6 Steps to Optimizing Compressed Air: Turn it Down!!!

TURN IT DOWN!!! My wife screamed at 6:00am the morning of our first NFL Sunday. As a lifelong Cincinnati Bengals fan, it’s been a tradition in our house for me to wake everyone up while blaring Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” first thing in the morning each and every week 1. After 13 years together you’d think she would be prepared for this by now, but I still get her every time.

You may also hear your maintenance manager screaming to turn it down while out in the shop. They’re not talking about music volume. They’re more concerned about the compressed air pressure you’re using.

In any application necessitating the use of compressed air, pressure should be controlled to minimize the air consumption at the point of use. Pressure regulators are available to control the air pressure within the system and throttle the appropriate supply of air to any pneumatic device. As the last of the six steps to optimizing your compressed air system, controlling air at the point of use can often be overlooked.

Pressure Regulators “dial in” performance to get the job done without using more air than necessary.

Pressure regulators utilize a control knob that is turned to either increase/decrease tension on a spring. The spring puts a load on the diaphragm which separates internal air pressure from the ambient pressure. Typically made of a flexible rubber material, these diaphragms react very quickly to changes in the air supply. By either increasing or decreasing the flow of air based on the load on the diaphragm, downstream pressure remains fairly constant.

While one advantage of a pressure regulator is certainly maintaining consistent pressure to your compressed air devices, using them to minimize your pressure can result in dramatic savings to your costs of compressed air. As pressure and flow are directly related, lowering the pressure supplied results in less compressed air usage. EXAIR recommends operating your Intelligent Compressed Air Products at the minimum pressure necessary to achieve a successful application. If you notice a desirable result at a pressure of 60 PSIG, or even less, there’s no need to run full line pressure. In-line point of use pressure regulators are the simplest and most reliable way to allow you to dial down to the pressure to any compressed air operated product.

When selecting a pressure regulator for your application, it’s critical that it is appropriately sized to supply adequate volume to the point of use devices downstream. Doing so, minimizes the risk of experiencing “droop”. Droop is a decrease in outlet pressure from the specified setting due to an increase in flow rate.  Droop occurs when the demand at the point of use exceeds the volume of air that the regulator can supply. By ensuring the pressure regulator is rated to deliver sufficient volume of air, you’ll reduce the chances of experiencing droop. EXAIR offers pressure regulators in kits along with many of our products, we’ve done the hard part for you and made sure they’re properly sized!

If you’re looking for ways to help lessen the demand on your compressor, EXAIR’s team of Application Engineers will be happy to help. Reach out to us via phone, chat, or e-mail and see for yourself just how easy it can be to start saving compressed air!

Tyler Daniel, CCASS

Application Engineer

E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com

Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

YouTube. (2009). YouTube. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1tj2zJ2Wvg.

Understand the ROI of Your EXAIR Products With Our FREE Efficiency Lab Service

Many facilities may not have the means to test the air consumption of their blowoff solutions. With compressed air being the most expensive utility in a manufacturing facility, it’s important to identify places where you can save money on your overall operating costs. EXAIR manufacturers a wide variety of products intended to help you reduce your compressed air usage. If you’re not able to accurately measure the consumption in your own shop, we invite you to send the products into EXAIR for testing.

All you have to do is contact an EXAIR Application Engineer and ship them straight to our warehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. Once we receive it, our engineers will complete some in-depth testing to determine the compressed air consumption, sound level, and force that your current solution provides. With this information, we’ll be able to compare it to an EXAIR Engineered solution. This way we ensure that you receive the best, safest solution possible also capable of saving money through reduced air consumption and improved efficiency.  We’ll send you back a comprehensive report that’ll help you to make the best decision for your company.

This video below shows our EXAIR Efficiency Lab and some examples of the different types of products we’ve tested in the past:

This service is something that we offer to our customers completely free of charge. This way, you can rest assured that in going with a new solution from EXAIR, you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Oftentimes, it’s not known just how much some of these products cost to operate. It’s just compressed air, air is free right?? Compressed air is certainly not free, but in fact rather costly as a 4th utility in an industrial plant.

Making sure that you understand the products used within your various applications is even more critical in a time where everything in life is rapidly getting more expensive. By ensuring you’re using the best possible blowoff solutions for your processes, you can save a dramatic amount of energy that would otherwise be wasted.

If you think there’s anything in your facility that could be using too much air, we’re here to help. Reach out to an Application Engineer for more information on how we can help save you money!

