Another Label Problem, Another Super Air Knife Solution

Last week, I used this space to brag on our Super Air Knives, and how they solve a common problem in bottling applications: label adhesion. This week, I have another opportunity to brag on the Super Air Knife. AND it’s another solution to a labeling problem.

Self-adhesive labels are commonly applied to goods are they travel on high speed conveyors. If they’re going onto a flat, smooth surface (like a box,) it’s pretty easy…they come right off a timed roller with a wheel that presses them in place. This can even work with round containers (like drums, jars, or bottles) by putting an idler on the wheel to take up the slack as it rolls over the rounded surface.

Sometimes, the label needs to go around the corner of a box. This requires the roller to turn that corner. Or two rollers to pull the old “one-two” on the label. Either way, that’s going to slow down the speed at which the conveyor can be run. And time is money.

Enter the Super Air Knife…mount it so it’s blowing at the corner. The laminar, high velocity air flow will then press the label in place on each adjacent surface.

With a laminar curtain of air traveling as fast as 13,500 feet per minute, an EXAIR Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for corner labels.

Another benefit: when supplied with clean, dry air, the Super Air Knife will run darn near indefinitely, maintenance-free. Those rollers get dirty, and the bearings will fail eventually. Same with the idlers, and they’ll need adjusted from time to time.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need for long term operation & performance.

The Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3″ to 108″ – if you’d like to discuss how these, or any of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products, can make a difference in your processes, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Knives Make Beer Bottle Labels Stick; EFC Optimizes Efficiency

The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.

The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:

This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.

One of the many simple and effective ways an EXAIR Super Air Knife is commonly used.

In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.

Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.

Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.

Click here to calculate how much you can save with an EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control.

As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:

Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:

52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually.  Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*

Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles.  The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set.  But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*

*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar.  You’re welcome.

That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.

If you’d like to find out how much you can save with EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Music And The Mini Cooler

Recently, EXAIR Corporation offered CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training to employees. I already carry certification, so I held down the fort while some of the other Application Engineers received this training. As a middle aged man, I have to admit that my interest in my co-workers’ abilities to respond to a matter of this nature is not entirely unselfish.

One of the key parts of CPR training is the rate of the chest compressions. While most people couldn’t accurately replicate 100 beats per minute on demand, almost everyone is familiar enough with some popular songs with a rhythm close to that.  The song they always bring up in CPR training is “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Depending on how you feel about disco, another option is “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Pro tip: it might be considered bad form to sing that one out loud while performing CPR.

Speaking of music, while I was holding down said fort during this morning’s training session, I had the pleasure of assisting a caller in the music business: a piano restoration & tuning professional. A frequent job for them consists of resetting tuning pins, which requires drilling numerous small holes (a grand piano can have as many as 250) into a hardwood board. They’re pressed in, so it’s critical that they fit the newly-drilled hole precisely. If the drill bit gets too hot, it can expand in diameter, making the hole ever-so-slightly bigger than it should be. The heat can also cause the surface of the hole ID to glaze. Both of those things can cause problems with the pin fitting securely in the hole.

The EXAIR Model 3808 Mini Cooler System was an ideal solution – it’ll keep the drill bit cool & clean with a constant stream of cold air. It’s compact and quiet, and only uses 8 SCFM @100psig…well within the capacity of many smaller air compressors.

If you’d like to “get in tune” with a spot cooling solution, I can help…call me. Oh, and in case you wanted to know which song with about 100 beats per minute I’d use for CPR:

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System Meets High Demands Of Sea Duty

I joined the Navy, right after high school, to get out of Ohio, see the world, and never come back. “My recruiter said” (if you are considering military service, those can be famous last words, just so you know) that I would be a good candidate for Nuclear Power School, so I took the test. As a math & science nerd scholar, I qualified for admission easily.  About halfway through Nuke School, I volunteered for submarines.  My decision was based in no small part on the sea stories of our instructors, the strong reputation of better food, and my deep appreciation for the movie “Operation Petticoat.”

Upon graduation, I was assigned to a new construction Trident submarine.  I did not see the world…I saw the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, and Naval Submarine Base King’s Bay, Georgia.  Hilarity occasionally ensued, but never in the context of that movie I so adored.  I moved back to Ohio (on purpose) soon after my enlistment was up.  The food WAS good…I can unreservedly vouch for that.

