Six Steps to Optimizing Compressed Air: Step 4, Turn it Off When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps to Optimizing your compressed air is to turn off your compressed air when it is not in use. This step can be done using two simple methods either by using manual controls such as ball valves or automated controllers such as solenoid valves. Manual controls are designed for long use and when switching on and off are infrequent. Ball Valves are one of the most commonly used manual shut offs for compressed air and other fluids.

Automated controllers allow your air flow to be tied into a system or process and turn on or off when conditions have been met. Solenoid valves are the most commonly used automated control device as they operate by using an electric current to open and close the valve mechanism within. Solenoid valves are some of the more versatile flow control devices due to the fact that they open and close almost instantaneously. Solenoid valves can be used as manual controls as well by wiring them to a switch or using simple programming on a PLC to turn the valve on or off using a button.

EXAIR’s Solenoid Valves
EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (EFC)

 

Some good examples of automated controllers are EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (a.k.a. EFC) and EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers.  

The EFC system uses a photo eye to detect when an object is coming down the line and will turn on the air for a set amount of time of the users choosing. This can be used to control the airflow for all of EXAIR’s products. EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers are used to control the internal temperature of a control cabinet or other enclosures. This is done by detecting the internal temperature of your cabinet and when it has exceeded a temperature which could damage electrical components it will open the valve until a safe temperature has been reached, then turn off.    

By turning off your compressed air, whether it be with manual or automated controllers, a company can minimize wasted compressed air and extend the longevity of the air compressor that is used to supply the plants air. The longevity of the air compressor is increased due to reduced run time since it does not need to keep up with the constant use of compressed air. Other benefits include less use of compressed air and recouped cost of compressed air. 

EXAIR’s Ball Valves sizes 1/4″ NPT to 1-1/4″ NPT

If you have questions about our compressed air control valves or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air Accessories for Clean Air, Quiet Air, and Adjustability

In this blog, I would like to turn your attention to our accessories that support our Intelligent Compressed Air® Products.  EXAIR products use compressed air to coat, conserve, cool, convey and clean.  To maximize the performance, it is important to have the controls and options to increase their “flexibility”.  EXAIR offers these items as Accessories.  Pneumatic applications come in many variations and forms, and Accessories can help you to adapt to your application and to remove any “guess work”.

Here are the different categories and explanations of each item that EXAIR recommends for our products.  With their defined functions, they can help you in different areas to enhance your pneumatic experience.

Filters/Regulators:

  • Filter Separators remove bulk liquid and contamination from the compressed air stream. EXAIR stocks a range of sizes from ¼” NPT ports to 1 ¼” NPT ports.  They use a 5-micron filter and a mechanical baffle to remove slugs of liquid from your compressed air system.  Most Filter Separators have an auto-drain to automatically remove the buildup of liquid inside the bowl.   I would consider the Filter Separator as a minimum level of protection required to protect your EXAIR products.
  • The Oil Removal Filters remove very small particles of dirt and oil from the compressed air; making it even cleaner. The 0.03-micron media of the Oil Removal Filter will “coalesce” the fine liquid particles into large droplets.  Thus, allowing gravity to remove it from the compressed air stream.  EXAIR offers different sizes ranging from ¼” NPT to 1 ½” NPT ports.  As a note, Oil Removal Filters are great for removing very fine particles, but if you have a system with lots of water, I would recommend a Filter Separator upstream of the Oil Removal Filter for optimal filtration.
  • Pressure Regulators control the amount of air pressure being supplied to your EXAIR products. This is important if you are trying to save compressed air, control the force, or convey material.  EXAIR, being a leader in compressed air savings, recommends to use the minimum amount of air pressure to do the job.  This will save compressed air and save you money.  Regulators have a characteristic called “droop”.  Droop is the amount of air pressure that it drops downstream when you start flowing compressed air.  If the regulator is not sized properly, you can “starve” your pneumatic component, causing loss of function.  EXAIR properly sizes our regulators in our kits to make sure that you won’t “starve” our product.
  • EXAIR also offers Mounting Brackets for the regulators and the filters to help support them to a wall or structure. To connect filters and regulators together without a pipe nipple, we also have Coupling Kits for sizes up to ¾” NPT.  And for combination kits which includes a filter and a regulator, we offer the Mounting Bracket and Coupling Kit together for a set.

