The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the year that has passed, as well as to think about the priorities for the year ahead. With that in mind, let’s ask – and answer – an important question today: “Why are we here?”
To avoid going too deep down too many rabbit holes, let’s ask more specifically, “Why is Ecogate here?”, and leave the rest of the broader question as an exercise for the reader.
Dust collection is needed in any manufacturing process where dust is produced as a byproduct, for reasons including health, safety, and product quality.
Inhaling dust particles has serious negative consequences on human respiratory health, up to and including death. For an overview of these and related issues, this is a good starting place.
Similar health hazards exist with other types of exhaust material in industries including welding, pharmaceuticals, metal manufacturing, food processing, plastics, and many others. Just this March, the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) introduced new rules designed to protect workers from exposure to silica dust, which can scars the lungs and can cause diseases such as silicosis and cancer (learn more).
Another important reason to keep dust collection systems working well is to prevent fires and explosions, which can be deadly. For an overview of this side of the issue, including examples of explosions involving fugitive wood dust led that lead to human deaths, take a look at this OSHA bulletin.
Finally, capturing dust effectively is important to maintain good product finish quality.
OK, so dust collection is important. Why Ecogate? Why do I care if there are intelligent controls on my dust collection system?
Imagine if you could eliminate or reduce the presence of many safety hazards in your work setting improving your work environment, gather important production and utilization data to fine tune your processes and could do it all by saving an average of two thirds the energy you presently use to run your dust collection fans. With Ecogate you can do that and more.
Ecogate System Overview
Ecogate is the world’s most advanced dust collection control system. A sensor is attached to each workstation. When a workstation is in use, its sensor reports this to the Ecogate greenBOX control unit. The greenBOX opens blast gates to active workstations, and closes blast gates to inactive ones. The reduced air volume requirements let the Power Master Variable Frequency Driver slow down the system fan, which decreases the fan’s power consumption. To learn more about how Ecogate works, click here.
How does this help you? Let’s break it down across three categories: People, Planet, and Profit.
First and foremost, Ecogate controls help your dust collection system capture and convey dust more effectively and efficiently in order to keep the work environment cleaner and safer. By closing gates to non-operating machinery, more air volume is available for running machines, which improves suction there on systems that are working near their full capacity.
Our state-of-the-art greenBOX Master systems also monitor air velocity, pressure, and volume in real-time at all drops, to make sure that the air velocity is sufficient to capture all the dust generated at each machine. You can see this real-time air velocity information right on the home screen of our greenBOX Master controller. If you like, you can even access this information remotely from a computer, smart phone, or other device.
Ecogate greenBOX Master
Closing gates to non-operating machinery reduces the air volume the fan needs to move, which lets Ecogate slow the dust collection fan down while still maintaining appropriate air velocities at all working drops. By slowing down the fan, the noise level is significantly reduced inside of the factory. At our installation at Synsor Retail Innovation, we measured the noise level at 8 dB lower after the Ecogate system was installed (read the case study).
This makes a real difference for the comfort of workers on the factory floor, and OSHA will approve, too. Ultimately, greater comfort leads to greater productivity.
By virtue of being completely automated, Ecogate also lets people focus on their work, rather than requiring them to think about dust collection. No longer will workers need to think about starting or stopping the dust collector, or even opening and closing hand-operated blast gates. Instead, they’ll be able to direct their undivided attention to the work at hand, while Ecogate makes sure the dust collection system runs the way it’s supposed to.
Ecogate systems also include secure remote access, meaning authorized personnel are able to check the system status remotely. This has helped some managers avoid going to the factory on a weekend – instead, they were able to get all of the information they needed from the comfort of their home! Of course, because of remote access, Ecogate can also help you resolve any issues with your system immediately. Pick up the phone, and a few seconds later we can see exactly what is happening! For example, we’ve been able to alert some of our customers that their filters need cleaning in this fashion.
By providing suction only at machines that need it at any given point of time, Ecogate can frequently slow down the dust collection system fan. This leads to significant electricity savings – we reduce the dust collection system’s electricity use by 68% on average (see our case studies).
Because you use less electricity, less electricity needs to be generated. The carbon gasses and any pollution associated with generating that electricity are never released into the environment.
Reducing electricity use is not only good for the planet, but it is also cost-effective: it typically costs less to reduce electricity use by 1 kWh through energy efficiency than it costs to generate 1 kWh.
Ecogate is the world’s most energy-efficient dust collection control system, with typical savings of 68% on the electricity used for dust collection. In some instances, Ecogate reduced an entire factory’s electricity bill by over 20% (see our case study on Bernhardt Furniture, where Ecogate reduced the entire factory’s electricity bill by 22%).
Dust Collection System Lifecycle Costs
Through energy savings, the system pays for itself: the typical return-on-investment is between 1 and 3 years, depending on the factory specifics. And these savings continue well after the system has paid for itself! In our analysis of real factories, Ecogate can reduce the total lifecycle cost of a dust collection system by more than 50%.
There are additional financial benefits of running the dust collection system more efficiently: by removing less air from the factory, less air needs to be heated or conditioned before being moved into the factory. This not only reduces electricity use, but also results in a more stable climate inside, which can help maintain product quality.
Similarly, by reducing the amount of air going through your filter on a daily basis, we extend its life. In our experience, installing Ecogate approximately doubles lifetime of the filter.
Finally, Ecogate’s online analytics platform gives our customers an unprecedented view into what is happening in their operation, answering questions such as “What fraction of shift time does each of my machines actually run?” This can inform business decisions, such as whether it is more prudent to buy a new machine or to focus on using an existing one more efficiently.
At Ecogate, our new year’s resolution is to continue working to achieve 100% customer satisfaction: as we take care of you, our customers, you are in turn better able to care of your people, our planet, and your profits. Towards that end, we will continue making products that are energy efficient, simple to use, reliable, and that satisfy our customer’s needs and make them happy.