Helping with COVID-19 PPE production – EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors

A manufacturing company in Ohio altered their production process to start making face masks for the COVID-19 pandemic.  It was important for them to change their machines over quickly to start making Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE.  As their operation began to produce many masks, they needed a way to extract the face masks from their cutting machine.  They contacted EXAIR as we are known for safe, efficient, problem solving products with high quality standards that are in stock and ready to ship to our customers.

At the end of the production line, the face masks went through an inspection/cutting machine.  The individual masks would be moved into two carts that were roughly 6 feet (1.8 meters) away.  One cart was for good product while the other cart was for noncompliant product.  The masks were roughly 6” (15cm) wide by 4” (10cm) high.  As the masks went through the inspection machine, they needed a way to move flagged masks to the nonconforming bin and the approved masks to a separate cart for packaging.

Light Duty Line Vacs

EXAIR manufactures Air Operated Conveyors to move product from one place to the another.  For short distance and light materials, EXAIR has the Light Duty Line Vac for conveying.  This was perfect for the company above.  The Light Duty Line Vac are made to use a range from ¾” (19mm) to 6” (152mm) diameter hoses for conveying.  They use less compressed air than the more powerful cousins like the Heavy Duty Line Vacs and the standard Line Vacs.  They are compact and simple to use.  They have a two-piece design and they do not have any moving parts or motors to wear.  For the application above, I recommended the model 130600 – 6” Light Duty Line Vac.  They were large enough to move the face masks at the speeds that they were producing.

One benefit in calling EXAIR was that we had these in stock and ready to go.  They purchased two units for their operation.  They shared some other details about their operation.  Since the Light Duty Line Vacs only use compressed air to work and can move product quickly, they connected a solenoid valve to each Light Duty Line Vac.  When the mask was inspected, the machine would trigger the appropriate solenoid valve to move the face masks to either the “good” bin or to the “bad” bin.

Line Vac Family

EXAIR manufactures a large variety of Air Operated Conveyors to move light materials like face masks up to heavier materials like steel shot.  And, if you need a quick unit to change or update your system, EXAIR stocks many of these in different sizes and types.  For the customer above, we shipped that same day in order for them to finish their change to start making PPE.  And for U.S. and Canadian customers, EXAIR offers a 30-day unconditional guarantee to try these units.  If you need to move product from point A to point B, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to discuss.  We will be happy to help you; even during this pandemic.

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

 

Photo: Face Mask by leo2014Pixabay License

Heavy-Duty Line Vac Air Operated Conveyors Climbing to New Heights

During this COVID-19 shelter in place circumstance, as an avid outdoors man (specifically I do a lot of rock climbing), things have been frustrating to say the least. In the Cincinnati area with all the climbing gyms closed down climbers are flocking to their local crag to get that last climb in for the foreseeable future. My local crag is Red River Gorge in Rodgers, KY. As the climbing season has now ended due to this pandemic the season of indoor (aka at home) training has began to ramp up with everyone hitting their hang boards and starting harder work out routines in their free time. It came to my mind that now is the time to also check out my old gear and see what needs to be replaced.

Climbing gear needs to be strong, durable and light weight so that the gear does not fail you in your time of need. If properly set up, a climbing rated carabiner can withstand a force of 24 kN or 5395 lbs. Every bit of climbing material needs to be taken care of and replaced when the time comes. When your life is hanging by the gear that you use durability and maintenance is the difference from dropping or not dropping from a cliff. But climbing equipment isn’t the only thing that you want to be strong and durable; you also want your material handling equipment as well.

Climbing a 5.10d “Return of Manimal” at the Bruise Brothers Wall in Muir Valley

At EXAIR we strive to make strong, durable, and maintenance free compressed air products. One such product is our Heavy Duty Line Vac air operated conveyor; the Heavy Duty Line Vac is a stronger and more durable version of the standard aluminum Line Vacs. The body and cap of the Heavy Duty Line Vac is made out of a hardened alloy which provides abrasion resistance. This means that it can withstand materials such as sand, salts, steel shavings, tumbling and blast media, etc. They are available from 3/4″ through 3″ and are used with identical sized hose, tube or pipe. 

Heavy Duty Line Vac

The Heavy Duty Line Vac is also designed to lift heavier material and move it farther and/or higher. Materials such as steel shot, garnet and ground glass are common. More power also increases the distance materials can be conveyed. Heavy Duty Line Vacs convey 6 times farther than standard Line Vacs. 

