For composite manufacturers, dust is a constant. Whether you make aircraft wings, car fenders, or tennis rackets, chances are if you look around your facility, you’ll see plenty of dust.
Because it’s everywhere, dust can affect many different aspects of your operations, especially if it’s not properly controlled. In that way, controlling your dust is like properly hydrating your body. If you’re hydrated, all of your body systems can function at their peak. If you’re dehydrated, your other systems won’t work well at all.
Let’s look at seven ways dust control can improve your composite manufacturing operations across the board.
1. Reduced risk of cross-contamination
Composites manufacturing is highly sensitive to contamination. Dust that becomes airborne can travel to and interfere with other processes and products. This can quickly increase the size of your scrap pile. By controlling dust at the source, you can ensure that it doesn’t affect what’s happening in other areas of your plant.
2. Improved product quality
In addition to contaminating processes and products, dust also has an immediate and negative impact on how your equipment functions. Dust control will help you keep your equipment working in top shape, which means your products will continue to reflect the quality your company is known for providing.
3. Lower equipment maintenance costs
Over time, if dust is allowed to accumulate, it can cause wear and tear on your equipment. This not only affects product quality, but also increases the cost of maintaining your equipment.
4. Less downtime due to equipment breakdowns
In the worst case scenario, dust accumulation can cause your equipment to break down entirely. This means not only emergency maintenance, which is much more expensive than scheduled maintenance, but you might have to replace the equipment entirely. And, of course, if your equipment breaks down, your production line has to stop, and every minute of downtime equals a dip in your bottom line.
5. Improved compliance
Pretty much all dust in composites manufacturing facilities is combustible. And composites manufacturers are being targeted by OSHA for dust-related violations. By implementing OSHA’s recommended methods for dust control, you can keep your company on your inspector’s good side.
Composites manufacturers also need to be aware of OSHA’s new final rule on exposure to silica dust. Many composite raw materials and molded products contain silica, which can have long-term adverse effects on health. The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) has published a study to help composites manufacturers comply with OSHA requirements. Learn more from Industrial Equipment News and on the ACMA website.
6. Reduced risk of a dust-related fire or explosion
Of course, the main reason to comply with dust standards isn’t just to avoid OSHA penalties. It’s to ensure your entire operation doesn’t go up in smoke. Keeping your dust level below the recommended threshold is the best way to protect your facility against dust-related fires and explosions.
7. Improved worker health and safety
Fires, explosions, and silica are just a few of the dust-related risks to worker health. Many composite manufacturing processes produce other particles small enough to be respirable. Certain types of dust are also slippery, which can lead to falls. Overall, a clean facility is a safe and healthy facility.
Nilfisk offers a variety of solutions to help composites manufacturers control their dust and improve their operations. Learn more here.