Built to Last

The past few months many of our lives have been altered in some fashion due to COVID-19. Personally, my three daughters began staying home full time and attending school through distance learning.  I myself switched to working some alternate shifts which EXAIR changed to in order to optimize our availability to our customer base as well as protect our team members effectively. I know many in manufacturing that have been furloughed. Even worse, some have been forced to work in unsafe conditions.

All of this has made me thankful I am part of a team that cares about our employees first, and then we all work towards ensuring our customers are taken care of. Our new shift structure has also given me time to reflect on many aspects of my life.

When I was younger, like many kids, I always wanted something I received to be new. I didn’t want an older hand me down bicycle, I wanted new.  Little did I know I would reach a point in life where I prefer things to be a little older, a little more seasoned, even broken-in if you will.  The days are here where disposable is what everyone expects whenever they purchase anything. Repairable is often a thing of the past and or requires specialty tools and or software.  I’ve been recently working on lots of small engines from friends and family members yard equipment and recreational vehicles.

I’ve worked on a 1970’s era Stihl chainsaw that the only safety is the weight of the saw and an on/off toggle switch, up to an imported 4 wheeler that instead of buying a single piece or carburetor kit, most people throw them away and buy new.  Something about the older equipment makes me think I was born in the wrong era. The time of working hard for what you make and taking pride in products lasting a lifetime is often gone from consumer-grade products.  When carburetors are riveted together to make them faster and cheaper to assemble, but also not easily repairable, the chance of someone repairing it 40 years from now diminishes.

It could be that I am closer to 40 than I am to 30, however, I find that being able to source parts direct from a manufacturer as well as being able to get support direct from the manufacturer is something I desire. This could also be because this is how we do business at EXAIR. Our compressed air products all carry a 5 year Built to Last Warranty, we service them, sell replacement parts for them and take pride in their ability to last.

There are few items that I am okay with going a cheap route on, spare screwdrivers, you know the ones you use as pry bars and oil filter punches, and anything I know I am only going to use once and I am okay if it breaks as long as it is worth a laugh.  When I went to repair a weed eater for a neighbor I found the engine casing was plastic, there was barely anything to the motor and the lack of maintenance on his part as well as the ethanol in the fuel with lack of stabilizer had gummed up the entire fuel system.

This was a disposable weed eater and he admitted it wasn’t cheap but he also knew it wasn’t a big brand name. Experiencing this, made me laugh.  I went to my older weed eater that has seen many days. It was bought used at an auction. I gladly started it up for him and offered to loan it out whenever he needed. That weed eater was built to withstand its use. Parts are readily available and it is so popular there are many of the parts reproduced through third party factories pretending to be the company.

Next up on my project list may be the biggest project yet, a tiller that is far older than I am. This again has been brought on by the want for a healthy garden and the ability to also help neighbors and friends when they are ready for their gardens.  Rather than looking new, I started at the old, something I knew was built for hard work, and was ready for the task.  I doubt there is a single piece of aluminum on this thing, it has probably seen more sweat throughout its years than I have in my lifetime.  First, the research though.  Parts, service manuals, and then the negotiation of the purchase. (Both with my wife, and the seller. Separately of course.)

Here at EXAIR, we can get nostalgic over some of our products and processes as well. At the same time, we continuously flex and work with the matters a hand. If you have an old product of ours that you think may not be worthy of use, give us a call. With a few pictures and some information, our team of Application Engineers should be able to help determine if it is in good working order or not.  If we cannot determine from pictures, we can always receive the unit in and inspect it for you. In the event it is not in working condition, we more often than not can refurbish the unit and have you back up and running within a few days.  Our Super Air Knives are a product that often gets overlooked when they get covered in debris from a process. We can inspect them, clean them, and often restore them to flowing like a brand new knife.

Brian Farno
Aging Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Return On Investment: Does It Matter, And How Much?

I have a friend who participates in a process known as “extreme couponing.” She has multiple subscriptions to the Sunday edition of our major newspaper, and a couple of local papers that also have coupon inserts. When I see her at the grocery store, she’s got two 4″ binders full of baseball card holders, all stuffed with multiples of clipped coupons, organized by store aisle. The insane amount of money saved is a big factor in her being able to be a stay-at-home mother, which is something else she’s pretty good at.

If you get stuck at step one…or even two…extreme couponing may not be for you!

Now, extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. Even beginners to the process can buy a year’s worth of paper towels for next to nothing. However, that may take up so much room in their house that they need to rent a storage facility for other belongings that folks like you and me simply keep in the garage or basement. It also takes a LOT of time and effort to do it right – as well as discipline. Saving half (or more) on a truckload of stuff you don’t need (or will never use) is a waste of money, time, and space. In fact, I know people who have abandoned extreme couponing for those very reasons…the “return on investment” just isn’t there.

That’s the deal in industry too.  Anyone tasked with finding and exploiting efficiencies – or finding and eliminating inefficiencies – is going to be looking at return on investment.  Like extreme couponing, though, it has to make sense in all aspects of the operation.  For example:

*An OEM taking advantage of a quantity discount for components or subassemblies has to not only have the storage space available, but also has to consider the turnover rate…it costs money to keep product on the shelf.

*A machine shop considering a tooling upgrade has to compare the cost difference with the increased performance and/or lifespan of the “new and improved” product.  A tool that costs 10% more but lasts twice as long is probably a good deal.  A tool that costs twice as much but lasts 10% longer might not provide the “bang for the buck.”

