One of the most common and dangerous hazards that occur within a manufacturing and production facility is the noise level within the plant. Noise is measured in units known as decibels. Decibels are a ratio of the power level of the sound compared to a logarithmic scale. If an employee is an exposed for too long to high levels of noise, they can begin to lose their hearing. That is where the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 regulation comes into play.
This OSHA standard doesn’t just provide the protection against noise in the work place but monitoring as well. Companies shall provide at no cost audiometric tests for all employees to ensure that no damage is being to the hearing of all personnel. This program is to be repeated every six months and the results are to be made accessible to all personnel.
Hearing is very important to our everyday lives and must be protected due to the fact that once it is damaged hearing loss cannot be lost be repaired. The OHSA 29 CFR 1910.95 is there to protect and monitor this dangerous hazard in the workplace so that all employees can go home safe and sound.
Here at EXAIR we design all of our products to safe and quite. Weather it is using one of our mufflers for vortex tubes or E-vac’s or one of our super air nozzles we strive to meet and exceed the OSHA standard. One could also purchase EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter which can give a accurate and responsive reading of how loud your compressed air sources are.
For more information on EXAIR’s Digital Sound Level Meter and any of EXAIR‘s 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 Visit us on the Web Follow me on Twitter Like us on Facebook
Sound levels and ROI don’t immediately link together in a quick thought. Unless you are me and things seem to link up that don’t always go together, like peanut butter and a cheese burger. (Trust me, just try it, or if you are near West Lafayette, Indiana just go try the Purvis Burger across the street from Purdue University.) The truth behind tying sound levels being reduced and ROI together is actually pretty simple.
For this example, I am going to stay fairly high level as we could get into some pretty deep measurements of what exactly could be a cost savings. If we reduce the sound level being generated by point of use compressed air products that is easiest to do by implementing engineered blow off products as well as reducing the operating pressure. Let’s use this example: A 1/4″ copper tube that is being used as a blow off will give off a noise level of over 100 dBA from 3′ away. The table below shows that at an 80 psig inlet pressure the same tube will also consume 33 SCFM of compressed air.
By installing a model 1100 1/4″ FNPT Super Air Nozzle on the end of this copper tube, we reduce the noise level generated by the blow off to 74 dBA. This measurement is at the same 80 psig inlet pressure and from 3′ away, which is well below the OSHA standard for allowable noise level exposure. This also gives a broader more defined pattern to the air stream which may permit a reduction in compressed air pressure.
The other factor this changes is that the air consumption is reduced by 19 SCFM of compressed air which then results in energy savings. This ultimately ends in a simple ROI equation where we are simply using the compressed air reduction as the only variable for the return.
By reducing the air consumption of a process that operates 24/7, 250 days a year that equates to a savings of 6,840,000 SCFM per year and that equates to $1,710.00 USD. This does not account for any reduction in paying for hearing protection that may no longer be needed, or increase in production because the application functions better.
So you see, reducing noise levels in a facility can easily amount to a sizable cost savings in energy going towards compressed air consumption. If you would like to walk through any potential applications, please contact us.
Over the years, EXAIR has come across a variety of different types of blow-off devices. We have seen copper tubes, pipes with a crushed end, fittings with holes drilled into them, and modular flex lines. For compressed air use, these are very dangerous and very inefficient. In many instances, companies will go through a mixed bag of items to make a blow-off device for their application. It is inexpensive to do. But what they do not realized is that these items are very unsafe and will waste your compressed air, costing you much money in the long run.
When EXAIR started to manufacture compressed air products in 1983, we created a culture in making high quality products that are safe, effective, and efficient. Since we stand by our products, we created a program called the Efficiency Lab. We test blow-off devices against EXAIR products in noise levels, flow usage, and force measurements. With calibrated test equipment, we compare the data in a detailed report for the customer to review. If we are less effective, we will state that in the report, but this is very rare. With this quantified information, we can then determine the total amount of air savings and safety improvements that EXAIR products can offer.