Silencing Mufflers:

  • Reclassifying Mufflers are designed to have two functions. They can reduce noise levels by 35 dB and remove oil mist from the exhaust air.  Cylinders and valves that exhaust pressurized air may have oil in the line to keep the seals from sticking.  When exhausted, it can create a fine mist which is dangerous for operators.  The Reclassifying Mufflers can reduce the loud noise as well as collect any contamination from the exhaust air.
  • Sintered Bronze Mufflers are simple in design, cost effective, and easy to install. They have a minimal back pressure to not restrict operations of the pneumatic device.  They come in sizes from #10-32 thread to 1-1/2 NPT.  For a quick and simple way to reduce noise, the Sintered Bronze Mufflers are in stock for fast delivery.
  • Straight-Through Mufflers offer a way to reduce noise levels without worrying about clogging. They have an aluminum shell lined with sound absorbing foam, and they can reduce the noise level by 20 dB.  EXAIR offers them with two ports from ¼” NPT to ¾” NPT.  This can allow you to connect other items like blowing hose kits while reducing noise.
  • Heavy Duty Mufflers have an outer aluminum shell with an internal stainless steel screen that can protect the components from environmental contamination, and can also keep contaminant like rust from being ejected at high speed into the work area. They have a typical noise reduction of 14 dB.

Pneumatic Valves:

  • Manual Valves allow for operators to turn on and off their system by hand. The full-flow ball valves range from ¼” NPT to 1 1/4” NPT in size and will not restrict flow.  EXAIR also offers a manual foot pedal valve for hands-free operations.  This ¼” NPT Foot Valve has a 3-way operation and works great if the operator has to use both hands in their process.
  • Solenoid Valves are a way to turn on and off the supply of compressed air electrically for automated systems. We offer solenoids in three different voltages; 110Vac, 240Vac, and 24Vdc.  EXAIR has a large range of flows with ports ranging from ¼” NPT to 1” NPT.  All models are UL listed and are CE and RoHS compliant.

Hardware:

  • Swivel Fittings are a great way to securely install and aim EXAIR nozzles. They are dynamic as they can be adjusted and set to a flow direction with 50-degrees of movement.  They are made from 303SS or 316SS for corrosion resistance with ports ranging from 4mm to 1” NPT.
  • Compressed Air Fittings are a nice arrangement to connect different compressed air items together. We offer a range of hex and close nipples, couplings, reducers, tees, elbows, crosses and bulk head fittings.  If you need a quick way to connect directly to your pneumatic system, we may have it on the shelf.
  • Magnetic Bases are designed for a solid mount to steel surfaces and for easy portability of your blow-off system to different locations. It has a 100 lb. (45.5Kg) pulling force to keep the blowing device attached firmly until you want to move it.  They can be mounted in a vertical or horizontal position.  EXAIR offers a single outlet Magnetic Base (for one blow-off device); a dual outlet Magnetic Base (for multiple blowing products); and a single outlet Swivel Magnetic Base (to offer more flexibility to orientation).  The bases come with a ¼ turn shut-off valve to easily turn on and off the compressed air to the EXAIR products.
  • Receiver Tanks are used to store compressed air. They can be used at the air compressor or as secondary reservoirs for intermittent demand.  They help your compressed air system with pressure variations and high demand loads.  EXAIR offers a model 9500-60 Receiver Tank that has a capacity of 60 gallons, is rated to 200 psig, and meets ASME pressure vessel code.

