Dust is the accumulation of solid particles that have become airborne, and these can range from one µm up to approximately 100 µm. These are formed from a variety of substances –- from minerals, chemicals, wood, flour, mold, and metals –– and can be hazardous to those who suffer from long-term exposure. According to the World Health Organization, overexposure to dust in the workplace can result in various health risks, disabilities, diseases, and in some cases, death.
Besides being known to pose a health risk, dust can cause many other problems as well –– such as compromising the quality of products in a manufacturing facility. Plus, since many dust particles are combustible, they might result in a fire hazard or create an environmental concern as well. As such, manufacturers must implement a robust dust collections system that not only removes excess dust but also filter out other impurities before they can settle on surfaces or be breathed in by workers.
Feeling overwhelmed when looking at dust collection system reviews, and unsure of what to purchase? Here are some steps that will aid you in making the right decision.
Choosing A Dust Collection System
To keep the air free from contaminants, you’ll want to pick a dust collection system that is best suited for your facility. Although dust collectors can come in numerous forms and functions, there are five main categories of industrial dust collectors –– inertial separators, wet scrubbers, unit collectors, electrostatic precipitators, and baghouses (also known as fabric filters). Although there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer, you might want to take note of the following factors in selecting your ideal dust collection system.
Type Of Dust
The form of dust most found in your facility is important when choosing an ideal dust collector. Dust that contains oil or moisture should require a mist collector, instead of one designed for dry dust. On the contrary, larger dust such as silica sand can be abrasive to dry centrifugal collectors, which is a form of an inertial separator. If the dust has a combustible nature, it is safer to go with an electrostatic precipitator.
Dust Particle Size
As dust comes in all different shapes and sizes, facilities similarly have an irregular concentration of dust throughout the air. Hence, you must ensure that your dust collector can deal with the size of the dust collectors within your facility as well as the concentration of dust in the air.
This refers to the characteristics of the air that is collected by the dust collector. If it is above 180°F, you can’t use cotton fabric filters. If the air isn’t humid enough, you can’t use dry blind bags. Lastly, if any airborne chemicals can damage the materials in the dust collector, change it to something more suitable.
Lastly, take note of the amount of space you have available to install a dust collector. If you have enough space, get a larger dust collector; however, if you have limited space, choose one that is smaller and more compact.
Take Note Of The Work Environment
Don’t understate the importance of being strategic about your facility’s layout. Having a strong layout will allow for maximized efficiency and a smoother workflow, without workers having to cross all over the place to obtain their required tools.
Aside from work productivity, a strategic work environment should improve your workplace’s safety standards, especially when regarding dust. For example, workplaces should avoid placing machines that emit large amounts of dust near heat-emitting machinery, lest it causes an explosion. Do remember that whilst maximizing efficiency is always useful, safety should always be prioritized as number one.
Proper Equipment Surveillance
We strongly recommend all manufacturers conduct routine checks to ensure that all your equipment is in proper working condition. Concurrently, it is handy to evaluate your equipment to gauge whether you need to make any upgrades. Within older manufacturing facilities, it is common for older mixes and machinery to emit larger amounts of dust as they require additional fixing to a hopper. Hence, having an upgrade for your mixer that allows for powders to be added to the bottom can lighten the load drastically.
Moreover, you might want to upgrade your old dust collector as well. Take a look and check for any potential –– such as looking for cracks and efficiency of connections within the ductwork, backing up the collector inlet, suitability of capture hoods, and reliability of filters to catch tiny particulates. If any of these points stand out to you, it’s time to upgrade your entire system.
Be Equipped With Fire Prevention Measures
By far, the most significant hazard that dust can cause is a potential explosion or fire. All it requires is an ignition source, fuel, and oxygen for a fire to go off. Furthermore, if the fire starts in an enclosed area with enough suspended dust in the air, a large explosion will occur. Understanding how fires start is the first step, but you must take action in preventing fires from starting in your facility.
Firstly, ignition usually starts from sparks, which can come from a variety of sources –– such as from an overheated motor, a blunt tool, and more. Hence, implementing a spark detection or extinguishment system will help keep potential sparks in check.
Next, we strongly recommend installing a sprinkler system to prevent fires from breaking out before they start to spread. However, because sprinkles come on after a fire has been started, it might not be the most efficient first line of defense.
Lastly, you should choose a dust collector with vertically-mounted cartridges. This is because dust builds up easily with horizontally-mounted filters, which encourages sparks to fly.
Maintenance Of Dust Collection Filters
If your dust collection system contains filters, you’ll need to change and clean them regularly. Once filters become overburdened, they can no longer function as effectively, which will cause them to become a fire hazard. Hence, although changing filters can be burdensome, it’s important to ensure the safety of the facility.
Do note that workers shouldn’t be required to enter when changing filters, especially when dealing with older filters. Long-term exposure to dust, as well as carrying heavy overhead filters, can cause one’s physical health to deteriorate quickly. Instead, we recommend sliding out a filter and using a bag-in/bag-out or collection drums to lessen the concentration of dust when the filters are being changed.
Adding Safety Accessories
Other than implementing the ideal dust collection system, you can always strengthen your defense by adding safety accessories. For example, lock-out/tag-out doors prevent doors from opening on accident and causing potential dust exposure and injuries. Alternatively, bag-in/bag-out (BIBO) containment services help to shield workers from toxic dust particles.
Optimize Pulse-Cleaning Controls
There are three types of basic cleaning methods that you can use to clean filters.
Firstly, continuous cleaning is most suitable for high dust-loading applications, and is best when filtering porous and lightweight, such as those that come from minerals. However, this method uses up a considerable amount of energy, money, and may cause filters to be over-cleaned.
Secondly, on-demand cleaning refers to the operator denoting several differential pressures that signifies whether cleaning is activated or not. Unlike downtime cleaning, on-demand cleaning only comes on when dust loads are especially prominent or consistent, and turns off when it is not. This helps to maximize efficiency whilst extending the lifespan of filters.
Lastly, downtime cleaning refers to setting a fixed time for cleaning –– such as the period after a plant shift. This helps to prevent over-cleaning, which can drain energy, reduce the lifespan of cartridges, and result in higher emissions.
To choose the ideal dust cleaning system, it is imperative to understand the needs and characteristics of your working environment. Don’t forget to ensure that your equipment and safety practices are adequate in helping you maximize your dust collection system and eliminating hazards in the safest method possible.