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.

2″ Super Air Amplifier Exhausts Welding Fumes

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.

AirAmplifiers

While most applications utilize the outlet flow of the Super Air Amplifier to blow off or cool a part or material, the ability of the Super Air Amplifier to entrain large amounts of ambient air can also be utilized to convey light materials or to draw in dust, smoke, or fumes from the surrounding environment.

Recently I worked with a customer on an application to install the Model 120022 Super Air Amplifier in welding booths. They did have a current fume extraction system in place, but due to the distance between the vent hoods and the operation some of the fumes were still not being captured. The suggestion was to install a 2” Model 120022 at each booth near the origin of the welding fumes. As the exhaust side of the Super Air Amplifiers come in sizes of ¾”, 1-1/4”, 2”, 4”, and 8” the exhaust flow can be ducted with standard size hose. The placed a 2” ID hose onto the exhaust of the Super Air Amplifier which allowed the fumes to be captured into the intake of the amplifier and be carried towards the vent hood.

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This eliminated a safety issue for the operators and was much less expensive than redesigning the entire welding booths and current extraction system. With no moving parts to wear out, the Super Air Amplifier requires absolutely zero maintenance when supplied with clean, dry compressed air. After installing onto each of their welding booths, operators were pleased with the performance and we were able to eliminate the safety hazard for this facility.

With a range of different sized Super Air Amplifiers as well as a line of Adjustable Air Amplifiers, EXAIR has a solution for you if you need to move A LOT of air for a variety of reasons. Reach out to an Application Engineer today if you have an application that you believe could be served with a low-cost, simple solution!

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

Video Blog Cooling Comparison: EXAIR’s 2″ Super Air Amplifier vs. Fan

Super Air Amplifier

EXAIR‘s line of Adjustable and Super Air Amplifiers are the ideal solution for cooling hot parts. Using a small amount of compressed air, they’re designed to entrain massive amounts of free ambient air from the environment. This free air mixes with the primary air stream, achieving entrainment ratios of up to 25:1!

To demonstrate the dramatic difference between the Super Air Amplifier and a standard fan, I created a side-by-side video of the two. Using the 2″ Model 120022 Super Air Amplifier at just 40 PSIG (9 SCFM air consumption) check out just how effective we were at cooling down a stainless steel block:

When fast cooling of a hot part is necessary, look no further than EXAIR’s Adjustable and Super Air Amplifiers. They’re all in stock and can ship same day to the US & Canada with an order placed by 3:00 ET!

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

 

Adjustable Air Amplifier Transfers Plastic Bag Scrap

Many times EXAIR products are used to help sort materials based on their weight or their density by providing a consistent force against a series of targets that should be of the same density or weight, but when they are not, the airflow can be “tuned” to remove the non-conforming parts.

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Model 6042 Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier rejects empty pouches.

In this case, our customer (a packaging automation specialist) was working with a form fill and seal machine that was dedicated to making pouches 2” x 8” and filling them with a food product. In some cases, the pouches would not become filled with product and needed to be removed from the line. So, our customer devised a way to mount model 6042 2” Adjustable Air Amplifier along-side the travel of the pouches and set the input pressure and air gap setting to get optimum vacuum capture velocity to suck away empty ones and leave the full ones in-tact. Above you can see a photo that the customer took while mocking up the application at their facility. You can see the hose connected to the output to direct the empty pouches to a wire basket below.

A couple of things in this application made use of the Adjustable Air Amplifier the best choice. The first was the funnel-shaped suction area on the back side of the Adjustable Air Amplifier. This optimizes the Air Amplifier’s ability to draw in ambient air to propel it to the outlet. In doing this the un-filled, light-weight, plastic pouch becomes caught in the high velocity stream and thus gets carried away as desired. The second thing is that since compressed air is the source of power, the customer has infinite adjustability over the amount of suction force that they can apply to the pouch in the application. They can adjust the air gap opening on the Adjustable Air Amplifier to have a coarse adjustment of air consumption as well as vacuum level. Then, they have a finer adjustment that a pressure regulator can provide to really dial in the suction force as they need it to be for removal of the empties.

The idea here is that while Air Amplifiers are generally used for their output flow to cool targets and provide a significant Blowoff force, they can also be used to draw in not only smoke and fumes but also other lightweight items like the empty pouches above.

If you have a need to set up any kind of sorting process, maybe just to separate two different recycling streams or perhaps it is a need to perform a quality control function as shown above, think about EXAIR and our many solutions in this area.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR

HEPA Vac Improves Cleaning Process AND Keeps Operators Safe!

On a recent visit with our Hungarian Distributor, I had the pleasure of visiting an automotive leather manufacturing plant. They process and cut to order a wide variety of different styles of leather used in the manufacturing of European automobiles. In one of their machines, a grinding process is performed that smooths out the cut edges of the material before they’re stitched together.

The grinding process itself is self-contained within the machine, but the significant amount of leather dust created needs to be periodically cleaned out. If not, it ends up accumulating on some of the internal components and increasing the downtime and maintenance required on the machine. Due to this, they implemented a 2x per shift cleaning operation.

The machine has several tight spaces inside where the dust accumulates. They’d shut off the machine and blow out the dust. Then, sweep up all of the dust into a dustpan and dump it in the trash. This entire process took approximately 30 minutes each time for 1-hr/shift. With three shifts operating 24/7, that’s 3-hrs/day of lost production time for this particular cleaning process, still less than what they were experiencing as a result of the machine downtime when they weren’t regularly cleaning it.

HDHEPAVac559

However, the primary concern of theirs was that they were now blowing dust all over the shop causing a potential health hazard to their operators. They wanted a solution that would allow them to clean the machine, without presenting an additional hazard. We tested with a Mini Chip Vac first, but the dust was a bit too fine and was still passing through the filter bag.

For fine dusts such as this, the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac is the more suitable option. After testing the Heavy Duty HEPA Vac, it was clear that this was the solution they were hoping for. The high-powered vacuum made quick work of the dust inside, while keeping it contained inside of the drum by the HEPA filter.

They still need to stop and clean the machine out 2x/shift, but now the process only took 10 minutes. They reduced their overall downtime on this machine per day by 2/3 to just 1hr, while keeping their operators safe. While this wasn’t the reason for looking at new solutions, it was definitely an added benefit. If you’re looking for a maintenance-free vacuum system for cleaning up in your facility, EXAIR has a wide range of Industrial Housekeeping solutions available from stock.

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

Porous and Non-Porous E-Vac Vacuum Generators

Getting a vacuum from compressed air seems a bit like magic, but it works and it works well. EXAIR’s E-Vac® Vacuum Generators are compressed air powered, single stage vacuum generators. They are a low cost way to create vacuum for pick and place, clamping, lifting, chucking, vacuum forming and other applications.

The Low Vacuum Generators are ideal for ‘porous’ types of applications.  When we say ‘porous’ we are describing those processes where a lighter vacuum level combined with higher vacuum flows are needed. A good example of this is lifting a cardboard box. The cardboard is not air tight, and when you place a vacuum on it, air is able to be pulled through the cardboard. To maintain the vacuum level, the air needs to be able to be pulled through the cardboard and exhausted as fast as it is being pulled through in order to maintain the vacuum level. This requires higher vacuum flow and the design of the Low Vacuum Generator allows for the development of a good vacuum level and a high rate of vacuum flow.

The High Vacuum Generator is ideal for ‘non-porous’ type of applications. ‘Non-porous’ are those processes where the material is air tight, and no or very little air can pass through. Material such as glass, ceramic, and steel are ‘non-porous’. Because little or no air passes through, the need for high vacuum flow is not as important, and the highest of vacuum level can be achieved. A perfect vacuum is 29.92 in-Hg, and the High Vacuum Generator is designed to reach vacuum levels of 27 in-Hg, or a 90% vacuum level.

 

E-Vac Video

 

Click above Image to View the Video

Both the Low Vacuum and High Vacuum Generators come in 7 different sizes, ranging from light to very strong vacuum capabilities, to match any application. Special Kits are  available as a way to experiment with an assortment of vacuum cups to determine the best configuration.

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E-Vac Kit

And for maximum flexibility, EXAIR offers the Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator. Engineered for high efficiency, compressed air can be minimized due to the ability to adjust and tune the vacuum flow and level to perfectly match the application requirements.

adjevac
Lifting a Concrete Block with the Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator

If you have questions about vacuum generation and the E-Vac 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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