Companies across many industries face the challenge of “right-sizing” – fine-tuning operations to press the most efficiency out of limited resources. Unfortunately, reduced budgets do not translate into fewer housekeeping and maintenance tasks. In fact, if your facility is like thousands of others across the country, you are faced with cleaning challenges that are getting bigger and more complicated due to changing guidelines from federal organizations, states, local municipalities, workers’ unions, and even insurance companies.
The responsibility to protect workers, products, and operations falls on plant and safety managers. There are many resources available to help make safe choices — choices that are right for your application, facility, and specific cleaning challenges.
When it comes to choosing an industrial vacuum cleaner, there are many options that can help you streamline housekeeping and keep a safe, efficient work environment.
Determining the duration of use will help you begin to choose the right vacuum. Production lines that operate on a scheduled cleaning regimen will benefit from a single-phase vacuum. For example, if the line must be cleaned once a day, a single-phase vacuum is likely sufficient.
For continuous use or 24/7 operations, a three-phase vacuum is recommended. Compared to a single-phase motor, a three-phase unit will operate with a higher efficiency over longer durations. In essence, a three-phase vacuum is a prime example of right-sizing: doing more with less.
Many hands lighten the load. Many hands also speed cleaning so workers can move onto other important tasks. Consider equipping your industrial vacuum cleaner with a bifurcation or trifurcation at the inlet. Depending on the CFM (airflow) and waterlift (suction), two or three users can clean at the same time from one vacuum unit. When you specify a new vacuum, discuss the number of users with a vacuum specialist that can help you select a vacuum that handles multiple users without losing performance.
Filter maintenance is the key to maintaining the efficiency of your vacuum. To ensure that airflow does not become blocked, the main filter should be cleaned on a regular basis. If you’re dealing with large amounts of fine powders or dusts, you may need to clean the filter several times per shift. As you can imagine, this could become time consuming and interrupt plant maintenance.
To help users stay on task, most high-end industrial vacuums come equipped with a manual filter shaker — an external handle that is easily accessible and can be quickly pulsed to clean the filter. When more frequent filter cleaning is required, consider automatic reverse purge filter cleaning systems. These systems are ideal for pharmaceutical production or other applications that are working continuously to collect very fine materials. They do not interrupt cleaning and require no interference from an operator.
Much consideration is given to selecting the appropriate vacuum, but containment and disposal are often overlooked. You’ll want wheeled containers that are easy to remove and unload. Paper bags capture the bulk of large particles for easy collection and disposal. Polyliners are another great way to dispose of nuisance or hazardous material while containing the dust. By lifting out the entire liner, you can remove a large amount of debris quickly and easily.
Choosing the right accessories is important to help save time and money. Consider the advantage of overhead extension wands and brushes that could eliminate trips up a scissor lift or up and down mezzanines. Tool caddies keep all accessories organized and attached to the vacuum so you don’t lose or damage parts. Different sized and shaped crevice nozzles help clean hard to reach areas. There are even accessories made of conductive, food-grade and high-temperature materials for every type of cleaning application.
Budgets are tight. Regulations are increasing. But, proper plant maintenance and housekeeping doesn’t have to put you in a pinch. Work with a trusted partner that won’t just sell you a vacuum, but will review your application and your facility to recommend a solution that is cost-effective and increases efficiency.
Rob Decker is the application engineer for Nilfisk-Advance Inc., Industrial Vacuum Div. (Morgantown, PA). He provides technical expertise to help develop, design, and customize industrial vacuum solutions for unique applications. He can be reached at Rob.Decker@Nilfisk.com.
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