A Super Air Knife Benefits Aerospace Manufacturing

The aerospace industry has a high demand for high quality materials and can often be the leading users of high-quality materials. Since these sort of materials are typically very expensive it should be no surprise that manufacturers of aerospace parts are always looking for ways to gain efficiency within their processes. Today’s blog offers insight into how one aerospace company optimized its performance.

1 – Airplane Interior

A manufacturer of passenger plane interiors contacted us looking to improve their feed of material in and out of presses. They manufactured aircraft plywood and struggled with a hands-free way to help “float” the sheets during loading and unloading. They also spent a good amount of time waiting for the sheet to cool enough to handle for removal. These presses opened a minimal amount and were pressing the layers of the sheet together and then needed to be slid out of the press and moved on to the next process. The operators would use a handheld blowgun to try and blow under the sheet to move and adjust its positioning however they were then left with only one hand to do the positioning which became cumbersome. After the sheet was pressed they would blow with the same gun again and attempt to cool down the handling location and then drag it back out of the press. This was not a safe or efficient method to handle these sheets.

To improve the process this manufacturer installed a Super Air Knife. The opening on the press was 6′ wide, so they used a 72″ Super Air Knife w/ Plumbing Kit Installed Kit on one press as a test run. The knife was fed from a line that was outfitted with a solenoid valve that tied into a sensor already existing on their press so the air would only be fired when called for by the operator. While the knife did consume more air per minute of operation they were able to reduce the overall time air was being used for loading because the operator now had both hands to work with the sheet.

A 72″ Super Air Knife w/ Plumbing Kit Installed blowing debris off a part being laser cut.

Once the process was completed and the press opened the knife would turn on again to cool the sheet, then within a few seconds, the operator would reach in and again be able to easily float the sheet out. This was all made possible by the low profile design of the Super Air Knife not inhibiting the range of motion the operators had and not having to block the limited work envelope they had at the machine.

With this test machine improving production time, operator satisfaction, and enabling safer machine operation the company elected to implement a program installing the 72″ Super Air Knives on each one of their presses. If you would like to discuss any point of use compressed air application that needs improvement or isn’t as safe or efficient as you would like in your facility, contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

1 – Timofejev, Aleksandrs – Turkish Airlines, TK015, Instanbul- Sao Paulo- Buenos Aires – 16 June 2013, retrieved from commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turkish_Airlines,TK015,_Istanbul-_Sao_Paulo-_Buenos_Aires-_panoramio.jpg

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Replaces Blower-Driven Slotted Pipe

EXAIR’s Super Air Knives are the ideal fit for any application requiring a laminar “curtain” of air for blowoff purposes. The high-velocity airflow does an excellent job of cleaning off surfaces, cooling, and drying in a wide variety of applications throughout industry. These products are engineered to provide a consistent and reliable force across the full length of the knife, ensuring repeatable performance in any application.

I recently worked with a customer who manufactures a variety of bread products. In one application, they were using slotted pipes connected to a blower to clean sesame seeds off of trays after baking. The cut pipes seemed like a simple and economical solution since they had the materials there in the facility already, but the homemade blower-knives were lacking in force necessary to clean the trays.

Slotted pipes operating off of a blower didn’t quite pack the “punch” necessary to clean the trays.

When the tray wasn’t fully cleaned, residual seeds would stick to the bottom of the next loaves and burn leaving an unacceptable product for their customers. The solution was to implement a manual step of scraping off the trays which required a dedicated operator to perform this single operation. The plant runs 24/7, leading the customer to hire 3 new personnel strictly for cleaning the trays all day long.

Recent staffing difficulties due to COVID-19 led management to seek out areas where they could enhance their production efficiency and identified an opportunity in this application. EXAIR’s compressed air operated Super Air Knives provide a hard-hitting curtain of air that is very effective at cleaning. The (2) slotted pipes were replaced with (2) Model 110024SS stainless steel Super Air Knives and plumbed into their existing compressed air system.

Immediately, the higher force provided by the Super Air Knives displayed the ability to completely clean the trays and eliminate the need for dedicated operators for this part of the process. This allowed them to shift personnel to areas in the facility in desperate need of help, while still solving the problem of rejected bread loaves due to residual seeds.

If you have an application in your facility that is in need of an efficiency makeover, give us a call. Our team of experienced Application Engineers is ready to help evaluate your process and make any necessary recommendations.

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

Customer Saves Nearly $7000 by Installing Super Air Knives on Converting Machine

EXAIR proves often that we’re able to work with you to create a customized solution that best serves your application. Recently I had the pleasure of working with a customer who wanted a better solution on their tissue paper converting machine. What they currently had was too loud, too inefficient, and they knew there was a better way.

The machine was an old rewinder used to convert webs of tissue paper ranging from 99-115” in width. Installed on the old machine was a 115” drilled pipe with 1/16” drilled holes spaced out every ½” along the length of the pipe. This was using a substantial amount of compressed air and was significantly louder than they would’ve liked. They purchased a new machine that had an EXAIR Super Air Knife already installed and working great, so they reached out to us for some help.

