Is It Time to Update Your Dust Collection Equipment?

Updating dust collection systems can save energy, extend the life of production equipment and help food production companies meet sustainability goals.

How old is your dust collection system? An aging or poorly designed system can run up energy use and other hidden costs. Here’s how to know whether it’s time to upgrade your dust collector—along with other steps you can take to improve the performance of your existing system.

Hidden costs of aging dust collection equipment
An inefficient or ineffective dust collection system drives up costs in several ways.

Direct energy costs: The dust collection system uses significant energy to generate the airflow required for efficient particulate capture. You may be using too much energy if your dust collection system is not properly sized for your application, if the motor/blower is not energy efficient, if the hood/enclosure is poorly designed, if the filter-pulsing mechanism is inefficient, or if ductwork is leaky or clogged. Older units may only include a motor starter, while newly specified units should include variable speed drives to maximize electric power savings.

Consumable costs: Filters (e.g., cartridge filters or bag filters) are the biggest and most visible consumable cost for the dust collection system. If the filter cleaning/pulsing system is not working properly, filters will load too quickly and need to be changed more often. Filters will also load too quickly if there is not enough filter media for the volume of air and particulate concentrations you are moving (improper air-to-cloth ratio). Additionally, consumable costs will increase if you are using the wrong type of filter media for your dust.

Maintenance and downtime costs: An aging dust collection system is likely to require more maintenance and have more frequent shutdowns—especially if it has not been well maintained in the past. This increases both direct costs for parts and labor and indirect costs associated with unplanned downtime (which can far exceed the direct costs). Also, consider how time- and labor-intensive maintenance will be: does the operator need to crawl into the unit to change filters? How long does routine maintenance take? A unit designed for fast, easy routine maintenance will save labor costs.

Dust damage: If your dust collection system is not adequately controlling particulates, food dust can end up in places it isn’t supposed to be—including inside production equipment motors, bearings and control panels or in the ambient air of the facility. Fugitive food dust can cause excess wear-and-tear on production equipment and conveyor systems, leading to unplanned downtime or early failure. Fugitive dust also creates more housekeeping work and can impact employee productivity, satisfaction and retention. In extreme cases, fugitive dust may create the risk of a combustible dust explosion in the facility.

Read more: Is It Time to Update Your Dust Collection Equipment?