Solving Performance Issues of Air Operated Industrial Vacuums

This blog will focus on the EXAIR Chip Vac, but the troubleshooting process and steps for achieving optimal performance are consistent among EXAIR’s entire line of air operated industrial vacuums.

There’s really not that much that CAN go wrong with an EXAIR Chip Vac System. They have no moving parts to wear or electrical components to burn out. As long as they’re supplied with clean air, they’ll run darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.

Murphy’s Law, of course, is still in full force, so if something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong.  The Chip Vac is, alas, no exception.  Good news is, because of the Chip Vac‘s simplicity, troubleshooting is simple as well.  The most common problems we see with ANY of our engineered compressed air products (not just the Industrial Vacuums) are related to compressed air supply:

  • New users might not consider the air demand required by a new product, and may provide an inadequate supply line.  The Chip Vac, for example, will consume 40 SCFM @80psig for rated operation, and will need a 1/2″ (inside diameter) hose to supply that, assuming a length of no more than 20ft.  Hooking one up to a common 3/8″ hose on a 50ft reel, for example, will “starve” the Chip Vac, resulting in degraded performance.
  • Also, the preferred method of connection is a hose with threaded fittings on the ends.  A local hydraulics/pneumatics shop can likely make these, while you wait.  Push-to-connect quick connect fittings are restrictive by nature, and should be avoided.  Quarter turn claw-type fittings are great…the main drawback (which can be solved with an upstream shutoff valve) is the line has to be depressurized to make or break the connection.
  • If you absolutely want to use a push-to-connect type, you can oversize it (use one made for larger hose with, say, 3/4 NPT fittings) and use bushing/adapters to get to your actual hose size.

    If you must use quick connects, the 1/4 turn claw type (left) is the least restrictive. Push-to-connects (center) are likely to starve your product, unless you oversize them (right) like we do in our Efficiency Lab.
  • Speaking of supply issues, make sure nobody’s bumped into a valve handle & partially closed it (I have,) ignored the maintenance schedule & didn’t change a clogged filter element (I have,) or ran something into a copper line hard enough to crimp it, but not rupture it (I haven’t…that was Tim, who, aside from this incident, was really pretty good with a forklift.)

The issues above apply to not only any compressed air system, but most fluid power/fluid handling systems.  Since this blog is about Chip Vac troubleshooting, let’s move on to some specifics.  If you’re sure you’re getting proper air supply to the Chip Vac (by the way, a pressure gauge right at the inlet – like the one that comes with our Premium Chip Vac System’s air hose – will eliminate any doubt,) then let’s look at some potential issues downstream:

  • Dirt & debris can collect inside the Chip Vac itself, obstructing the outlet holes, and lowering your vacuum flow.  You can disassemble and clean it pretty easily, though.
  • The Filter Bag can get clogged, especially if you’re vacuuming up a lot of dust or powdery materials.  If this happens, turn the Chip Vac off and shake the Filter Bag to dislodge the material, allowing it to fall back into the drum where it belongs.
  • Speaking of which, if you find that, all of a sudden, the Filter Bag is clogging, remove the drum lid and check for the Silencing Hose.  This serves two functions…the first is in the name (just a little discharge hose mitigates the sound level of the Chip Vac‘s exhaust flow.)  Secondly, it directs the vacuumed material positively into the drum, limiting the amount that is “dust-storms” in the upper area of the drum, where it’s more prone to make it into the Filter Bag.
Pro tip: check for the Silencing Hose when you remove the lid to empty the drum. DON’T throw the Silencing Hose in the trash.

I’m not going to unequivocally state that this is an all-inclusive list (see “Murphy’s Law,” above,) but these are the Usual Suspects if you’re just not getting the most out of your Chip Vac.  If you ever have any questions, though, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Air Operated Industrial Vacuum Helps Reclaim Grass Seed and Save Thousands

A customer who produces bags of grass seed were experiencing a large amount of lost product due to spillage during the bagging process. Any spillage they would typically sweep up and throw away. This sweeping would take a good amount of time. Their goal was to determine a way to speed it up the cleaning and see if it was possible to reclaim the seed that was currently scrapped.

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EXAIR has a broad line of industrial vacuums for a variety of jobs. In this case we recommended our Chip Vac.

EXAIR’s Chip Vac is a compressed air operated industrial duty vacuum designed for vacuuming up dry (or mostly dry) products. The powerful vacuum is suitable for use with metal, wood, or plastic chips and is designed to thread into the 2” NPT bung on standard drum lids. The Chip Vac can handle dry or coolant soaked chips from fixtures, floors and work surfaces of machining centers, lathes, saws, mills, and a variety of other industrial equipment. It was also very suitable for this grass seed application.

Electrically powered vacuums or shop vacs are not designed to be operated in a rugged industrial environment. Filters clog, motors wear out, and you find yourself frequently replacing them. EXAIR’s Chip vac has NO moving parts to wear out, doesn’t require maintenance, and needs nothing but a source of compressed air to operate. In addition, the sound level produced is half of that produced by an electric vacuum.

Chip Vacs-all
From left to right: 5 gallon, 30 gallon, 55 gallon, and 110 gallon Chip Vacs are sized for any cleanup need.

Using the Model 6193 Chip Vac System they were able to reclaim lost product in and around the machines in less time and more efficiently.  While the recovered seed could not be used in their certified premium product, they were able to add it to the “contractors” blend. Saving them around $2,500 annually!

Don’t waste your time, get yourself a vacuum designed for the job. One that’ll last year after year! With these systems in stock, ready to ship with an order by 3:00 ET, a unconditional 30 day guarantee and backed up by our 5-Year Warranty, there’s no reason not to give one a try!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Images Courtesy of Oregon Grass Seed Bag Creative Commons.

EXAIR’s Powerful Chip Vac for Keeping Your Plant Clean and Safe

March brings with it the first day of spring and April seems to have brought that first day where I believe spring could actually be here consistently. I don’t know about you, but boy am I ready for some warmer temperatures!! Naturally, spring is the time of year that we roll up our sleeves and do some of the deep-cleaning we’ve been putting off all winter.

Though, for any manufacturer or processor, “spring cleaning” is a year round affair.

Lucky for you, EXAIR has an entire line of Industrial Housekeeping Products that’ll get your shop tidied up for spring. In this blog, I’d like to dive into the Chip Vac. With its powerful suction, it’s an ideal solution for fast and efficient cleaning.

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Chip Vac cleaning up a floor spill

EXAIR’s Chip Vac is a compressed air operated industrial duty vacuum designed specifically for vacuuming up chips and shavings. The powerful vacuum is suitable for use with metal, wood, or plastic chips and is designed to thread into the 2” NPT bung on standard drum lids. The Chip Vac can handle dry or wet chips from fixtures, floors and work surfaces of machining centers, lathes, saws, mills, and a variety of other industrial equipment.

Electrically powered vacuums or shop vacs are not designed to be operated in a rugged industrial environment. Filters clog, motors wear out, and you find yourself frequently replacing them. EXAIR’s Chip Vac has NO moving parts to wear out, doesn’t require maintenance, and needs nothing but a source of compressed air to operate. In addition, the sound level produced is half of that produced by an electric vacuum.

The Chip Vac is sold in systems both with and without the drum. EXAIR has 5, 30, 55, and 110 gallon systems available for a wide range of applications. If you already have spare drums in your facility, the Chip Vac is also available with just the lid assembly, Chip Vac, 10’ hose, tools, and filter bag to attach to the top of your own drums.

All systems will include a drum lid with a locking ring that easily fits onto the top of a standard open top drum. It’s easy to remove and place onto another drum so that different materials can be easily kept separate for recycling. Recycling companies will pay a premium price for pre-sorted chips and shavings. With the Chip Vac, it’s as easy as removing the lid and placing it onto a new drum in between jobs.

Don’t waste your time this spring fooling with and replacing electrical vacuums. Get yourself a vacuum designed for the job. One that’ll last year after year! With these systems in stock, ready to ship with an order by 3:00 ET, an unconditional 30 day guarantee and backed up by our 5-Year Warranty, there’s no reason not to give one a try!

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

Industrial Vacuums For Most Any Cleanup Need

Vacuum cleaners…most of us think of the electric-powered devices that we clean our carpets at home with. The idea of utilizing vacuum in cleaning applications, however, predates the widespread introduction of electric power by a couple of decades. The original idea was to marry a manual vacuum generating device to a carpet sweeper. These had been around for some time, and they’re still seen today: the beater brush turns as the sweeper is pushed across the floor; it picks up dirt in the brush bristles, and deposits it in an internal receptacle. You’ve probably seen them used in restaurants to tidy up small messes on the floor, in lieu of dragging out the noisy vacuum cleaner while folks are eating.

Anyway, these first vacuum cleaners relied on a bellows, piston cylinder, or other such device that was operated by hand, foot – or, according to one source, a rocking chair – to generate a vacuum. Since it took one person to operate the vacuum generating part, and another to push the sweeper, they weren’t very popular at a time when folks were generally looking for labor SAVING products.

The proliferation of electric power around the turn of the 19th/20th century brought about electric vacuum cleaners.  Most homes have one…including the ‘shop vac’ in my garage, my home actually has three.  These are great for home use; many have long cords that allow you to clean the floors in adjacent rooms without unplugging & re-plugging, and most come with a convenient set of tools for baseboards, furniture, HVAC vents, etc.  For carpet & upholstery, they can’t be beat.

In industrial settings, though, the electric-powered models can find themselves at a disadvantage.  The impellers can clog or break, and the electric motors will, in time, burn out.  If used in wet environments, great care must be used (as with any electric products) or there can be a very real shock hazard.

EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Products offer a solution to all of these issues.  With no moving parts or electric motors, they are extremely reliable.  If you supply them with clean air, they can run darn near indefinitely, maintenance free.  And no electric power means no shock hazard.

We have a variety of products to meet most any need.  Our Chip Vacs and Heavy Duty Dry Vacs are made for dry material cleanup.  They install (in minutes) on an open top drum, and are available with a variety of accessories…tools, drum dollies, tool holders…even the drum itself if you need one.  The Chip Vac is specified for most ‘general purpose’ jobs; the Heavy Duty Dry Vac is more powerful, and abrasion resistant, for more aggressive needs.  Both exhaust the vacuum air flow through a Filter Bag to contain the particulate in the drum.

The Heavy Duty HEPA Vac features the same high power and rugged construction as the Heavy Duty Dry Vac, but replaces the Filter Bag with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter for maximum dust containment.  These are used where critical dust removal, mold & allergen containment, or trapping airborne irritants are called for.

(Left to right) Chip Vac, Heavy Duty Dry Vac, Heavy Duty HEPA Vac
Reversible Drum Vac Family

The Reversible Drum Vac is a two-way liquid pumping system, also made for mounting on standard steel drums…closed top drums, in this case.  They can fill or empty a 55 gallon drum in 90 seconds.  Options include 5, 30, and 110 gallon drum sizes, and a High Lift model – increased suction head for deep wells, underground tanks, or higher viscosity liquids, up to 1,400 cP.

Chip Trapper Systems come complete, ready to go, right out of the box.

The Reversible Drum Vac is also at the heart of our popular and award-winning coolant filtration system: the EXAIR Chip Trapper.  A Filter Bag in the “fill” line traps chips, swarf, and shavings.  The liquid passes through, and is able to be immediately pumped back out.  Not only is coolant life extended, regular cleaning of the coolant sump prevents loss of coolant flow due to clogging of the supply lines.  The Chip Trapper is available in 30, 55, and 110 gallon sizes, and also in the High Lift version.

Speaking of two-way operation, the EXAIR Vac-u-Gun is both a vacuum AND blow gun…simply reverse the orientation of the nozzle insert to reverse the operation:

EXAIR’s Vac-u-Gun transforms in seconds from powerful vacuum to efficient blow gun.

The Vac-u-Gun is an efficient, quiet, and versatile tool with numerous applications, from vacuuming sawdust or shavings, to conveying small parts or pellets, to blowing off chips, water, coolant, or scrap.  And, just in time for Spring Cleaning season, we’re letting you find out just how handy it is, for free – by including one with any qualifying Industrial Vacuum purchase, now through April 30, 2019.

