Dust generated during manufacturing or processing operations has often been considered part and parcel of the business. However, as of late, there has been increased interest and regulation in this field. Not only are regulations tightening, but also they are being enforced more rigorously.
I have spent a sizeable portion of my life in the small town of Whyalla, South Australia. This town had a tinge of red to it due to the years of operations at the local manufacturing operations that spread iron ore dust throughout the town. It used to be accepted as a part of life. But as time marched on, the public grew less tolerant and they have had to do a great deal of work to get their fugitive dust emissions under control.
The efforts to keep the dust under control may seem like a lot of work to keep the public and regulators happy, however, there were some other benefits that contributed to the bottom line.
• Morale and health of the workforce is increased. Nobody likes to work in a dusty environment day in, day out. Not also to mention the detrimental health effects of constantly working in a dusty environment might have on your workforce long term. A happy workforce is generally a productive one.
• Minimisation the downtime due to visibility. Visibility is a big part of operations. Given the right weather and operating conditions and factor in a lack of dust control an area can become so dusty that loaders, trucks and other operational equipment needs to be stopped. Downtime is expensive and the savings made in this area, well and truly paid for the dust control programs and equipment in place.
• Less maintenance on equipment. If you have ever worked on a dusty site you will notice that equipment doesn’t last long. Dust can get it in anywhere and can short electronics, binds up with grease on moving parts or gets into the water through open tanks which then blocks equipment cooling circuits. By minimising dust, equipment is kept cleaner and can last longer keeping down maintenance costs.
• Roads require less maintenance. Roads are a main contributor of dust on a lot of sites. So by building a road properly and utilising the mechanical and chemical methods at its disposal, the company was not only able to negate the dust problem, but made savings because the road held together longer minimising maintenance costs.
• Finished Product is not lost. A great deal of effort is expended to produce product. So why watch it blow away? By looking at methods to reducing dust, the company was able to keep product in its stockpiles thus reducing losses from storage.
• Water efficiency can be gained. By methodically working out a solution to minimising dust generation, water usage for keeping dust down on roads or other operations can be extended and reassigned for use in other parts of the plants.
This is not an exhaustive list of benefits and your circumstances will require a personalised approach.
So if your site is dusty, you don’t need to put up with it. Better still, there could be some real short term and long term gains from reviewing how you control and minimise fugitive dust generation.
If you have any questions about this article or your situation do not hesitate to leave a query via this website or contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org