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The Industrial Vacuum Revolution

Today's industrial vacuum cleaning systems -- capable of picking up material as heavy as bowling balls or as fine as mist -- are now far more sophisticated than their brethren, the common shop vacuum. These powerful and sophisticated vacuum cleaning systems are becoming an integral part of industrial processes for reclamation of production material, maintaining and cleaning critical production equipment to reduce downtime, and extraordinary "housekeeping" such as removal of hazardous waste or material too heavy to be handled safely by human labor.

For many manufacturers and processors, industrial vacuum cleaners are now being completely integrated into production and process systems and are quickly becoming a key component of critical strategic issues that range from productivity to environmental safety and worker health.

For many manufacturers and processors, industrial vacuum cleaners are now being completely integrated into production and process systems and are quickly becoming a key component of critical strategic issues that range from productivity to environmental safety and worker health.

 

 

 

 

Yet, as sophisticated as today's vacuum cleaning systems are, a surprising number of companies still use ordinary "shop" vacuums purchased from the local building supply. Even when used for ordinary housekeeping functions, these throwaway vacuums are expensive to operate, noisy and inefficient. Some companies spend literally tens of thousands of dollars on shop vacuums that quickly find their way into the trash heap.

Of course, the proper selection of an industrial vacuum cleaning system is based primarily on the application. In some cases small air and electric powered drum- style units will suffice, while others require large electric and diesel powered units for multiple users and filtration systems capable of capturing particles that are invisible to the naked eye.

Some applications require sophisticated customized vacuum cleaner installations. For other applications, compact, off-the-shelf vacuum systems are perfectly adequate when replacing crude or unnecessarily hazardous cleaning methods, such as the use of compressed air hoses for blowing debris.

Whether the applications involve caustic materials, hazardous waste, potentially explosive situations, extremely fine particles, harsh environments -- or all of the above -- the requirement can usually be met with pre-engineered vacuums, accessories and control panels.

 

 

 

 

"The users of industrial vacuum cleaning systems may assume they need a custom, one-of-a-kind solution when their application actually calls for a pre-engineered product," says David Kennedy, Sales Manager for the Industrial Vacuum Systems division of VAC-U-MAX, Belleville, NJ. "In other words, most applications require standard equipment that offers the option capabilities to best fit their application."

According to Kennedy, industrial hygiene is an important function that requires effective vacuum cleaning systems. There are increasing concerns among workers, labor unions and OSHA about the quality of the plant environment.

In addition, vacuum cleaner filtration systems must be capable of completely removing hazardous materials and even everyday dust from the workplace. Vacuum systems must have appropriate power, in many instances capable of picking up heavy production residue, returning such material to the production process. At the same time, vacuum systems should be designed so that noise hazards are minimized, either by dampening system noise or configuring the system to minimize worker exposure to high noise levels. In most cases, these safety issues are best addressed by a collaborative effort between the industrial customer and highly experienced vendors such as VAC-U-MAX.

Continuous-Duty Vacuum Cleaner

 

 

Industrial vacuum cleaning systems are also frequently used as a means to clean machine tools and other manufacturing equipment. However, according to Kennedy it is not uncommon for manufacturers to incur thousands of hours of downtime each year using manual or other outmoded methods to clean machine tools and automated production equipment. He cites a manufacturer of jet engines as a good example of where productivity gains and capital equipment savings are dramatic.

"The company uses a $3 million waterjet cutting machine tool in its manufacturing operations. It used to take a full backbreaking week to remove the wet abrasive using shovels. We were able to reduce the cleanup time to less than two days with our vacuum cleaning equipment, enabling the company to pick up substantial operating time and produce more engine parts, and avoid any back injuries," says Kennedy.

Sump Cleaner

 

 

"We're trying to get away from using compressed air to clean devices and components," says Joe Thomas, Golden Grain Technical Services Manager. "When you use compressed air hoses to clean equipment, you don't have control of the debris. Our VAC-U-MAX units are a lot cleaner and much easier to maintain, and they help us to clean very specific areas."

Thomas says he also considered user friendliness in his evaluation of vacuum cleaning systems. "We wanted a system that operators could understand very quickly. And we also wanted to be sure it didn't present any safety risks."

Industrial vacuum cleaners range from small air -- and electric -- powered drum-style units to large electric and diesel units. Centralized units can support fixed piping networks for general plant housekeeping or spill recovery. Options include continuous pulse filter cleaning, HEPA filter for hazardous materials, and a large variety of filter media. VAC-U-MAX provides material handling choices for collected materials and offers electrical components for all area classifications, and stainless steel construction when required by application.

Vacuums designed specifically for manufacturing and metalworking include liquid recovery, wet/dry electric drum top, continuous duty, and sump cleaners.

Wet/Dry Electric Drum Top Vacuum Cleaner

 

 

According to VAC-U-MAX Marketing Director Doan Pendleton, their product line covers all applications except hospitals and commercial facilities. The company occasionally provides demo equipment for application testing and is capable of performing tests on samples of customer materials at specialized lab facilities.

"With all the productivity and safety issues that are associated with industrial vacuum systems today, our users view their vacuum cleaning systems as capital equipment," explains David Kennedy. "We have geared our manufacturing and marketing programs accordingly."

As with the evaluation and purchase of other capital equipment, VAC-U-MAX users want their vacuum cleaning systems to fit their operations like custom systems, yet also wish to avoid paying custom prices. Standard VAC-U-MAX equipment can run from less than $1,000 for small installations, to more than $100,000 for highly customized ones. Whether their applications involve caustic materials, hazardous waste, potentially explosive situations, extremely fine particles, harsh environments -- or all of the above -- their requirement can usually be met with pre-engineered vacuums, accessories and control panels.

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VAC-U-MAX

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