Using gauges to monitor your dust collector's performance
Q: Our dust collection system has gauges that help us monitor things like pressure differential, but how can we use the information obtained from the gauge readings?
Using three simple gauges can allow you to monitor your dust collection system's efficiency. These gauges are a pressure differential gauge (a Magnehelic gauge) that provides information about the amount of energy required to pull air through the collector's bag or cartridge filters while separating dust from the air and depositing it on the filters' dirty side, a Magnehelic gauge that compares the inlet pressure for the system's centrifugal fan to the surrounding atmospheric pressure, and an amp meter that directly measures the fan drive motor's amperage, which is directly proportional to the dust collection system's airflow volume.
Individually, these gauges provide valuable system performance information. But together, the gauges give immediate information on the system's status. This information allows you to verify the system's current operational condition, troubleshoot problems, and plan preventive maintenance. Follow these steps to achieve these goals:
Establish your system's optimal performance level.
Before these three gauges can be of any real use, you must establish a baseline of system performance. This baseline will be the best your system will operate. The best time to establish this set of values is either a few days after starting up the new system or just after changing the filters, when all the ducts are clear and fully operational. (Be aware that even your system's optimal performance level may not meet your needs if the system has been poorly designed.) Be sure to document the values associated with this optimal system performance.
Document the values weekly.
Record the values shown on the three gauges once a week (or more often if the readings change rapidly). This allows you to monitor the system changes over time and associate them with acceptable or unacceptable performance.
With experience, you can use these gauge readings to learn considerably more about your dust collection system's performance and to determine whether and when you need to take corrective action. Your record of weekly gauge readings is also a valuable resource with regulatory organizations and will provide proof that your system complies with applicable combustible dust and other requirements.
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