Lean & Modular Industrial Air Filtration
In the face of new economic uncertainties, it may be time for manufacturers to turn to their “lean” roots to apply small ideas to solve seemingly enormous problems. Perhaps this starts with asking questions such as, “What can we do to eliminate inefficiencies associated with potentially-hazardous machining, sanding, coating/painting, and metal cutting tasks?” Modular, industrial air filtration may provide a lean answer.
Modular, industrial air filtration can reduce efficiency wastes by:
- Preventing workflow bottlenecks from dust contamination that can cause surface prep and coating rework
- Eliminating costly air makeup, excessive HVAC filter changes, and disruptions to one-piece flows
- Protecting electronics and other valuable equipment from the corrosive fine layers of soot, dust, and oil film
- Speeding dry times for coating and painting by keeping dry clean air inside each work area and damaging contaminants outside
By combining retractable enclosures with vented and recirculating air filtration systems, this clean air technology can save valuable production time, especially when moving large workpieces to specific manufacturing cells for sanding and coating processes.
Large Workpiece Lean Challenges
Waiting and transport, two of the “deadly wastes” of lean, are often associated with sanding or painting large industrial workpieces, such as an electric turbine or a jet engine. Most hard-wall paint booths don’t allow for crane access, so manufacturers are often forced to transport large pieces by dolly to move them into a separate bay. This type of movement significantly slows work in progress (WIP) and requires excessive man-hours and material handling.
For space-constrained facilities, all other workflows are often postponed until sanding, painting, or other messy maintenance tasks are completed, due to airborne hazards, such as:
- Carcinogenic hexavalent chromium particulates produced by sanding and coating aluminum components, or by welding stainless steel
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and isocyanates produced by painting, which are especially prevalent in aerospace manufacturing
- Toxic dust and oil mist produced by metal grinding and welding that can compromise visibility and facility equipment
Facility workflows cannot resume until sanding and painting processes are complete and the indoor facility is deemed safe and cleared of hazardous indoor air particulates.
Manufacturers can eliminate these efficiency “wastes” by bringing clean air to each large workpiece, via modular enclosures and industrial air filtration that can be engineered to align with lean best practices.
Leaner, Cleaner Maintenance Workstations
Seemingly simple maintenance tasks can pose logistical challenges that don’t play well with lean best practices. For example, loading and unloading large drums of manufacturing materials may inhibit other workflows, especially if the drums contain hazardous powders or dust. Retractable clean rooms can enable workers to safely load and unload more than one container at a time. Each flexible enclosure can be collapsed and moved to another workstation as needed.
These modular, flexible clean rooms are also ideal for increasing railcar maintenance efficiency. Many railcar manufacturers still rely on dedicated clean rooms for cleaning and painting, which usually involves toxic cleaning chemicals or fume-producing paints. Usually the railcars and components have to be dismantled and moved into dedicated rooms for cleaning to safeguard employees.
In contrast, a modular cleanroom enclosure can enable workers to simply move down the railcar to finish day-to-day cleaning or painting processes, without pausing between cars or having to stop to dismantle and move components. If required, the enclosures can be engineered with large enough openings to drive railcars inside for final maintenance inspections and touch-up painting.
This lean approach to maintenance saves significant man-hours, freeing employees to focus on more value-adding tasks, rather than spending their time moving components to and from dedicated clean rooms.
Leaner Dual-Purpose Workstations
As noted above, dedicated sanding or painting booths aren’t always logistically viable for lean-minded manufacturers who don’t want to waste valuable floor space. In addition to potential safety hazards, coating a single jet engine can require significant material handling and labor resources to prevent particulates from contaminating sensitive aircraft components. This is why many of these tasks are often outsourced, even though it means risking quality control.
Industrial air filtration can be engineered to accommodate sanding, coating and painting tasks in a single modular enclosure. Using a six-stage filtration system with two exhaust units, employees can perform these multiple processes in the same booth by simply changing out the filters specific to the tasks being performed in the enclosure.
Vented multi-process booths provide lean alternatives for working with electric turbines that are especially vulnerable to moisture or oil contamination associated with transporting the large pieces into designated sanding or painting areas. A multi-process clean air enclosure can be used to prep a turbine for painting. When sanding the workpiece, the six-stage filtration system captures 99.4% of particulates and vents the dust to the outside. After a quick filter change, painting can begin without dust contamination.
A single clean air solution combines maintenance processes like these so more floor space is readily available for other operations while sanding and painting is not taking place. This innovative filtration technology can even be customized to work with existing facility HVAC systems, for additional lean efficiency savings.
Lean, Safe Clean Air Solutions
Going lean won’t address every economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. But, when paired with cost-effective clean air solutions, lean best practices can dramatically reduce manufacturing and maintenance inefficiencies and overhead expenses.
Duroair engineers industrial air filtration systems that enable leaner approaches to tasks such as:
- Bridge metal fabrication, by bringing clean air to each bridge component and workpiece
- Pipe manufacturing, via multi-process clean rooms for prepping, coating, and painting in a single location
- Submarine component maintenance, for unimpeded crane access and more efficient material handling
By bringing clean air to each workpiece, Duroair’s filtration technology can save significant man-hours and floor space, and prevent production bottlenecks.
Plus, each Duroair custom-engineered solution can be tailored for specific cellular workflows. Our clean air experts can provide an in-depth evaluation of your hangar or facility to create an industrial air filtration system that will meet your budget and work with your lean expectations. Contact our industrial clean air experts today for a free consultation.