The power of the correct suction

SMC Corporation Australia New Zealand’s (ANZ) range of vacuum components is focused on compressed air efficiency. Rather than spending thousands of dollars upgrading systems, SMC can optimise a current system by replacing the existing vacuum components with efficient, state-of-the-art vacuum solutions.

Rodney Ryan, state manager for Victoria and South Australia for SMC Corporation ANZ and local vacuum expert, said that SMC has placed great emphasis on the design of its vacuum range and helps its customers select the best vacuum system for their application.

“We analyse the current vacuum system and apply an integrated approach to energy efficiencies. We support our customers by analysing weak points in their existing system, assessing possible areas for energy savings, understanding the flow and pressure requirements and in optimising their selection of vacuum components. Education and training are central to the success of any system and this forms part and parcel.”

A recent success story
In a recent application, SMC worked with Australian machine builders, HMPS to develop an innovative, industry-first vacuum solution. “The machine was custom built for a customer in Thailand who wanted to keep their old compressor but upgrade their line without any disruptions,” said Ryan.

“The machine is retrofitted with a vacuum head for the loading and off-loading pet food from a retort. While the specially engineered vacuum head used in this application is made up of standard SMC vacuum products, this solution has been engineered into a unique multi-functional and energy efficient vacuum design.”

Vacuum best practices
SMC has identified a few important checkpoints to help customers get the most from their vacuum application. Rodney shares 10 Top Checks when introducing vacuum into a plant:

  1. Have you performed a leakage test to find leakage level, and the most suitable vacuum cup for your material style or shape of product?
  2. Do you have the optimum suction flow and vacuum level?
  3. Have you correctly identified acceleration forces for each movement: e-stops, pneumatic drives, electric drives?
  4. Are the vacuum ejectors within the optimum supply pressure range to reduce air consumption?
  5. Is the vacuum system sized for the worst-case scenario?
  6. Check that tubing length between vacuum ejector and point of use is as short as possible
  7. Check that the tubing diameter on the vacuum port is equal to, or bigger than the tubing diameter on the supply side.
  8. Is a filter installed to protect vacuum ejectors?
  9. If long lengths of tube are required, increase the diameter of the tube.
  10. Have you installed a vacuum switch in your vacuum line to monitor/detect leaks?

SMC’s vacuum products

ZK2-A vacuum ejector
An all-in-one energy saving solution, this vacuum ejector series offers a 90 per cent reduction in air consumption thanks to a digital pressure switch complete with an energy saving function designed to cut the air supply when the pressure reaches the desired vacuum.  “Thanks to its self-holding, dual port 2 valve, even if there is a power cut, vacuum is maintained for as long as there is air supply. It is more compact and offers a 50% increase in the suction flow (compared to other SMC single stage ejectors).”

ZP2V vacuum saving valve
“This is used when multiple vacuum pads are operated by a single vacuum generator and some of them do not have a good hold on the work piece. This ensures that the work piece is held in place by the rest of the pads while vacuum pressure is restricted to those not in operation for enhanced energy savings, while the spring-loaded mechanism allows the vacuum saving valve to work in any position,” says Ryan.

ZH-A vacuum generators
“This series is compact, light-weight and is available as either a box type or a body ported type, each of them now available in a manifold configuration. Over the years, we have further developed this product so that it is smaller, makes less noise and is more flexible to mount,” said Ryan.

ZL2/3 multistage ejector
SMC has renewed its multistage ejector range with the, ZL1/ZL3/ZL6 series, in response to weight reduction demand that comes from the growing use of robotics.

“This addition to SMC’s vacuum range meets the suction flow requirements for workpieces with high levels of leakage, while also delivering energy efficiencies. This series offers a high efficiency multistage ejector series that is compact and lightweight in design but big in terms of suction power,” Ryan said.

The three-stage diffuser construction design of the ZL1/ZL3/ZL6 delivers an increased suction flow rate of 250% when compared to a one stage model. Furthermore, the release of the ZL3 and ZL6 comes along with an increase in maximum suction flow rate of up to 600 l/min.

 ZU-A in-line vacuum generator: This compact and light-weight solution installs close to the vacuum pad in order to prevent absorption failures from the vacuum source and can reach pressures of up to -90kPA.