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

 

Protecting Employees With PPE vs. Engineered Controls and Substitution

PPE has been a hot topic and new buzzword for a lot of people and throughout many industries over the past 6 months, and rightfully so. When you look at manufacturing though, PPE has been a buzzword for decades. We continue to evolve processes, equipment, and wearables to ensure the safety of operators.  It all boils down to the fact that PPE and the equipment have to be used, and used appropriately in order to be effective.

When reviewing the CDC’s guides for Hierarchy of Controls the least effective method to protect workers is PPE that they must implement and wear/use properly. The fact is, PPE is one of the cheaper entry levels to get to safe working conditions upfront. However, the cost of ownership can quickly surpass more effective methods of providing safe conditions for operators, such as installation of engineered controls or even substituting the hazard w/ engineered solutions.

CDC’s Hierarchy of Controls

 

So what exactly does that mean to the people on the shop floor? Rather than having to grab a set of pinch and roll earplugs every day on the way through the breezeway to get to the production line, permanently installing quiet products like Super Air Nozzles or Super Air Knives in place of open-ended pipes and drilled pipe blowoffs could eliminate the need for these uncomfortable nuisances. And reliance on personnel to use them correctly, or use them at all is a gamble.

How else can EXAIR help in this pursuit of operator safety and happiness? We offer a free service, the EXAIR Efficiency Lab, which will test your current blow-off products for force, flow, air consumption and noise level. We then recommend an engineered solution if we can improve upon those parameters (spoiler alert, we can) that will meet or exceed OSHA standards for dead-end pressure and allowable noise level exposure.

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

For this example, installing a quiet product to aid in lowering noise levels can create an environment that no longer needs PPE for protecting personnel. The fix is permanent and eliminates forgotten, lost or broken PPE and the expensive associated with them.

If you would like to discuss any of these options further, please let me know.

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

How Lowering Sound Levels Produces ROI

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. 

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF