Six Steps to Optimizing Compressed Air: Step 4, Turn it Off When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps to Optimizing your compressed air is to turn off your compressed air when it is not in use. This step can be done using two simple methods either by using manual controls such as ball valves or automated controllers such as solenoid valves. Manual controls are designed for long use and when switching on and off are infrequent. Ball Valves are one of the most commonly used manual shut offs for compressed air and other fluids.

Automated controllers allow your air flow to be tied into a system or process and turn on or off when conditions have been met. Solenoid valves are the most commonly used automated control device as they operate by using an electric current to open and close the valve mechanism within. Solenoid valves are some of the more versatile flow control devices due to the fact that they open and close almost instantaneously. Solenoid valves can be used as manual controls as well by wiring them to a switch or using simple programming on a PLC to turn the valve on or off using a button.

EXAIR’s Solenoid Valves
EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (EFC)

 

Some good examples of automated controllers are EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (a.k.a. EFC) and EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers.  

The EFC system uses a photo eye to detect when an object is coming down the line and will turn on the air for a set amount of time of the users choosing. This can be used to control the airflow for all of EXAIR’s products. EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers are used to control the internal temperature of a control cabinet or other enclosures. This is done by detecting the internal temperature of your cabinet and when it has exceeded a temperature which could damage electrical components it will open the valve until a safe temperature has been reached, then turn off.    

By turning off your compressed air, whether it be with manual or automated controllers, a company can minimize wasted compressed air and extend the longevity of the air compressor that is used to supply the plants air. The longevity of the air compressor is increased due to reduced run time since it does not need to keep up with the constant use of compressed air. Other benefits include less use of compressed air and recouped cost of compressed air. 

EXAIR’s Ball Valves sizes 1/4″ NPT to 1-1/4″ NPT

If you have questions about our compressed air control valves or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, 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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Save Thousands of Dollars – Just Like You Did When Upgrading Your Light Bulbs

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The cheapest and easiest solution isn’t always necessarily the best. The best example I like to use to highlight this is the incandescent light bulb. They’re definitely the cheapest to buy, but over the useful life it will cost more in electricity to operate and it won’t last nearly as long as an LED light bulb. When you compare the costs of electricity as well as the lifespan of an incandescent bulb, it becomes quite clear that the initial price difference between the two will be quickly recouped over the lifetime of the LED bulb. Once it pays for itself, it doesn’t just stop saving you electricity. These savings continue to compound.

The same can be said when comparing the Super Air Knife to a commonly seen homemade alternative, drilled pipe. While it only takes a matter of minutes to drill a few holes into a section of pipe, the operating costs (electricity required to generate the compressed air) are significantly higher than that of the Super Air Knife. In addition, it’s not nearly as effective and is considered unsafe under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.242 (b) and depending on operating pressure is likely also considered dangerous due to the high sound levels as outlined in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

Air exiting out of drilled holes in a pipe will create a turbulent airstream. This turbulence not only contributes to the high sound level but it’s ability to entrain surrounding ambient air is minuscule. The air entrainment ratio of a compressed air solution refers to the relationship between supplied compressed air and the free ambient air that is brought into the primary airstream. The higher the amplification ratio, the less compressed air necessary to complete a similar task. For a drilled pipe, the amplification ratio is generally around 3:1. With the Super Air Knife, this is dramatically increased with an amplification ratio of 40:1.

SAK vs drilled pipe

The Super Air Knife has a precisely set air gap across the full length of the knife, allowing for an efficient and quiet laminar airstream. When compared to a drilled pipe, the air consumption is dramatically reduced as is the sound level. For example, let’s take an 18” section of drilled pipe, with 1/16” diameter holes spaced out every ½”. At 80 PSIG, each hole consumes 3.8 SCFM. With a total of 37 holes, this equates to a total of 140.6 SCFM.

3.8 SCFM x 37 = 140.6 SCFM

A Super Air Knife, operated at 80 PSIG with .002” stock shim installed will consume a total of 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife. An 18” SAK would then consume just 52.2 SCFM.

2.9 SCFM x 18 = 52.2 SCFM

140.6 SCFM – 52.2 SCFM = 88.4 SCFM saved 

Replacing an 18” drilled pipe with a Super Air Knife represents a total reduction in compressed air consumption of 63%! How much does this equate to in $$$? A reasonable average of cost to generate compressed air is about $0.25/ 1000 SCF. Let’s assume just a 40hr workweek:

88.4 SCFM x 60 mins x $0.25/1000 SCF = $1.33/hr

$1.33 x 40hr workweek = $53.20 USD

$53.20 x 52 weeks/year = $2,766.40 USD in yearly savings

The 2019 list price on a Model 110018 Super Air Knife is $397.00. By replacing the homemade solution with an 18” Super Air Knife, the return on investment is just over 38 working days of an 8-hr shift. If your plant runs multiple shifts, or works on weekends, it pays for itself even quicker.

 

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Once the knife has paid for itself, it doesn’t just simply stop saving you money. That savings continues to compound and add to your bottom line. Don’t waste unnecessary air (and money) by using solutions that aren’t engineered to do the job in a safe and efficient manner. Reach out to an Application Engineer and get yourself an Intelligent Compressed Air Product that’s Built to Last.

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

Light bulb photo courtesy of Pixabay.