4 Maintenance Costs Directly Related to Excessive Environmental Dust

Posted by Earl Parker on Jan 6, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Unnecessary maintenance tasks quickly drive up costs. Many plants are surprised to discover that several time-consuming tasks stem from dust control problems. Let’s consider a few areas where maintenance costs are inflated by environmental dust, and where better dust control would help. 

Dust Abatement

Fotolia_41520717_Subscription_Monthly_M.jpgNot only do dust events often result in costly downtime, but the cleanup of dust in work areas, near critical capital equipment and in other plant areas disrupts routine maintenance. 

And when emissions remediation actions are required for the surrounding area, then PMs and even other break fix maintenance are put on hold. In the past, some class action settlements and EPA actions have required plants to: repair homes (replace windows, air conditioners, driveways, etc.), repair cars, invest in green initiatives in the local community, etc., all because of PM emissions. 

Equipment Repairs

Dust can easily damage many precision machines with moving parts. Equipment with sensitive electronics (nearly all equipment these days) can easily suffer damage even from small amounts of ambient dust. Sealed bearings are sealed against routine environmental conditions - expose them to significant, uncontrolled environmental dust, and you'll start to experience rapid deterioration in equipment performance.

Combustible Dust Incidentsfugitive_dust_detection_in_manufacturing.jpg

Dealing with the aftermath of a combustible dust incident can be expensive. Even so-called “minor” incidents like fires can require hours of repair work or downtime. Larger incidents can be devastating. 

Product Spoilage/Batch Contamination

Nuisance dust often spoils finished products, especially in sanitary operations such as food or pharmaceutical production. Additionally, inadequate dust collection can cause problems in applications that involve batch mixing such as refining, cement, ferrous and non ferrous foundries, etc. 

Root Cause of Problems

Many of these issues may be caused by continued use of an undersized dust collection system. Without adequate suction and CFM the system will not properly vent each pickup point. Sometimes this is caused by OEMs that purposely undersize a system in order to come in as the lowest bid, only to then leave the end user stuck with a non-functioning system after they are gone. 

In other cases, poorly planned modifications to the dust collection system reduce its capabilities. Despite what some might think, dust collection systems are precisely engineered systems. Adding or removing sections without consulting an experienced engineer can cause problems by altering carefully planned CFM, static pressure, static resistance, and other figures that must be in careful balance for the system to function correctly. 

Changing Role of Plant Maintenance

Budgetary pressures are intense in every operation today.  That almost inevitably translates into reduced maintenance resources.  PMs suffer as even routine break/fix issues keep maintenance teams stretched thin.  

It's important for companies to be strategic about maintenance investment - and that means preventing rather than patching.

Rather than continue to throw money at maintenance for these symptoms, why not consider getting to the root of the problem. Improving your dust control and emissions monitoring systems can improve or eliminate the root cause of these issues. To learn more about how improved baghouse operation and dust monitoring could help you improve your plant's operational efficiency and cut costs, please view our eBook on Intelligent Dust Monitoring or contact us today!

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Topics: Air Quality, Particulate Monitoring