Bad air quality. It is a term that conjures up images of congested highways, smog-filled cities, and chimneys spewing out smoke; some outdoor environment that you would most likely want to avoid, or protect yourself from. But bad air quality can be a severe problem in indoors environments as well. In many factories, workshops, and other industrial facilities, particulates from dust and/or fumes pose a danger to the personnel as well as the production process at large. However, there are smart, easy and efficient ways of averting these dangers, and ensuring clean air even in challenging industrial environments.
Bad air quality is a major threat to human health
Approximately nine out of ten people worldwide live in areas where the concentration of particulates, which in turn are made up of various fine, airborne particles, exceed the health guidelines of WHO (the World Health Organization). The problem of air pollution is in fact so significant that it has been dubbed “the new tobacco”, due to its negative health consequences, and scope. WHO estimates that exposure to these particulates results in approximately 7 million deaths every year, mostly in the form of diseases such as lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
Clean air is a necessity, not a luxury
When it comes to life’s essentials, it does not really get much more essential than clean air. We all know that clean air is a prerequisite for a healthy life and a healthy environment, so why should we expect – or demand – anything less from the air we breathe at work? Thankfully, industrial workplace health and safety standards have improved considerably over the decades, affecting everything from emissions control and housekeeping practices to indoor smoking habits. The effects are numerous and clear, as clean and safe working conditions lead to a healthier workforce, less maintenance, greater productivity and higher product quality. It also makes it easier to attract, and keep, skilled personnel.
How and where are particulates generated in the workplace?
Many common industrial processes – among them grinding, milling, cutting, hardening, turning, soldering, and welding – generate dusts and powders, and/or aerosols like fumes, mist and smoke. These particulates get airborne easily, can travel fast, and may thus be inhaled. They can also quickly spread around the factory or workshop, eventually settling on surfaces and inside equipment, ventilation ducts, gear and clothing.
However, the problem of particulates does not only exist in traditional heavy industry. Bakeries, hair and nail salons, chemical laboratories, 3D-printing workshops, manufacturing of cosmetics, paint or feed; these are just some examples of businesses where these issues arise. Another major work environment issue in many firestations, ambulance garages and car workshops is that of diesel fume emissions.
IIoT technology and efficient extraction equipment contribute to creating, and maintaining, clean air
Companies want to focus on production, and their core business. They are rarely ever experts on filters, extraction equipment, or other clean air products. And with the right solutions in place, nor do they have to be.
Particulate filter inspections may be few and far between, as accessing these filters can be time-consuming and physically difficult. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology makes the need for regular physical filter inspections a thing of the past. Having a filter performance monitoring system in place makes receiving data about your filters easy and convenient. The system’s software provides you with the data, and analyses of it, facilitating maintenance planning and helping you identify potential problems. Nederman’s contribution in this field is called Nederman Insight.
Efficient dust and fume extraction equipment makes a significant difference in work environments where dangerous particulates generate and spread easily, such as grinding or welding stations. Source capture technology means that these particulates can be collected right where and when they emerge. This can be done in several ways, depending on the application: on-torch extraction, extraction arms, downdraft tables, canopy hoods and backdraft hoods, for example.
Clean air may not seem revolutionary, but it has the potential to be
Using smart filters and highly efficient extraction equipment makes clean air the industrial norm it ought to be. That, in turn, means improved workplace safety, contributing to a sustainable environment, and ensuring that your company complies with modern legislation.
Accelerating product development, not least due to Industry 4.0 and the Internet of things, will make air filtration even more efficient in the future. We can also expect clean air solutions to expand from individual applications to extensive service packages, where all matters related to air quality, emissions and pollution could be managed through an encompassing solution for an entire factory, workshop or production plant. The concept of industrial air quality is about to change significantly, and we are currently merely at the outset of this development.
If you have any questions about how best to ensure clean air in your industrial workplace, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. At Nederman, we have over 75 years of experience in this area, and we are eager to contribute with our knowledge. Our motto is: Protecting people, planet and production from the harmful effects of industrial processes. You can find out more about the work we do by reading other articles here at the Nederman Knowledge Center.