Chip Shields, OSHA, And You

Safety is a key part of our culture at EXAIR Corporation.  We have regularly scheduled, all-hands required, safety training on a number of topics.  Our Order Entry team can likely tell you as much about our lockout/tagout procedures as our Machinists can.  Nobody even thinks about entering The Shop without safety glasses, and it’s not just because of the signs.

We pay attention to these…
…so we don’t ever have to use this.

OSHA 1910.242(b) states that “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. (emphasis mine)  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to meet the requirements of the first part (30psi outlet pressure to prevent dead ending…we’ve written about that numerous times, including here, here, and here) and we can also provide pre-installed devices to satisfy the second part:  the EXAIR Chip Shield.

Any EXAIR VariBlast or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun can come fitted with a Chip Shield, and any Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, except for those with Stay Set Hoses, can as well.  Safety Air Guns with Back Blow Nozzles automatically come with a Chip Shield. The principle is simple: a clear polycarbonate (so you can still see what you’re doing) round disc slips over a short (or long if you want) pipe extension between the gun & the nozzle.  It’s fitted with a rubber grommet so you can position it to where it’s most effective – sometimes that might be closer to the part being blown off; sometimes it may be back a little closer to the operator.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

If you already have an air gun that’s doing the job, you can easily add an EXAIR Chip Shield to it.  They’re made to fit a wide range of extension diameters, and can even come with the extension if you need it.  We also stock a number of adapter fittings; if you know what threads your air gun has (or if you can send us some photos) we can quickly & easily spec those out for you.

Convenient and inexpensive “thumb guns” with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.
We can provide a Chip Shield for most any device with a threaded fitting. I couldn’t find a way to re-use the non-OSHA-compliant nozzle that came with this gun (thank goodness.)
Another example of a larger air gun fitted with a more powerful cross drill nozzle (left) that can be made totally OSHA compliant with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center.) An EXAIR High Force Super Air Nozzle (right) keeps the power, while reducing noise level and compressed air consumption (right.)

Since 1983, EXAIR Corporation has been manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry (emphasis mine.)  If you have concerns or questions about safety in regard to your compressed air use, call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Unique Nozzle Application Eliminates Procedure for Tobacco Processing Facility

1006ss_3up_500

I recently worked on a unique application for EXAIR’s Back Blow Nozzle. Generally, these products are used to clean out chips, debris, and coolant from the ID of pipes or tubes. With (3) different sizes available to clean out IDs ranging from ¼”-16” it’s the ideal solution for cleaning out pipes where blowing forward into the pipe won’t work. They’re also available on the end of a Safety Air Gun with extensions up to 72” long, allowing you to get to hard to reach areas.

This particular application, however, was slightly different. The customer has a large machine that rotates a large drum to dry the tobacco, much like a standard clothes dryer. Inside of this drum is a “spray boom” with an angled top designed to prevent the tobacco from settling and sticking in large quantities. At the end of this “spray boom” are Atomizing Nozzles used to apply a cleaning solution after each drying process is completed at the end of the shift.  Unfortunately, the angled design didn’t work quite as well as they’d intended.

The customer needed a solution that could periodically clean off the boom while the drying was in operation. It wasn’t reasonable to do this at the end of the drying process once the majority of material had passed through. The accumulated tobacco on the boom was perfectly usable product and anything stuck after the cleaning operation would have to be thrown out as waste. In order to clean the boom and allow the stuck tobacco to remain as usable product, we needed an automated solution.

The customer installed (4) of the 1006SS Back Blow Nozzles situated around the boom to remove any stuck-on product during the drying process. The results spoke for themselves, at 90 PSIG it removed a 14” wide radius of material from the surface. By implementing the Back Blow Nozzle they were able to reduce waste and eliminate a daily 1-hour long cleaning process to remove stuck on material from the boom.

Just because it’s an outside-the-box application for one of our products, doesn’t mean it won’t work!! With EXAIR’s Unconditional 30-Day Guarantee, you can test any of our stock products out before committing to keep them. Reach out to an Application Engineer today if you have a unique application you’d like to discuss!

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

OSHA Safety Standards for Compressed Air

Safety should always be a serious concern within industrial environments.  Walk through any production facility and you should see all kinds of steps taken to give a safe workplace to the operators, contractors, and other team members.  Whether this is through a sign showing PPE required to enter an area, an emergency exit sign, a safe walkway, or machine guards.  Safety has become a standard that should never be lowered and there is good reason for that.

EXAIR designs all of our products to be safe and they meet or exceed OSHA standards that are directed toward compressed air safety.  The first is to ensure that an operator or maintenance worker will not be injured through air impinging their skin should they come into contact with an EXAIR product.   This OSHA standard is 29 CFR1910.242(b) claiming that all point of use compressed air products must be regulated to have less than 30 psig of dead end pressure.   This directive is critical for worker safety and the way many blowoffs skirt by is to cross drill holes in the end of the blowoff.