With our Efficiency Lab, it is quite simple to do. For starters, you can go to our Product Efficiency Survey on our website to give the conditions for testing. If you wish for a side by side analysis, you can place your pneumatic device in a box and send it to EXAIR. We will run the tests at the specified conditions or in a range of settings. We will then return your pneumatic device back to you with a report of the comparison. This report can be used to show managers, executives, HSE, etc. on the improvements that EXAIR can provide in cost savings and safety.
In a recent Efficiency Lab, a customer sent us a water jet nozzle that he was using to blow off product passing on a conveyor (reference photo above). The customer supplied us with the required information to test. They had three water jet nozzles on a manifold that had ¼” NPT male connections. The air pressure was set at 75 PSIG (5.2 bar), and the air pattern was round. Their annual usage for this blow-off device was 7000 hours continuous, and their electric rate for their facility was $0.10/KWh. The reason that they sent their nozzle to EXAIR was because the operation was very loud, and they believed that they were wasting compressed air. They asked me for a recommendation and what the payback period might be with my selection.
I recommended the model 1101 Super Air Nozzle as our standard round pattern with a ¼” NPT male connection. With our engineered design, the Super Air Nozzle can entrain the “free” ambient air into the air stream to generate a hard-hitting force; using less compressed air. Also, with this suggestion, they will not have to redesign their blow-off station; just remove the water jet nozzles and replace them with the Super Air Nozzles. We tested the water jet nozzle, and we found that it used 17.5 SCFM (496 SLPM) at 75 PSIG (5.2 bar). The noise level was measured at 91.2 dBA for a single nozzle. As a comparison, the model 1101 Super Air Nozzle will only use 13.3 SCFM (376 SLPM) of compressed air at 75 PSIG (5.2 bar); and, the noise level was reduced to 73 dBA for each nozzle.
The first thing that is important to me is safety. High noise levels will cause hearing damage. OSHA generated a standard 29CFR-1910.95a with a chart for Maximum Allowable Noise Exposure. To calculate the noise level for three nozzles, I will reference a previous blog that I wrote: “Measuring and Adding Sounds”. With three water jet nozzles, the total sound is 96 dBA. From the OSHA table above, the usage without hearing protection is less than 4 hours a day. With the Super Air Nozzles, the noise level will be 78 dBA for all three nozzles; well below the requirement for 8 hours of exposure. It is difficult to put a monetary value on safety, but using PPE should never be the first step as a solution.
For the annual savings and the payback period, I will only look at the electrical cost. (Since the Super Air Nozzle is using less compressed air, the maintenance and wear on your air compressor is reduced as well).
The air savings is calculated from the comparison; 17.5 SCFM – 13.3 SCFM = 4.2 SCFM per nozzle. With three nozzles, the total compressed air savings will be 12.6 SCFM for the blow-off station. An air compressor can produce 5.36 SCFM/KW of electricity at a cost of $0.10/KWh. For an annual savings, we have the figures from the information above; 7000 hours/year * 12.6 SCFM * $0.10/KWh * 1KW/5.36 SCFM = $1,645.52/year. For the payback period, the model 1101 Super Air Nozzle has a catalog price of $44.00 each, or $132.00 for three. The customer above did not disclose the cost of the water jet nozzles, but even at a zero value, the payback period will be just under 1 month. Wow!
Not all blow off devices are the same. With the customer above, they were able to reduce their noise levels and compressed air consumption. If your company decides to select an unconventional way to blow off parts without contacting EXAIR, there can be many hidden pitfalls; especially with safety. Besides, if you can save your company thousands of dollars per year as well, why go with a non-standard nozzle? If you have a blow off application and would like to compare it against an EXAIR product, you can discuss the details with an Application Engineer. What do you have to lose?
EXAIR offers the model 9104 Digital Sound Level Meter. It is an easy to use instrument for measuring and monitoring the sound level pressures in and around equipment and other manufacturing processes.
Sound meters convert the movement of a thin membrane due to the pressure waves of sound into an electric signal that is processed and turned into a readable output, typically in dBA. The dBA scale is the weighted scale that most closely matches the human ear in terms of the sounds and frequencies that can be detected.
Noise induced hearing loss can be a significant problem for many workers in manufacturing and mining. To protect workers in the workplace from suffering hearing loss OSHA has set limits to the time of exposure based on the sound level. The information in the OSHA Standard 29 CFR – 1910.95(a) is summarized below.
The EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meter is an accurate and responsive instrument that measures the decibel level of the sound and displays the result on the large optionally back-lit LCD display. There is an “F/S” option to provide measurement in either ‘slow’ or ‘fast’ modes for stable or quickly varying noises. The ‘Max Hold’ function will capture and hold the maximum sound level, and update if a louder sound occurs.
If you have questions about the Digital Sound Level Meter, or would like to talk about any of the quiet EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
A few weeks ago I was on vacation with my family. My wife and I had taken our three daughters to Columbus, OH for three days after camping in a tent for a few days. One of the focal points to the trip was COSI, the Center of Science and Industry. In case you live anywhere near Columbus, OH and have not heard of how amazing this interactive museum is, you should definitely check it out. This isn’t your normal museum.
While the Mythic Creatures exhibit and the Jim Henson exhibit were both absolutely amazing for my 9, 6 and 4 year old daughters, it was also entertaining for my wife and myself. Now you may be asking what does this interactive science place and trip with kids have to do with EXAIR.
Well, while my daughters and I were watching this enormous pendulum that knocks ball bearings off boxes every few minutes I could hear that all too familiar, gentle sound of compressed air blowing every now and then. I couldn’t however see where the noise was coming from.
As we wandered through the different sections I saw several examples of compressed air use but none were the exact sound or display I had heard. When we were walking through the Space exhibit just above where the pendulum was located and that gentle sound was getting closer. All of a sudden I saw it. Next thing I know I look up and my 6 year old was using a joystick to control a scaled down Lunar Lander propelling it in circles. This was where the sound was coming from.
While I was amazed by this interactive piece I could tell they were using compressed air and I was curious as to how it was working. That’s when I noticed the distinct design of our Nano Super Air Nozzle on the bottom of the Lander. Here’s a close up picture, well as close as the handrail would allow me to get without over reaching.
The interesting part to this is how this setup gives an idea of the amount of thrust given off by a nozzle that only consumes 8.3 SCFM of compressed air when powered at 80 psig inlet pressure. These nozzles can easily be fitted to blast debris or moisture out of small pockets or hard to reach areas. They also can be used to help direct product that may be getting diverted to a new conveyor. And, obviously, they can be used to propel scale models of lunar landers.
If you would like to discuss any application for point of use compressed air, and I do mean ANY, give us a call. If I can’t help with the application we will at the very least do our best to send you in the right direction.
If you have ever walked into a manufacturing facility and heard the hiss or even worse the banshee scream of compressed air being exhausted to ambient, whether it be from a cylinder discharge, a timed drain going off, or a bypass valve being activated, they all could be hushed with a muffler. A muffler for compressed air comes in several shapes and sizes. EXAIR offers four separate types from stock to help attenuate the noise disruption within your facility.
The OSHA standard for allowable noise exposure is 29 CFR-1910.95(a) and outlines the number of hours per day any individual can be exposed to a particular noise level. These noise levels are expressed in decibels (dbA).
The first type I would like to showcase are the Reclassifying Mufflers. These are ideal for cylinder exhausts or valves which commonly contain an oil mist within the air stream which can easily contaminate the surrounding area. The patented design of the removable element separates oil from the exhausted air so virtually no atomized oil is released into the environment. They also attenuate the exhaust noise level up to 35 decibels. The filter element helps the exhaust to meet the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1000, a worker’s cumulative exposure to oil mist must not exceed 5 mg/m³ by volume in any eight hour shift of a forty hour work week.
The chart below helps to properly size the Reclassifying Muffler for a pneumatic cylinder. One key to proper installation of these mufflers is they must be installed vertically in order to properly trap and drain the oil.
The next type of muffler to discuss are the Sintered Bronze Mufflers that are offered in ten different sizes. These are an excellent low cost solution which easily install into new or existing ports. Each size is designed to provide minimal back pressure and restriction for the individual port size. The quick pick chart below helps to easily select the correct size for attenuating the exhaust of a pneumatic cylinder. One key difference between these and the Reclassifying Mufflers is, these do not have to be oriented vertically as they do not collect the oil out of the exhaust air.
If the process air needs to be directed or plumbed away from the operator then the Straight Through Mufflers are the ideal selection as they offer an NPT threaded inlet and exhaust. They are available in three standard NPT sizes from stock. These mufflers can be installed in any orientation and work well with our Vortex Tubes to help pass the cold air through while lowering the operating sound level of the tube. The average noise reduction of the Straight-Through Mufflers is 20 dB. This can easily reduce the noise level of an operation to below the OSHA standard requiring hearing protection for operators in the area.
The final option for mufflers from EXAIR are the Heavy Duty Mufflers. These are available in two sizes from stock and are constructed of corrosion-resistant aluminum with a stainless steel internal screen. These can be installed in any orientation and are ideal for protecting exhaust ports from contaminants that may clog or damage the device they are attached to. The typical noise reduction from installation is 14 dB with these mufflers.
These are available in two sizes from stock and are constructed of corrosion-resistant aluminum with a stainless steel internal screen. These can be installed in any orientation and are ideal for protecting exhaust ports from contaminants that may clog or damage the device they are attached to. The typical noise reduction from installation is 14 dB with these mufflers.
To summarize, EXAIR offers a multitude of options when it comes to lowering sound levels in operation areas that are caused by exhausted compressed air. Each of the mufflers discussed above are shipped same day from stock to meet your immediate need. If you are unsure of which muffler to use for your application, feel free to contact an Application Engineer.
Checking the sound level in your processes is an important aspect of ensuring a safe working environment for your employees. Loud noises and the exposure time can lead to significant health concerns. Permanent hearing loss, increased stress levels due to the uncomfortable work environment, and potential injury due to lack of concentration or inability to hear the surroundings are all examples of some risks associated with a noisy environment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known by most simply as OSHA, introduced Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) as a means of protecting operators from injury associated with high noise levels. The chart below indicates maximum allowable exposure time based on different noise levels. At just 90 dBA, an operator can operate safely for 8 hours. Open end pipe blowoffs and some air guns fitted with cross drilled relief holes will often result in noise levels in excess of 100 dBA. At 110 dBA, permanent hearing loss can be experienced in just 30 minutes!
The first step to lowering your sound level is to take a baseline reading of your various processes and devices that are causing the noise. EXAIR’s Sound Level Meter, Model 9104, is an easy to use instrument that provides a digital readout of the sound level. They come with an NIST traceable calibration certificate and will allow you to determine what processes and areas are causing the most trouble.
From there, EXAIR has a wide range of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® that are designed to reduce compressed air consumption as well as sound levels. For noisy blowoffs where you’re currently using an open-ended pipe or a loud cross-drilled nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only will they pay for themselves over time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!!
Drilled pipe is another common culprit of high noise levels. Rather than purchasing an engineered solution, the idea is that a simple drilled pipe is just as effective right? Not at all!! Not only does a drilled pipe produce exceptionally high sound levels, but the amount of compressed air used is also very inefficient. EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and has a sound level of just 69 dBA at 80 PSIG. At this sound level, operators won’t even require hearing protection at all!
With all of these products available in stock, EXAIR has the tools you need to reduce sound level in your processes. If you’d like to talk to an Application Engineer about any applications that you feel could benefit from a sound reduction, give us a call.