When it comes to the industry spectrum of the economy the product must be completed to required specifications. The last thing any company or industry wants in their final product is defaulting or problematic issues. It happens quite often ultimately sending waves among the workforce questioning what happened and how the issue can be solved in a timely and cost saving manner. For those in the industry realm time and money are contributing factors to all decision making processes. However, it is always wise weighing the balance between cutting cost of production equipment verses producing a potential substandard output.
Air knife systems are used for a variety of reasons some common uses are to clear liquids, chemicals, or debris from metal surfaces. From cardboard to plastic surfaces even canning and bottle lines utilize air knives in order to remove unwanted remains. For the common person this important piece of equipment virtually goes unnoticed, but industry leaders alike understand the importance of obtaining an effective air knife.
Air Knives Have Come a Long Way
The history of air knives is actually pretty interesting and incredible as the demand for performance of this technology increases. The air knife has been in existence for decades while the first methods used were heat lamps. Obviously heat lamps were not very good as residue remained on the product and water was sometimes not completely removed. It isn’t just simply removing the liquids either as the textile industry requires liquids to be regulated in terms of thickness of the liquid. This one aspect of the assembly line encouraged the development of the air knife and its uniform applications.
- Controlling surface coating
- Drying and removing liquid from surfaces
- Removing dust and debris
- Cooling and heating materials
- Creating air barriers or curtains
Conveying materials with airIt obvious the performance of heat lamps were not even close to the performance today. The loss in cost to operate heat lamps must have been depressing enough let alone the end result.
Cost is Concern
We learn this in basic economics and it is pretty simple, we all know how it works and if cost outweighs production something is wrong. It is universally considered cost is in the coating lines, post-wash, and prepaint cycles increasing the demand for efficient air driven systems. There are few factors to consider, like cost of energy while systems are in use versus their effective air blowing performance. More than ever, energy prices are of concern when developing and producing a product, and natural gas and electric prices are continually on the rise. The idea and insanity of settling with conventional methods is simply just choosing to fail. Energy usage simply adds up.
The air knife system is one of the most cost saving alternatives and all developers are constantly improving the outcome of two important factors. These two critical concerns are minimum pressure loss and laminar air flow. Pressure is created by the use of energy and energy is a cost. The classic method of drying objects was conducted by using a circular pipe with pre drilled holes. Experts have found that this method immediately decreases inlet pressure resulting in inadequate results. There has been in depth research on laminar airflow and the idea termed Coanda effect. The basic understanding is that air blown to a flat surface will typically stick to that surface. This allows for new achievements as air is directed in a more efficient and controlled manner. The idea is to save on energy costs as much as possible while achieving adequate drying methods.
Energy costs and the ever increasing headache of labor payments have fueled ingenuity and perfection among air driven tools. The main focus is the same old beaten drum and notion of air flow and how this flow is used the most effective way possible. Compression of air is old news, but how it exits the compressed chamber is the most crucial aspect of the system. What is the catch? For instance, most nozzles appear to look identical but not all nozzles perform the same.
This is very important in the air driven world as nozzles have been developed for certain performance descriptions. Laminar flow combined with specific nozzles are designed for various objects including those that may be oddly shaped and ranging from small to large. This system creates an impact air velocity at desired targets quickly, precisely, and can be adjusted limiting compressed air usage.
Types of Air Knife Systems
- High performance blowers
- Side channel blowers
- Straight air knife system
- Special high performance air knife system
- Small section air knife system
- Circular air knife system
All of these systems have been developed for one sole purpose and the end goal is to save on energy costs. Energy costs are not going to stabilize and will continue to increase. The political atmosphere will continue to push the cost of manufacturing products, and this technology will continue to improve.
Understanding Compressed Air
New systems have taken simple steps to save on energy cost per year. A conveyor line can easily reach over a hundred thousand dollars of cost yearly in electrical use. The cost can also vary depending on local government, nozzles used, amount of production, and how well the system is designed. The importance of basic realities and how systems operate becomes very important. One simple factor may be the compression set up resulting in large amounts of lost air. Depending on the distance between the compressor and the blower and what type of system will dramatically change how much air and energy is wasted. The simple action to place the blower at the location of required air use is one simple step which could potentially save thousands of dollars.
When considering this technology it is crucial to remember the above factors when purchasing your next system.