Cross drilled holes may satisfy the dead end pressure standard but it does not address OSHA’s next important compressed air standard about noise exposure, OSHA standard 29CFR1910.95(a).  The allowable noise level standard combined with 30 psig dead end pressure will render many home made or retail nozzles near useless because few, if any, meet both standards.  Again, EXAIR has engineered and designed our Super Air Nozzles to permit 80 psig inlet pressure and still meet or exceed both of these OSHA standards so that the work can still be done by the operators while remaining safe and retaining their hearing.

For a better explanation and demonstration of how our nozzles meet these standards please see the video below.

While I use nozzles and cross drilled pipes as examples within this blog these safety features are designed into every product that EXAIR offers.  This is due to the fact that OSHA, NIOSH, and the CDC do not delineate between a blow gun, blow off within a machine, or even a Cabinet Cooler System.  If the device is powered by compressed air then the two key OSHA standard are in effect due to the inherit dangers of compressed air.

I encourage you now to walk through your facility and try to listen or spot compressed air points of use within your facility.  Then, I ask you to call, chat, e-mail, or tweet an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and let us help you determine the most efficient and safest product to get the work done.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Next Level Customer Service

I recently spoke with a customer who is a casting / machining manufacturer.  They had an automated cell that was finish machining a feature on a cast aluminum part then placing it on a conveyor belt for an operator to pick up and continue processing.

The parts were placed 3 pieces wide per row and the conveyor would index with every three parts.   The operator would pick three pieces up and transfer them to another station during the machining time.  These parts were carrying residual machining coolant and debris onto the outbound conveyor.

The operator would blow them off with a handheld blow gun and all the coolant and chips would generally end up on the floor in the area causing a slip hazard.  The focus of the project is to eliminate the safety hazards and leave the parts as clean as possible for the inspection and further process.

The metal parts were positioned similar to the parts I placed in the mock up picture below.  The conveyor the customer has is an open mesh conveyor so the process will work better than if it was a solid belt like in the mock up.

The bulk of the concern from the customer was the outside of the part and they stated that anything to blow out the internal is a bonus.  The objective is to get as much coolant off as possible.   For that we recommended they span the conveyor with a Super Air Knife Kit to blow all the parts off at once.  This is mounted closely in the mock up because the customer had space restrictions.

The Super Air Knife Kit with Universal Air Knife Mounting System will firmly mount the knife over the parts and leave adjustment if needed.
The model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles with Stay Set Hoses of various lengths easily bend into place and hold their positioning for the side hole on each part.

Then, because the parts are always placed in the same location with the same orientation we can locate the ID hole with a Mini Super Air Nozzle on a Stay Set Hose of varying length to reach each set of parts as they come through.  Once I had the idea and the products in place I delivered the customer  a quote and dimensional CAD file for each part.

Another recommendation was to use a regulator and filter to control just the knife then operate the three nozzles off their own regulator and filter so that the forces between the two can be varied and the performance of the other is not effected.  Accompanying the models were installation sheets for each item as well.   Followed by the pictures of this mock up for their application.

Needless to say the customer was amazed that we would go to such lengths just to give them more assurance than our 30 day guarantee.  They were extremely thankful and are pleased we shipped from stock and met their installation window.

If you are looking for a creative solution, next level customer service, same day product availability, or just a nice human to talk to about compressed air, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Cleaning Out Pipes, Extrusions and Blind Holes

Look at the picture below of a band saw cutting a piece of tubing.  The amount of debris and coolant that is coating the pipe on the inside diameter and outer diameter is substantial.  Cleaning off the outside of a pipe is fairly easy and straight forward.  Cleaning the ID can be difficult.  This is a single instance where one of the EXAIR Back Blow Air Nozzles can turn a cumbersome job into a quick and easy step in the process.

1 – Metal Cutting Bandsaw

The tubing in the photo appears to be around a 3 or 4″ ID tubing which makes it ideal to be cleaned out internally by the model 1006SS – 1/4″ Back Blow Air Nozzle.  This nozzle is ideal for passage ways ranging from a 7/8″ diameter up to a 4″ diameter.

1006SS – 1/4″ Back Blow Air Nozzle

While cleaning out the short section may be able to be obtained with a forward blowing Safety Air Gun, if this was being cut from a 20′ length of tube it would be difficult to remove the debris from the remnant section of tubing.  The advantage being the debris from the saw cut no longer has to be blown out or left in the longer lengths of the tube.   The Back Blow Air Nozzle can easily be inserted and remove debris back from the saw cutting end.  Lee Evans demonstrates this in a video below.