In the new construction environment of the shipyard, I became quite familiar, and developed a deep respect for, the high level of attention paid to the materials and workmanship that a seagoing vessel demanded…not to mention, one with a nuclear reactor on board.  Reliability and durability are obviously key factors.

I had the pleasure recently of assisting an electrical contractor who was looking for a cooling solution for a new Variable Frequency Drive enclosure installation on a cement barge.  The ship’s engineer (a Navy veteran himself) had told the contractor that his priorities were reliability, durability, and dust exclusion.  He couldn’t have made a better case for an EXAIR Cabinet Cooling System.

Based on the specified heat load of the VFD, the size of the enclosure, and its location, a Model 4380 Thermostat Controlled NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler System, rated at 5,600 Btu/hr, was specified.  This equipment is internal to the ship; had it been exposed to the elements, a NEMA 4X system would have been presented.

Up to 2,800 Btu/hr cooling capacity with a single Cabinet Cooler System (left) or as much as 5,600 Btu/hr with a Dual system (right.)

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems have no moving parts to wear, no electric motor to burn out, and no heat transfer surfaces (like a refrigerant-based unit’s fins & tubes) to foul.  Once it’s properly installed on a sealed enclosure, the internal components never see anything but cold, clean air.

If you have a need to protect an electrical enclosure in aggressive environment, give me a call.  With a wide range of Cabinet Cooler Systems to meet a variety of needs, we’ve got the one you’re looking for, in stock and ready to ship.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Super Air Knives Can Make Everything Better…Even Popcorn!

You know the drill.  In almost any container of popcorn…whether it’s a movie theater bucket, a microwave bag, a stovetop pan (if you’re old school,) or a campfire popper (if you camp with class)…there’s always going to be some un-popped kernels.  And if you don’t pay particular attention to them, they might just activate your dental plan.

This is, unfortunately, an unavoidable inconvenience when dealing with freshly popped popcorn.  For a company that makes pre-packaged popcorn-based snacks, though, un-popped kernels are a real quality issue.  I just had the pleasure of helping a caller with this very issue: although they had a sifter device in place that took care of an awful lot of un-popped kernels, they still had enough getting through to merit a closer look.  Since the popcorn already passed through the sifter on a conveyor, the idea was to “float” the popped kernels across a short break in the conveyor, and let the un-popped kernels fall through.

After a short discussion of their needs, I recommended a Model 110224 24″ Aluminum Super Air Knife Kit. By using the Pressure Regulator (included with the kit) to dial in the air flow, they’re able to keep the popped deliciousness moving on for packaging, and let the dental hazards to fall through, where they’re sent back for another attempt at proper popping. So, they’re not only improving the quality of their product, they’re doing everything possible to make sure no kernel goes un-popped.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need to solve your application!

At EXAIR, we’re all about safety when it comes to compressed air use in industrial and commercial settings.  Now one of our products is helping protect peoples’ teeth while they’re eating popcorn snacks!  If you’d like to talk about how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product might be able to make things better for you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles Make It Nice & Foggy In Greenhouses

Fog. Nobody likes driving in it. It’s downright perilous to sailing vessels on the open water, but especially those near the shore, or other watercraft. Flights get delayed or cancelled, stranding travelers in airport terminals far from home, and keeping many from pressing matters that necessitated the speed of an airline flight in the first place.  Oh, and it’s ALWAYS where the bad guy is hiding in the movies.  You can tell by the ominous low-string music that starts playing right before things get real nefarious.

You know who LIKES fog, though?  Greenhouse operators.  Their plants get plenty of water to sustain their growth from the well-irrigated soil, but the leaves & petals can wither and get discolored if the humidity isn’t kept at a high level.

The same is true for the parts of a greenhouse that folks don’t see when they’re selecting the annuals to plant on the next nice spring weekend (which we should be coming up on quite soon here!) – like the seed germination chambers.  I had the pleasure of helping a greenhouse operator recently, who needed to replace some old, and malfunctioning, nozzles in one of their germination chambers.  They were interested in the extremely fine mist that our Atomizing Spray Nozzles produce.  After some experimentation with a couple of different flow rates & patterns, they determined that the Model AW1020SS (Wide Angle Round Pattern, Internal Mix) Atomizing Spray Nozzles provided optimal results.

