Why You Need Retractable Air Hose Reels on Your Shop Floor

April 8, 2024

Ensuring the safety of workers on production lines and shop floors is paramount. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) diligently educates about the risks associated with hand and power tools in industrial settings. However, many production facilities overlook the hazards posed by pneumatic equipment with extended hoses. Employing retractable and portable air hose reels is a simple yet effective measure to safeguard employees from potential harm.

Advantages of Using Portable Air Hose Reels

Whether automatic or manual, air hose reels complement the air compressors commonly used in places like auto workshops or factories that utilize pneumatic equipment. Air hose reels allow workers to tools powered by compressed air at a length further than the system’s hoses normally reach. These reels are useful for filling up vehicle tires, for example, or for powering other pneumatic equipment. However, portable air hose reels are essential for any work area that uses handheld or mobile pneumatic equipment.

As electrical equipment relies on a reliable electricity supply, pneumatic equipment relies on a reliable compressed air supply. Portable air hose reels extend the range of pneumatically powered tools in much the same way as extension cord reels, allowing pneumatic tools and machinery to be used far away from the air compressor that powers them. Additionally, these portable air hose reels make managing the hoses easier, allowing them to be neatly stored to increase safety on the shop floor while extending the life of the hose.

Advantages of using an air hose reel include: 

  • Allows for easy transport of air.
  • Can be supported and mounted on walls.
  • Enables air hoses to extend to any part of a workshop.
  • Makes storage of air hoses easier.
  • Permits quick retraction of pneumatic air hoses.
  • Reduces trip hazards by keeping hoses off the ground.

While retractable reels can be automatic or manual, air hose reels that retract automatically use a spring control, which requires mounting. Automatic air hose reels work more efficiently and quickly to guide the hose back around the reel’s drum, but manual air hose reels are better if greater mobility is needed.

Pneumatic Systems: Using Mounted or Portable Air Hose Reels

Three primary energy sources typically spring to mind when powering an industrial environment: electricity, natural gas, and water. Compressed air systems offer advantages over other energy sources. Facilities use compressed air because it’s safer and more reliable than its alternatives. From an environmental perspective, for example, leaks from pneumatic systems won’t contaminate the environment, as it’s simply regular air that’s been compressed. 

Compressed air systems can also be used safely around water, under extreme temperatures, and other environmental conditions where electrical systems are likely to fail or lead to conflagrations. Though most pneumatic tools are powered via electricity, the electrical parts of a pneumatic system can be kept away from water and other environmental conditions that can create a safety hazard when using it to power tools with compressed air. Pneumatic tools can be as effective as electric ones. Just as extension cord reels make electricity portable, air hose reels do the same for compressed air, improving pneumatic equipment maneuverability for various tasks.

Organizing Pneumatic Hosing

Organizing pneumatic hoses brings order to workplaces. Storing them on a reel protects work areas and the portable air hose from tripping hazards. Reels reduce setup time, making it easier for workers to extend and position hoses as needed. Automatic or manual air hose reels keep work areas tidy, allowing teams to focus on their jobs.

Safer Work Environments

A portable hose reel boosts workplace safety by reducing accidents. Manual ones have an edge over automatic ones as they won’t suddenly whip back when not retracted properly. More generally, these reels reduce tripping hazards by keeping air hoses organized, with only the amount needed to do the job extended.

Lowering Operational Costs

Air hose reels are more than just handy tools for portability. They enhance workplace efficiency by protecting air hoses and prolonging their lifespan, decreasing the chance of bending or kinking. With a convenient retractable mechanism, manual air hose reels minimize downtime between tasks, enabling workers to accomplish more in less time.

Tips for Air Hose Reels

Workplaces should adhere to specific maintenance and operating tips for air hose reels. Avoid using hosing meant for pneumatic equipment for other gasses unless approved. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance procedures and direct any queries to them. Avoid using water for cleaning pneumatic tubing. Store air hose reels in cool, dry areas away from sunlight and heat sources. Turn off the input source when the reel is not in use.

More Than Air: Hose & Extension Cord Reels for Other Applications

OSHA recommends similar safety tips for air hoses as it does for electrical extension cords, hydraulic hosing or hoses used in the transfer of fluids or gasses. These portable reels can present tripping or other hazards in the workplace when not properly organized. Transferring gasses besides air can often be done with the same hose used for a manual air hose reel.

Whether affixed or portable, powered or manual, air hose reels are very similar to reels used for transferring hydraulic fluid, fuels, grease, oil, solvents, water, and other liquids. Many manual air hose reels can be repurposed simply by switching out the type of hose used and replacing it with a hose that better suits the application. Portable extension cord reels can do the same with electrical equipment.

Sourcing Portable Reels for Air Hoses & Other Applications

Investing in a portable air hose reel to power pneumatic equipment in the workplace offers solid solutions. It makes work more efficient by allowing workers to power tools and equipment further from an air compressor while also making the workplace safer and extending the life of the hose. As a manufacturer of portable air hose reels and other reels, Alert Reel can offer customers different types of custom reels for various applications.

Alert Reel can make custom reels that include: 

  • Customized colors for reels made in larger volumes
  • Data or other specialty cords
  • Differing lengths of cords
  • Variety of hose or cord types, including electrical extension cords or air hoses
  • Locking or constant tension reels
  • Various mounting options that include brackets, hooks, or straps

To learn more about the automatic and manual air hose reels Alert Reel offers, along with our custom offerings, contact the reel experts at Alert Reel today.