If you would like to discuss any compressed air application, please feel free to contact an Application Engineer.  We will gladly help you determine which EXAIR product may be right for your application.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

1 – Metal Cutting Bandsaw image – S.J. de Waard, Creative Commons License [CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Metal_cutting_bandsaw_(02).JPG

 

Flat Super Air Nozzles: Overview

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles have been blowing away the competition since 2003.

EXAIR manufactures a variety of nozzles that are OSHA safe, high quality, and very efficient.  They are engineered to entrain the “free” ambient air into the air stream to create a powerful force while reducing compressed air usage.  Thus, saving you money.  With a multitude of blow-off applications like clearing small holes to quickly cleaning gantry CNC tables, EXAIR has the nozzles for you.  In this blog, I will discuss the features and benefits of the EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles.

The EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are manufactured to blow a wide forceful stream of air.  Their patented design creates a high velocity, laminar air stream with minimal air consumption and low noise.  They come in two widths; 1” (25mm) and 2” (51mm).  EXAIR offers a standard Flat Super Air Nozzle and a High Force Flat Super Air Nozzle in two different materials, zinc-aluminum alloy and 316 stainless steel.  And with a metal construction, breakage is not a concern and performance are not sacrificed even in the harshest of environments.  The unique patented shims inside the EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles will give you three improvements to the design and function.  First, they come in different thickness to create a wide range of forces.  In conjunction with a regulator, you can “dial” in the correct amount of force from a breeze to a blast without overusing your air compressor.  The patented design also allows an even flow across the entire width of the air nozzle.  Lastly, they help to entrain the free ambient air; so that less compressed air is required.  The high efficiency design will save you money.  The EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are effective in uniform blowing with safety and efficiency in mind.

To expand more on force adjustments with the Flat Super Air Nozzles, EXAIR has an easy way to change the shim to better suit your application.  You can increase or decrease the force of the nozzle by just removing two screws and changing the thickness of the shim inside.  EXAIR offers a variety pack called a Shim Set to give you a wide range of forces with the nozzles.  For the standard Flat Super Air Nozzle, they come stock with a 0.015” (0.38mm) shim for both the 1” and 2” sizes.  The corresponding Shim Sets will include a 0.005” (0.13mm), 0.010” (0.25mm), and 0.020” (0.51mm) shim.  The High Force Flat Super Air Nozzles will come standard with a 0.025” (0.64mm) shim; and the Shim Set will include a 0.020” (0.51mm) and 0.030” (0.76mm) thick shim.  This is a unique feature as most competitive flat nozzles do not allow you to do this.  The chart below corresponds the appropriate Shim Set to the Flat Super Air Nozzle.

Flat Super Air Nozzle to Shim Set Chart

What can make the Flat Super Air Nozzles even better?  Flexibility.  The Stay Set Hoses can add this for positioning the Flat Super Air Nozzles.  They are designed to manually move the Flat Super Air Nozzle to accurately target the air stream.  They allow the maneuverability to locate the nozzle at different heights or angles; and once positioned, the Stay Set Hose will hold the nozzle in place.  They come in different lengths from 6” (152mm) to 36” (914mm).  We carry two different styles of connections to adapt to any of the Flat Super Air Nozzles.  You can select the different lengths of Stay Set Hoses to the Flat Super Air Nozzle by the model number make-up sheet below.

EXAIR also can offer a Magnetic Base to your Stay Set Hoses and Flat Super Air Nozzles.  The Magnetic Base has a powerful magnet on the bottom to securely attach the blow-off nozzles vertically or horizontally.  This feature is great if you need to move the nozzles to different locations in your application.  EXAIR manufactures a one-outlet and a two-outlet design.  Each outlet has a ¼ turn valve to manually turn on or off the nozzle.  To add this product to the Flat Super Air Nozzle and the Stay Set Hose, you can use the model number make-up sheet below.

With the EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles, you can take advantage of the durability, safety, and efficiency for your blow-off devices.  In addition, you can build a system that will best suit your requirements by adding different lengths of Stay Set Hoses and/or Magnetic Bases.  With these combinations grouped in one model number and in stock for quick shipments, it makes it simple to purchase from EXAIR.  And just to let you know, if you are within the U.S. or Canada, they come with a 30-day unconditional guarantee to try them out.  If you need any help with our Flat Super Air Nozzles or how to build an optimum blow-off system, you can speak to an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to assist you.

 

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

Engineered Super Air Nozzles Improve Efficiency and Safety vs. Commercial and Homemade Nozzles

They may be inefficient, but they sure are loud…

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.

Model 1101

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?

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