The customer conducted some time studies to determine exactly how much air this application required. The air blast ran for 500 seconds per hour, equating to 8.3min/hr of air usage. The operation runs 24/7, but with time spent doing changeovers the actual run time is closer to 20hrs.

20hrs x 8.2min = 166 min/day of air usage

166min x 365 = 60,590 min per year

A 1/16” unpolished, drilled hole will consume 2.58 SCFM at a pressure of 60 PSIG. With a total of 228 holes across the full pipe, this is quite a bit of compressed air.

2.58 SCFM x 228 = 588 SCFM of compressed air

588 x 60,590 min = 35,626,920 SCF

Considering the lightweight nature of the material, we recommended that the customer use our .001” shim to cut the flow from our stock Super Air Knives to their minimum. We recommended our Model 110054-.001 and Model 110060-.001. At 60 PSIG, a Super Air Knife with .001 shim installed will consume 1.15 SCFM/inch of knife length.

114 x 1.15 SCFM = 131 SCFM of compressed air

131 x 60,590 min = 7,937,290 SCF

Installing the Super Air Knives with .001” shim reduced their air consumption by 77% for a total air savings of 27,689,630 SCF each year. But, what does this mean in terms of money? To determine the cost of compressed air, we use the approximate value of $0.25/1000 SCF.

27,689,630 SCF x $0.25/1000 = $6,922.41

In just one year, on this one single machine, this customer was able to save almost $7k per year. These knives quickly pay for themselves, then begin to contribute to your bottom line. All of this in addition to lowering the sound level and providing a safer working environment for their operators.

If you have areas in your facility that are using air inefficiently, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer today.

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

Stainless Steel Super Air Knife removes lime from conveyor belt.

An aggregate company crushed limestone into powder, and they were having issues in losing falling off of their conveyor belts.  The conveyor moved the lime from their processing plant to an outside silo for storage.  The conveyor was 60” wide and had a “cracked” pattern for gripping and moving the powder.  So, the surface of the belt was very rough.  As the conveyor went around the end to dump the powder in the silo, some of the material would stick in the valleys of the “cracked” pattern.  At the head pulley, as the belt made its return, the material would collect on the floor underneath.  For safety concerns, they would have to stop the operation to clean up the floor.  The customer wondered if the EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Product would help them in their cleanup efforts.

EXAIR Heavy Duty Dry Vac Family

Yes, it will.   When it comes to industrial vacuums, wouldn’t it be nice to have a durable, long lasting vacuum that is quiet?  There is such a vacuum that has these qualities; the EXAIR Heavy Duty Dry Vac System.  This vacuum system has no moving parts, no motors to fail, or bearings to wear.  They only require compressed air to operate.  The Heavy Duty Dry Vac is used to vacuum solid materials like plastic, sand, and even denser materials like steel shot.  So, it would work great with the lime material.  The vacuum pumps are made from a hardened alloy construction to resist wear and abrasion, and it is designed to generate a strong vacuum level.  This would have been a great solution for cleaning for this company above.  But, as an Application Engineer, I was able to provide a better solution, the EXAIR Super Air Knife System.  Instead of cleaning the mess afterwards, we can stop the mess from happening.

Super Air Knife Kit

EXAIR can create a non-contact wiping process at the dumping end of the conveyor.  We have that ability with our Super Air Knife System.  At EXAIR, we pride ourselves in energy efficiency.  Compressed air is expensive to make, so why not use it as effectively as you can?  The Super Air Knife has a 40:1 amplification ratio which allows 40 parts of ambient “free” air for every 1 part of compressed air.  I recommended a model 110260SSPKI, 60″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife Kit for this application.  This Super Air Knife is made from Stainless Steel for chemical compatibility with lime. 

EXAIR stocks the Super Air Knife at the 60” size for a continuous even blowing force across the entire length.  The kit included a filter, a regulator, and a shim set to “dial” in the minimum amount of force to remove the material without blowing the lime powder into the ambient air.  The “PKI” suffix at the end of the model number indicates our Plumbing Kit.  This option is Installed on the Super Air Knife to allow for easy installation and to allow for the proper inlet airflow to get a consistent blow-off device.  After installing the model 110260SSPKI, the powder was no longer collecting on the floor underneath.  If we look at the cost of the increase in lime material and the removal of custodial duties, the Return on Investment, ROI, was only 27 days.  The photo below shows the floor before installing the Super Air Knife.

Lime powder collection

Spillage is wasteful, costly, and time consuming to clean up.  If you have excess waste from your conveying system, EXAIR will have the product to help you.  For the aggregate facility above, the Super Air Knife Kit made it possible to increase production efficiencies with a short ROI.  And, since they liked the durability of our Industrial Housekeeping Products, they still purchased the Heavy Duty Dry Vac for cleanup in other areas in their facility.  If you want to improve your aggregate conveying operations with non-contact blowing or housekeeping, you can contact an Application Engineer to review your possibilities.   


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