AirSweep Gives Instant Flow, 25% Time Savings
AirSweep was the only flow aid that met their specifications, solved the problem and saved energy, too
W. L. Gore & Associates, a global material science company that specializes in films and membranes, was testing a new material for a special fabric used by the military and firefighters for chemical protection. However, material blocks were stalling production and product development.
They were working with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a high-performance plastic that can withstand high temperatures and repel water.
However, the material would bridge and pack in the vacuum receivers. Workers had to manually clear the material blocks with rods or hit the vessel with mallets. This would happen five or six times for each run, taking 15 to 20 minutes.
That would add up to an hour of downtime for every four- to five-hour run. “It’s pretty significant when you’re trying to move material at any reasonable rate,” said Zachary Corcoran, the Equipment Process Engineer. “We needed an automated system that didn’t require constant checking because we have other aspects of the process to monitor and we don’t have time.”
However, choosing the right flow aid was also challenging. Some blocked areas were inaccessible. The vessels they used were small and had thin walls, so vibrators or agitators that caused metal fatigue were out of the question. Some pneumatic flow aids like air pads would compromise their vacuum system.
Zachary read about AirSweep in Powder & Bulk Solids. “I had a direct call with the sales team, and expressed my concerns on vessel size and running a flow aid in a system that is usually under a vacuum when pulling the material.”
The AirSweep engineers recommended the AirSweep VA-06. It was just the right size for their material and vessel and could reach inaccessible areas.
And unlike other pneumatic flow aids, the AirSweep nozzle also released very short, controlled air pulses. It was safe to use in a vacuum system, and more energy efficient.
Installation was simple and seamless. “It was quick to get here, and all the resources were provided to us like the installation guide and even the air tank. That was pretty helpful since we didn’t have to search for outside vendors to get all the necessary
Installation, including welding and connecting it to the air system, only took four hours.
Immediately after the first trial run, W. L. Gore & Associates ordered two more AirSweep systems for their other plants.
“AirSweep saved us one hour of downtime for every four-hour run – or 25% time savings,” said Zachary. “Instead of babying the process, we can focus on production and doing our jobs”
AirSweep is also helping them save on costs. “Air efficiency is also a big piece of it for us. Our vessels are so small, so we have pretty significant savings on compressed air by just having short pulses rather than an air pad that is constantly running.”
As for recommending AirSweep to other manufacturers, Zachary has this to say: “We’re going to be ordering another full system for another plant overseas, so I think that speaks for itself.”