Process Improvement, ROI and Safety from One Air Nozzle

Process improvement projects can be detailed, complex, expensive, and take a long time to prove their worth.  Today, I want to tell you about one that WAS NOT ANYTHING like that.

A metal stamping company used compressed air to blow their products from their dies.  They did what many do – they ran some copper tubing, and aimed it at the platen so it would properly eject the parts as they were stamped.  They KNEW it was loud, and they suspected it was inefficient as well.

After discussing the setup and seeing a picture of it (the one on the left, below,) I recommended installing a few engineered Super Air Nozzles to lower the noise levels considerably.  Boy, was I wrong.  About “a few” nozzles, that is…turns out, they only needed one Model 1122-9212 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with 12″ Stay Set Hose.  The copper tubes come from a manifold that already had 1/4 NPT ports – installation took a matter of minutes.  Nothing detailed, complex, or expensive about it:

This loud & inefficient copper tubing blowoff was just a compression fitting (and a Model 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle) away from being quiet and efficient.

It didn’t take much longer than that to prove its worth either: as soon as they noticed how much the noise level went down on THIS press, they ordered them for the other eighteen presses in their facility as well.

The 1/4″ copper tubes blew continuously from a pressure regulator set @60psig…the three of them theoretically consumed a total of ~80 SCFM.  The Model 1122, at 60psig supply, consumes only 17.2 SCFM.  Simple return on investment was as follows:

  • 80 SCFM was costing them $48.00 a week
    • 80 SCFM X 60 min/hr X 8 hr/day X 5 days/week X $0.25/1,000 CFM = $48.00
  • 17.2 SCFM, using the same formula, only costs $10.32 a week (I’ll let you do the math; it’s good practice.)
  • They saved $37.68 a week.  The Model 1122-9212 costs $116.00 (2020 pricing) – that means that each of them paid for themselves in just a hair over three weeks.
  • $37.68 x 50 work weeks per year = $1884.00 saved annually per nozzle
  • $1884 x 18 (the number of presses) = $33,912 saved annually 

Considering they also didn’t have to listen to those very loud open ended copper tube blowoffs, I think you’ll have to agree it made for a very good investment.  They did. The new nozzle runs at 77 decibels, a comfortable level and well below the OSHA standard [29 CFR – 1910.95(a)] for allowable noise exposure.

If you’d like to find out how EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can save you money on compressed air – and save everyone’s hearing – give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Reliable Heat Protection Right Now: The EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System

Electrical and electronic devices can be finicky creatures.  Shutting them away inside a sealed enclosure keeps dust, fumes, and humidity away, but it’s about the worst thing you can do to them, heat-wise.  If you don’t provide some means of cooling, they’re going to simply burn up, and you’ll have to replace them.  If they’re critical for your operation, you better keep a spare, because they’re not always on the shelf, and they’re not even always in the country.

Conventional wisdom, then, says you should provide some method of cooling.  You can use a vented enclosure, with a fan & louvers, assuming it’s not in a spray down/wash down area.  But if it’s in a dusty and/or humid and/or fume-ridden area, well, you’ve just compromised the reason you put them in an enclosure in the first place.

Refrigerant based panel coolers are prolific…they come in all shapes & sizes, and they’re probably sold by the folks you got the electrical panel from.  Thing is, they can be susceptible to the same dust, fumes, and humidity that you’re trying to keep from wrecking what’s inside the enclosure.  If the filters get clogged, the tubes get fouled, a refrigerant leak develops, the motor burns out, the compressor fails (just to name a few potential problems,) we’re back to recommending keeping spare parts around, or, even worse, opening up the panel for emergency cooling…

Don’t let this happen to you, or your control panels!

We talk to folks all the time who are looking for a better method of heat protection for the finicky gear inside their control panels, and the one common factor is reliability.  They all simply want something that works.  All day and every day.

So we introduce them to EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems.  They’re compressed air operated and have no electric motor to burn out.  They have no moving parts to break down, no filters or tubes to clean, no refrigerant to leak.  They install in minutes, and if you supply them with clean, moisture free air, they’ll run darn near indefinitely maintenance free.  And the only thing the inside of your panel will ever see is cold, clean, moisture free air.

Oh, and there’s no need for spare parts…other than filter elements for the compressed air supply.  Barring catastrophic physical damage, again, there’s really nothing to go wrong with them.

One last thing, which prompted me to write this blog today:  They’re on the shelf and ready for immediate shipment, unlike the refrigerant based panel cooler that a caller earlier today was looking to replace…their vendor was 2-3 weeks away from getting them one, which was 2-3 weeks longer than they could afford to wait.

This NEMA 4 Dual Cabinet Cooler System protects a critical equipment panel on a hot roll steel line.

It’s getting warmer by the day here in the Northern Hemisphere, so I expect calls about panel cooling will be increasing.  Not to worry; we’re ready for it.  If you want to find out more about reliable heat protection for your electronics, drives, and other critical components, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air Compressor Motors And Controls

Electric motors are by far the most popular drivers for industrial air compressors.  Indeed, they are the prime movers for a great many types of industrial rotating equipment.  In their simplest form of operation, rotary motion is induced when current flows through a conductor (the windings) in the presence of a magnetic field (usually by electricity inducing a magnetic field in the rotor.)  In the early days, you’d start one up by flipping a big lever called a knife switch.

