Choosing a Dust and Fume Collector

Creating an effective ventilation system requires consideration of a range of variables, from the type of dust and fumes produced to the air flow dynamics that carry the particulates and pollutants throughout the plant.

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When buying industrial ventilation equipment, properly evaluating a dust collector’s capabilities can be difficult. Improving plant safety and productivity are pressing issues, and air quality is an important factor in reaching these goals. But creating an effective ventilation system requires consideration of a range of variables, from the type of dust and fumes produced to the air flow dynamics that carry the particulates and pollutants throughout the plant. RoboVent Products Group Inc. suggests examining five important features when choosing a dust and fume collection system.

Rough and Ready

A well designed dust collector integrates every component needed to make it operational—cabinet, motor, blower, control panel, safety features, filters—into one cohesive design. The only things that should be required on-site are simple electrical and compressed air connections. Too often, buyers must spec a cabinet and the mechanical components separately, and then are faced with hours or days of labor expenses to wire and connect the individual components.

Choosing a complete package eliminates the need to source and spec individual components or to schedule and coordinate a more complicated installation. Furthermore, units that are completely assembled prior to shipping can be properly inspected and tested before they leave the manufacturer. This inspection should include the all-important leak test to ensure the integrity of a cabinet.

Get Wired

For years, the best way to improve the performance of a dust and fume collector was to find a suitable control panel that could be mounted to the cabinet to automate certain functions. Such a system often required an electrician to wire and install add-on equipment. But now some companies are designing ventilation equipment that incorporates an intuitive electronic control panel that automates the entire process without having to add or install an auxiliary control system.

An effective control system should monitor the collector’s performance continuously, including the blower and the filter differential pressure. It should have built-in diagnostic features, and it should track maintenance history to help maintenance and engineering staff create a safer environment and maximize a collector’s performance.

Beware of Suction Loss

Clean filters are important for efficient operation of a dust collector. Regularly shaking the filters clean can extend their life. Most cartridge collectors include some form of pulse cleaning technology intended to jar dirt loose into a containment bin. But while shooting a pulse of air through a filter might dislodge the surface dust, the air transporting the particulate often re-deposits it onto adjacent filters rather than into the containment unit.

Some collectors utilize an advanced pulse cleaning technology based on airflow science. Each filter has a dedicated electronic pulse mechanism or valve that is programmed in sequence. The sequential, double-pulse action neutralizes the tendency of the particulate to re-deposit on nearby filters. Even distribution of the pulse pressure through a cone or similar device helps ensure that the entire filter will be cleaned, not just the top or bottom. Filter orientation within a collector is also vital. Collectors that have filters in a vertical position provide much less exposed surface area for the potential re-deposit of particulates.

Gaze into the Future

Keeping a lid on growing operational costs is an on-going challenge for everyone in business. Dust collectors should have high quality filter media in place to help keep a plant cleaner and safer for employees, but the filters must be replaced on a regular basis to keep them effective. A shop should be aware of this expense and also consider how simple or complex the replacement process may be. The correct size and design of a system is also crucial. If a collector is too small for the application, it will consume filters too rapidly.

Another operating cost to consider relates to the power a ventilation system consumes. Some collectors can minimize energy usage when they start and stop automatically with a machine operator and actively adjust their operating speed and power to match the level of activity as well as the condition and resistance of the filters.

Acquisition and startup costs are important in evaluating the value of a ventilation system, but they do not reveal the entire picture.

Protection is Important

Metalworking is no different than most manufacturing processes in that a certain amount of caution is required to maintain a safe environment and protect a company’s
investment in equipment. Dust and fume collectors perform a crucial function in process engineering and, as a result, are often the front line of defense in these operations. One often unrecognized risk is the potential for air leaks during a collector’s operation. Cabinet construction is important. Seams and joints should be fully welded and engineered to create a perfect seal. Verifying that they are is the first step. The next line of defense should include a sensor in a collector that can detect a leak if one occurs, then instantly shut an operation down to prevent exposure to potentially harmful fumes and particulates.

Another important safety feature in a dust collector is a fire suppression system that is instantly activated in the event that particulates are accidentally ignited during welding or other operations. Some collectors offer a system that can detect the presence of both smoke and heat. Typically, when smoke is detected, a damper is closed to eliminate oxygen and smother a fire. If heat is detected, FM-200 fire suppressant gas is deployed to extinguish the fire and protect employees, equipment and the facility.

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