Tyler Daniel, CCASS

Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

So Many Holes

I remember the book and movie about a young teenager who gets sent to a prison/ work camp that all they do is dig holes. Yeah, there’s a much deeper story line there and that isn’t the point of this blog. The point is, that movie is all I thought of when I encountered this customer’s nozzle solution. Their ejector nozzle on a recycling conveyor was using too much air and was too noisy.

Upon receiving the nozzle to do a free EXAIR Efficiency Lab, we were absolutely amazed at the level of care taken to make something like this. The nozzle was purpose built and definitely got the job done, it also drained their compressed air system at times and made a lot of noise while it did the work. So what did this nozzle look like, now keep in mind, this was not the customer’s design, it was a solution from the machine manufacturer.

For an idea, the customer nozzle was a 3″ overall length, and had a total of 162 holes in it. There were two inlets for 3/8″ push to connect tubing. The holes were very cleanly drilled and we used a discharge through orifice chart to estimate the consumption before testing. Operating pressure were tested at 80 psig inlet pressure.

Discharge through an orifice table.

Our estimations were taken from the table above. We used a pin gauge to determine the hole size and it came close to a 1/32″ diameter. With the table below we selected the 1.34 CFM per hole and used a 0.61 multiplier as the holes appeared to have crisp edges.

Estimation Calculation

Then, we went to our lab and tested. The volumetric flow came out to be measured at 130.71 SCFM. This reassured us that our level of estimation is correct. We then measured the noise level at 95.3 dBA from 3′ away. Lastly, we tested what could replace the nozzle and came up with a 3″ Super Air Knife with a .004″ thick shim installed. To reach this solution we actually tested in a similar setup to the customer’s for functionality as they sent us some of their material.

Now for the savings, since this customer was focused on air savings, that’s what we focused on. The 3″ Super Air Knife w/ .004″ thick shim installed utilizes 5.8 SCFM per inch of knife length when operated at 80 psig inlet pressure. So the consumption looks like below

That’s an astounding amount of air saved for each nozzle that is replaced on this line. The line has 4 nozzles that they want to immediately change out. For a single nozzle, the savings and simple ROI looks like the table below.

Air Savings / Simple ROI

That’s right, they will save 115.02 SCFM per minute of operation. These units operate for seconds at a time so the amount of actual savings is still to be determined after a time study. In videos shared, there was not many seconds out of a minute where one of the four nozzles was not activated. Once the final operation per minute is received we can rework our calculations and see how many hours of line operation it will take to pay back each knife purchase.

If you have any point of use blowoff or part ejection and even have a “nice looking” blowoff in place, don’t hesitate to reach out. These are still very different from our Engineered Solutions. We will help you as much as we can and provide test data, pictures, and even video of testing when possible.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

How Fast Can I Get My Return On Investment

Whenever an EXAIR product is sold to another business there is ultimately a question from a customer whether they know it or not. That question is very often, how fast will this product pay itself back in production gains, air savings, or decrease in downtime. One of the ways we offer this information is through our calculators.

The easiest method to determine how fast an EXAIR Engineered Solution will pay itself back is by knowing a few variables and then plugging them into our simplified Air Savings Calculator on the EXAIR site.

The Variables:
1. Current Customer Consumption (SCFM) or (SLPM) – We need this to have the baseline, it isn’t always easy to know off the top of your head so we offer items like the Digital Flowmeter or even the ability to send the product to us through the Efficiency Lab for a free diagnosis of consumption.

2. $ Cost of EXAIR Product – This is easy, you can even add in other known project costs to this that you want factored in for the return on investment. The more you add, the less it becomes a simplified ROI. Basic cost of the EXAIR product that is being installed is the best to keep it simplified.

3. EXAIR Product Consumption (SCFM) or (SLPM) – This can easily be obtained from our website or our Brain Trust, I mean Application Engineers who are always eager to talk about air consumption and other technical details. To really determine this we just need to know the operating air pressure and the model number.

4. $ Cost of compressed air/1,000 Cubic Feet – This is a value that may be known by the on-site utilities team, if not a good industry standard for the Midwest is $.25 USD. This has come assumptions on your kWh cost of energy and compressor efficiency. Again, if you want to dive deep into this, reach out to our Application Engineers, we are here for a reason.

That’s it, with those values input you can get a break down on how much air, and money you are saving and a simple payback in days of operation.

If you have questions on the math behind this, or how to determine/factor in some more information, contact one of the team members here and we will walk you through the best options to decrease your payback time and increase your efficiency.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer