Back To The Basics: Process Improvement Basics

We understand that it is more important than ever to realize savings within manufacturing processes. EXAIR can reduce compressed air consumption and provide simple ROI in a matter of weeks in MANY cases.

In the hustle and bustle of the daily grind wherever you are, there are certain processes that become muscle memory for you and certain processes that just work and don’t need any attention. Whether it be a login process for your computer network, the number of steps it takes to fill your coffee cup, or the compressed air applications in your facility.

You know what I am talking about, these items begin to get glanced over and often become overlooked. When going through process improvements or troubleshooting, it is easy to overlook processes which are not causing trouble or that have become “acceptable” because they are producing. EXAIR firmly believes compressed air applications are ripe for improvement, and our product lines are built to replace inefficient compressed air products with engineered and efficient solutions.

When evaluating a process for improvement creating a baseline is the necessary start. With this, we can then start to draw a realistic target of where the process needs to be in order to be optimized and document the changes from our starting baseline.

Much like the 6 Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, which starts with measuring compressed air consumption to provide a baseline.  Sometimes, this may require the installation of a Digital Flowmeter, others it may include taking advantage of our Efficiency Lab service for us to get a baseline of what air consumption and other key performance indicators are for your application.

Looking to “go green?” We can help.

Once we have the baseline and a target, we can then begin to design an improvement process. Whether this is implementing better controls for the air, such as pressure regulators, or implementing controllers such as the Electronic Flow Control, it may even be simply installing an engineered solution.  Once an improvement has been implemented we can then go on to the next testing phase to again gather data to see how much air was saved from the baseline.

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

Once the performance of the new process is determined then we can take the new cost of ownership numbers and give a simple return on investment back to determine what the actual savings by implementing these process improvements have amounted to.

The below example is from a customer who had already improved their static elimination application by using our Super Ion Air Knife instead of a homemade pipe with drilled holes. They further optimized the application with our Electronic Flow Control.

If you would like to talk through methods for process improvement or how we can help you determine these costs, please reach out.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Reduce Sound Levels In Less Than A Minute

Okay, I will admit, the title may be a tad bit leading.  The fact is, it can be done.  I speak to customers almost daily who are struggling with the noise levels produced from open pipe blowoffs.  With Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) a significant problem among manufacturing workers, reducing the noise form compressed air can be a simple solution and contribute toward reducing overall noise exposure levels. Many of these calls and emails revolve around reducing these exact noise levels, sometimes the open pipes have existing threads on them to install the solution immediately.

To reduce these noise levels, we need to simply reduce the amount of energy that is being expelled through the pipe. How do we do this you might ask?  The use of an air nozzle will reduce the energy being dispersed from an open pipe.  This will result in lower air consumption as well as lower sound levels while actually increasing velocity as the pipe will maintain higher operating pressures. Be cautious about the air nozzle you choose, however, they are not all created equal. EXAIR’s engineered air nozzles are among the quietest and most efficient air nozzles available.

Family of Nozzles

What size pipes can we fit nozzles to?  That’s a great question.  We have nozzles that range from a 4mm straight thread all the way up to 1-1/4″ NPT thread.  This also includes nearly any size in between especially the standard compressed air piping sizes.  For instance, a 1/4″ Sched. 40 pipe that has 1/4″ MNPT threads on it can easily produce over a 100 dBA noise level from 3 feet away.  This can easily be reduced to below 80 dBA from 3′ away by utilizing one of our model 1100 Super Air Nozzles.  All it takes is a deep well socket and ratchet with some thread sealant.

This doesn’t just lower the sound level though, it reduces the amount of compressed air expelled through that open pipe by creating a restriction on the exit point.  This permits the compressed air to reach a higher line pressure causing a higher exit velocity and due to the engineering within the nozzle, this will also eliminate dangerous dead-end pressure and complies with OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.242(b).

Easy Install

All in all, a 30-second install can make an operator’s work station considerably quieter and potentially remove the need for hearing protection.  If you would like to discuss how to lower noise levels in your facility, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

50 Years of Earth Day – Happy Earth Day!

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and it will be observed in over 190 countries. For EXAIR, this year marks our 37th year helping compressed air users save compressed air energy and electrical resources. And the 37th year for improving our own efficiencies and processes in order to reduce waste. Because your volunteer opportunities may not be available this year, Earthday.org has gone digital for 2020 and is providing ways to participate via your computer.

EXAIR remains committed to a minimal footprint and continues to focus on manufacturing our products with little impact and doing our part to help protect our planet. We are proud to manufacture efficient products, implement processes and programs throughout our facility to help use our resources wisely and recycle everything we possibly can.

We manufacture and sell Intelligent Compressed Air Products that are specifically designed to reduce the use of compressed air throughout facilities.  On top of that, when you purchase an EXAIR product it will arrive in fully recyclable packaging and, in most cases, is made from a material that will be recyclable should it reach a point it is no longer useful.

Over the past years we continually look for improvement opportunities within our systems and processes. Recently we have…

  • Over the past year, EXAIR recycled 1300 yards of paper and cardboard.
  • Recycled 100% of our cardboard and mixed paper products. Of the waste we place into our trash dumpsters – 80% is recycled and 20% is sent to the landfill.
  • Recycled 100% of the metal scrap from our machining processes. Improvements in these processes has reduced scrap rates, which equates to 5.5 tons of recycled metal.
  • Used our very own Chip Trapper Systems in our manufacturing areas to extend the water-soluble coolant life from 6 weeks per changeover to 6 months per changeover. Keeping our coolant clean allows us to minimize the total amount of wastewater we recycle each year.
  • Further reduced our wastewater for reclamation by another 25% compared to last year.
  • Minimized our own compressed air use by 1 million cubic feet per year
  • Made improvements to the efficiency of our computers and computer servers which require fewer Kilowatt hours (KWH) per day

Another waste reducing factor that has proven to work out well for EXAIR is asking every customer if they accept digital invoices rather than requiring them to be printed and mailed.  We have been able to eliminate over 91% of all printed and mailed invoices. This helps to reduce our resources used as well as the amount of materials that are possibly turned into solid wastes at customer facilities. This also prevents the gas and vehicles necessary to deliver all of these invoices by mail.

Adding to the efforts above, we continue to maintain RoHS compliance on all electronic products, as well as actively track our supply chains to ensure no Conflict Minerals are being sourced and used in our products.

If you have any questions on how we can help your facility reduce their volume of compressed air or why we continue to reduce our wastes and increase our recycling efforts, contact us.

Happy Earth Day from EXAIR!

 

 

Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Intermediate Storage Tanks & How To Size Them

When evaluating processes that utilize compressed air and adhering to the Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, intermediate storage proves to be a critical role coming in at step number five. Intermediate storage tanks may already be in place within your facility and often times can be implemented as modifications to aid existing lines that are struggling to maintain proper availability of compressed air to keep the line at peak performance.

EXAIR Receiver Tank in 60 Gallon Capacity

When determining whether or not a production line or point of use compressed air operation would benefit from a receiver tank/intermediate storage we would want to evaluate whether the demand for compressed air is intermittent.  Think of a receiver tank as a capacitor in an electrical circuit or a surge tank in a water piping system.  These both store up energy or water respectively to deliver to during a short high demand period then slowly charge back up from the main system and prepare for the next high demand.   If you look from the supply point it will see a very flattened demand curve, if you look from the application side it still shows a wave of peak use to no use.

Intermittent Applications are prime for rapid on/off of compressed air.

One of the key factors in intermediate storage of compressed air is to appropriately size the tank for the supply side of the system as well as the demand of the application.  The good news is there are equations for this.  To determine the capacity, use the equation shown below which is slightly different from sizing your main compressed air storage tank.  The formulate shown below is an example.

Where:

V – Volume of receiver tank (ft3 / cubic feet)

T – Time interval (minutes)

C – Air demand for system (cubic feet per minute)

Cap – Supply value of inlet pipe (cubic feet per minute)

Pa – Absolute atmospheric pressure (PSIA)

P1 – Header Pressure (PSIG)

P2 – Regulated Pressure (PSIG)

One of the main factors when sizing point of use intermediate storage is, they are being supplied air by smaller branch lines which cannot carry large capacities of air.  That limits your Cap value. The only way to decrease the V solution is to increase your Cap. The other key point is to ensure that all restrictions feeding into the tank and from the tank to your point of use are minimized in order to maintain peak performance.

If there are intermittent applications that are struggling to keep up with the production demands within your system, please reach out and speak with an Application Engineer.  We are always here to help and we may even be able to help you lower the demand needed by utilizing an engineered point of use compressed air solution.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF