that have tripped due to an overheat condition because they missed, or don’t have time for, their panel cooler’s maintenance.
  • Down time and lost production while waiting for replacement parts…or a whole new panel cooler.

Even in less aggressive environments, filters and coils can slowly accumulate dirty buildup, which reduces the unit’s cooling power.  Then, a heat wave hits early in the season, and your machine trips out (if you’re lucky) or burns out (if you’re not) -either way, that part or process you were in the middle of is scrap, and you’re back to step one.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are not affected by this – in fact, a system with thermostat control may just sit there dormant through the winter, and “spring” (pun intended) into action when that first heat wave rolls through.  And it’ll be just as powerful as that last hot day, the previous autumn.

Availability – Let’s say you installed some new equipment recently, and its first exposure to the heat of summer created one of the frustrating situations above.  An air conditioner-type panel cooler will require:

  • “Invasive surgery” on your enclosure. Most of these require a sizeable rectangular hole for installation.
  • These systems can pull 5 amps or more, which might mean a dedicated circuit breaker & wiring.
  • Many are built-to-order, so you might have to wait, depending on their assembly schedule.  And they might be busy, because if the heat just started causing you problems, you’re probably not the only one.
  • Once it’s received, installed, and wired up, you may still have to wait for the compressor’s oil (special oil for use with refrigerant) to settle before you start it up the first time.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems are stock products.  We ship same day, across the country, with orders received by 3pm EST.  They install in minutes, and most of the preparation can be done today, so you’re ready to install when it comes in tomorrow – which isn’t a big deal…most Cabinet Cooler Systems weigh only 5lbs or less, so expedited shipping isn’t near as painful to your wallet as a big box full of electric motor, copper coil, and refrigerant.

Environment (friendly, that is) – No matter how well they’re built, a refrigerant system is going to leak sooner or later.  And every whiff through an aging seal, or sudden loss through a failed tube, will contribute to the ozone depletion that today’s strict controls and high attention to CFC’s are trying to prevent.

Our Cabinet Cooler Systems are solely compressed air operated…the only thing they exhaust is the air from inside the enclosure.

Durability – Refrigerant leaks. Electric motors wear out.  Coils corrode.  Filters clog.  A GOOD warranty on an air conditioning type panel cooler is two years.  And it won’t cover environmental effects.

All EXAIR Compressed Air Products have a Five Year Built To Last Warranty.  But if you supply your Cabinet Cooler System with clean, dry air, it’s going to run darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.

Don’t trust your critical electronics to anything less than the assurance provided by an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System. If you’d like to find out which one(s) are right for your needs, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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