If you’d like to discuss a cleanup application, and how an EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Product can suit your needs, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Vacuums – A Look at the Advantages Over Electric Vacuums

EXAIR‘s line of Industrial Housekeeping Products consist of liquid and dry vacuums that utilize compressed air to operate. They do not have electric motors which most ‘all purpose’ vacuums rely on.  In industrial settings with harsh conditions and rugged use, the Industrial Housekeeping Products are ideally suited for the everyday wear and tear.                               6091   6095.jpg

The heart of the EXAIR liquid type vacuums, like the Reversible Drum Vac, the High Lift Reversible Drum Vac, and the same range in the Chip Trappers is shown here. Installing onto an any closed head, 30, 55, or 110 gallon drum creates a high powered vacuum.  It can fill a 55 gallon drum in less than 2 minutes.  Then, with the turn of a knob, the the same pump quickly empties the drum. Useful for refilling coolant sumps, vacuuming floor spills, or transferring contaminated liquids to filtration tanks in minutes.  Flow rate can be controlled with the knob.  The Chip Trapper has an internal filtration system to separate the chips from the coolant, allowing for disposal of the solids, and for pumping of the clean coolant back into the sump.

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5, 30, 55, and 110 Gallon Reversible Drum Vacs – A size to Meet Most Any Requirement

Also available are the dry/solid type vacuum systems, the Chip Vac, Heavy Duty Dry Vac and the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac which use the vacuum units shown below.6093                                                                    6097

The EXAIR Chip Vac and Heavy Duty Dry Vac is a powerful industrial vacuum for use on wet or dry chips. Both are for use with 30, 55, or 110 gallon drums, and the Chip Vac can also be used on a 5 gallon drum. The Heavy Duty HEPA Vac has the added benefit of the HEPA quality filter system.  Filtration per IEST-RP-CC-007 to 99.97% minimum filtration at the 0.3 micron level ensures performance meets the needed criteria.

chipvac_family
5, 30, 55, and 110 Gallon Chip Vacs

When you look at the vacuum producing units, you’ll notice there is not an electrical cord.  Because the EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Products utilize compressed air for operation, they do not have the same issues with wear, breakdown and failures as electrical type vacuums. There are no moving parts in the vacuum units to wear out or break.  They are maintenance free, just supply clean, dry air, and they will operate for a long time. For the the liquid type systems, there is a built in pressure/vacuum relief device and auto safety shut-off to prevent overfilling.

There are no motors and bearings to wear out and no impellers to clog.  The Chip Vac is 50% quieter than a comparable electric vacuum.  Safety is a top priority, and the use of the unit on wet floor and spills is not an issue.

If you would like to talk about Industrial Housekeeping products or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Don’t Waste Money On Your Waste Removal

Lately, we have been receiving calls from customers that are looking for a wet/dry vac that they are accustomed to seeing in the form of an electrical vacuum for their home work shop.  They call us wanting a general clean up vacuum for their shop.  The items they are looking to clean up are coolant, dust and chips.  Our solution for this is to run two vacuums, and most people are asking why can’t it do both.  The answer – cost.

Generally, people seeking EXAIR’s pneumatic vacuums already see the value in the durability of a vacuum with no moving parts to maintain or replace when comparing to electric vacuums. It is the simplest of dollar savings,  the longer the product lasts and is maintenance free, the more money you will save from the absence of repair parts or new vacuums. And electric vacuums are notorious for burning up motors and not lasting within tough industrial environments. You can read about additional features/benefits within EXAIR’s pneumatic vacuum line here and here, but I will talk about our products specifications in detail.

EXAIR has two categories of vacuum, wet vacs and dry vacs.  The original wet vac for vacuuming coolant, swarf, or oil is the Reversible Drum Vac (RDV), used to easily empty and fill coolant sumps quickly. The Chip Trapper features a filtration system which removes chips and debris that is within the coolant, keeping the coolant clean, extending the coolant life and minimizing surfaces for bacteria to grow.  The Reversible Drum Vac and the Chip Trapper Systems use 19 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG of and can fill a drum with 55 gallons of water in 90 seconds. These workhorse vacuums will last many years and withstand the rugged treatment found in hardworking manufacturing facilities.

Drum Vac

In the other category of  our industrial vacuums are the “dry” vacuums.  This term “dry” is a little ambiguous, because the vacuums will be able to move some liquid.  For instance, the liquid coating a chip or spills on the shop floor can easily be picked up with the dry vacuums.  We have a number of dry vacuums available:  The Chip Vac is a continuous duty vacuum used for general cleanup around machinery. The Chip Vac drum lid assembly can be used from drum to drum to aid in separating and recycling materials. Our Heavy Duty Dry Vac is best for applications vacuuming heavy materials, abrasive medias or longer distance (20′). And the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac is designed to provide protection from airborne particulate and is suited for dusty environments.

