|Baghouse collectors are designed to handle heavy dust loads and large volumes of air from high output operations.
Photo courtesy of Donaldson Torit
|Facility layout and machine usage play a large part in selecting the proper dust collection equipment.
Photo courtesy of Oneida Air Systems Inc.
Rosemarie Kraemer, vice president of Kraemer Tool & Mfg. Co. Ltd., says there are two types of dust collection systems that could go into a woodworking environment. The standard dust collection system is designed to move a certain quantity of air to evacuate machinery on the floor. A high-velocity vacuum dust collection system pulls vacuum through hoses that usually connect to handheld tools, such as a router or sander.
âUnderstand the difference in buying a dust collector or a dust collection system,â cautions Chuck Morrison, east regional sales manager for Dantherm Filtration Inc. âA dust collector will be an off the shelf item; many times the supplier does not take into account if the unit fits the application. A dust collection system, however, should be sized and designed to fit the application.â
The consensus appears to be that the most effective system would combine both types of dust collection. Additionally, couple ceiling-suspended air cleaners will help purify the air and pick up any fine particles that the rest of the collection system may have missed.
Manufacturers should also review the requirements of the machines on the shop floor. However, they may not always consider the shopâs floor plan, which machines are used the most often, safety issues and future growth. The more information provided to the dust collector company the better.
âThe number one scenario is to analyze the requirements first,â says Curt Corum, product application manager of Air Handling Systems Manufacturing Service Co. Inc. âSomebody has to get, preliminarily, a floor plan from the said facility, [showing] what machines there are and what the size of the dust outlets are. Once itâs analyzed up front, the designer is going to come up with how many cubic feet per minute of air flow that the system is going to have to move, and as a result, how itâs going to be divvied up by people working a set amount of machinery.â
According to Corum, some companies will âforward baggies filled with the waste that they generate so the collector people canâ¦know exactly what theyâre dealing with.â
Mike Bull, sales engineer at Koger Air Corp., says, âThe keys to dust collector sizing are the type of material to be handled, including bulk density and approximate particle size, the amount of material to be handled per hour and the cubic feet per minute of air required.â
|Multiple filter bags, as seen on this indoor/outdoor unit, mean more efficiency and cleaner air.
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Machinery Corp.
Many dust collecting companies also will provide design services to woodworking facilities. âThe dust collector company should be able to provide a solution for your customerâs specific needs whether they are environmental, health and/or maintenance related,â says a spokesman from Donaldson Torit. Designers will take into account machine specifics, regulatory requirements and potential growth options.
âMake sure the system conforms to current local codes â which can differ from nationally accepted guidelines,â says Roy Scoggin, vice president of Flamex Inc.
âNever buy a dust collector unless somebody has done the design preliminarily,â adds Corum.
Bigger is Better
All interviewed generally agree that when woodworkers are in the process of purchasing a dust collector system, they do not always consider future needs, resulting in additional costs required to add on to or to redesign a system.
Wood products manufacturers should consider a âunit large enough for immediate and future capacity,â says Peter Boshco, president of Boshco Inc.
âEducating woodworkers gives them the tools to make decisions (that are) best for their needs,â says Dennis Rayon, president and owner of Denray Machine Inc.
For example, if a shop is anticipating the addition of employees, or regularly used machinery, they need to inform the designer and purchase a system to accommodate the growth. Otherwise, the system will not support the companyâs needs in the future. To accommodate growth, manufacturers also may look into adding a smaller collector. These smaller units are less effective and typically cannot be added into the existing system. Additionally, smaller units generally can only service one machine.
Rayon adds, âToo many customers under-buy the needed product. Then they become dissatisfied with the product, rather than dissatisfied with their decision. Like buying a pickup to do the job of a semi truck.â
Kraemer cautions wood products manufacturers against purchasing a dust collection system from a company that makes lofty claims about collection capabilities. âYou can only get so much air through a four-inch hole,â she says.
When researching dust collection systems, look for machines that have been tested by the Air Movement & Control Assn. Inc., which publishes and distributes standards and reference materials related to air system equipment.
âSystem flexibility will be important in the future, so the system can adapt to future requirements without a total system redesign,â adds Scoggin.
Industry experts and OSHA agree that to provide maximum protection and effectiveness, dust collectors need to be properly maintained. Regular maintenance will not only extend filter life but improve the dust collector efficiency as well.
âClean filters will work wonders,â says Kraemer.
