How to Reduce Commercial Dust Collector Costs

Operating a commercial dust collector efficiently is vital in industrial environments that handle dry processing and bulk solids. The challenges of capturing, conveying, and containing dust are large for these facilities. In doing so, there is a price to pay—literally and figuratively. 

It’s no secret that the cost of installing a commercial dust collector is far more than its purchase price. There are other costs to consider as well. Costs that, once identified, can be managed effectively, if not reduced. For example, identifying the properties of the dust your facility is collecting and how it affects the filter ensures the correct filter for the application is used—one that lasts as intended—with the result being significant long-term savings. 

The Costs of Dust Collection

Filters are but one operational cost in the service life of a commercial dust collector. With proper care, a dust collector will last for several decades. During this period, operational costs—ongoing costs such as energy usage, maintenance, replacement filters, or other parts—can add up. Factoring the total cost of ownership (TCO), a calculation that combines the total cost of purchasing, using, managing, and maintaining an asset over its entire service life, in this case, a dust collector, measures the total indirect and direct cost of acquisition, service, support, maintenance, and so forth. More than arriving at a figure, TCO identifies any continuing costs managers can locate to reduce or mitigate. Here are a few to consider. 

4 Ways to Reduce Commercial Dust Collector Costs

1. Adjust Airflow to Lower Energy Costs 

A fan motor draws the airflow that moves through a dust collector. That motor draws the largest portion of the dust collector’s electrical load. Thus, energy consumption is proportional to the volume of air, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), that the motor is drawing through the system. A damper at the outlet of the fan motor essentially regulates the volume of air moving through the system. Left unchecked, the airflow can exceed what’s required and consume more energy than necessary. Also, if the airflow continually hits the filters at a higher velocity than necessary, it can reduce the filter life. 

However, since dust collectors are variable systems, it is possible to adjust the airflow to avoid excessive energy usage. This can be done manually or by installing a VFD (variable frequency drive). Manual adjustment of the damper can achieve the desired airflow for the system. When filters are new, the damper should be closed more to decrease the airflow. As filter use increases and becomes soiled, open the damper more for the airflow to increase as needed.  

A better option would be to remove human interaction altogether and install an energy control device, a VFD, which automatically controls the speed of the fan and the power consumed by the fan motor. The ROI may be well worth it. VFD sensors detect airflow and adjust fan speed as needed during the course of a filter’s service life to provide optimal airflow through the system at all times. In short, by regulating airflow as needed, the power consumed to operate the fan motor can also be regulated and lowered to realize cost savings. 

2. Recirculate Air

A dust collection system is designed to draw in contaminated air, filter it, and move it outside. In the process, energy used to heat or cool the air within the plant or facility is wasted when that heated or cooled air is filtered and pushed outside. Consequently, to maintain the optimum working temperature within the plant, the HVAC system must run continually to replace the removed heated or cooled air. Rather than sending the air-conditioned or heated air outside, it is possible to safely recirculate the clean within the facility to lower energy consumption from the continuous use of the HVAC system. Installing an integrated safety monitoring filter (iSMF) on the return ducting of the system will prevent any dust from re-entering the workspace if a leak occurs in the primary filter system. For those facilities that handle combustible dust, a properly installed iSMF also acts as a flame arrestor to make it safe to recirculate their air. Once installed, an iSMF will reduce the time the HVAC system is on, which, in turn, helps reduce energy consumption within the plant.  

3. Empty the Hopper

Because dust collector hoppers are engineered only temporarily to store dust removed from industrial environments, they should never be used to store that dust. Keeping your dust collector hopper full can increase maintenance costs, starting with premature filter wear. Dust accumulation in the collector’s hopper can lead to abrasion along the filter bottoms, leading to premature failure. Additionally, re-entrainment of dust from the filled hopper can enter the airflow and cycle back through the filter, causing further wear. Dust buildup in the hopper may also lead to blockages that could pose a severe fire or explosion hazard.

To reduce maintenance and replacement costs of filters and hazards, hoppers should be emptied daily where dust-loading applications are low. In high dust loading applications, rotary airlocks and screw conveyors to continuously discharge the hopper are options to consider. 

4. Preventative Maintenance Plan

A preventive maintenance plan assures the continuous, uninterrupted service of your dust collector to prevent unnecessary and costly downtime and avoid significant issues in the system. Preventive maintenance plans help ensure dust collectors run efficiently and cost-effectively. As the name suggests, preventive maintenance is scheduling regular checks of the system, with special attention to filters and essential parts and components that may be subject to more usage and general wear. For example, daily differential pressure monitoring lets you know how efficiently your filters work. 

Contact the Experts at CPE Filters, Inc.

CPE Filters offers periodic preventative maintenance services to meet our customer’s needs. We visit your facility to conduct a general maintenance inspection, perform a bag inspection and replacement (if necessary), and test component parts such as the fan, airlocks, and other ancillary equipment to ensure they function as required. 

The operation of a commercial dust collector is vital to ensure a clean environment inside and outside of a plant or facility. Managing the operational costs can be challenging, but once those costs are identified, managers can look at ways to reduce them. For more information about how the engineers at CPE Filters can help your company identify ways to reduce commercial dust collector costs at your facility, contact us today.