Exair-heavy-duty-HEPA-vacuum

To compare EXAIR products with other pneumatic vacuums, let’s look at the Chip Vac (40 SCFM at 80 PSIG) and the RDV above (19 SCFM at 80 PSIG). Combining the two vacuums you would require (59 SCFM at 80 PSIG. If you search long enough, you could find a pneumatic vacuum that is advertised as wet/dry, but this ability comes at a cost.  The most obvious cost is the upfront purchase price, which is consistently much higher than the combined cost of the (2) EXAIR units.  Also the units range in air use from 68 SCFM to 110 SCFM.  That is up to 86% more air required!

Let’s assume that you did run both constantly.  The wet/dry vac will cost you $0.14 extra an hour to run, assuming that your compressed air cost is $0.25 per 1,000 SCF.  That is really an unfair comparison to our products though, because we could have (2) vacuums operating at different locations in the plant accomplishing twice as much work.  Even still the (2) EXAIR units will save $810 per year with 250 working days in a year and 24 working hours in a day.

$810 per year may not sound like to much to you.  What if we change the scenario? How much air can you save? Let’s say you run a large wet/dry vacuum, which consumes 110 SCFM, everyday for 8 hours over 250 working days. The wet/dry vacuum will use 52,800 SCF per day or 13,200,000 SCF per year.  This compress air will cost you $3,300 just to compress that air. By comparison, the Chip Vac will only cost you $1,200 per year to run in compressed air.  Using the Chip Vac instead of the wet/dry vac, will save you $2,100 per year. in compressed air operating costs.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

EXAIR Products Help Clean a Sandblasting Room

I’m sure there are any number of things that you could do incorrectly running a blasting room, but I became familiar with one failure mode this week: Clean Up.

I don’t know much about blasting rooms, but I know folks usually say this when it’s over –  clean up! That is a phrase I have heard once or twice in my life. We had a customer call in this week, who ran large pieces, one at a time through his sand blasting room, and needed to clean up after each operation. He had used electrically powered industrial vacuum cleaners in the past, but they did not hold up. He had a cyclonic separator in place, but enough dust and debris passed through the separator and into the impellers to create a maintenance nightmare. The problem had gotten so bad that before calling us he was using a broom and scoop method. The clean up was taking longer than the process, which made him unable to meet their production schedule, when the vacuum was down.

EXAIR’s solution the Heavy Duty Dry Vac (HDDV), model 6397. The HD Dry Vac fits onto a 55 gallon drum and uses compressed air to create a powerful vacuum, capable of moving over 50 pounds of ceramic tumbling media per minute.  The 6397 comes with a drum, drum dolly, 20 feet of compressed air hose, heavy duty accessory kit, and 10 feet of static eliminating vacuum hose, which allows the HDDV to clean easily in a 25 foot radius. Large enough to reach every corner of the customer’s 25′ X 25′ room.

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I thought this would be great solution to the customer’s problem, but of course, the customer had one more wrinkle in his process.  His hopper for the blasting media was on the roof of his sand blasting room 12 feet in the air, and he needed to recycle the blasting media he collected. I can understand not wanting a new process to lift a 55 gallon drum up to the roof of his sand blasting booth after every part. Unfortunately, the HDDV, model 6397 would not be the best solution to vacuum and convey the blast media back into the hopper – but we do manufacture a solution, the EXAIR Line Vac.

The Heavy Duty Line Vac, model 150200, can easily transfer product up 12 feet in the air. After cleaning the floor of the facility, the customer setup a conveyance station with a 2″ Heavy Duty Line Vac to move the material to the hopper in the top of the roof. We were able to reuse the cyclonic separator he had from his electric vacuum to contain the material and release the air that is moved through the 2″ Heavy Duty Line Vac.

After using the EXAIR product, his cleaning time greatly decreased  Also, the Spill Recovery kit that comes with every 6397 Premium Heavy Duty Drum Vac greatly reduced the wear and tear on the employees backs and knees.  Finally, he effectively recycled his blast material with the 2″ Heavy Duty Line Vac air operated conveyor system.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW