Dust collection is integral to reducing risk and providing a safe and clean working environment in many industries. SHEQ MANAGEMENT discusses some of the options available.

At its simplest, a dust-collection system is designed to purify air or gas by removing the contaminants or dust particulate from the collected air. Eliminating dust through air filtration also has benefits in environments in which mechanical equipment is operated.

By default, the air-purification process has the capacity to make machinery safer and longer lasting, while workshop surfaces become less slippery, reducing the risk of falls.

In South Africa, a wide variety of industries are required to use dust collection systems to meet air-quality standards as set by the Department of Environmental Affairs. These include the mining; pharmaceutical; food and beverage; agricultural; automotive as well as industrial processing and machining industries.

Selecting a solution

Donaldson Filtration Solutions South Africa states that each dust collection situation is unique. The company’s marketing manager, Sbusiso Mahlangu, says: “Beyond determining the required air volume to capture and control the dust created in the manufacturing process, all the requirements of the operation need to be defined and understood.

“It is important to know whether there are regulatory standards that need to be met and whether regulatory limits exist on the air quality required. These considerations will all have a direct influence on the choice of collector and filter media, and may drive decisions on including secondary or monitoring filters.”

Mahlangu explains that choosing between cartridges, bags or fluted media, as well as options such as intermittent or continuous cleaning, can play a significant role in the overall collector strategy. “This may include optimising the compatibility of the process with the collector design in order to reduce capital expenditure as well as operating costs.

“For example, using dedicated collectors for parts of the process, rather than centralising dust collectors, can simplify installation and make the process more efficient. At other times a centralised unit, or some combination of the two, may produce better results,” says Mahlangu.

An ongoing investment

In addition to the capital cost of the dust collector, the ongoing operational costs should be considered to ensure the best value over the full life cycle of the dust-collection system.

“The costs relating to replacement filters or parts, lost production due to downtime, and energy consumption during operation add up quickly.

“To find the best collector fit for a company’s specific process, it is best to work with the supplier to compare initial and operational costs of different collectors,” says Mahlangu.

In the end, it is worthwhile defining the needs of the organisation and identifying the different dust-collection options available. This will ensure that the investment is well-informed and initial costs can be reduced while optimising ongoing operational costs.

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