So now you finally sit down at that desk, ready to take on the world. But now the realization hits you that you're not entirely sure where to begin. The new job or responsibility as an environmental compliance engineer doesn’t come with a set of written instructions on how to start. Its up to you to deliver. As the bosses tell you to “clean house” and to do more with even less you’re feeling the pressure.
So where can you begin on your first day dealing with environmental issues? In our 40+ years of experience, we have gathered quite a bit of experience regarding what works and what does not work. While every plant is different we feel these 3 suggestions are a good place to start for nearly every plant.
Figure Out The Real Facts From People On The Ground
One of the biggest problems we find with compliance issues in facilities is a common gap between the engineers, operators and maintenance technicians. More often than not, responsibility for the main pollution control devices such as the dust collectors, air scrubbers and others are divided between several groups with different goals and interests. This results in lack of alignment in planning for maintenance and operation of the equipment, and often leaves it unable to perform adequately for any of them.
You will avoid many problems by taking time to speak with all the involved parties to find out what problems exist, their causes and what solutions may be out there.
Don’t Assume “How Its Always Been Done” Is/Was The Best Way
“This is how its always been done here…” is often the reason given for a myriad of questionable maintenance and operational choices in industrial plants. Never assume the current way is the best way especially regarding dust collection system maintenance and operation. Much advancement has been made in environmental technology, even in just the last 20 years. Examples include more sensitive emissions monitoring systems such as triboelectric dust monitoring systems, more efficient filter fabrics such as PTFE membrane bags, better baghouse designs such those using pleated filter elements, etc. Use the internet and other tools at your disposal to research and educate yourself on the latest techniques and determine whether any of these would provide substantial benefit for your facility.
Be balanced. While you should not disregard everything done by those who came before you, you should not be afraid to ask “Why do we do things this way?” and “Can we use a better method?”.
Look into using a TRIBO Series Emissions Monitoring System from Auburn
Surprisingly, as environmental regulations have become much stricter over the last 20+ years many plants still rely on outdated methods for monitoring their PM emissions levels. These outdated monitoring schemes including relying solely on visual observations such as EPA method 9 and 22, opacity monitoring or dust collector differential pressure*.
Triboelectric dust monitoring systems are the latest technology and provide distinct advantages over these older methods. With a much higher sensitivity they can detect emissions changes long before they become reportable events. They are sensitive enough to detect the very beginnings of filter failure (both premature failure and filters reaching the end of their useful service life) thus providing early warning to plant personnel to take corrective action before emissions rise above permissible levels and need to be reported to regulatory agencies (i.e. reportable events). In addition, maintenance personnel benefit by having greater insight into performance of the systems and can use this data for preventative maintenance schedules that can lead to improved operation and cost savings.
Importantly, these systems do not require large capital expenditures, costing on average between $1,900 - $2,500 per monitoring point for most systems. When compared with the potential benefits to both compliance and maintenance/operations their direct ROI and indirect benefits becomes obvious.
Trying to make an impact when starting a new position or taking on a new set of responsibilities can be a challenge. Even just finding your way can prove difficult. You can be confidant that these three areas are a great place to start.
*Differential pressure plays a key role in dust collector operations and should be monitored as part of dust collector operations and maintenance.