 

Hoses:

  • Conveying Hoses are used with our Air Operated Conveyors or Line Vacs. The hoses are made from a durable PVC semi-flexible hose with six different diameters from ¾” I.D. up to 3” I.D.  The conveyance hoses can slip easily to the ends of the Line Vacs or to tubes for an easy transition.  EXAIR can cut-to-length Conveying Hoses up to 50 feet (15m); in increments of 10 feet (3m).
  • Coiled Hoses get compressed air from the piping system to the EXAIR product. They are made of a durable abrasion-resistant nylon material that is 12 feet long (3.6 meters).  They have swivel fittings at the end to allow for easy uncoiling, and a spring strain relief to keep the hose from kinking.  The coiled design makes it easy to reach around the work area and retract back to the substation.  This will help to keep the hose off the ground where potential dangers could occur.  We offer 3 different connection sizes; 1/8” NPT, ¼” NPT, and 3/8” NPT.
  • Compressed Air Hoses is another way to supply EXAIR products. They are useful if you need to reach from overhead sources or around equipment.   They are made from a reinforced synthetic rubber in 3/8” I.D. and 1/2” I.D. diameters.  We can make specific lengths up to 50 feet (15m).  They are rated for 250 PSIG (17 bar) air pressure, and the hose material works well for long-lasting protection against ozone, weathering and temperatures up to 158oF (70oC).  They come standard with two male ends in ¼” NPT or ½” NPT.

    Flexible and durable, EXAIR Stay Set Hoses come in lengths from 6″ to 36″.
  • Stay Set Hoses give you that possibility of manually adjusting or re-adjusting Super Air Nozzles. The hose has a “memory” function; so, it will not creep or droop until you physically move it.  They work well to direct air flows in unique ways at specific target areas.  They can be used with Super Air Nozzles, Safety Air Guns and Blow-off Kits.  The Stay Set Hoses come in lengths from 6” (15cm) to 36” (91cm), and they are offered with ¼” NPT male on both ends or with a 1/8” NPT female and a ¼” NPT male connections.  These hoses are rated for 250 PSIG (17 bar) and are made from reinforced synthetic rubber.

Temperature Accessories:

  • The ETC, or Electronic Temperature Control, is a digital temperature controller with a LED screen for precision monitoring and adjusting temperatures in a Cabinet Cooler System. The controller has easy-to-use buttons to raise or lower the desired internal cabinet temperature.  Once set, the ETC will hold the temperature to +/- 1 oF (+/- 0.5 oC).  The LED displays the internal temperature for continuous monitoring.  The ETC comes complete with the controller and a solenoid valve in two different voltages, 120Vac and 240Vac.
  • The thermostat is a way to control a solenoid valve electrically to turn on/off a Cabinet Cooler System at a set temperature. It is preset at 95°F (35°C), but it can be adjusted to other desired temperatures.  It has an accuracy to hold the set temperature within +/- 2 °F (1 °C).  It can handle voltages from 24V to 240V, AC (50/60 Hz) or DC.  They are UL Recognized and CSA certified.

In todays fast-paced world, there is a need to get your devices operating as quickly as possible.  With EXAIR Accessories, they can help you to do that.  Not only will you have confidence, as you are using the items from the manufacturer, but it will minimize downtime, setup, and malfunctions that can occur if using other types of accessories.  If you would like to discuss the proper options with your EXAIR products, an Application Engineer will be happy to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Six Steps to Optimization, Step 4 – Turn Off Your Compressed Air When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System is ‘Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use.’  Click on the link above for a good summary of the all the steps.

6 Steps from Catalog

Two basic methods to set up a compressed air operation for turning off is the ball valve and the solenoid valve. Of the two, the simplest is the ball valve. It is a quarter turn, manually operated valve that stops the flow of the compressed air when the handle is rotated 90°. It is best for operations where the compressed air is needed for a long duration, and shut off is infrequent, such as at the end of the shift.

manual_valves (2)
Manual Ball Valves, from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT

The solenoid valve offers more flexibility. A solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that uses electric current to produce a magnetic field which moves a mechanism to control the flow of air. A solenoid can be wired to simple push button station, for turning the air flow on and off – similar to the manual valve in that relies on a person to remember to turn the air off when not needed.

wa_solvalv
A Wide Array of Solenoid Valve Offerings for Various Flows and Voltage Requirements

Another way to use a solenoid valve is to wire it in conjunction with a PLC or machine control system. Through simple programming, the solenoid can be set to turn on/off whenever certain parameters are met. An example would be to energize the solenoid to supply an air knife when a conveyor is running to blow off parts when they pass under. When the conveyor is stopped, the solenoid would close and the air would stop blowing.

The EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control) is a stand alone solenoid control system. The EFC combines a photoelectric sensor with a timer control that turns the air on and off based on the presence (or lack of presence) of an object in front of the sensor. There are 8 programmable on/off modes for different process requirements. The use of the EFC provides the highest level of compressed air usage control. The air is turned on only when an object is present and turned off when the object has passed by.

efcapp
EFC Used To Control Bin Blow Off Operation

By turning off the air when not needed, whether by a manual ball valve, a solenoid valve integrated into the PLC machine control or the EXAIR EFC, compressed air usage will be minimized and operation costs reduced.

If you have questions about the EFC, solenoid valves, ball valves or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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Removing Condensation Is Key To Maintaining Performance

When air is compressed, it is heated to a point that causes the water or moisture  to turn to vapor. As the air begins to cool, the vapors turn to condensation, which can cause performance issues in a compressed air system. Many times this condensation forms in the basic components in the system like a receiver tank, dryer or filter.

Condensation is formed from water vapor in the air

It’s important to remove this condensation from the system before it causes any issues. There are four basic types of condensate drains that can be used to limit or prevent loss of air in the system.

The first method would be to have an operator manually drain the condensation through a drain port or valve. This is the least reliable method though as now it’s the operator’s responsibility to make sure they close the valve so the system doesn’t allow any air to escape which can lead to pressure drops and poor end-use device performance.

Example of a float drain

Secondly, a float or inverted bucket trap system can be used in plants with regular monitoring and maintenance programs in place to ensure proper performance.. These types of drain traps typically require a higher level of maintenance and have the potential to lose air if not operating properly.

An electrically actuated drain valve can be used to automatically drain the condensate at a preset time or interval. Typically these incorporate a solenoid valve  or motorized ball valve with some type of timing control.  These types of systems can be unreliable though as the valve may open without any moisture being present in the line, which can result in air loss or it may not be actuated open long enough for acceptable drain off. With these types of drains, it’s best to use some type of strainer to remove any particulate that could cause adverse performance.

Lastly,  zero air-loss traps utilize a reservoir and a float or level sensor to drain the condensate and maintain a satisfactory level. This type of setup is very reliable but does require the reservoir be drained frequently to keep the system clean and free of debris or contaminants.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a particular process, contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Condensation image courtesy of Anders Sandberg via creative commons license

Float drain image courtesy of the Compressed Air Challenge

EXAIR Accessories – We’ve Got you Covered

When you work with us here at EXAIR, we strive to have all the ancillary items that you might need to make your installation a success, without having to find components at the last minute or perhaps using the wrong sized components. Each specific product line such as Super Air Knives or Line Vac air operated conveyors have specific accessories such as mounting brackets or plumbing kits which EXAIR has made to simplify the installation of those particular products. We also carry generalized accessories which work across all of the product lines so you do not have to use multiple vendors or purchase orders.

Silencing Mufflers – Per OSHA Standard 1910.95(a), a worker must not be exposed to sounds levels above 90 dBA for any eight hour shift of a 40 hour work week.  EXAIR offers several types of mufflers including – Reclassifying, Sintered Bronze, Straight-Through and Heavy Duty.  For reducing the noise associated with an EXAIR E-Vac Generator, Vortex Tube, Cabinet Cooler System, or the exhaust air from cylinders, valves and other air powered equipment, we’ve got a muffler that will help to keep the noise level at an acceptable level.

