When considering a solution it is important to look into every stage of the implementation, not just the final result. Often times the solution can be improved upon, or the process can be altered, to improve the final outcome. For this compressed air solution we had the pleasure of working with a manufacturer of industrial valves for numerous chemical companies. They noticed that their cooling time had been increasing over time and their goal of cooling the valve molds in 15 minutes or less, was now closer to 45 minutes. In analyzing their system we quickly realized they could greatly improve their cooling time with a few changes to their set up and ensuring their compressed airflow was clean. See below the details in how this company was able to get their cooling time down to 12 minutes, almost quadrupling their productivity!
Improving Productivity by Changing the System:
A major manufacturer of large industrial globe, gate, plug and butterfly valves used in various chemical industries was having problems keeping up with production because a heat issue was holding up the final assembly process downstream. The specialized valves manufactured by the company are lined with a proprietary PFA material which is “locked” into the stainless steel valve bodies under high heat. The processing temperatures, which exceed 700°F, “lock” or bond the proprietary material to the valve’s housing. The company needed a fast, safe and efficient way to cool the valve bodies after the lining was molded in place. They wanted to cool the valve bodies down to 90°F or less in less than 15 minutes.
The manufacturer was using ITW Vortec’s model 903 air flow amplifiers in multiples of four to cool each of the large valve bodies down. The 903 air flow amplifiers use a small volume (25 scfm) of high pressure (80 to 100 psig / 5.5 to 6.9 bar) compressed air to produce a large volume (475 scfm) of low pressure, high velocity air at room temperature to cool the valve housings. The 903 amplifiers amplify the compressed air flow by up to 19 times, resulting in a highly efficient and safe cooling air flow. The amplifiers are arranged on a specialized machine which allows them to be positioned for best cooling effect, according to the valve sizes that they are building during the week; Class 150 and 300 valve sizes range from 4” to 12”.
The valve manufacturer was experiencing much longer cooling times than was expected, based on the data originally given to the Vortec application engineer. The cooling time they recorded was approximately 45 minutes. The Vortec engineer was called in to evaluate the setup, troubleshoot and to make recommendations. Upon seeing the installation of the 903s at the customer’s site, it was immediately apparent that the compressed air supply piping to the group of four air flow amplifiers was restricting the compressed air flow, resulting in poor cooling time. The customer had used an existing pressure regulator, compressed air filter and four valve manifold with ¼” ID tubing on the machine. All of these components created a large pressure drop, resulting in only 20 psig compressed air pressure available at the 903s. The Vortec engineer recommended removal of the old undersized components and to replace them with components sized for the total air consumption of the four 903s (a model 208RX pressure regulator, 701S-67 solenoid valve, 701S-40A filter and 3/8” minimum ID tubing feeding each 903).
The customer installed the new compressed air components and 903 air flow amplifiers over the weekend during regularly scheduled maintenance. Testing was done on the system the following week. Test results showed that the cooling time for the valve bodies was reduced from 45 minutes to 12 minutes, simply by using correctly sized components in the compressed air supply system.
It is important to evaluate all components used in a new compressed air system to ensure that the application is successful. Under-sizing just one component in the supply side of the system can result in less than ideal results, leading to excessive air compressor power consumption.