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Air Filtration

Breathe easier

By Lauren Duensing

Manufacturing employees thrive in clean facilities, boosting business

November 2021 - A glass recycler poses a unique air filtration challenge, says Rick Kreczmer, president of Sterling Heights, Michigan-based RoboVent, a designer and manufacturer of ventilation and filtration systems. “It is the stickiest, smelliest place ever.”

Many glass bottles, jars and other containers are coated in residue from the beverages and foods they once held—wine, beer, pickle relish—and they have to be crushed, which generates a lot of glass dust. “Think about employee retention,” Kreczmer says. “If you go into one of these facilities, your clothes smell so much that you don’t want to get into your car. And, at times, local municipalities can get involved instituting odor restrictions.”

RoboVent worked with this recycler to clean up its environment. “When we arrived, there was so much dust that you couldn’t see from one end of the factory to the other. At our initial meeting, the customer said they had dust parties every Friday where they would shut down and clean the dust. So, we installed dust collection and air filtration equipment that could handle the ambient amorphous silica dust from the glass and the dust from the paper labels on the bottles. This system turns the air in the facility a number of times to get the dust and dirt out of the environment. On top of that, we installed carbon filtration, which absorbs VOCs to help mitigate and control the odor.”

The result? A total 180. “No more dust parties, no more smell.”

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Smoke in a facility, prior to the installation of air cleaning equipment.

Down with dust

Fabrication facilities might not face the exact same overpowering olfactory challenges as the glass recycler, but there are similar struggles with dust. Dust can be insidious. And once it’s cleaned up, productivity increases. “Employees work more efficiently and do a better job. And lately, especially when there are not enough people to go around, a clean, bright environment helps with employee retention.”

In addition, “dirty air in an industrial facility can cause a lot of maintenance issues,” Kreczmer says. “The particles don’t just stay in the air. When they come down, they land on the equipment, on the motors, on the floor. Bad air quality leads to more equipment failures. If you clean the air, there’s less maintenance to do in the facility.”

He also points out that that impurities in the air can contaminate paint, leading to rework, and much of the dust in metalworking facilities can be combustible. “These customers are really concerned with dust layers. If it’s combustible dust and there is an ignition source, there could be an explosion. It’s one of the bigger issues that we work with.”

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Dust fume sizes chart: When installing an air filtration system, it’s important to know how the air conveys particles, which is dependent upon their makeup and size.

Study and plan

The first step to cleaner air is evaluating the processes inside a facility and determining the volume and type of dust—and then studying how air (along with dust and other contaminants) is flowing through the facility. Managers should also think about their goals for a system, such as aiming to meet required regulations or establishing more stringent standards for worker health and safety.

“RoboVent’s process is called VentMapping,” which uses computer modeling based on a plant’s actual layout and conditions, Kreczmer says. “We will look at all the dust-generating and movement-generating processes in the facility,” including items like fans,  HVAC systems or roller doors that could be affecting the air patterns. Then, using computational fluid dynamics, “we build a model of the current state and collaborate with customers to propose a solution that achieves their goals.”

A new option for customers is RoboVent’s Senturion cartridge-style industrial dust collector. “It’s a little bit different than how we’ve engineered our equipment in the past,” Kreczmer says. “The Senturion is a modular system based on building blocks. And it can be adapted to meet different needs and applications by bolting and unbolting different options. It’s flexible to fit different spaces; it’s durable enough to be set up outside in the weather.”

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VentMapping uses advanced analytical methods, including cutting-edge CFD modeling and 3D scanning.

Because of its advanced filter technology, Senturion has the smallest footprint per CFM available—about 20 percent smaller than competing units. In addition, the filter cartridge design reduces the number of cartridges needed, and the pulsing system maximizes efficiency along the entire length of the cartridge for longer filter life and easier maintenance. Crossflow technology increases airflow and collection efficiency for the unit. Senturion’s flexibility means it can be configured to eliminate particulate in a wide variety of applications: weld fume, abrasive blasting dust, plastic fines, food processing or pharmaceuticals.

Ultimately, poor air quality has a huge effect on the bottom line. “In a dirty environment, employees take more sick days, and they have poor morale,” says Kreczmer. “Companies can improve employee retention and avoid retraining costs by cleaning up their operations. In addition, there’s no more shutting down to clean dust or rework because of contamination. If you have a cleaner facility, your recruitment costs and maintenance costs are both going to be lower.

“As a result of the pandemic, people from top to bottom in society have become more mindful of the air that they are breathing—and I think that trend is going to continue.”  FFJ


CLEAN AIR—EVERYWHERE

RoboVent’s solutions are applicable for many types of facilities, everything from welding to CrossFit, and have improved thousands of lives. The company recently worked with a gym to install three RoboVent PRC Series portable air purifiers. Each turns over air at a rate of 1,200 cubic feet per minute and has a powerful sub-micron filtration system that captures viruses, bacteria, mold spores, dust and pollen. Working together, the units turn the air over every 3 minutes and 20 seconds, enabling gym members to feel at ease about returning to their pre-pandemic workout routines.

RoboVent systems also are helping encourage the next generation of welders to move forward with their studies, rather than drop classes due to the working environment. At Central Georgia Technical College’s Warner Robins branch, the welding classroom has 16 stations and, prior to installing a RoboVent modular fume arm system, an old, underpowered extraction system was removing little to none of the weld smoke created by the continuous welding in the classroom.

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One must consider many factors when evaluating air filtration equipment, such as dust and fume sources, layout and existing airflow patterns. The examples above and below show the transformation once a system is installed.

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Students were leaving the program as a result of the unpleasant and distracting conditions, and it was extremely difficult to attract new students to the program. The RoboVent equipment provided an immediate improvement, noticeable to all who frequented the classroom before and after.

Eastern Gateway Community College, Steubenville, Ohio, and Kent Career Tech Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan, also took advantage of RoboVent’s expertise to ensure their new welding programs got off on the right foot. Both needed systems that could fit in tight spaces and keep the classrooms clean and safe, and they found the solution they needed with the CrossFlow Table. The table is a compact, self-contained, all-in-one welding bench and source-capture system that recycles contaminated air.

“We can execute in a fast, friendly and world-class manner on every project because we have the technology, the equipment, the personnel and the processes to back it all up,” says RoboVent President Rick Kreczmer.

Sources

  • RoboVent
    Sterling Heights, Michigan
    877/959-5714
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