Before Reportable Events - Operational Value of Broken Bag Detectors

Posted by Earl Parker on Nov 18, 2015 10:30:00 AM

More than just fretting about Reportable Events

If bags in your baghouse start to leak, and your dust collector performance deteriorates, eventually particulate emissions will increase.  Often companies track the threshold that obligates them to report an event under their air permit - and once a facility’s emissions exceed these limits they are required to report the incident to the regulating authority having jurisdiction. This process is lengthy and can involve remediation, sanctions and large fines.

For this reason, we often describe the importance of preventing small issues from becoming reportable events—something that triboelectric detection systems can prevent.  For instance we suggest using more sensitive broken bag detectors that can even detect trends well below the reportable limit.  And often multiple alarm levels can provide critical early warning to allow maintenance teams to fix problems before a reportable excursion even occurs.

But besides causing reportable events, leaking filters can cause other serious problems in a factory - often leading to product and equipment damage and possible health concerns.

Product Contamination

In certain applications, dust collection systems form an integral part of the system process. Precious metals processing, food production, and others may use dust collectors to transport materials, separate products, or perform other similar functions. When bag leaks occur in these systems it can cause cross contamination and result in loss of product.

In other plants, such as portland cement, ferrous and non ferrous metallurgy facilities, precise ratios of product are mixed to create batches of finished product. Malfunctioning dust collectors can create an imbalance in the mixtures. This results in substandard quality and can ruin entire production runs of product. 

Damage Equipment

Bag leaks also can damage equipment throughout the plant. Machines that depend on ventilation to clear away generated dusts may backup and suffer damage. Additionally, equipment with parts that are sensitive to dust (such as electronics) may suffer irreparable damage. 

And don't forget those poor 'sealed' bearings and other wear items!

cement plant case study

Health and Safety Hazards

The dangers of breathing in dust - Dust hazards are workFugitive dust from leaking filters can also make its way back into the plant where it can harm workers. It also can be exhausted and contaminate surrounding areas, causing harm to the local population and damage property. These risks become even more pronounced when dealing with hazardous materials, such as heavy metals, poisons and other chemicals.

Plants handling combustible dusts face even greater risks. Even small accumulations of these dusts within a facility can cause immensely powerful blasts and fire. For example, leaks can allow small amounts of fugitive dust from leaking filters to accumulate on horizontal surfaces - including those that are remote and hard to observe or access. With the right circumstances, as much as a 1/4” of combustible materials when suspended from an elevated location (e.g. rafters, tops of machinery, etc.) can provide fuel for a combustible dust explosion powerful enough to rip a building in half. (See article: Dust Collector Fire and Explosion Highlights Need for Combustible Dust Considerations in System Designs for more information on the power of combustible dust explosions) 

Avoid the Risks of Leaking Filters With Early Warning System

This becomes an insidious threat because often the serious problems caused by leaking filters begin long before the emissions rise to a reportable level. Yet despite the risks, many plants do not leverage efficient broken bag detectors to identify these leaks early enough.

Most rely on outdated visual observation methods, or opacity meters.  With these solutions the reportable threshold may be at the very bottom of their detection sensitivity and they may not detect gradually increasing particulate emissions until well after they become major leaks.

However, triboelectric bag leak detectors from Auburn Systems can detect these leaks right from the beginning. Why not let us help you see how triboelectric detection systems can help your facility avoid these kinds of situations? Contact us here to learn more!

Topics: Baghouse Maintenance, MACT Reporting, Particulate Monitoring, Dust Detection