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7 Questions You Should Ask Before Selecting Your Industrial Vacuum Cleaner

Posted on June 14, 2016

Whether you manage a food processing facility, a pharmaceutical plant, or a metalworking shop, an industrial vacuum cleaner will help you streamline your housekeeping and ensure a safe work environment.

Industrial vacuum cleaners are designed for many different applications and environments. Here are seven questions to help you determine which vacuum is right for you.

1. What is the primary application for your vacuum?

Before you start exploring features like capacity or filter types, make sure you have a solid understanding of exactly what you need your vacuum to do.

  • Do you need to clean up powders or dusts?
  • What about liquid spills?
  • Are any of the materials you’re working with hazardous?

The answers to these types of questions will save you time during the selection process by helping you narrow your choices.

2. Do you need to comply with any regulatory standards?

In many industries, like food processing and pharmaceuticals, housekeeping is a regulatory requirement.

If you’re in the food industry and not under the jurisdiction of the USDA, you are probably required to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). USDA-regulated facilities must continue to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) in all of their processes.

For the pharmaceutical industry, the main industry standard is Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs).

Even if you’re outside these industries, you must likely meet the standards issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regarding how to keep your facility clear of combustible dust.

Many of these standards require specific types of industrial vacuum cleaners to be used in different types of locations. If you don’t comply, you could find yourself the recipient of some pretty hefty fines.

3. Will the vacuum be in use continuously or intermittently?

If your vacuum will be used intermittently — for example, your facility is shut down at the end of every day for cleaning — we recommend a single-phase vacuum cleaner powered by a universal motor. These are excellent for general and scheduled cleaning, as well as cleaning around production lines. You can even connect them directly to intermittent-use production equipment to keep dust and waste at a minimum.

If, on the other hand, your vacuum will be used continuously — for example, in conjunction with production equipment that runs 24/7 — we recommend a vacuum cleaner powered by a three-phase regenerative blower. These are more economical, and more energy-efficient, for continuous use.

4. What capacity do you require?

Vacuums aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

For example, our industrial vacuum cleaners can hold anywhere from 3 ¼ to 100 liters. If you buy one too big, you’ll lose out on efficiency. On the other hand, if you buy one too small, you’ll spend more time than you’d like to emptying the tank.

5. What type of filtration do you require?

The ideal filtration system depends on the materials you need to collect as well as the regulatory requirements for your industry.

Industrial applications typically require either HEPA or ULPA filtration:

  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters retain 99.97% of all particles, down to and including 0.3 microns.
  • Ultra-low particulate air (ULPA) filters retain 99.999% of all particles, down to and including 0.12 microns.

Watch a video to learn about Nilfisk’s multi-stage filtration.

6. Do you have any special requirements, such as explosion-proof or anti-static construction?

In hazardous environments, such as those that contain combustible dust, OSHA recommends — and sometimes requires — industrial vacuum cleaners to be explosion-proof.

Certain industries also have special requirements. For example, according to NFPA 61, centralized vacuum systems in food processing facilities must be equipped with static-conducive cleaning tools and static-dissipative hoses. Stainless steel materials are also required in food processing facilities so that vacuums can easily be decontaminated with little to no trace of food residue. In the pharmaceutical industry, vacuums must be GMP-compliant, which means the materials they’re made of must be easy to access for cleaning and decontamination.

7. What type of hoses or accessories do you need?

Finally, the vacuum cleaner itself is the core solution, but it isn’t the entire solution. The right hoses and accessories will ensure you get the most out of your vacuum by making sure you can clean all of your facility’s hard-to-reach areas. For example, cleaning a commercial bakery requires accessories that can stand up to the heat, such as high-temperature hoses that won’t melt or break and high-temperature extension wands that can reach the back of hot ovens.

Also, as we noted in the previous question, some industries have special requirements for the construction of cleaning tools and hoses.

Industrial vacuum cleaners are your facility’s best weapon in the fight against hazardous materials, contamination, and unsafe work environments. Make sure you have the right tools in your corner.

Need help determining your requirements and selecting the right industrial vacuum cleaner? We’re here to help! Contact our team of specialists for information and recommendations.