Air Filtration Streamlines Cellular Manufacturing

The Benefits of Using Portable Air Filtration Systems in Cellular Manufacturing

Today's manufacturers need more advanced industrial air filtration solutions to protect the health of their workers and meet compliance standards without sacrificing the health of their bottom line.

The challenge is that manufacturing can be organized in many ways, from the build-in-place methods used for ships to automated assembly lines for cars and electronics, which makes the the process of finding an appropriate solution anything but cookie cutter.

Cellular manufacturing fits somewhere in between these extremes and is a good example of a model that requires customized air filtration solutions to work within its unique production setup and processes.

Cellular Manufacturing in the Marine Industry

In cellular manufacturing, equipment is arranged to minimize the transport distance between successive steps. This allows one-piece-flow, which reduces handling, queuing time, and waste while improving productivity and visibility.

Another advantage is that cells can be reconfigured to suit changing product requirements.

Boat-building and the marine industry offer some excellent illustrations of the different types of manufacturing organization, including cellular, where a conventional approach to air filtration isn’t ideal. Large ships are often built in place, with components and equipment being brought to the site.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, smaller watercraft are built using a combination of methods. Low-volume producers often build in place while larger scale businesses may have some form of production line. This usually entails moving hulls and decks between stations while suspended in cradles from an overhead rail system.

Cellular manufacturing is appropriate for many of the sub-assemblies going into finished boats as well as the overall on-demand nature of these production workflows, many of which include hand-built operations.

The Air Filtration Challenge in Marine Manufacturing

Most pleasure craft today are made from fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP.) This creates strong yet lightweight structures with a high-gloss finish, but also poses air quality challenges.

Airborne particles that land on the gel-coat outer surface will spoil the finished appearance, so clean air is a must during the coating process. Of greater concern, spraying releases toxic VOCs into the atmosphere and cutting/fitting fiberglass puts harmful dust into the air, so workers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and employ other contaminant-reducing work practices that may impact productivity.

Assembly is another step in the process that requires clean air. Whether building electronics or mechanical systems, contamination by small particles can impact performance and reduce overall life of vital equipment.

For all of these challenges, the solution has traditionally been an enclosed environment with clean, filtered air. Historically, that's been accomplished by building dedicated enclosures or rooms, which conflicts with the goals and methods of cellular manufacturing.

Portable Industrial Air Filtration vs. Dedicated Enclosures

In a production line environment such as paint shops, product moves through an environmentally-controlled space. The opposite is the case for cellular manufacturing.

For cellular, flexible air filtration is key. When operations that make dust or fumes are needed, deploying the enclosure over or around the product allows air filtration to integrate with the various cells on the production floor vs. being disruptive to workflow.

Cells are also usually quite compact, so the enclosure needs to take up minimal production space. Also, the cell might need to be rearranged to accommodate a design change, and the clean air solution must have the flexibility to adapt quickly and easily. In such situations, a portable air filtration system can minimize cost and improve productivity by allowing the cells to operate as intended.

Conventional air makeup is another reason why flexibility is key for effective air filtration in cellular manufacturing facilities.

Typically, dedicated extraction systems exhaust to the outside and pull in the make-up from the same, which presents obvious challenges for on-demand manufacturing environments, including the cost of deploying dedicated solutions when multiple production locations might be utilized to produce and finish various workpieces.

An alternative is to use a non-vented air filtration solution. Rather than exhaust one 'lot' of air and draw in another, manufacturers can recirculate air without exhausting contaminants to the outside, which also eliminates capital expenditure on expensive ductwork, eliminates permitting costs, and reduces operating costs through energy savings.

Industrial Air Filtration Without Disruption

For manufacturers in the Marine industry and other industries that organize processes based on cellular principles, a portable air filtration solution from Duroair can help you achieve required contamination control when and where it's needed.

Our flexible solutions work with and not against the on-demand nature of your facility to maximize space utilization while improving production quality, reducing processing times, and helping your facility control capital expense and ongoing operating costs.

For effective industrial air filtration designed for both your work environment and your bottom line, contact Duroair today to engineer a custom air filtration solution.

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