Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 3 – Use Efficient and Quiet Engineered Products

Compressed air is expensive, and you should treat it that way.  Frequent readers of the EXAIR Blog are familiar with our Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization, and you may have seen these recent installments on Steps 1 and 2:

Six Steps to Optimization: Step 1 – Measure the Air Consumption

Six Steps to Compressed Air Optimization: Step 2 – Find and Fix Leaks

Now, there isn’t a strict order in which you MUST perform these steps, and they’re not all applicable in every air system (looking at you, Step 5: Use Intermediate Storage,) but these are likely the steps that a certified auditor will take, and the order in which they’ll take them.  If you’re looking for immediate, quantifiable results, though, Step 3 is a great place to start.  Consider:

  • A 1/4″ copper tube blow off can consume as much as 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll give you a good, strong blow off, for sure.  You can crimp the end and get that down to, say, 20 SCFM or so.  Or, you can install a Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with a compression fitting, and drop that to just 14 SCFM.
    • If you’re tracking your compressed air usage, you’ll see that replacing just one of them saves you 45,600 Standard Cubic Feet worth of compressed in one 5 day (8 hour a day) work week.  That’s $11.40 in air generation cost savings, for a $42 (2020 List Price) investment.
    • If you spend time in the space where it’s installed, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in the noise situation.  That sound level from the copper tube is likely over 100 dBA; the Super Air Nozzle’s is only 74 dBA.
This user was only a handful of compression fittings & nozzles away from over $800 in annual compressed air savings.
  • Drilled pipes are another common method to create a blow off.  They’re easy & cheap, but loud & expensive to operate.
    • A pipe drilled with 1/8″ holes and supplied @80psig will consume 13 SCFM per hole, and the holes are typically drilled on 1/2″ centers.
    • An EXAIR Super Air Knife consumes only 2.9 SCFM per inch of length, and because it’s an engineered product, it’s a LOT quieter as well.  Drilled pipes are, essentially, open ended blow offs just like the copper tube mentioned above.  When you let compressed air out of a hole like that, all the potential energy of the pressure is converted to force…and noise.
    • Drilled pipes are among the worst offenders; almost always well in excess of 100 dBA.  Super Air Knives generate a sound level of only 69 dBA with 80psig compressed air supply.  They are, in fact, the quietest compressed air blowing product on the market today.
This Model 110048 48″ Aluminum Super Air Knife replaced a drilled pipe for over $5,000 annual compressed air savings.

These aren’t just theoretical “for instances” either – the data, and the photos above, come from actual Case Studies we’ve performed with real live users of our products.  You can find them here, and here (registration required.)

These are two examples of EXAIR product users who only used Step 3 of our Six Steps, although BOTH of them were already practicing Step 4 (Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use)…they had their blow offs supplied through solenoid valves that were wired into the respective machine controls, and the Air Knife user HAD to do Step 6 (Control the air pressure at the point of use) to keep their product from being blown clear off the conveyor..

But we’ll be happy to help you with optimizing your compressed air system using any or all of the Six Steps. Give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Tried and True Products with Modern Performance and Safety Features

Over Labor Day I got the chance to take my dad and his friend climbing in Seneca Rocks West Virginia for the first time in a very long time. Seneca Rocks is a large Quartzite knife edge located in the Monongahela National forest on route 33. The majority of climbing there is what is known as Trad Climbing, which is just short for traditional climbing and is where one must place their own protection to clip the rope into (also pray it holds when you fall). Trad climbing requires a strong mental fortitude and precise physical movements as you jam different parts of your body into various sized cracks.

Me on the left and my Dad’s friend at the trail head for the hike to “the walls”.

In the ever-expanding world of new technology and advancements of outdoor adventure gear, all trad climbers stick with the same gear that was used some 30+ years ago. Although the materials and performance have improved the very principle and mechanics behind them has not. In this case the old saying “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” rings true. Sometimes when it comes to a solution, whether its hanging 200’ in the air or updating a process line, traditional is a great choice due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

Compressed air has been around since 1799 but the idea has been around since 3rd Century B.C. making it one of the oldest utilities next to running water. When it comes to manufacturing applications it’s about as tried and true as you can get, so why not look into our engineered products to help you solve your issues. Their simplicity and effectiveness remain, while their efficiency, safety and performance have been engineered to modern day needs.  These modern needs have insisted that products be safer and more efficient then they were 30+ years ago.  

One example of this is EXAIR’s Vortex Tube. Vortex tubes where discovered in 1931 and were exposed to industrial manufacturing in 1945. EXAIR improved upon them when the company began in 1983. Today they are still used for various cooling applications such as replacing mist coolant on CNC machines, cooling down plastic parts during ultrasonic welding, and keeping electrical cabinets cool so they don’t overheat.

Another example is air nozzles, nozzles are used for many different purposes like cleaning or cooling parts. If you are using nozzles from 30 years ago because they are effective, there is a good chance you can improve you r efficiency and increase safety for your personnel with EXAIR’s engineered Super Air Nozzles. They are designed in a variety of styles to fit your needs from tiny micro nozzles to massive cluster nozzles to blow off or cool  a multitude of parts and processes. 

Sub-zero air flow with no moving parts. 3400 Series Vortex Tubes from EXAIR.

If you have any questions about compressed air systems or want more information on any of EXAIR’s products, give us a call, we have a team of Application Engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles Serve a Variety of Applications

EXAIR’s line of 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles are rugged, efficient, and ideal for applications that require a wide forceful stream of airflow. The patented design utilizes a special shim to maintain the critical position of the component parts. The result is a laminar, high velocity blast of air with minimum air consumption and sound level.

The Flat Super Air Nozzles are available in a wide range of configurations. With both the 1” and 2” sizes you have the ability to select either Zinc Aluminum alloy or Type 316 Stainless Steel for higher temperature or corrosive applications. They’re also available installed at the end of our Safety Air Guns. The 1” Flat Super Air Nozzles are ideal for our VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun while the 2” is suitable on either our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun or the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun. With extensions ranging from 6”-72” and Chip Shields also available, you have the ability to tailor a blowoff gun to your exact application. Since the design of the nozzle prevents any chance for it to be dead-ended, all configurations will be compliant with OSHA directive 29 CFR 1910.242(b). This means you’re able to operate at pressures in excess of 30 PSIG without risking harm to your operators.

In addition to two different sizes and materials, there’s also a wide range of shims that can be installed. Just like the Super Air Knife, the thickness of the shim installed (in addition to the input compressed air pressure) will dictate the force and flow through the nozzle. For both the 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles, shim thicknesses are available ranging from .005”-.030”. Thicker shims will increase the force and flow, thinner shims will reduce it while also reducing the air consumption. To allow you to experiment with different flows, we make shim sets available that’ll allow you to test out a few different sizes in order to determine the best solution for your application.

EXAIR 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles can be fitted with a variety of shims for variable performance.

New to EXAIR in 2018, the Model 1144 2” Super Air Scraper is a patent pending nozzle used to remove stuck-on debris from work or machine surfaces. It incorporates a strong corrosion resistant scraper blade to add necessary leverage to allow you to get underneath and scrape away debris. The strong airflow from the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle then is able to get underneath and blow away the material. The scraper nozzle is great for applications involving the removal of tape from floors, gaskets, adhesive, labels and stickers, grease, paint and sealant. It’s also available on the end of our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with durable ¾” air extensions in lengths ranging from 6”-72” and Chip Shields.

You may have seen (or used) the plastic flat nozzles that come in a variety of different colors. EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzle is a safe, efficient replacement that will maintain a similar airflow pattern at a dramatically reduced operating cost. EXAIR’s flat nozzles also offer a reduced sound level compared to these styles of nozzle. Reducing sound is another directive that OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 outlines. If you’re using an unsafe nozzle in your facility, OSHA can quickly begin assessing fines for each violation. They don’t announce their visits beforehand, so make sure you do your due diligence and assess your compressed air usage yourself!

All of these possibilities are available from stock with same day shipments. EXAIR’s wide-range of solutions allow you to customize the product to your exact specifications. Stop wasting time and money replacing cheap plastic air nozzles, get yourself a nozzle that’s Built to Last by EXAIR!

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

How to Add Sound Levels to Calculate Total Decibels of Noise

I recently wrote a blog about “Sound Power and Sound Pressure”.  I discussed the logarithmic equations around sound.  Today I will be discussing what happens when you have more than one sound source, as often heard within manufacturing plants.  Sounds can be added together to determine the overall sound level that your hear.  This is very important when it comes to minimizing hearing loss.

In looking at a single source of sound, sound pressure is created by the loudness of a noise.  The units are measured in Pascals.  The lowest pressure perceived by human hearing is 0.00002 Pa, and we can use this value as a reference point.  From sound pressures, we can arrive to a sound pressure level which is measured in decibel, dB.  This correlation between sound pressures and sound pressure levels are calculated by Equation 1:

 

L – Sound Pressure Level, dB

P – Sound pressure, Pa

Pref – reference sound pressure, 0.00002 Pa

As an example, the sound pressure from a passenger car as heard from the roadside is 0.1 Pa.  With Equation 1, we can get the following decibel level:

L = 20 * Log10 (0.1Pa/0.00002Pa) = 74 dB

Because human ears are sensitive to different frequencies, the sound pressure levels can be modified, or weighted, to indicate an effective loudness level for humans.  This adjustment is done in two different ways; A-weighting and C-weighting.  The C-weighting is for very loud noises with high peaks or sharp impacts like gunfire. The A-weighting is the most commonly used value as the sound pressure levels are adjusted by the frequency level.  For higher and lower frequencies, the change in the sound value is much greater than the mid-level frequencies that are within our hearing range.  Sound measurements for safety are measured in the A-weighted scale.  OSHA created a chart in the 29CFR-1910.95(a) standard that shows the noise levels over exposure times for an operator.  To use the OSHA chart accurately, the total noise level in dBA should be calculated.

OSHA Chart

To determine the total sound level, we can add all the sound pressure levels together by Equation 2:

 

 

Where L1, L2… represents the sound pressure level in dBA for each sound source.

As an example, a manufacturing plant had an operator using a machine that had four copper tubes to blow off a cutting operation (reference photo below).

 

The decibel level for a copper tube was measured at 98 dBA.  The total amount of sound that the operator was exposed to was determined by Equation 2 with four values.

L = 10 * log10 (109.8 + 109.8 + 109.8 + 109.8)

L = 104 dBA

In looking at the OSHA chart, the operator would only be allowed to operate the machine only a little over one hour without hearing protection.  In this same example, we replaced the copper tubes with an EXAIR Super Air Nozzle, model 1110SS.  The noise level for each nozzle is 74 dBA.  By replacing all four copper tubes with Super Air Nozzles, Equation 2 becomes:

L = 10 * log10 (107.4 + 107.4+ 107.4 + 107.4)    L = 80 dBA

The total sound level is now in accordance with OSHA regulations for the operator to work all 8 hours at the machine without hearing protection.

A commonly used acronym in hearing safety is NIHL, or Noise Induced Hearing Loss.  To keep your operators safe and reduce NIHL, it is important to measure the total sound level.  As a protocol in safety, it is a requirement to use engineering standards before purchasing personal protective equipment or PPE.  For the customer above, they followed that protocol with our Super Air Nozzles. 

If you need to reduce noise levels in your facility by engineering standards, EXAIR offers a large line of blow-off products that can meet the safety requirements.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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