Should I Change My Filters on a Schedule?

Posted by Earl Parker on Apr 8, 2016 8:30:00 AM

When to change filters on an industrial dust collector is not by any means uniform across all industries. Many times it's not even entirely clear who has the responsibility to make plans, maintenance planners?, operators?, plant management?, production staff?, compliance engineers?, etc. 

How Most Plants Decide When to Change FiltersBag-Blinding.jpg

Regrettably, most plants conduct filter changeouts quite haphazardly, i.e. they have no plan whatsoever. Some just pick a moment and decide to replace them without any particular reason other than a “feeling” that they are old. Others ignore all signs of degrading capacity and efficiency until they receive notice after an inspection finding them well in violation of emissions limits or after some kind of safety hazard becomes evident (e.g. elevated ambient dust levels or combustible dust hazards, etc.) Others just get to where the filters literally fall apart and they can no longer function without replacing them. And at a few plants it only comes to the attention of the decision makers when the boss finds her car covered in dust in the parking lot. 

Obviously, such an approach has serious drawbacks. These include the potential for fines and sanctions for elevated emissions. Dust collector performance issues can quickly affect production, Worn out filters can also directly contribute to safety hazards from combustible dust and excessive ambient dust levels.  Additionally, this kind of approach makes it impossible to plan and budget for filter replacement, meaning a large capital expenditure comes up without warning as well as an unexpected shutdown that could involve significant downtime. 

The Fixed Scheduled Method 

It does not take a business genius to realize that the approach outlined above is ridiculous and far more costly in the long run than being proactive about filter replacement. For this reason, a good number of plants instead decide to go a different route and in their minds “play it safe” by scheduling their filter changeouts at fixed intervals. Usually they will get an opinion regarding the “recommended service life” of their particular filter from the bag supplier or an outside air pollution control consultant. These so-called “experts” will recommend a replacement schedule of some fixed amount of time. (every 6 months, or 1 yr, or two years, etc.)

By scheduling the changeout in advance these facilities think they are avoiding the mistakes of the others, namely the unexpected shutdowns, the possibility of exceeding emissions limits, controlling dust hazards, etc. While this is true to an extent, it makes no allowance for the fact that filter failure does not occur in exactly the same way in every application. The causes of filter failure are complex and involve more than just time under use. Process conditions, upset events, weather, maintenance, capacity, manufacturing, cleaning settings, operation parameters and other factors all affect how long a set of filters will last. By arbitrarily setting a date for changeouts and not basing it on actual bag performance they will replace the filters sooner than needed or risk running the filters too long.

The Better Way - Replace Only When Needed Using Triboelectric Monitoring

In contrast to the above methods, many facilities have realized the benefit of basing this decision on actual performance data from their baghouses. In this regard, no other monitoring device comes close to the capabilities of a triboelectric dust monitoring system such as the Auburn TRIBO series. Armed with trending emissions data gathered in real time, planners can accurately predict when filters will begin to fail (i.e. no longer capable of meeting emissions limits), thus allowing them to plan ahead for filter changeouts and avoid unexpected shutdowns. 

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This predictive maintenance approach saves money on filter changeouts by allowing planners to begin sourcing quotes for filters in advance and lining up labor for changeouts thus avoiding additional charges for expedited delivery and rush mobilization. It also allows for the shutdown to be scheduled at the most opportune time, such as during a quarterly maintenance outage. 

In addition, continuous monitoring with triboelectric systems means that if any unexpected problems do occur before the changeout, such as a leaking filter, or damage from upset conditions in the process, compliance engineers can immediately detect a problem quickly and arrange for repairs before it escalates. 


Despite the wishes of many plant managers, filter changeouts do not go away if ignored. Neglecting to address the issue with concrete strategy only causes more problems, some with the potential to force shutdowns or cause catastrophic damage. On the other hand, preemptively changing filters based solely on a rigid timetable irregardless of performance and actual operating conditions “leaves money on the table”, with plants forced to purchase more filters and shutdown for changeouts more often then necessary. 

In contrast to these two extremes, with the help of triboelectric dust collector monitoring systems operators and maintenance planners can see exactly when the filters will need to be replaced and can plan accordingly. This will lead not only to direct savings for filters and changeout labor, but also better operation and more stable performance. 

Would you like to see how a triboelectric monitoring system could help you extend the life of your filters? Contact Auburn Systems today! Visit our applications form for a free quote


Topics: Baghouse Maintenance