Sucking the waste from housekeeping practices

Five ways industrial vacuum systems add to the bottom line

08/05/2009


Most manufacturing facilities today capitalize on the most advance equipment technology to increase production output and minimize labor costs. However, many manufacturing plants still use manual methods like brooms, dustpans, and wheelbarrows to clean facilities. It is true that some facilities utilize store bought shop type vacs in their housekeeping routine, but using one of those in an industrial setting is like using a glue gun in a factory that was purchased at a craft store.

With a manufacturing operation that is in constant motion, scheduling time-consuming manual cleaning means lost production and lost profit. However dreaded the task, housekeeping is absolutely necessary for health, safety, machine performance and product quality reasons and therefore these interruptions in production are accepted as standard operating procedure.
If there are solutions that allow for automatic removal of dust and debris such as industrial vacuum cleaners, then why aren't more facilities employing them in their housekeeping routine?
Perhaps there is a lack of knowledge that industrial vacuums are capable of sucking up to six tons of material per hour, or that industrial vacuums filter fine particles up to 0.3 microns, or that industrial vacuums can cost as little as $1,000. More to the point, most manufacturers are probably unaware of the cost benefits such as better product quality, material reclamation, reduced wear and tear on equipment -- meaning less downtime for maintenance and repair costs, longer production runs and probably the most significant savings, reduced labor cost.

Reduced Labor Cost
Across nearly all industries, most production systems are designed to produce multiple products on a single line. In order to make this process cost effective, turnaround time on setups must be efficient; but manual cleanup or the use of inadequate equipment can reduce the ROI of such systems.
Consider a powder coating operation that offers custom colors in addition to its basic colors. Although the operation may have a spray booth for each of its standard colors, some products may receive two or three different colors, and each time a color change is required for custom colors, the powder spray booth has needs cleaning and overspray must be removed from the booth.
The method most employed by powder coating operation includes time-consuming vacuuming with a "shop-type" vacuum, then using a squeegee to remove the overspray from the walls and floor, air blow-off and then wipe down of the spray booth by hand.
One of the most obvious methods to bring substantial savings in labor is to reduce the steps involved in any manual processes. Employing a vacuum system that integrates a wand and squeegee designed for such powders, so users can clean the walls and floor of the spray booth quickly, reduces the steps by half.
The use of a powerful industrial vacuum also adds to the labor savings because it is 30 per cent faster than shop type vacuum equipment, covers more area, and picks up finer material. What once took up to three hours can now be completed in less than half the time, thus speeding up productivity.

Materials Reclamation
Beyond reducing labor costs and increasing overall productivity, the use of industrial vacuums also allows manufacturers to significantly reduce material cost by recovering and reusing materials which in turn reduces the need to treat material as hazardous waste.
There are many ways that industrial vacuum cleaning systems can recover materials. Portable systems with changeable collection containers allow manufacturers to capture and recover materials from diverse production runs in separate containers for later reuse. When needed, solid particles can be separated from collected liquid with a Chip Basket and Liner allowing for liquids, such as coolant, to be reused and the solids to be disposed.

Product Quality
Beyond the general considerations manufactures give to reducing time consuming clean up of fugitive dust and debris, many plants must consider the impact that manual cleanup has when particulate matter is disbursed and then settles, increasing the potential for product contamination.
Products that are highly sensitive to contamination from particulate matter need more frequent, automatic removal of these materials and continuous duty industrial vacuums are ideal for these situations and don't require a halt in production to get the job done.
For instance, in processes such as glass production of TV screens it is critical that the cleaning system does not exhaust iron oxide dust into the air, since even a small amount of the red dust on a glass TV panel could ruin the product.
A HEPA filter, which is rated 99.97% efficient down to 0.3 micron particle size, successfully prevents iron dust from contaminating production, and centralized vacuum system can be designed to clean production tables and conveyors at various points in the plant on a continuous basis, solving the waste problem without slowing production.

Reduced Wear and Tear on Equipment
Sometimes it is not the product that is affected by dust and debris, but the equipment that is used to produce the product. In rugged industrial environments when abrasive materials such as cement, marble and glass (can you give me examples of powders that are abrasive?) come in contact with industrial equipment, it can reduce equipment life and ultimately cause failure and unscheduled downtime costing companies money and time in maintenance, replacement parts and diminished productivity.
Employing industrial vacuum systems to remove dust and debris can save companies tens of thousands of dollars per year in term of materials, labor and equipment, as was the case with a solid surface and marble fabricator.
Prior to employing a central vacuum system to handle the large volume of fine heavy dust produced by sanders, routers and miter saws, each station used shop type vacs that not only needed to be emptied and cleaned several times a day, but they also got in the way of the equipment operators and allowed abrasive particles to settle into machinery and equipment, reducing equipment life.
Now drop-down hoses hang conveniently over each station with quick connects that allow dust to be pulled directly off equipment at its source. Since the dust is immediately removed from the sanders, saws, and routers, the company is getting about 20% more life out its sandpaper and equipment; and its staff is more productive because they no longer need to leave their stations several times a day to dump and clean the shop type vacs. The company estimates that it saves $20,000 per year in material, equipment, and labor costs.
This article was contributed by VAC-U-MAX, www.vac-u-max.com .





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