Male NPT Threads make permanent and rigid installation into a piping system a breeze

The Heavy Duty Line Vac also comes with either smooth connections or threaded connections. The smooth connections allow for our reinforced PVC conveyance hose to attach to the ends using a standard hose clamp. If a flexible hose is not appropriate for your application the threaded connections allow the line vac to connect to a hard pipe. Both types of connections are interchangeable to fit your conveyance needs.

If you have questions about our Heavy Duty Line Vacs, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Line Vac Video: Air Operated Conveyor Conveying Raw Coffee Beans

At EXAIR we’re committed to providing customers with as much information as possible to ensure an application will work the way it’s intended. If it happens to be something we’ve dealt with before, it’s easy enough to make a recommendation. If it’s not, with EXAIR’s 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee getting something in-house to test comes with no risk at all. If it doesn’t work, just send it back, simple as that!

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If it is something that we can test ourselves, we’re more than happy to. We recently have taken several requests from customers in the coffee industry, all looking for a similar solution: conveying raw coffee beans. While we were confident in the ability of the Line Vac to transfer those beans, it wasn’t a material that we had ever actually tested here in our shop. A quick trip down the road to a local coffee roaster, and we had some raw coffee beans that we could use for a quick conveyance test. Check out the video below of my colleague John Ball and I conducting a test with our Model 6084 2” Line Vac:

If you’re looking to convey bulk materials using the Line Vac, but have reservations regarding the performance, you can also send a sample of your material in for testing here at EXAIR. We’ll be happy to put the conditions of your application to the test and share the results with you. If you’ve been manually transferring bulk material and are looking for a safer, reliable, and efficient solution the Line Vac is the right tool for the job. With a variety of sizes and materials all available from stock, we’re able to address countless applications and achieve a wide variety of conveyance rates.

The conveyance rate of the Line Vac is easily adjusted. By regulating the input pressure supplied to the Line Vac, not only can you reduce the necessary compressed air demand but you can also control the amount of material flow. Higher pressures will move material, while lower pressures will reduce compressed air consumption. If you need help determining which size and material is most suitable for your application don’t hesitate to get in touch with an EXAIR Application Engineer today. Stop having your operators climbing up and down that ladder to dump material!

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

The EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor Helps an HSE Engineer

Air Operated Conveyor

A Health and Safety Engineer, HSE, is a position that combines knowledge of engineering with safety development procedures. EXAIR speaks to many HSEs from different companies about our OSHA safe and reliable products. The discussions typically surround blow-off devices that violate noise level and dead-end pressure rules. In this instance, I was contacted by a HSE from a plastic extrusion company that needed a safe solution for a slightly different matter.

The HSE stated that they had an operator that twisted an ankle while carrying a bag of pellets up the stairs to a mezzanine. With his hands occupied on the bag, he was not able to use the handrails. Luckily, he did not fall down the stairs, but there was a chance for that dangerous possibility to occur. The mezzanine was needed to feed a hopper that was located above an extrusion machine about 12 feet (3.6 meters) above the ground. Whenever a material change was needed, they would have to clean the machine. The cleaning process was done with purge pellets.

In this scenario, a worker would pick up a 50 lb. (22.7 Kg) bag of purge pellets, walk up the stairs, and dump in about half the bag. This was enough material to completely clean the entire extrusion machine before the next production run. After their operator twisted an ankle during this method, they had to find a safer solution. And they found EXAIR.

Model 6983

The EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor, or Line Vac, was the perfect product for this. It is a compact, inexpensive, and simple conveyor that only needs compressed air to move material from point A to point B. They do not have any moving parts or motor bearings to wear, making them very reliable and long-lasting.

I recommended a model 6983 Aluminum Line Vac Kit as it was able to convey the desired amount of material to that height. This kit comes with a 1 1/2” Aluminum Line Vac, a mounting bracket, a filter separator, and a pressure regulator. The filter separator will keep the air clean as it moves the material to its destination. The pressure regulator is used to “dial in” the desired conveyance rates. At 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar), the model 6983 can convey nearly 13 lbs./min (355 Kg/hr.) at the height of the hopper. So, to move the required amount for a clean out, it would only take about two minutes to move 25 lbs. (11.4 Kg) of purge pellets.

Line Vac Family

For the company above, the HSE was extremely happy with the safety feature that the Air Operated Conveyor provided. The bag of purge pellets could stay on the floor, while the Line Vac was able to move the pellets to the hopper above. The operator could watch the required amount that was being transferred; and, once the bag was half empty, the operator could turn off the compressed air. It is that simple. EXAIR offers a range of Line Vacs to work in many types of applications. If your company has a potential for dangerous problems while moving material, you should contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if we have a safer way.