The fine, atomized mist (left) produced by the EXAIR AW1020SS (right) optimizes the seed germination in this chamber.

The fine, atomized mist (left) produced by the EXAIR AW1020SS (right) optimizes the seed germination in this chamber.

As the fogging systems in their other chambers start to fail, they’ve been replacing them with the AW1020SS’.  We shipped them two earlier this week.

With (90) distinct models to choose from, we’ve got the solution to your liquid spraying application.

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles offer an incredibly wide range of flow rates, patterns, and adjustability to suit most any application that requires a fine liquid mist.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Compressed Air Has Tremendous Power! Use It Safely

Just the other day, not far from here, a demolition crew at a shuttered factory and a local homeowner got this message, loud & clear, when the crew inadvertently cut into a still-pressurized compressed air cylinder.  It launched, like a missile (an apt description, given the fact that real missiles operate on this exact same principle) some 1,500 feet, across the neighborhood, and into the bedroom of a house, three blocks away.  Here’s what the local news reported on it:

Now, before you go turn your air compressor off and vent your system, let’s look at just a couple of other incredible dangers we place ourselves in close proximity to every day:

Driving a car: I came to work this morning in a 3,500lb mass of metal, plastic, and glass, hurtling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  This would be an insane thing to do, were it not for:

*The engineering, design, and maintenance that makes the vehicle safe to operate,

*The training, experience, and periodic re-licensing required to maintain driving privileges,

*The upkeep of roadways, bridges, traffic signals, etc., and

*The monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety measures by our law enforcement officers.

Operating electrically powered devices:  if you’re reading this on a computer screen, you’re likely surrounded by objects that are connected directly to 120 volts of alternating current electricity.  That stuff will stop your heart.  Thank goodness all that current is contained, isolated, and grounded to keep it out of our bodies, even when we have to touch the controls to turn those devices on & off.

Food: Don’t even get me started on the hazards of ingesting plant & animal product that used to live outside and was processed for transport hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of miles away.  It’s a wonder any of us have made it this long.  Well, except for the development and rigorous implementation of food safety and sanitation practices & policy.

Working with compressed air is no different.  A typical plant compressed air system will operate at about 100psig.  That literally means that there is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS OF FORCE being exerted on EACH AND EVERY SQUARE INCH of the inside of the pipes, hoses, tanks, etc., in the system.  If you don’t keep it under control, you can have some serious problems.  Fortunately, there are simple, straightforward, and easily accessible ways to do that.

This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, but let’s start with:

Design: Your piping and components have to be the proper pressure rating.  We’ve got some good piping information on our websiteAlso, keep your vehicle well maintained, periodically check your electric devices for frayed cables, and look at your meat packages’ labels for a USDA stamp and “use by” date.

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don't rely on smell or color; food package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don’t rely on smell or color; package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Controls: Make sure you’re using your compressed air safely.  OSHA Regulation 1910.242(b) governs the use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes…it limits you to no more than 30psi of downstream, static pressure at the discharge of your blow off device.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products comply with this regulation, by design.  Also, watch your speed on the highway, don’t plug too many strands of Christmas tree lights in to one outlet, and always cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165F (73.9C)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant - certificated available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don't overload the circuit (right.)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – certificate available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

Personal Protective Equipment: Any time you’re working with compressed air, you should be wearing eye protection and using appropriate chip guards to keep flying debris from coming back at you.  Certain applications may require more safeguards…check with your compliance coordinator or supervisor to make sure.  Also, don’t shift out of ‘park’ without your seat belt fastened, take care to unplug any appliance before servicing it, and don’t skimp on a decent pair of oven mitts if you plan on making a lot of baked goods.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes - it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes – it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR has been making quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products for 34 years now.  If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call and ask for an Application Engineer.  No; compressed air isn’t safe, in and of itself…but it CAN be used safely…and that’s the important part.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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ef2d_star_trek_oven_mitt picture courtesy of Cozinhando Fantasias

d2590-1 picture courtesy of US Department of Agriculture

Holiday fire safety – Power strip overloaded picture courtesy of State Farm

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