25 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Pulsed blowing can halve compressed air consumption

Parker Hannifin has developed a device that, it claims, can halve the air consumed in air-blowing applications – which account for almost half of all the compressed air used in plants – as well as improving their efficiency.

At the heart of the Air Saver is a switching valve that converts continuous air flows into pulses, without needing any external control. It releases the air in a series of high-speed on and off pulses. When not blowing, no air is consumed, reducing the number of tank recharging cycles needed.

The easy-to-install device can also reduce compressor power and CO2 emissions. In plants that use electrically-operated solenoid valves to control air blowing, it can be retrofitted without needing to reconfigure PLC programs. For plants that use manual ball valves, there are passive versions that do not need electrical power. The Air Saver range consists of seven models with air flows (at 5 bar) from 150–15,000 l/min.

One of the first companies to use the technology is a large Chinese soft drinks manufacturer, Hangzhou Hongsheng Beverage Group, which has achieved a 45% reduction in air consumption and energy costs by retrofitting it to a line that produces PET bottles.

As well as saving energy, the technology helps to remove particles during the blow-moulding process. Pulses of ionised air agitate unwanted waste particles, thus reducing cycle times. The technology can also be used to move bottles, to act as an escape blow if a line stops, and before pasting labels onto the bottles.

The drinks-maker, which has several hundred production lines across China, is expecting a rapid return on its investment.