*Any facility, before switching a service or utility provider, will “run the numbers” on promotional rates, contract terms, etc. before making a commitment.

Unlike extreme couponing, EXAIR makes it easy – and beneficial – to evaluate the return on investment:

*Our catalog (if you don’t have the latest, get it here) has complete performance & operational data on all of our products.  This is great if you know what you want it to do.

*If you’re not quite sure, our catalog also has a good number of actual application write-ups for most of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  You may be able to find something that’s similar to what you want to do, and further inform your selection from there.

*Once you’ve chosen a product, you can use the Calculator Library on our website to determine actual dollar cost savings associated with replacing a current compressed air powered device with an EXAIR product.

*Application Engineers are available to discuss your application and/or product selection via phone, email, or Live Chat.

*No matter how detailed the discussion, and how confident a plan we may make, the age-old saying about how it “looked good on paper” proves itself every now and again.  When this happens, all catalog products are covered by our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  If you’re not satisfied for any reason within 30 days of purchase, we’ll arrange return for full credit.

*Let’s assume that we’re pretty good at this (because we are) and it actually DOES work out (because it usually does) – we can calculate your new (and improved) operating costs and compare them with the cost of your previous devices.  If you don’t have the instrumentation (flow meters, sound level meters, etc.,) this is a free service we provide in our Efficiency Lab.  Send it in, and we’ll do a full performance test & issue a comprehensive report, all at no charge.  And if you qualify for a Case Study, we can even save you some money on your next order.  Contact me for more details if you’re interested.

Free testing. Verifiable data. EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Coupon Pile Stock Photos courtesy of Carol Pyles  Creative Common License

2.5″ Line Vac Used In Plastic Part Recovery

I recently worked with an OEM who designed an injection molding machine for their customer. In their design, after the polypropylene parts are formed, they pass through a punch process which creates a scrap piece roughly 1-3/4″ in diameter and 6mm thick but it is very light in weight. The end user was looking for a way to recover these parts in an effort to reduce the amount of waste material in the process but needed an automated solution so they didn’t have to dedicate an operator to manually recover the parts and dump them in the recycle bin. The recovery bin is located close to 25 feet away on the other side of the machining area.

After further discussion,  I recommended they incorporate our Model # 6085 2-1/2″ aluminum Line Vac into their design. The 2.5″ Line Vac has a 2.25″ inside throat diameter which could easily pass the parts and convey them to the collection hopper.

Line Vacs connect to standard ID hose or pipe to create a powerful in-line conveyor

With the recovery bin being located outside of the processing area, they were going to have to run the discharge piping up and over the machines so they were needing something flexible to do so. In addition to the Line Vac, I suggested they use a 30′ section of our 2.5″ conveyance hose. Our conveyance hose is constructed of a durable, clear reinforced PVC, ideal for most general applications and we offer it in 10′ lengths up to 50′, in diameters of 3/8″ to 3″ ID.

Flexible clear PVC hose with smooth bore eliminates material build up.

 

When it comes to moving dry material, like small plastic parts or more abrasive materials like steel shot blasting media, the Line Vacs are the perfect, maintenance-free solution as they have no moving parts or motors to wear out. For help selecting the best option to fit your needs or to discuss how another product might be suitable for your application, give us a call.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

What’s In A Name?

Well, a lot, actually…if that name is EXAIR. I wrote a blog just last week about how a set of Super Air Knives solved a MAJOR problem with a brand new aluminum sawing application – the company got those Super Air Knives on the recommendation of the Maintenance Supervisor, who had used them, with great success, at a previous company.

Even more recently, I had the pleasure of helping a caller from an engineering firm that specifies a wide range of our products for use in their OEM machinery:

*Air Knives & Nozzles for automated blow offs.
*Cabinet Cooler Systems for electrical/electronics heat protection.
*E-Vac Vacuum Generators for end-of-arm robotics “pick & place.”

Turns out, they use a good amount of compressed air in their manufacturing facility and (did I mention they’re an engineering firm?) they’re interested in implementing a facilities resource management program. For one part of this, they want to know how much compressed air they’re using, when they’re using it, and what they’re using it for. And when presented with a question about compressed air, they thought about EXAIR…and wanted to know more about the Digital Flowmeter.

EXAIR's Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger
EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

We discussed everything from theory of operation, to best practices for installation (location, position, etc.,) to accuracy, to getting the flow data…and we’ve got a few options for that:

*The Digital Flowmeter itself can output a 4-20mA signal, or there’s an optional RS-485 output board available.
*The USB Data Logger connects directly to the Digital Flowmeter and records flow rate data – about 9 hours’ worth if measured once a second; 2 years’ worth if measured every 12 hours. When removed from the Digital Flowmeter and plugged into your computer, you can use its software, or Microsoft Excel, to view & analyze the data.
*The Summing Remote Display offers instant indication of current flow rate, previous 24 hours’ air consumption, and cumulative total usage, all at the push of a button.

EXAIR's Remote Summing Display - see current flow rate, previous 24 hours' consumption, or total cumulative usage, at the push of a button!
EXAIR’s Summing Remote Display – see current flow rate, previous 24 hours’ consumption, or total cumulative usage, at the push of a button!

The latter turned out to be the best fit for my caller – the main supply header runs right past his office, and, if he can sell his facilities folks on it, he can install the Summing Remote Display on the wall, right next to his desk.  Easy as that.

EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products have made a name for themselves in many places like this. Here at the factory, we’re all dedicated to spreading, and reinforcing, that reputation for excellence. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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