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

Sanitary Flange Air Conveyor Doubles Output for Coffee Bean Roaster

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For me there’s nothing better than a hot, fresh cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Particularly during the colder mornings like we’ve had as of late, but even in the summer sitting out on the porch sipping on a cup while the sun comes up is a great way to start the day. Just typing this first paragraph has me making my way to the break room for a cup!

We’ve talked about the life of a coffee bean and the processes that it must go through from the fields as a bean all the way through the roasting, grinding, and packaging process. At just about every stage in the production of coffee, EXAIR has a way to help. Just like craft breweries that have taken the world by storm, small-batch coffee companies are beginning to see a similar boom in their business as the market shifts away from large corporate entities and supports small or locally owned businesses.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with one of these “craft” coffee producers. They’ve been in business for a little while, but as of late have really seen an increase in their sales. To increase production, they invested in a second roasting machine at a substantial capital investment. They’re a small company with less than 10 employees from the front-end to the back-end. While initially they thought all that was needed was to buy a second roaster, they quickly found out that they weren’t getting double the output like they had thought. The problem was that the time spent moving the bulk bags of raw beans into the hopper of the roaster was too time consuming for one person to feasibly handle. They either needed to hire a second person (another substantial investment), or they needed to find a better way of transporting the beans.

After searching online, they came across the EXAIR Line Vac. EXAIR’s Line Vacs are the ideal low-cost solution for bulk material transfer. Available with smooth, NPT threads, and sanitary flange connections, it allows you to convert ordinary pipe or hose into a powerful conveying system for parts, scrap, trim, and other bulk materials. Available in a variety of different sizes and materials, we can achieve wide range of conveyance rates.

SFLV_800sq

In this particular application, food grade materials were necessary. EXAIR’s model 161200-316 2” Sanitary Flange Line Vac allowed them to maintain a clean environment while keeping it easy to remove and clean when necessary. With the Line Vac in place, they were able to double their output as they’d desired when purchasing the new machine without having to hire another operator. A much easier, cheaper, and cost-effective solution. That Line Vac isn’t going to ask for a raise, request time off for summer vacation, or wander into the break-room to make itself a cup of coffee 😊.

If you have an application where you’re manually transferring bulk materials, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to help evaluate your process and recommend a solution that’ll save you time, energy, and money!

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

Air Operated Conveyor helps Aluminum Smelting Process

An aluminum smelting plant had been using our model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vac for over a year.  They wanted to share how extremely satisfied that they were with this product.  They were expanding their operations, and it was easy for them to contact EXAIR to buy two more units.  In this blog, I will share why they initially contacted EXAIR and why they continue to do so.

This company had a reactor that would melt 10 mm aluminum granules for die casting parts.   They had a portable hopper that was filled with aluminum pellets (reference photo above).  Before they started using the Heavy Duty Line Vac, the operators would have to use shovels to move the aluminum from the catch bin located below the hopper to the crucible inside the reactor.  This operation was tedious, back-breaking, and time-consuming.  After filling the crucible, they would have to do some housekeeping for the granules that fell during transport.  With safety concerns and slow operations, they needed a better way to move the aluminum granules to the reactor.  Hence, the reason for the first purchase of the model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vac from EXAIR.

To expand a bit more on their operation, the hopper was placed roughly 10 feet (3 meters) away from the reactor, and the reactor used a hatch door that was 2 feet (0.6 meter) in diameter to expose the crucible.  Since the crucible was inside the reactor, they wanted to govern the velocity to feed the aluminum pellets at a controlled rate.  From flow and speed calculations, I found that the model 150300 would work the best for this particular application.  As an added feature to the EXAIR Air-Operated Conveyors, the Heavy Duty Line Vac is easy to control with a simple compressed air regulator to balance the speed and vacuum to move the material in a manageable way.  With the compact design, it worked well to attach a conveyance hose that would move the aluminum pellet directly through the hatch door and right into the crucible.  This was a benefit for quick filling without much manual labor or cleanup.

The reasons that EXAIR continues to grow as a business are the quality of our products, the enormous stock that we carry, and the exceptional customer service.  For these reasons, customers continue to return to EXAIR for solutions to pneumatic applications.  The quality of our products is second to none.  For the Heavy Duty Line Vacs, they are made from a hardened alloy material which makes them resistant to abrasion and wear.  They also do not have any moving parts or motors; so they are reliable and long-lasting.  The smelting company above have used the Heavy Duty Line Vac for over a year, and it is still working.  Can you imagine the number of shovel scoops that was eliminated with the purchase of this air-operated conveyor?  And, the work environment was safer ergonomically by removing the shovel loads and reducing cleanup.  As for customer service, EXAIR is staffed with Application Engineers that are Subject Matter Experts.  We can make recommendations to give you the best EXAIR product for your application.  With our technical support, fast deliveries, and problem-solving products; it was an easy decision for the above company to purchase two more model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vacs.

