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

There Must Be A Better Way To Save…

 

I’m writing this blog at almost the top-dead-center midpoint of Spring Break week. My teenage sons have been “enjoying” their time off thus far with the housekeeping duties their mother has been assigning them, and the labor they’ve been providing their uncle, as he installs a new garage door for us…the one my mother-in-law paid for. I definitely married out of my league.

The last half of Spring Break, though, we’re taking a little vacation. We looked at the activities and attractions at our destination, came up with a plan on what to do and when (including an analysis of the 10 day weather forecast…which prompted me to find our rain ponchos) and have even purchased some tickets in advance, because advertising “5% SAVINGS!” on stuff really works on me, even when it’s on a $20 ticket. Before you grab your calculator, yeah…that’s a dollar. But since there are four of us, I’ve multiplied our savings by 400%! Yes; I know…four bucks.  Still, I’ll take it.

We talk to folks almost every day who want, like I do, to save money on goods and services they’re going to purchase anyway. Some have performed comprehensive energy audits, and identified opportunities to lower their compressed air generation and/or consumption rates. Others have just been looking at the bent copper tubes that are blowing off their parts and thinking there has to be a better way.

(Full disclosure: I’ve had these two exact conversations so far this week.)

Today, I want to tell you about the latter: It’s an aluminum casting plant with about a dozen lines where a robot grabs a fresh casting from the machine, dips it in a quench tank, and holds it in front of an array of copper tube blow offs for a few seconds before placing it in a bin, bound for the machine shop. Not only were they blowing at it from both sides with the copper tubes, but they were also blowing continuously…including the majority of the cycle time that did NOT include holding the part in the air flow.  Dear reader, if you’re familiar AT ALL with the EXAIR blog, you’ll know that we simply cannot abide that. Continuous flow when flow is only needed a fraction of the time is wasteful and expensive. Not to mention blowing air out of open tubes is dangerous, loud and requires and unneccessary volume of compressed air.

It's like they WANT to upset us.  What's up with that?
It’s like they WANT to upset us. What’s up with that?

They installed (2) Model 110018 18” Aluminum Super Air Knives, in place of the copper tubing, which cut down on their air consumption…and noise levels…considerably. I gave them some further recommendations on reprogramming the robot to turn the part in front of one Air Knife, and using an EFC Electronic Flow Control to turn the air off when a part was not present.

EXAIR's EFC automatically turns the air off when a part is not present.
EXAIR’s EFC automatically turns the air off when a part is not present.

Is there a better way to use the compressed air in your facility? Whether you’ve got comprehensive data from a detailed audit, or if that open pipe is just too darn loud, all the time – give me a call…we’ll find out.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Help with Choosing an E-Vac Vacuum Generator

This is a pretty common question when it comes to Vacuum Generator use in pick-and-place application, and although we can’t boil it down to a simple table & formula based on mass (like we can with the Vacuum Cups themselves,) we can usually hone right in on it, if we have enough details of the situation. And, if questions remain, we can always test one to find out…we’ve got an Efficiency Lab.

That’s what I did, first thing this morning. I had the pleasure of speaking with a robotics instructor at a vocational school yesterday…his class was building a robot to enter in a competition, and one of the operations it needs to accomplish is picking up a golf ball and carrying it a certain distance.  This sounded like a great application for a small E-Vac Vacuum Generator, and, considering the potential leakage at the Vacuum Cup face from the dimples on the golf ball, my first instinct was to consider our Model 810002M E-Vac Low Vacuum (Porous Duty) Generator w/Muffler, and a Model 900766 Bellow Style Vacuum Cup, with a 0.73″ diameter face…our smallest, and ideally sized for a golf ball.  They, however, have a VERY limited supply of compressed air, so the difference between the Model 810002M’s compressed air consumption (2.3 SCFM @80psig) and the Model 800001M E-Vac High Vacuum (Non-Porous Duty) Generator w/Muffler (1.5 SCFM @80psig) was worth considering.  Also, we figured that they might be able to use a Model 900804 Check Valve, so the only time they’d need to supply air was to pick it up, and, possibly intermittently to maintain the vacuum.  So, golf ball in hand, off to the Efficiency Lab I went.  I also took our trusty video camera:

As you can see, it locked on to the golf ball instantly, and the Check Valve allowed the Vacuum Cup to hold the ball for over 13 seconds with no air flow to the E-Vac, proving that there isn’t much leakage at all past those dimples.  I suspect we’ll be seeing this robotics class team in the winner’s circle at the competition.

In most cases, the difference between 1.5 SCFM and 2.3 SCFM consumption may go unnoticed when picking a short-duration pick-and place vacuum generator.  The higher usage product’s supply pressure can always be regulated down to reduce compressed air consumption and use only what’s necessary to do the task…we, in fact, recommend that on ANY compressed air application.  In this case, though, it was worth finding out.

If you have a pick-and-place application that you’d like help with in selecting the right system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
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