Why Retrofitting Air Knives Makes Good Sense
Air knives tend to be added to existing lines to deal with specific technical issues that have arisen – usually relating to moisture, static or quality control. Industry relies on air knives to:
- enhance product quality and consistency
- cut drying times – increasing line speeds, boosting output efficiently and cost-effectively
- slash energy bills by reducing dependence on costly compressed air.
Is My Production Line Suitable For A Retrofitted Air Knife System?
- space availability
- power capacity
- noise constraints.
- remove surface contaminants and keep food clean
- blow off excess enrobing coatings (such as batter or chocolate) to improve product appearance and reduce waste.
Automotive plants specify retrofit air knife systems for drying and deionisation – to help provide the perfect finish for car and truck bodies, engine components, bumpers, internal trim, rubber and plastic extrusions.
In all these sectors, there are generally fewer variables, so projects can be delivered more quickly.
Space – Will A Retrofitted Air Knife Fit My Production Line?
- Compressed air systems deliver high-pressure air at low volumes through 8 mm pipes.
- Air knives use less energy because they deliver low-pressure, blower-driven air in high volumes. This means using 50, 76 or 102 mm diameter tubing, which needs more space.
But the compact design of ACI air knives means you can now replace old and expensive compressed air systems where previously this may not have been possible.
Power – Do I Have Enough Capacity For A Retrofitted Air Knife?
But significantly, it’s not uncommon for operators to call in ACI because they’re running out of power. They need to replace wasteful compressed air or DIY systems with energy-saving air knives to free up power for use elsewhere in the factory.
For optimum performance and maximum energy savings, it is important that each air knife plenum, nozzle or reciprocator delivers true laminar airflow – an even stream of air. This airflow must be balanced, with no underperforming low spots, no wasteful high spots and no air turbulence.
This is why some factories’ DIY air systems perform so badly and waste money: they have not been configured correctly to meet the precise requirements of the application. Most of these DIY systems we’re called in to replace are little more than plastic or metal tubes with hastily drilled air holes. There has been little or no consideration of:
- the precise pressure required to achieve the desired result
- how the air will flow under pressure
- how to maximise air entrainment, how to draw more ‘free’ air into the path of the powered airflow (improving performance in a more cost-effective way)
- the Coanda effect – the tendency of air to follow the path of a convex surface
- how turbulence created elsewhere in the factory can interfere with the airflow
- environmental factors such as climate and altitude (which affect air pressure).
Speak to our experts for specific technical advice
Noise – Can A Retrofitted Air Knife Reduce Decibel Levels?
- Fully enclosed systems – ACI’s LNL (Low Noise Level) air knives – with 304 stainless steel acoustic enclosures and optional pre-fitted conveyor plates. Choose from Mini, Standard or XL. Noise levels are well below 85dB(A).
- Partial enclosures – ACI’s EL (Eye Level) Drying System – the blower is housed in a 304 stainless steel acoustic enclosure. Noise levels are around 98dB(A).
It’s also worth noting that air knives are much safer than compressed air. They also produce clean airflows with none of the oily contaminants sometimes found in compressed air.
Requirements For Retrofitted Air Knives
- What do you need it for? What is the process you need to optimise?
- What do you need to achieve? What is your goal – to improve quality, boost output, save energy, or all three?
- Do you already have an existing system? If so, does it use blower-driven or compressed air technology?
- Do you to need to comply with particular standards or legislation?
- What is your budget? With 50+ years of experience, we can forecast very accurately how soon your new air knife system will pay for itself.
- Why now? What are the factors precipitating your need for a new air knife system?
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