Tiny and innocently it dances in the air. So small that usually we aren’t aware that it is everywhere around us. We are talking about dust, a by-product of life and sometimes so fine it is not visible to the naked eye.
Because it is nearly invisible, most of us don’t see much harm in it. Sure, we take our measures when it accumulates and gets visible. But dust is far more dangerous when it roams around freely or settles itself unnoticed, after which it begins a destroying mission.
In this article, we will focus on the risks, causes and solutions of dust in production environments.
Risks and consequences of dust in production environments
Did you know that dust and micro-particles are accountable for high costs in global industries and health care*? During production of everyday products like glass, paper, packaging board or printed materials, dust accounts for:
- Health problems caused by inhaling dust and micro-particles
- Poor product quality
- Not complying with quality and safety requirements, for instance, OSHA, FDA or EHS
- Waste in the shape of rejected materials
- Abrasive wear of machinery by small particles (often harder than steel)
- Machine downtime for cleaning purposes
Do you still feel the same about that innocent looking dust particle caught in a ray of sunlight?
Or do you worry that dust already is eating at your production, brand image and health?
When is dust going to be a problem?
Dust is a normal part of everyday life and of industry life as well. But some production processes generate more dust than others. This can be due to the substrate being produced or converted, or to the production process itself.
Paper, for instance, which contains lots of fibres, discharges a great deal of dust and trim during transformation to final product. Meanwhile, static electricity generated by movement of the substrate attracts these particles like a magnet. (Read more on the effects of dust in paper production.)
As a result, dust and particles cling to the final product. And this leads to the aforementioned problems, like poor printing quality, complaining customers and health problems.
Which measures are available to reduce the effects of dust?
Companies that are aware of dust issues use detection and quality control systems. This enables them to remove inferior products, an effective way to prevent quality complaints.
However, detection doesn’t clear the air, so dust keeps whirling around, harming material, machinery and health.
Methods to remove dust are cleaning by means of brushes or sticky rollers, so-called contact web cleaners. If applied in the right spot, they are very effective to prevent inclusions of dust and particles. Yet, this method isn’t applicable in every situation. Fragile materials, for example, tissue, will be easily damaged by it. Another issue can be the requirement of consumables. Furthermore, it doesn’t remove dust from the production environment. Therefore, it will not solve dust issues that account for machine wear and health problems.
Effective ways to eliminate dust
It is clear that detection and inspection alone won’t solve dust problems. Nor is only removing dust that already clings to the surface of your product in final stages of production.
But of course, we didn’t write this article to get you nightmares about giant dust particles attacking you and then leave you in despair. Effective solutions are available. First of all, let’s discuss what the right solution has to do and what it definitely must not.
An effective dust elimination method isn’t just about profitable production. Along with superior cleaning capabilities, it contributes to a safe and healthy working environment, prevents waste and wear. However, dust elimination methods that trade dust and contamination for new problems are not what you need!
Dust elimination solutions: a checklist
To help you decide between the available methods to eliminate dust in production environments, we assembled a checklist of quality demands.
On the one hand, the ideal dust elimination solution needs to:
- Safeguard clean and healthy working conditions
- Protect your machinery against premature wear
- Prevent waste in the shape of rejected products
- Help you produce clean and safe materials used in daily life
- Minimise the need for costly or harmful chemical cleaning agents
On the other hand, it’s just as important that the cleaning method you choose doesn’t pose new health and environmental issues. That is why it is important to consider the following qualities before you decide on a dust elimination solution:
- Substrate to be cleaned: is the cleaning method effective for the substrate and converting processes? Will it not damage the surface?
- Energy consumption: avoid solutions with unnecessarily high energy consumption
- Noise levels: minimize noise exposure, because it can cause stress, hearing loss or tinnitus
- Dust extraction method: prevent recontamination (blowing back extracted dust into your production environment)
- Use of spare parts or consumables: avoid waste and costs caused by difficult to recycle consumables
- Maintenance: prevent maintenance from causing extra production stops and adding workload to your employees
Our solution for effective dust elimination
To meet the strict requirements of modern production and printing techniques, we developed the HE-web cleaning series. Based on nearly 40 years of experience in developing web cleaning solutions and static elimination, it meets all the demands of our checklist.
By applying the insights we gained, as well as the latest technologies, the HE web cleaning series effectively removes dust in your production environment. As a result, it helps you to produce clean, beautiful and safe products that are ready for printing, packaging or further converting.
Rewards of dust elimination in production environments
As a conclusion, deciding on the cleaning method that is right for your production asks for careful preparation. But all of it will be worthwhile, because a thorough solution that eliminates dust before it hurts can save you tons of time and money!
If you have questions or want to discuss your production process or thoughts, feel free to contact us, we love to hear from you.