Many plants contain a mix of modern, retrofitted and legacy systems, often combined together into one imperfect, but (hopefully) functional system. Many times, a plant’s dust collection can be among the oldest and most antiquated systems in a facility. While the case for large investments such as brand new collectors is often mentioned (but rarely possible), a smaller, but more realistic area for improvement is a plant’s dust monitoring system. Many facility managers rarely consider this an area where substantial returns can be gained for minimal investment of time and resources.
But how can you tell if your current dust monitoring system is up to the task? Consider 4 signs your dust collection monitoring system is out of date and see how your current system measures up.
1. It Only Detects Failures After Occurrence
With older methods of dust monitoring, by time you receive an alarm signal you have already blown your emissions limits and are now required to report the incident. At this point you likely will need to shutdown, identify the source of the leak(s), and possibly change bags, seal leaking baghouses, etc.
With modern detection systems system operators can see emissions levels in real-time and at much smaller concentrations than other methods. They provide valuable forewarning to operators by alerting them when bags begin showing the first signs of leakage. This allows them to take corrective action BEFORE a leak becomes a major problem.
2. It Does Not Meet Latest Emissions Regulations
In the past, many air permits from State and Local environmental agencies required only minimal recording and reporting of emissions data from baghouses. For some plants, this meant monitoring only the differential pressure of their baghouses. Later, the EPA and other agencies required opacity monitoring for certain industries, but still these only registered alarms after a failure had already occurred (see above).
Beginning with the introduction of MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) requirements in the 1990s for air quality standards (NESHAPs) in specific industries the use of more sensitive and accurate triboelectric bag leak detection systems has increased. In fact, many MACT standards now REQUIRE a triboelectric dust monitoring system, including cement, lead, industrial boilers, lime, and ceramic industries. (See full list in article Trboelectric Dust Detection vs. Opacity Meters - Is there a Difference?)
3. It Creates More Work For Maintenance Staff
Your bag leak monitoring system should help reduce maintenance tasks and make maintaining these systems simpler and more efficient. In practice, many older system actual create MORE work, not less, by complicating already complex operational/compliance objectives. Some send alarm signals constantly, requiring maintenance to chase down false alarms, which additionally risks making personnel less attentive to them. (This can be a major issue when an alarm is legitimate!) Other times, they require maintenance personnel to manually take readings from remote locations throughout the facility. This can be time consuming and take resources away from more valuable preventative maintenance tasks. Finally, older systems are notorious for their frequent failures, fouling, and calibration needs, all of which require valuable maintenance resources.
Modern bag leak detection systems can limit bag failures and mitigate unexpected incidents. Preventing baghouse failures means avoiding costly system/production shutdowns as well as time-consuming cleanups that often follow bag failure. Further, it contributes towards keeping your facility and its operations up to various compliance standards (e.g. Emissions limits from EPA and safety prevention from OSHA). If your detector keeps your maintenance team busy with unnecessary upkeep, it’s time for you to look into a bag leak detection upgrade.
4. It Provides No Return on Investment (i.e. It's NOT Saving You Money)
Besides simplifying maintenance procedures, and helping ensure compliance with air permits, your dust detection system should be generating quantifiable returns in two additional ways.
By detecting bag failure progressively and from the very early stages, operators and maintenance planners can more accurately predict when filters will fail. This allows for predictive maintenance planning of the dust collection systems. With this knowledge, planners can prepare for filter replacement with more time: ordering replacement filters, hiring contractors, and scheduling bag changeouts for the most opportune time. This prevents the usual drama caused by inevitable filter failure: unplanned system downtime, production delays, crisis meetings, rush ordering of bags, expensive expedited shipping, and hurried changeouts that can often lead to accidents or incorrect installation. All of this can potentially cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs each time depending on the size of the system.
Additionally, by monitoring bag performance in real-time, many plants are able to extend their filter service past the manufacturer’s recommended changeout schedule. These recommended lifespans are often generalizations and do not account for the many complex factors that lead to filter failure. If operated and maintained according to industry best practice, many filters can have a useful service life well beyond the manufacture’s recommend service life. This alone can lead to direct savings in replacement costs, which often run into tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Final Verdict - Does Your Dust Collection Monitoring System Measure Up?
In light of the points mentioned above, how does your current dust collection monitoring system measure up? If your monitoring system under performs in its compliance duties, regularly creates maintenance problems, does not enable a proactive approach to maintenance or fails to generate clear savings from filter replacement each year it’s probably time to look into new solutions. Fortunately, today’s triboelectric monitoring systems are capable of much more than those of the past, and justification for an update is clear and measurable.
To learn more about how a modern dust collection monitoring system could benefit your business, or for more information on the evolution of triboelectric technologies into what they are today, contact Auburn Systems today!