Is a Particulate Monitor Worth the Investment?

Posted by Earl Parker on Jan 16, 2018 2:00:00 AM

Any investment in new technology, maintenance process or a management system is usually evaluated by the likely return on investment. Triboelectric particulate monitoring systems are no different. Many facilities are required to use the technology for compliance. In others, however, investing in a triboelectric particulate monitor may be a business decision, the same as adding additional instruments and controls. The calculation of ROI can be more complex when considering detectors all the way down to the compartment and row level, and when investing in baghouse control systems.

This article explores the 4 main benefits of triboelectric monitoring of PM emissions and provides some tips on justifying the investment.Calculating the ROI of a triboelectric dust monitoring system

Improved Emissions Compliance

Over the years, compliance has become a serious issue that must be recognized. In today's regulatory environment, compliance often becomes an issue of direct importance to profitability with its impact on operations, social responsibility, reputation and production.

The advantages of triboelectric monitoring compared to other PM monitoring methods is clear. With greater accuracy and detection sensitivity than visual observations (EPA method 9 and 22), differential pressure (when used as an emissions monitoring metric) and opacity meters, the triboelectric option proves superior. Additionally, compared to other methods, triboelectric systems can help plants evaluate and determine the effectiveness of control technologies (such as new filter medias, process changes or operation changes to reduce emissions). Finally, a faster response time to identify increased emissions means operators receive earlier warning of problems allowing for quicker remedial action that can prevent small problems from escalating to reportable events.

How to Calculate Potential ROI: Determine how much each reportable event costs in terms of reporting burden, fines on average, and system downtime and use these figures to calculate potential savings.

Easier Compliance Reporting

Reporting requirements vary from industry to industry and generally are more extensive for plants classified as “major sources”. Regardless, collecting, storing, processing and transmitting monitoring data from emissions sources can consume significant resources at both large and small facilities. Certain monitoring methods may require daily or even hourly inspections be done by certified personnel to check emissions (EPA Method 9 and 22, differential pressure checked manually). The man hours spent on these activities can add up quickly, not to mention the time required to manually transfer “clip board data” to electronic form for processing and eventual reporting. In contrast, triboelectric monitoring systems can take data readings in real time without the need for individual involvement. Further, data from these systems can be directly interfaced with plant computers to record and process the required data into an easy to export format that can go directly into compliance reports for regulating authorities. The return on integrated instruments and baghouse control systems can be significant.

How to Calculate Potential ROI: Determine man hours spent collecting emissions data currently, including visual observations, recording data manually (aka clipboard data) and data entry into useful form for reporting purposes.

Maintenance Savings

Compared to other monitoring methods, a triboelectric dust monitoring system often requires very little on-going maintenance. Opacity meters require periodic calibration as well as complete rebuilds after several years of use by personnel by the opacity meter OEM. These rebuilds and calibrations can costs thousands of dollars each time and require extensive documentation for regulators.

Triboelectric systems also improve general maintenance by providing additional useful data that other monitoring methods on their own cannot. For example, with its superior detection capability,  these systems can identify the exact position of leaks, even in large systems with thousands of filters, down to a specific unit, compartment, or row of filters. Often these systems can also provide data that can provide further baghouse diagnostics such as solenoid or diaphragm failures. Further, the ability to trend data helps predict when filter sets will fail and require replacement allowing maintenance planners to optimize filter replacement scheduling in their facilities.  This can prevent having to deal with the emergency situation that causes unexpected downtime and increased costs for expediting materials and labor normally associated with unplanned filter changeouts.

How to Calculate Potential ROI: Determine cost of maintaining opacity meters or other monitoring methods over their useful service life (e.g. 10 years) compared to triboelectric detectors. Additionally, consider costs associated with labor to chase down leaking filters without the location ability of the triboelectric bag leak detection systems as well as the costs incurred by having to schedule last minute filter changeouts (including buying filters at the last minute).

Extended Filter Life

Filter replacement costs make up a large part of the normal operation/maintenance budget for a facility with large dust collection system(s). Optimizing the use of filters has a direct impact on operating costs as well as costs associated with reliability and downtime.

Rather than following the manufacturer’s general recommended changeout schedule plants can use their triboelectric emissions data to determine their maximum useful filter life without worrying about pushing them too far that they suffer failure or emissions spikes. This leads to savings in two situations:  (1) If the filters still function when the recommended changeout date comes, plants can save money by extending the service life of their filters knowing they can safely do so.  (2) If the filters begin leaking BEFORE the recommended changeout date, operators can avoid exceeding their emissions limits and begin procuring replacement filters and scheduling a changeout when next convenient. (They thus avoid fines, forced shutdowns and lost production while filters are procured and replaced.)

How to Calculate Potential ROI: Calculate costs of filter replacement and potential savings if filters could be safety extended an additional 3-6 months. Conversely, calculate costs associated with rushed changeouts and improved scheduling of changeouts to reduce impact on production and operations.


A triboelectric dust monitoring system can provide an easily verifiable ROI for most plants. By taking time to gather the needed data and calculate the expenses cited above, your plant can have concrete data to see the potential return on investment these systems can achieve at your facility.

Let Auburn Systems help you determine how much ROI a new TRIBO.dsp system can generate at your plant. Contact us today to discuss your operations.

In the meantime download our free guide to selecting the best triboelectric system for your facility.

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Topics: Baghouse Maintenance, Triboelectric Detection, Dust Detection