Mufflers

Solenoid and Manual Valves – The easiest way to reduce compressed air usage and save on operating expense is to turn off the compressed air to a device when it isn’t needed. EXAIR carries a wide assortment of solenoid valves, with offerings in the NEMA 4/4X classification, and supply voltages of 24VDC, 120VAC, and 240VAC.  We also have manual ball valves from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT and a foot operated valve, with 1/4 NPT connections.

Valves

Swivel Fittings, Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases – To provide a great degree of flexibility for positioning an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle, Air Jets or Air Amplifiers, EXAIR offers several items.  The Swivel Fittings have 25 degree of movement from the center axis, providing a total of 50 degree of adjustability.  The position is locked in place and holds until adjustment is needed. For applications where frequent re-positioning of the air device is required, the Stay Set Hoses are ideal.  Simply mount the hose close to the application, bend it to the shape preferred, and because the hose has “memory”, it will not creep or bend.  Lastly, the Magnetic Bases are another option for flexible, movable installations.  The base has a on/off valve, and a powerful magnet to hold in any vertical or horizontal mounting arrangement.

Swivels, StaySets,MagBases2

 

Hoses – EXAIR can provide hoses for your application.  For the Line Vac air operated conveyor applications, we offer conveyance hose – a durable, clear reinforced PVC hose, in diameters of 3/8″ to 3″ ID, and lengths up to 50′. On the compressed air side, we can provide 12′ Coiled Hoses with 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 NPT connections, and also 3/8″ and 1/2″ ID hose in lengths to 50′.

Hoses

Filter Separators, Oil Removal Filters and Pressure Regulators – Perhaps the most important accessories for use on a compressed air device are filters and regulators. Filtering the compressed air of dirt, debris, moisture and oil will help to prevent build up inside the EXAIR products, leading to longer service life, and less time spent cleaning, while providing optimum performance. Regulating the air pressure allows for tuning of the performance, using the proper amount of compressed air to obtain satisfactory results.

Filter and Regualtors

If you have questions regarding accessories for use with any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, 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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Many Ways to $ave on Compressed Air Costs

Using compressed air in the plant is common for many types of processes.  Typical uses are drying, cooling, cleaning and conveying. Compressed air does have a cost to consider, and there are many ways to keep the usage and the costs as low as possible.  The first step is to use an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product, which has been engineered to provide the most performance while using the least amount of compressed air. The next step is to control the use of the air, to only have it on when needed.

EXAIR offers the EFC – Electronic Flow Control.  It offers the most comprehensive method to maximize the efficiency of compressed air usage.  It combines a photoelectric sensor with a timing control that operates a solenoid valve to turn on and off the air as required. With 8 different program types, an on/off mode that works with any process can be programmed ensuring that the minimum amount of compressed air is used.  You can use the online EFC Savings Calculator to see how quickly the savings add up!

EFCp4
EFC – Electronic Flow Control

Another method would be to use a solenoid valve with some other method of control. Depending on the process, the solenoid could be energized via a machine control output, or as simple as an electrical push button station. EXAIR offers solenoid valves in a variety of flow rates (from 40 to 350 SCFM) and voltages (24 VDC, 120 VAC and 240 VAC) to match the air flow requirements of the products we provide, while integrating into the facility and available supply voltages.

For control of the Cabinet Cooler Systems, the ETC – Electronic Temperature Control, uses a thermocouple to measure cabinet temperature and cycle the system on and off to maintain a precise cabinet temperature, and provides a digital readout of the internal temperatures and on the fly adjustment.  Also available is the Thermostat Control models, which utilize an adjustable bimetallic thermostat to control the solenoid valve, also cycling the unit on and off as needed to maintain a set cabinet temperature.

ETC CC
ETC – Electronic Temperature Control

There are several manual methods that can be used to control the compressed air.  A simple valve can be used to turn the air off when not needed, whether at the end of the work day, at break time, or whenever the air isn’t required.  We offer several options, from a foot controlled valve, to a magnetic base with on/off valve, to a simple quarter turn ball valve.

footpedalvalve (2)dualstand (2) manual_valves (2)

 

To discuss your processes and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can control the air supply and save you money, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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