âProperly working dust collection usually means better life of woodworking machines connected to it,â adds Boshco, âas well as greater equipment efficiency and less long-term costs.â Additionally, maintenance of equipment through dust collection can extend tool life; dust buildup in power tools can block air ports and significantly shorten tool life.
âDust collectors with automatic cleaning systems are becoming more requested,â says Riccardo Azzoni, president of Atlantic Machinery Corp.
Wood dust also can affect the finished product, says Steve Coffee, sales and marketing manager for Scientific Dust Collectors. Dust in the air will settle on finishes, creating imperfections throughout the product. The damaged goods become waste, which ends up costing the company money.
There are various ways to determine the amount of wood dust in the shop at any time, Coffee adds. A quick and simple test to determine the amount of wood dust in the air is to turn off the lights in the shop and turn on a flashlight. The flashlightâs beam will illuminate the particles in the air.
âDust control has always been a low priority in woodworking shops as, unlike machinery purchases, it appears not to bring a measurable advantage in production and does not seem to have a measurable payback,â says Azzoni. âAs good as efficient dust collection is for the working environment, so it is for production, because a cleaner and less noisy environment makes for happier workers, and machines that are properly dust collected run better, longer and are safer to operate.â
Avoiding the Big Bang
Wood dust, especially fine wood dust, is an extremely combustible byproduct of woodworking operations. A spark inside a dust collector can cause a fire and/or explosion.
Manufacturers may have the âit will never happen to meâ mentality, but that can be dangerous. âAt some point in time, something will happen,â cautions Coffee.
When manufacturers overlook the more volatile hazards of wood dust, they are gambling on performance and worker safety.
âIn addition to sprinklers, protect the dust collection equipment with spark detection and an extinguishing system that will also trip a fast acting abort gate in the return air duct,â says Scoggin.
A strategically placed explosion vent, which channels the force of an explosion into a designated area, can prove an invaluable component to the dust collection system. When the explosion is not controlled, it can destroy machinery, injure employees and even wreck the facilities.
Azzoni says, âAs regulations continue to tighten, making the workplace a safer and better environment for employees will become an even greater issue to address.â
When purchasing a dust collector, wood products manufacturers may look only to the initial savings and not the long-term benefits. Larger waste receptacles mean less frequent emptying, and therefore, less labor costs as well as less need to shut down production to change receptacles. A high-velocity vacuum dust collection system can double as an effective tool at clean-up time. Not to mention, a proper dust collection system will reduce the overall clean-up time at the end of the day, allowing more time for production.
According to the experts, one of the foremost demands of their customers is a system with extended product life and reduced operational costs.
âUse of continuous-duty equipment with lower pressure drop restriction will translate into lower operating expense,â says the spokesman from Donaldson Torit. âAt the same time, filtration efficiency performance will become increasingly important as users evaluate the possibility to recirculate air into their facilities. This recirculation will allow them to economize on their make-up air processing, offering additional savings in total facility operations.â
âOne request that is becoming more popular,â says Bull, âis the separation of chips and sawdust as more companies are selling their different classifications of wood waste to customers with different requirements.â
Not all savings come from efficiency, however. More and more, facilities are pursuing systems that will allow them to burn off waste and reduce or eliminate the cost of heating. While such systems may be more expensive initially, the payoff can be substantial.
âIn colder climates, especially with the cost of fuel, many facilities are starting to turn to burning their waste for fuel,â Corum states. âNow weâre talking big, big savings.
âI have one customer on Long Island New York that installed a system. They donât even briquette it, they just dump the waste and sawdust â everything â into this huge furnace. In the middle of winter, he got a 150,000-square-foot plant up to 72Â° and he still had to discharge 10 percent that he had left over. He said that system was going to get a
payback in two years,â Corum adds.
âMany customers also are asking for energy management systems,â says Morrison. âThese types of systems increase the dust collection efficiency by utilizing blast gates or shut-off gates in the system to cut off air flow when it is not needed. Also, variable frequency drives are being utilized in conjunction with a pressure sensor and then communicating with the main fan motor, allowing for increases in rpm when more air is needed, or decreasing rpm when less air is needed. This technology will grow and become more popular as energy costs rise.â
âThe biggest trends in the next five to 10 years are in more efficiency, and when it comes to dollars and cents, energy costs,â says Coffee âOperational costs, energy costs and emission requirements will be looked at a lot more stringently.â
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.