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What is the “Active Utilization” for Workstations in Your Factory? 90%-100%? Probably Not True.

What is Active Utilization?

Ecogate on-demand dust/fume collection systems make sense only if the active utilization of the workstations is below 100%. That is because if we can close at least 20% of the total drops, we will achieve 50% fan operation savings based on the Fan Law of physics.

But when we ask a plant or shift manager about their workstation utilization, they typically assume that the utilization of their busy machines, especially of CNC machines, is 90 to 100% of the shift time. Were it really so - which usually it isn’t, it would make no sense to use the Ecogate system - for everyone else, it is a no-brainer to install Ecogate Solution.

This assumption is easy to make because the operator may be working with the CNC machine the entire shift time - however, we are looking for a more specific utilization value: the so-called active utilization. By definition, “active utilization” is the only time when dust/fume/mist collection is necessary - if there’s no particle extraction necessary then there’s no reason to waste fan power to extract at that particular workstation.

To look at the “active utilization”, we can subtract the time when the material is loaded or unloaded to the machine, when the machine is programmed, cleaned, maintained, or simply not used. All the times listed are times that the machine is not producing dust (or any other particles) which in turn means it does not require dust extraction. Imagine doing this for every single machine in your factory floor. We can see how quickly big savings can be achievable from day one.

Big Factory Case Study

We recently installed HOBO Motor On/Off data loggers for one week on the busiest workstations at a large woodworking facility producing high-volume furniture. For privacy reasons, we've left out identifying details and are only looking at the values.

Can you guess what the active utilization of these most frequently used machines was? Guessing 80% of shift time? That wouldn't be a bad guess considering that the factory's management team guessed it to be around 90%. The actual average of active utilization of the six busiest machines was 23.9% of the shift. This is data from a big factory with workstations that have huge output. Imagine, how many other factories are guessing wrong and therefore losing money every month - is your factory losing money?


Machine #1