← Back

A: Brent Nelson, Donaldson Company, says:

Every manufacturing facility is different, and each owner must make that evaluation, based on return on investment (ROI). However, one purpose for the Internet of Things (IoT) is to monitor and maintain secondary equipment, such as industrial dust collectors.

In most operations, a dust collector helps support your primary process and equipment, although the dust collector doesn’t, by itself, generate revenue. Since maintenance focus is typically on primary machines and equipment, it can be a challenge to devote sufficient time and attention to secondary equipment, like dust collectors. This challenge is compounded by many operations having limited staff.

Furthermore, secondary equipment isn’t usually tied into the plant’s local control system. Thus, the equipment’s performance can go unmonitored, except for periodic visual observations. According to a recent survey my company conducted, nearly half of plant managers said their last thorough dust collector evaluation had occurred at least 3 years ago, or they couldn’t recall the last evaluation.

The consequences of downtime can be significant. In many facilities, unplanned dust collector maintenance requires the entire production line to also shut down during repairs. Depending on plant size, downtime can add up in both lost production as well as the repair costs.

These cost concerns make dust collectors a prime candidate for IoT. Sensors collect data on the equipment’s differential pressure, compressed-air pressure, and other performance indicators, and send the information to the cloud, where raw data is converted into meaningful insights. Users can access the data electronically via a web-based dashboard and check the equipment’s status in nearly real-time.

When certain components start to degrade, the technology generates an alert, and the owner can address the issue before it escalates. With early notice, replacement parts can be ordered in a timely manner and repairs can be scheduled during planned downtime.

Proper maintenance such as timely filter changes or earlier hopper cleaning can help prevent larger problems, assist in optimizing performance, and aid in reducing total dust and fume management costs over time.

IoT connectivity also simplifies the job of plant supervisors. Personnel can receive timely alerts on a mobile device, in addition to emailed equipment performance data over time. For larger enterprises, the IoT can provide a window on dust collectors across multiple locations — all from one laptop — enabling a supervisor to work in a centralized office, on-site, or remotely.

Donaldson Company, Minneapolis, MN, supplies dust collection systems and filters.