Jul 29

Preventing Exposure to Silica Dust

Silica DustCrystalline silica, often referred to simply as “silica,” is an important industrial mineral that is found in stone, soil and sand, as well as in concrete, brick, mortar and a number of other materials. Prolonged exposure to silica dust, produced while drilling these materials, can lead to illnesses, particularly silicosis and even lung issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, at least 1.7 million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica in a variety of industries and occupations, including construction, sandblasting and mining. Processes traditionally associated with high rates of silicosis include sandblasting, sand-casting foundry operations, mining, cement cutting, masonry work and granite cutting, as these processes frequently generate silica dust.

Although silicosis caused by exposure to silica dust can’t be cured, it can be prevented.

While there are multiple methods to minimize silica dust in the workplace, HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter industrial vacuum cleaners are often preferred because they can completely collect and retain silica dust without dispersing it back into the environment.

In addition to general cleaning to remove dust accumulations on exposed surfaces, HEPA industrial vacuums can be used in a couple other ways to keep silica exposure limits to a minimum.

For example, consider using vacuum-assisted power tools in conjunction with HEPA-filter industrial vacuums, integrating the vacuum hose into the power tool to quickly and easily suck up dust and debris while the operator simultaneously drills or sands. Another example is to use industrial vacuums to sanitize worker clothes, removing excess silica debris from clothes and uniforms, perhaps and positioning portable industrial vacuum units at the exits of silica work areas.

A HEPA filter industrial vacuum cleaner can be customized to meet these demands, and manufacturers should view the addition of a quality HEPA vacuum as an investment to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

Jul 22

The Need to Be Clean in Food Production

The Need to Be Clean in Food ProductionThe food and beverage industry recalled about 8.5 million units of products in the first quarterof 2013. Based on analysis of data from the first quarter, extraneous material was the single largest cause of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-requested recalls during the period, accounting for more than one in four recalls (28 percent). Undeclared allergens were the second most frequent cause of recalls reported by the USDA, marking an important reminder to food companies how crucial it is to manage food ingredients well.

Even with food safety and quality standards in place, cross-contamination exposure remains if the right industrial vacuum isn’t being used. By using the right food-processing vacuum, it will prevent the spread of pathogens, otherwise distributed using brooms, mops, rags, and compressed air – even inadequately filtered vacuums. This will ultimately protect food products from bacteria, allergens and other material that is not safe.

The Need to Be Clean in Food ProductionOf course, industrial vacuums come in many different forms to satisfy specific applications for the food industry. Here are a few industrial vacuum features to look for in the maintenance needs of the food industry:

  • HEPA filters to create contaminate-free exhaust and prevent allergens and bacteria from recirculating in the air
  • Explosion-proof models with built-in safety measures like explosion-proof motors, anti-static filters and non-sparking outer shells
  • Food-grade accessories such as color-coded nozzles and heat-resistant wands, nozzles and filters that can withstand high temperatures

Ultimately, developing a strong cleaning and maintenance program with the right industrial vacuum can make a significant difference in the safety required in food processing.

May 28

The Advantages of a Vacuum System Over a Vacuum Truck

Excess materials, fine particulates, liquids, dirt and dust all are a constant factor in manufacturing plants, work sites, food production facilities, and other commercial locations. Over time, these elements become both a safety hazard and tripping or slipping hazards. As well, there are often accidental spills that require quick clean up in order to keep production moving.

Industrial vacuums systems ensure timely material pickupImmediately vacuuming these materials is the best way to keep work areas clean and safe. Whether to rent a vacuum truck rather than make the investment in a permanent facility-based vacuum system is the choice that management faces. So what are the differences between the two options?

  1. Timing of Clean-up: More than likely a plant or facility should be cleaned daily or at least each week in order to stay on top of the amount of excess grime, dust, and dirt that accumulates. With an in-plant vacuum system, it is both easy and cost effective to clean up excess materials, spilled liquids, and other grime on a routine schedule. Renting a vacuum truck would require it to be on site when clean up is needed. And having it on a regular basis would drive the rental costs up. Also in emergency situations, it would take time to locate, rent, ship, and then use a vacuum truck to clean up accidental spills or large accumulations of materials. However, with an in-house vacuum system, clean up could happen immediately.
  2. Location and Accessibility: With a plant system that is either mobile or has a network of vacuum piping throughout the facility, clean-up equipment can be located close to the actual source of dirt, dust and scrap materials. With a vacuum truck, the length of hoses may not accommodate the desired length needed to reach the most egregious amounts of refuse.
  3. Equipment Training: With an in-house vacuum system, training will come from the manufacturer and since the equipment will always be onsite, additional training will only be necessary for new employees. With a rental vacuum truck, you may never know what truck or vacuum system that you will get. Therefore, before clean-up can begin, equipment training or reading of manuals will be required before work can be start – adding to overall clean-up time and truck rental costs.
  4. Dirty facilities decrease production and increase hazardsVolume of Clean-up: A productive factory or manufacturing facility will always be producing scrap materials, production dust, regular dirt and other liquids or dry materials that need to be cleaned on a consistent basis in order to keep the shop environment safe and healthy. This volume of material could easily overwhelm even the largest rental vacuum trucks in one visit, let alone several visits, especially if utilized over longer periods of time. An in-house vacuum system would be configured to accommodate the current and anticipated volume of garbagelike material and easily clean it up on either a daily or weekly basis.
  5. Cost of Equipment: Although renting a vacuum truck in the short term will be less costly than installing a vacuum system, over the long term, this installed system would pay for itself as well as provide assurance that the company is adhering to OSHA laws regarding clean-up of combustible dust and materials. In general, an in-house system will provide for an ongoing clean and safe work environment for employees and customers.

Commercial and industrial cleaning is a critical operational aspect for any company. The safety and cleanliness of the facilities and the equipment used creates a safe workplace for all.

Jan 22

6 Core Ideas about Innovation

innovationThe future can be unpredictable, particularly where business processes and disruptive technologies collide. In a recent series of 30 interviews with CIOs and chief innovation officers from such enterprises as Dell, SAP and AT&T, all respondents said they felt they are facing “once-in-a-lifetime change” and that “the changes would continue at pace.”

A new paper, titled The Fluid Core: How Technology Is Creating A New Hierarchy of Need and How Smart Companies Are Responding, aims to explain both the nature of these changes and how leading enterprises are responding to them.

Forbes recently laid out the six core findings from these interviews with transformational leaders:

  1. The Fluid Core – Smart companies are now looking beyond the rigid “core competency,” instead defining a fluid core that allows them to pursue new markets and opportunities.
  2. A new service infrastructure – This is where cloud and mobile are a new enabling infrastructure, enabling rapid new service development and accelerating a number of new innovation paradigm shifts.
  3. Radical adjacency – Defined as the pursuit of new products and new markets, “radical adjacency” occurs when adventurous companies step outside their core competency or core markets to innovate or grow in adjacent markets.
  4. Personal innovation drivers – Human innovation drivers tend to be left out when we think of what actually drives innovation, but individuals’ desire to do things differently can make an impact today, disrupting systems and organizational expectations.
  5. Externalization – A global and transformative labor ecosystem has emerged, and it requires companies to strategize around where and how to secure skills and creativity, and for how long. In this new environment, companies outsource functions that are central to their identity and success.
  6. Strategic options portfolios – Based on research published in The Elastic Enterprise, which the Forbes writer co-authored, this is the idea that companies must plan a wide range of innovative initiatives knowing that a chunk of them won’t be enacted.

For more information on industrial vacuum filters, including how to select the right media for the material you are picking up, please contact us or visit the DEMARCO Vacuum Accessories page.

Dec 20

Secrets of Ancient Roman Concrete Revealed – Industrial Vacuums Still Required

Secrets of Ancient Roman Concrete RevealedAfter analyzing the mineral components of a concrete breakwater sample dating back to 37 B.C., researchers have discovered that the secret to superior Roman concrete – one of the world’s most durable construction materials – lies in its unique mineral formulation and production technique.

“The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms,” according to an announcement of the findings. “The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated – incorporating water molecules into its structure – and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.”

Roman Concrete ColumnsToday’s concrete and the one that’s been in use for nearly 200 years, doesn’t utilize the Roman mixture of lime-and-ash that made their formula a unique and stable binder.

It’s not that modern concrete from today’s cement isn’t durable. In fact, it’s so good that, according to International Cement Review, we used 3,312 Mt in 2010, up 10.4% from the year before. Over 2011 and 2012, global consumption of cement rose to 3,585 Mt and 3,736 Mt, respectively.

The issue, as the researchers’ findings indicate, is that cement manufacturing accounts for 7% of the carbon dioxide that industry puts into the air. Using much less lime and making it from limestone heated at a much lower temperature, the Romans required less fuel. Scientists believe that if the cement industry adopted these Roman materials and techniques it could revolutionize the building industry by producing a sturdier, less CO2-intensive concrete.

Of course, should we adopt the materials and techniques utilized by the ancient Romans, efficient industrial vacuum systems will remain a key element in cement manufacturing, especially when the world uses billions of tons of the material each year.

Cement and dust, or more appropriately particulate matter, can easily invade machinery and equipment, leading to machinery malfunctions and breakdowns. At the least, this causes downtime, an inefficient product line, and more repairs. Worse, failing to keep a work environment clean can lead to poor employee health and lower quality of the final product without contamination. Industrial vacuum systems are critical to keeping a plant clean, thereby reclaiming product while meeting health and safety needs.