Optimizing Your Compressed Air Usage With Engineered Products

The first new car I ever bought was a 1995 Ford Escort Wagon. I’ve mentioned this before in posts about preventive maintenance, the importance of proper filtration, and brand loyalty. Those blogs were primarily about my experiences with that little red wagon, but today I wanted to discuss the primary reason I bought the car in the first place.

I had a 50-mile round trip commute to work, and my old Pontiac Grand Prix with the small block V8 engine was a great ride for sure. Some quick math, however, showed that if I went with something with better gas mileage, I could save quite a bit of money on gasoline. My calculation was almost $1,000 a year, just on driving back & forth to work. After figuring in the rest of my driving for the first year, it was more like $1,400 a year.

Similar to my “upgrade” to a more fuel efficient vehicle, upgrading blowoff, cooling and drying operations using engineered compressed air products is Step #3 in EXAIR’s Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System. We’ve assigned an order to these steps in accordance with basic good engineering practice & protocol, but it’s not necessary to follow them in any particular order. In fact, all six steps really don’t apply to every single compressed air system.

Step #3 does apply to most systems, though. I spent a fair amount of time in all sorts of industrial facilities in my previous roles, servicing industrial & chemical pumps, and almost all the time, regardless of the industry or the size of the facility, the maintenance part of the facility used air guns. However, I don’t recall ever seeing an engineered nozzle on one before I came to EXAIR. Since then, I’ve worked with a BUNCH of users to dramatically reduce compressed air consumption by replacing their cheap and inefficient air guns with EXAIR Safety Air Guns, or by retrofitting EXAIR Super Air Nozzles onto their existing air guns. We actually carry adapters to fit our Super Air Nozzles to a number of readily commercially available air guns for that very purpose.

The five families of EXAIR handheld blowoff products include VariBlast Precision & Compact, Soft Grip, Heavy Duty, SuperBlast, and TurboBlast Safety Air Guns. They’re available with a range of engineered Super Air Nozzles, Extensions, and Chip Shields.

In addition to air guns & nozzles, our Air Knives have a long history of replacing drilled pipes & pipe manifolds with inefficient nozzles used to make a curtain of air flow. The following chart details the savings you can realize from the use of a 24″ Super Air Knife instead of similar devices for a 24″ wide air curtain:

Even though an electric powered blower will use less electricity than the amount of electricity an air compressor uses to supply an engineered product like the Super Air Knife, the maintenance costs make the total cost of ownership eclipse that of the engineered Air Knife.

Our Case Study Library (registration required, but it’s free & fast) documents many real-world situations where customers worked with us to gather & publish “before/after” documentation, proving out the benefits of Step #3. I encourage you to check those out, and if you think you might have an opportunity to do a Case Study with us, we offer discounts or credit for that…give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Electric vs EXAIR Industrial Vacuums

Reversible Drum Vac (left) and Chip Vac (right) – two EXAIR Industrial Vacuums

When selecting a vacuum, you want to take into account a variety of things other than the purchase price.  You should consider reliability, safety, and the total cost of ownership.  I had a customer contact me about our Chip Vac System.  They were currently using an electric vacuum to clean up debris around their machine shop.  I gave them the pros of using the Chip Vac System as compared to electric vacuums.  They thought that it was too much money as compared to the electric version.  In less than 6 months, this same customer contacted me again to purchase the Chip Vac System, as they had gone through two more electric vacuums in that time.  I would like to share some of the features and benefits that I shared with the customer above to illustrate how the EXAIR Industrial Housekeeping Products are better than electric vacuums that you could purchase.  

1.  Reliability:  The EXAIR venturi-type vacuum systems do not have any moving parts that can wear; so, they will last for a long time.  We use compressed air to generate a powerful vacuum to pick up liquids and debris.  We do not use electric motors with bearings that could lock up and fail.  EXAIR offers different materials for different applications, like the heavy-duty version, which uses an abrasion-resistant material for sandblasting, glass, and garnet. 

2.  Safety:  We cover two areas in this field.  The first is the potential hazard of liquids and electricity.  Our vacuums only use compressed air to generate a vacuum.  Even though EXAIR products are not certified to be used with explosive materials, we are still able to remove the shock hazard for users when operating electric vacuums for liquids.  The second safety concern is noise.  Electric vacuums can be very loud.  And when the motor bearings start to fail, they can become even louder.  Loud noises can become an OSHA violation and may require hearing protection.  With the EXAIR industrial vacuums, we are near 83 dBA in sound during operations.

3.  Total Cost of Ownership:  It is easy to run to your nearest hardware store to purchase a vacuum for your facility.  The problem, like with the customer above, is that you will have downtime, multiple purchases, and frustration when using inexpensive electric vacuums.  You may decide to go with a bit more expensive electric unit, only to find that it is extremely noisy.  The total cost of ownership takes into account the safety, reliability, and purchase price over the years of operation. 

EXAIR offers a wide range of packages and categories in our Industrial Housekeeping Products.  Here is a short guide to the pneumatic vacuums that we manufacture. 

EasySwitch® Wet-Dry Vac: Our newest vacuum line that can be used for both wet and dry materials.  They come with a standard and a HEPA filter to contain the dry material inside the 55-gallon drum.  The patent-pending lid has quick and easy access to remove or add the filter without tools or removing the lid.  So, transitioning from a dusty to a liquid cleanup is quick and easy.

Chip Vac™ System: Like the name states, it is a great vacuum for cleaning up chips from a machining process.  The vacuum generator uses a small amount of compressed air to create a powerful vacuum to remove the chips from the process or from the machine.  We offer 5-gallon, 30-gallon, 55-gallon, and 110-gallon drum sizes.  The material can be stored for recycling. 

Heavy Duty Dry Vac™ Systems: A “big brother” to the Chip Vac System, it can handle heavy items like sandblasting material, garnet, sand, steel, etc.  The vacuum generator is made from an abrasion-resistant, hardened material that can resist wear from these types of materials. 

Heavy Duty HEPA Vac™ Systems: This vacuum uses the same vacuum generator as the Heavy Duty Dry Vac, but we replace the filter with a HEPA media.  This media stands for High Efficiency Particle Air filter, which can remove particles down to 0.3 micron at a rate of 99.97%.  So, if the material is very small and fine, this vacuum will keep the material inside the drum and not back into the atmosphere. 

Chip Trapper Cut Away

 Chip Trapper™ System: Designed and used by EXAIR.  We are able to clean and change out the coolant system within our CNC machines quickly.  Time is money, and when a CNC machine is not running, it is not making money.  The Chip Trapper has a filtration system to clean the coolant from swarf and tramp oil.  By using compressed air, we are able to aerate the coolant, which reduces bacterial growth and extends the life of your coolant.  With a switch of a lever, you can return the fresh, clean coolant back into the sump.  We offer different micron ratings with the filter bags to accommodate the type of CNC machine and fluid “cleanliness” required. 

High Lift Chip Trapper™ System: Like its cousin above, it has a stronger vacuum generator to move thicker materials or retrieve coolant from sumps below floor level.  It can move fluids up to 15 feet (4.5 meters).  It will come with a longer vacuum hose to reach those distances. 

Reversible Drum Vac™ System: This system is a great tool for transferring liquids.  It has a two-way pump to bring the liquid into a 5-gallon, 30-gallon, 55-gallon, or 110-gallon drum, and with a turn of a knob, you can discharge the liquid from the drum.  It has a safety valve for the drum and a shut-off valve to prevent overfilling.  They can be used with closed-top or open-top steel drums, and they can fill a 55-gallon drum in 90 seconds. 

High Lift Reversible Drum Vac™ System: Like its cousin above, it has a stronger vacuum to lift liquid from a farther distance or for fluids with viscosities up to 1400 CPS. It does come with a longer vacuum hose, which is great for any slip hazards that may occur.  We only offer the 30-Gallon, 55-Gallon, and 110-Gallon versions. 

Vac-u-Gun™:  This is a hand-held vacuum system that works great for small jobs.  The generator can be switched from a vacuum collection system to a blow-off system.  In vacuum applications, we have a transfer hose to move material or a filter bag to capture debris.  Or you can switch the generator around to make it a blow-off system to clean material from tables, electrical panels, or parts. 

Deep Hole Vac-u-Gun™:  EXAIR modified the Vac-u-Gun to do a unique job, clean out chips from blind holes and hidden contours.  We blow a small amount of compressed air through a tube at the same time that we vacuum to draw and extract chips.  We use a vacuum tube to help move the loose debris into a filter bag. 

All the vacuums above only use compressed air for a reason.  They may seem a bit “pricey” to some, but you will not be disappointed.  These vacuums are built and designed for rugged industrial use with longevity, safety, and reliability in mind.  Production is very important for manufacturing plants, and having a dependable vacuum will help keep production running smoothly.  We can help reduce your headaches from purchasing multiple electrical units, like the customer above.  If you would like to discuss your Industrial Housekeeping requirements, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you select the correct product.

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

Custom Super Air Amplifier

A customer called in looking to incorporate some more airflow to help materials flow properly through their processing line. This line included several legacy machines, so we had to get creative to fit something with in the system in place. It just so happened there were several 3/4″ FNPT ports in the sections where the increased air flow was needed!

So we came up with a 3/4″ Super Air Amplifier, 120020. But rather than the typical smooth OD outlet we extended it a bit and put a 3/4″ MNPT thread on the end! See it below next to a photo of the 120020.

Right side is a stock 120020, and to the left is the Custom 120020 with a 3/4″ MNPT threaded outlet!

EXAIR’s Super Air Amplifiers achieve air amplification ratios ranging from 12:1 on our smallest units and up to 25:1 for our 4” and 8” models. EXAIR’s Super Air Amplifiers utilize a patented shim design to maintain critical positioning of component parts. This allows a precise amount of compressed air to be released at exact intervals toward the center of the Super Air Amplifier. This creates a constant, high velocity outlet flow across the entire cross-sectional area. Free, ambient air is entrained through the unit, resulting in high amplification ratios. The balanced outlet airflow minimizes wind shear to produce sound levels far lower than other similar air movers.

Super Air Amplifiers are supplied with a .003” thick shim that is ideal for most applications. Flow and force can be increased by replacing the shim with a thicker .006” or .009” shim. The flow of air is also controlled by adjusting the input pressure supplied to the amplifier. Higher pressures increase both the force and flow, while lower pressures decrease both force and flow. All Super Air Amplifiers are available in kits that come with a shim set as well as a suitably sized pressure regulator and auto-drain filter.

EXAIR has a solution for you if you need to move A LOT of air, even if we need to customize it to fit perfectly in your application. Also, this custom product only took a few weeks to produce, so delivery times are still reasonable!  Reach out to an Application Engineer today if you have an application that you believe could be served with a low-cost, simple solution!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

Send me an Email
Find us on the Web 
Like us on Facebook
Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

Fill or Empty 55 Gallon Drums FAST with EXAIR’s Reversible Drum Vac

First order of business after that dreaded early morning alarm is always a straight shot to the coffee machine. As I’m sure is the case with many of you reading this article, I’m not too kind before I’ve gotten down at least one good cup of coffee. I’m a fan of espresso, so a quick shot in the morning before I hop in the shower (or head to the gym) is all that’s needed to get the day rolling along. My coffee maker has a reservoir tank to hold the water and another for the beans. It holds close to a ½ gallon of water in the tank, more than enough for a week’s worth of my morning espressos. Over the last few weeks, I kept noticing that I was refilling the tank almost every other day rather than 1x/week. As mentioned, not all the lights are on upstairs prior to this influx of liquid caffeinated gold. Thinking not much of it; I continued to refill it, make my coffee or espresso, and go about my day.

Turns out, my wife has been waking up after me each morning to a mess of water spilled all over the counter-top. She isn’t typically a coffee drinker, so I asked if she’d been giving it a try noticing the more frequent need to fill the water tank. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t her increasing her intake of my beloved beans, but some issue with the machine itself that was leaking the water I’d just filled it with. To be honest, I’m surprised this wasn’t brought to my attention far earlier!! If only I had a suitable compressor, I could’ve fired up one of EXAIR’s Reversible Drum Vacs to make quick work of the spill and go on about my day. I only own a small pancake-style compressor at home for random projects and air tools, so I imagine my wife is glad we’re not firing that thing up at 5am just for a minor water spill…..

However, when it comes to cleaning up spills or vacuuming up liquids in an industrial environment, look no further than the EXAIR Reversible Drum Vac. Installing directly into the ¾ NPT bunghole of a standard drum lid, the Reversible Drum Vac can fill or empty a 55-gallon drum in as little as 90 seconds. With just the simple turn of a knob, the unit will either fill or empty the contents of the drum with only a supply of compressed air.

For thicker more viscous liquids (up to 1400 cP), or for when the application requires lifting the liquid from below-grade sumps, our High Lift Reversible Drum Vac is the best option. Operating in the same manner as the Standard Reversible Drum Vac, the High Lift RDV provides the extra power you need to move liquids from below grade work areas, sumps, or tanks up to 15’ deep. Both the Reversible Drum Vac and High Lift Reversible Drum Vac are offered in a variety of different systems both with and without the drum included.

Using only compressed air, EXAIR’s Industrial Housekeeping vacuums require no electricity. Without electricity and moving parts to wear out, there is no concern for failed parts, motor failure, or personnel safety associated with the use of electric vacuums used with liquids. All systems are available to ship same day from stock and are backed by our 5 Year Built to Last Guarantee. If you’re tired of replacing electric shop vacs in your shop, EXAIR has the solution you need. Feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you select the best system for your application. I know you’re also dying to know what caused the leak on the coffee machine. This was fixed with a new seal and no more leaks! Needless to say, my wife is thrilled she’s not cleaning up after me every morning :).

Tyler Daniel, CCASS

Application Engineer

E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com

Twitter: @EXAIR_TD