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Save on fuss, collect the dust

Published by
World Cement,

Steve Duncan, C&W DustTech, explains how effective dust collection can improve bottom-line performance, worker safety, and local air quality.

The cement industry is experiencing a boom thanks to the United States’ US$1 trillion ‘Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act’ passed by the Senate in 2021. But just like other essential materials, the cement industry faces the same challenges impacting the bottom line: price increases, supply chain disruptions, and labour shortages.

With the rising cost of cement, staying profitable in this environment requires that cement and concrete producers find every opportunity to maximise value. Though long perceived as a necessary expense in a production facility, a high-performing dust collection system can make a major impact on a cement producer’s bottom line. This is due to the fact that dust collection technologies play a pivotal role in helping cement producers reduce waste, increase efficiency and create cleaner operations that lead to a better, safer world.

Whether looking for a new dust collector to upgrade a pre-existing mill or terminal to increase performance, or installing an entirely new system to meet environmental requirements, this article explains how the right dust collection system can improve a plant’s bottom-line performance and drive meaningful change in its operation.

Understanding the risks of fugitive dust

Particularly in heavy industries, such as ready-mix, concrete, cement production, and mining, abrasive dust poses several inherent concerns that impact bottom-line performance.

These include:

All dust presents the risk of inhalation that can impact a worker’s lungs, heart, respiratory system, and more.

Not being compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), and Mine Safety and Health Association (MSHA) standards and regulations can lead to fines and a potential shutdown.

Dust settles onto floors, machinery, workspaces and more. This impacts machine performance, requires additional maintenance hours, increases the risk of falls, and limits visibility.

Some dust can pose a combustion or explosion risk, putting both employees and operations in danger.

Escaped dust emissions can potentially harm the surrounding community, negatively impacting a company’s relationships with neighbours and its reputation.

Employee satisfaction will suffer, and turnover will increase, with employees not seeing a clear and visible commitment to their health and safety.

Bottom-line benefits of a customised dust collector

Taking the time to design a dust collection system that is customised to its application – including a properly sized unit, filter media, airflow, and setup – can have a positive impact on a producer’s bottom line. In an environment where companies are looking to preserve profits amongst rising labour and equipment costs, an investment in a dust collection system can lead to long-term benefits that can eliminate the risk of hidden costs, and often turn them into a cost advantage.

These benefits can include:

  • Reduced operational and facility maintenance costs.
  • Increased production efficiencies.
  • Minimised employee safety risks – especially from harmful effects of silica dust.
  • Healthier work environments.
  • Preserved product integrity and company reputation.
  • Maximised production uptime.
  • Improved employee morale.
  • Enhanced equipment performance and longevity.
  • Eliminated monetary fines from regulatory bodies.
  • Increased customer confidence in the company’s environmental and social focus.

Additionally, a properly engineered system can collect reusable materials to eliminate unnecessary scrap, decrease material costs and drive efficiencies throughout the production process.

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