Donaldson iCue Gateway speeds up dust collection
Ensuring optimum performance of industrial dust and fume collectors in an installation can be a time consuming process that can leave room for errors. However, IoT-based remote monitoring technologies can dramatically reduce air pollution and maximize productivity in factory settings.
Automation has arrived in almost every area of ââthe plant, but there is one notable exception, where many facilities still favor the ‘clipboard and pen’: monitoring air quality and emissions. . This is a curious omission, especially since providing better air quality and preventing dust accumulation is a central part of the health and safety mission of almost every business. The issue is also worth revising given the current climate and the fact that so many manufacturing companies are looking to accelerate Industry 4.0 technologies for a post-pandemic world, such as this McKinsey’s article sums it up so perfectly.
The responsibility for keeping the air clean in a factory lies with the industrial dust and fume collectors of the installation. These are designed to draw dirty indoor air through a network of hoods and ducts, filter particles and exhaust filtered air. These are generally heavy-duty equipment that will perform efficiently for years to come, assuming they go through a professional and regular maintenance program.
However, the failure of many facilities to implement a routine monitoring program for this vital equipment is a lost opportunity. This means that hidden issues can develop, leading to filter failure, increased costs, unnecessary downtime, and lost productivity.
Health and safety professionals have a vested interest in ensuring optimum performance of industrial dust and smoke collectors in a facility. However, as mentioned earlier, many installations will still rely on âclipboard and penâ processes to handle this. This is true even in large factories where there are often automated monitoring systems in place to track other areas of operation, but no ancillary dust collection.
For this reason, health and safety is often found working with shop floor personnel to manually record data from dust and smoke collectors. This can be a difficult process, which also leaves too much room for error. This involves recording and logging data over days or weeks, with written notes transferred to a compliance report. To make matters worse, this often results in a significant time lag with outdated and potentially inaccurate information.
However, IoT-based remote monitoring technologies, such as Donaldson’s iCueTM, can dramatically modernize this process by digitizing it. Using a network of connected sensors combined with a user-friendly interface, remote monitoring of the dust collector can be automated, providing comprehensive data in real time. In addition, a wider range of data can be assessed to ensure effective monitoring, including three essential metrics:
- Differential pressure
- Particle trends
- Relative air flow
Differential pressure (DP)
Differential pressure (DP) is the difference in air pressure before and after filters in a dust collector. This is the most common indicator for assessing the health of a dust collector and will generally tell us that a dust collector is functioning normally. Differential pressure is therefore a critical measurement for reporting purposes.
For the facility health and safety leader, understanding an acceptable DP range for dust collectors is essential to managing a healthier workplace. Once this level is established and understood, any deviation could indicate that there is a problem such as clogged filters, which, left unresolved, can cause long-term damage.
An increase in DP from a predetermined level may result in an immediate filter change, while a significant drop in DP may indicate filter damage. When the differential pressure is superimposed on the relative airflow (which we will talk about later), the health and safety manager can observe the condition of the filters and detect when the fan is no longer able to maintain the expected flow rate through increasingly loaded filters.
At a given predefined PD, filters can be assumed to be at their terminal load and be proactively changed rather than waiting for a problem to arise.
The second important indicator when monitoring filter health is the trend of particles. Changes in dust particles can signal that the filter is not operating within factory regulatory limits. For example, unless we are monitoring particle trends, a small dust leak from the filter might go unnoticed. Digital monitoring technology such as Donaldson’s iCueTM places a sensor at the exhaust vent of the dust collector to monitor changes in airborne particles. An upward trend in particles could indicate that a filter is damaged or that there is an air blockage.
Relative air flow
The last important performance indicator for a filter monitor is the relative air flow. In a factory setting, insufficient or excessive air flow can present serious problems. Insufficient air flow through a filter can mean that the unit is unable to keep up with the dust production of a facility. If the collector is unable to carry dust to the hopper, dust can settle inside the ductwork or installation and present a serious fire hazard.
Relative airflow refers to the volume of air that is drawn into the manifold through its hoods and vents. A dust collector works on the same principle as a household vacuum cleaner, requiring adequate suction power to effectively pick up dirt from surfaces. Like particle trends, relative airflow can be measured and monitored using a sensor. The sensor is placed on the dirty side of the filter which reads the static pressure entering the collector.
In addition to maximizing accuracy, one of the main advantages of using surveillance technology over the traditional ‘clipboard and pen’ approach is that it makes it easier to work remotely, again a great deal. increasingly on the agenda in our post-pandemic world. This supports health and safety policies by minimizing site personnel. It also allows plant personnel to focus on production rather than troubleshooting filter systems.