Example of a knife switch

These are cumbersome and inherently dangerous…the operators literally have their hand(s) on the conductor.  If the insulation fails, if something mechanical breaks, if they fail to make full contact, electrocution is a very real risk.  Over time, motor starters came in to common use.  Early in their development, they were more popular with higher HP motors, but soon were made for smaller motors as well.

There are several types of modern motor starters:

Full Voltage Starters: The original, and simplest method.  These are similar in theory to the old knife switches, but the operator’s hands aren’t right on the connecting switch.  Full line voltage comes in, and amperage can peak at up to 8 times full load (normal operating) amperage during startup.  This can result in voltage dips…not only in the facility itself, but in the neighborhood.  Remember how the lights always dim in those movies when they throw the switch on the electric chair?  It’s kind of like that.

Reduced Voltage Starters: These are electro-mechanical starters.  Full line voltage is reduced, commonly to 50% initially, and steps up, usually in three increments, back to full.  This keeps the current from jumping so drastically during startup, and reduces the stress on mechanical components…like the motor shaft, bearings, and coupling to the compressor.

Solid State (or “Soft”) Starters: Like the Reduced Voltage types, these reduce the full line voltage coming in as well, but instead of increasing incrementally, they gradually and evenly increase the power to bring the motor to full speed over a set period of time.  They also are beneficial because of the reduced stress on mechanical components.

The Application Engineering team at EXAIR Corporation prides ourselves on our expertise of not only point-of-use compressed air application & products, but a good deal of overall system knowledge as well.  If you have questions about your compressed air system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Which Air Nozzle Is Right For Me?

Well, the obvious answer is, of course, an engineered air nozzle…you’re likely aware of this, or you wouldn’t be reading posts on the EXAIR Corporation blog.  We have no issue with narrowing that down a bit, and saying that the answer is an EXAIR air nozzle.  I bet you knew that was coming as well.  So let’s assume that, because of the cost of compressed air, the potential hazards of its unregulated discharge, and the flat-out racket it can make (unless you do something about it,) you’re looking for something efficient, safe, and quiet.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s unpack that question.  The nature of the application will let us know the airflow pattern & characteristics (mainly flow & force) that we need.

For example, if you need just a pinpoint of airflow, our Atto Super Air Nozzle blows a 1/2″ diameter pattern at a distance of 3″.  Get a little closer than that, and it’s as tight as you want it to be.  Now, it’s only generating a force of 2oz (at 12″ away) but keep in mind that’s all concentrated in a small fraction of an inch diameter.  Which is plenty for most applications that need that precise of an airflow.

Atto Super Air Nozzle

If you DO need a little more flow & force, our Pico and Nano Super Air Nozzles offer incremental increases in performance.  The pattern starts to widen out, but that’s a function of the increased flow expanding in to atmospheric pressure…it has to go somewhere, you know.  But, again, the closer you get, the more focused the flow is to the centerline of the nozzle.

On the other end of the spectrum are EXAIR’s High Force Air Nozzles.  These are particularly useful for stubborn blowoff applications – a foundry blowing slag off hot strip as it cools, for example.  Our largest of these, a 1-1/4 NPT model, generates 23 lbs of force…that’s over 25 times the power of our standard Super Air Nozzle.

 

With 23 lbs of hard hitting force, this 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle is perfect for the most extreme blow off and cleaning jobs.

Speaking of the standard Super Air Nozzle, it’s the most popular answer to the Big Question.  It’s suitable for a wide range of blowoff, drying, and cooling applications, like the kinds of jobs an awful lot of folks use open end blowoff devices on.  Open ended tubes blow out a great amount of air, but they’re wasteful and noisy, and OSHA says you can’t use them unless you regulate the pressure to 30psig…where they’re not even going to be all that effective.

Choose from (top left to bottom right) 316SS, Zinc Aluminum, or PEEK Thermoplastic…whatever you need to stand up to the rigors of your environment.

If you’ve got a 1/4″ copper tube, for example, it’ll use 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll for sure get the job done (albeit expensively, when you think of all that compressed air consumption,) but it’ll be loud (likely well over 100 dBA) and again, OSHA says you can’t use it at that pressure.  So, you can dial it down to 30psig, where it’ll be marginally effective, but it’s still going to use more air than the Model 1100 1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle does at 80psig supply pressure.  The hard hitting force of the Model 1100, under those conditions, will make all the difference in the world.  As will its sound level of only 74 dBA.  Not to mention, it’s fully compliant with OSHA 1910.242(b).  Oh…and you can even install it directly on the end of your existing tube with a simple compression fitting.

One of our customers installed Model 1100 Super Air Nozzles on all their lathe blowoff copper tubes, and saved almost $900 a year in compressed air costs.

We’ve also got engineered Air Nozzles smaller than the 1100 (all the way down to the aforementioned Atto Super Air Nozzle) and a good selection of larger ones, including Cluster Air Nozzles that hold tighter airflow patterns than similar performing single Super Air Nozzles.  They’re available in materials ranging from Zinc-Aluminum alloy, bare aluminum, brass, 303SS, 316SS, or PEEK thermoplastic polymer to meet the requirements of most any area of installation, no matter how typical or aggressive.

If you have an loud, wasteful, and likely unsafe blowoff, you owe it to yourself and everyone else who has to put up with it to consider a better solution.  Call me; let’s talk.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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