If your company relies on moving product from point A to point B, EXAIR has a range of Air Operated Conveyors to do this type of operation for you.  From Threaded Line Vacs to Sanitary Flange Line Vacs to Heavy Duty Line Vacs, EXAIR stocks a variety of materials, types, and sizes to fit into your application.  An Application Engineer is sitting by to help improve your system as we did with the smelting company above.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

The Life of a Coffee Bean

Many of us get up in the morning, and start our day with a fresh cup of coffee.  I do.  I enjoy the taste of that warm beverage as it hits my lips.  But, have you ever thought about the journey of a coffee bean from the fields to your cupboard?   I would like to share a little insight on this journey and how the EXAIR Line Vacs could be a helpful tool for coffee production.

There are over 70 countries that pick coffee beans for export.  In 2018, the International Coffee Organization reported almost 170 million bags of coffee had been exported around the world.  That is a lot of coffee.  Each bag of coffee beans weighs 60 Kilograms (132 lbs.) and is difficult to handle manually.  Line Vacs could be that vital instrument to help speed up the processes and reduce that back-breaking work.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Coffee beans are seeds that are produced on small trees or bushes.  During harvest time, the cherries (coffee seeds) are picked when ripe, and they need to be dried.  This can be done in two ways; the dry method or the wet method.  Each process has to be done quickly to prevent spoilage.  With the dry method, the beans are spread out on a table or grate to be dried by the sun.  In most cases, the beans will have to be stored in bins at night or during rain.  This drying process can last for several weeks, and the continuous movement of the beans is labor intensive.  For the wet method, this process uses water channels to isolate the heavier ripe beans, so that they can be separated by size in rotating drums.   They are then placed into large fermentation tanks to remove the outer skin layer.  The wet beans are then placed inside large driers to remove the excess water content.  In both methods, the green coffee beans are packed into sacks for exportation.

When the green coffee beans arrive to their destination, they will have to be roasted.  This will convert the green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans that are sold at your favorite market or coffee shop.  In large operations, the green coffee beans are screened and stored in bins waiting to be roasted.  The roasting process uses hot air to “cook” the green coffee beans.  The temperature range and time will create your different types of roasts; light roast, medium roast, and dark roast.  Industrial roasting machines have loaders on top to drop the green beans into a preheated rotating drum.  Some machines can roast 100 kg (220 lbs.) of beans at one time.  The time for roasting is between 12 – 15 minutes, depending on the type of roast.  At this frequency, you can tell the “need for speed” to keep the coffee roasters operating.  Once finished, the roasted beans are dumped into a cooling tray until they can be handled.  From there, the beans are tested, qualified, and packaged for sale.

For coffee brewing, the roasted beans will need to be ground.  Grinding is an important process to get the most flavor from your coffee beans.   Commercial sized grinders will blend multiple kinds of roasted coffee beans and grind them to a desired grain size.  The grind size is very important and has to match your type of brewing.  For example, espresso uses fine grinds, drip-type coffee uses medium grinds, and cold brews and French presses use coarse grinds.  Grinding is an art as you have to match the coarseness with the contact time in hot water.  As a rule, if your coffee tastes too bitter, then the grinds are too fine.  If your coffee tastes flat, then the grinds are too coarse.  You have to experiment with different blends of roasted coffee beans, grind particle sizes, and brewing types to get that perfect cup of java for you.

Line Vacs can convey many things.

So, if you are reading this article while sipping on a cup of coffee, let me tell you a secret about the journey of the coffee bean.  For every stage above, an EXAIR Line Vac has been sold and used to transport the coffee beans.  From the coffee fields to the grinding house, Line Vacs are a great device for companies to move beans quickly and safely without manual labor.  The life of a coffee bean is only successful if it is able to reach your cupboard.  And Line Vacs can be beneficial with that success.  If you would like to discuss the types of materials that we stock, the sizes, connections types and conveyance rates, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.

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

 

Photo:  Coffee Beans Cafe Roasted Caffeine Brown by Alexas_Fotos.  Pixabay License.

Photo: Still Life Coffee Beans Coffee Powder Coffee Cup by Myriams-Fotos.  Pixabay License.