Amway was experiencing problems in capturing fugitive dust generated during a powdered detergent mixing operation at its Ada, Michigan manufacturing facility. “The 20-year-old bag-and-cage style dust collector serving this process was leaking, and the twice-yearly replacement of the pleated bag elements was one of the least favorite maintenance jobs in the plant,” reports Karle Iberle, a manufacturing engineer at Amway. “In seeking to replace the old equipment, we looked for a unit that would combine high filtration efficiency with low maintenance and optimum safety for our workers,” he notes. The selection of a Gold Series® cartridge dust collector manufactured by Camfil Farr Air Pollution Control (APC) has met these goals while also yielding a dramatic reduction in compressed air usage.

“Filter change-out on the old collector typically took 5-6 hours and required two or three men to do the job,” reports Iberle. “Our maintenance workers had to be fully suited in protective clothing to enter the collector and replace the 64 filter elements. We also had to fill out paperwork every time to comply with OSHA permitting requirements for confined space entry.”

Equipment described

In August 2009, Burke Sales & Engineering, Inc., a Camfil Farr APC representative from Belleville, Michigan, visited Amway with a Gold Series® dust collector on a demonstration trailer. “The demo unit provides plant managers and engineers with a first-hand look at this unique cartridge collection technology. Features include rugged heavy-duty construction and a compact, user-friendly design that allows easy access to the filter cartridges for tool-free change-out,” says Brandon Dohn of Burke Sales & Engineering.

Because the Gold Series unit packs so much filtering capacity into a small footprint, sizing calculations determined that 10 filter elements would do the job of 64. The GS10 model selected by Amway is equipped with 10 HemiPleat® filter cartridges which feature a patented “open pleat” configuration that is a departure from the pleating technology used for most dust collector filters. Open-pleat spacing allows better utilization of the media pack, resulting in better airflow through the cartridges and more efficient release of the dust during pulse cleaning. HemiPleat filters typically experience greatly extended service life and lower pressure drop compared to other types of dust collection filters as a result.

Iberle knew from past experience that spun bond polyester filtration media is effective in capturing the detergent dust, which is moisture-laden from the mixing operation and is so fine that it is sometimes almost like smoke. He therefore specified a 100% spun bond media for the pleated HemiPleat filter cartridges. Use of this oleophobic (i.e., oil and water repellent) media prevents dust from clogging the filters and also allows cartridges to be washed and re-used.

In reviewing Amway’s dust collection requirements, the project team wanted to make sure the new collector would meet stringent new combustible dust safety requirements from NFPA and OSHA. Under the new requirements, dust collectors must be equipped with an explosion venting or explosion suppression device unless the dust being handled is known to be inert. Camfil Farr APC commissioned explosibility testing of a dust sample from the process and determined that the dust was considered to be slightly combustible, probably due to the surfactant loading characteristic of the powdered detergent. To prevent the chance of an explosion in the dust collector, they equipped it with an explosion vent manufactured in accordance with the latest NFPA standards.

Amway started up the new Gold Series collector in December 2009. Sized for 5,000 cfm and 9” of static pressure w.g., the unit was designed for use with the existing fan and ductwork, reducing capital expenditure costs while also simplifying permitting requirements.

Maintenance, compressed air savings

Eight months after installation, the cartridge dust collector has been trouble-free and is still running with the original set of filters. “We typically change filters in fall and spring, and sometimes more often if required: The usual sequence is to take out the filters on Friday, wash them down, allow them to dry over the weekend and reinstall on Monday morning,” Iberle explains. “However, the HemiPleat filters are clean after eight months of operation, and they are still doing their job with no increase in pressure differential – so we will probably continue to extend the maintenance cycle and let pressure drop dictate when it is time to take out the filters.

“When that does happen, we expect the filter change-out will not take more than an hour – a huge time savings compared to the previous equipment,” he adds. “The filters slide in and out of the collector, so our workers can quickly and safely perform this task from outside the unit – which also eliminates the need for confined space entry paperwork. It’s a big improvement from a maintenance standpoint, with projected labor savings of $1,500 per filter change.”

Compressed air usage – the other major area of improvement – has been favorably impacted not only by the open-pleat design of the filters but also by the use of an electronic device, the FDC Controller, which reliably and efficiently controls the pulse-cleaning cycle. “This controller allows true ‘on-demand’ cleaning: The compressed air cleaning system is activated only when needed to pulse dust off the filter surfaces – about 30 minutes per 8-hour shift, instead of firing constantly as it did before,” states Iberle. “We are saving an estimated 90 percent in compressed air costs, amounting to nearly $600 per year.”

The collector also has a pyramid-style hopper equipped with a custom mounting bracket and vibrator that aid in material flow. A special round discharge flange with a bull-nosed slide gate also ensures efficient discharge of material from the bottom of the hopper.

Amway is one of the world’s largest direct selling companies, with hundreds of high-quality products in the areas of nutrition, wellness, beauty and home. Ada, Michigan-based Amway Corp. (www.amway.com)is a unit of parent company Alticor Inc., whose other holdings include Access Business Group LLC and Alticor Corporate Enterprises.

Camfil Farr Air Pollution Control (APC) is a leading producer of dust and fume collectors to clean up industrial processes. For more information, contact Camfil Farr APC at (800) 479-6801 or (870) 933-8048 or visit www.farrapc.com.