Compressed air systems are common in many industrial settings, playing a vital role in numerous operational processes. While their primary function revolves around the provision of power for machinery and equipment, there's a critical aspect that often gets overlooked: safety. In our mission to reduce operational costs for our clients, we frequently encounter potentially hazardous situations that require immediate rectification. One such issue is the use of plastic filter bowls without a protective bowl guard.
The Danger of Plastic Filter Bowls
The attached image illustrates the catastrophic failure of a plastic filter bowl that lacked a bowl guard. The scene is a grim reminder of what could happen to an individual standing close to this when it ruptures. As apparent from the shattered remnants, the results could be injurious, if not fatal.
Despite their widespread use, plastic filter bowls carry a set of risks. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) offer clear disclaimers about these risks. They stipulate that polycarbonate bowls should be adequately protected from ultraviolet light, physical impacts, and certain lubricants. These materials can weaken the plastic over time, increasing the risk of failure.
Moreover, some theories suggest that long-term exposure to ultra-dry air might also affect the integrity of some plastics. If a plastic bowl was to shatter under pressure, the fragments could become dangerous projectiles, posing a serious risk to plant personnel.
Advocacy for Metal Bowl Filters
Given these safety concerns, we urge all plants to consider standardizing their compressed air systems with metal bowls or metal bowl guards. These alternatives provide superior resistance to the above-mentioned factors, drastically reducing the risk of a catastrophic failure.
Metal bowls and guards offer a range of benefits over their plastic counterparts. They're resistant to a broader range of chemicals, provide better protection against physical impacts, and are less susceptible to damage from environmental factors like UV radiation. Furthermore, they can withstand higher pressure and temperature ranges, making them more suitable for industrial applications.
The Importance of Regular Inspections
In addition to standardizing on safer materials, it is critical to carry out regular inspections of existing units throughout the facility. Regular inspections can identify potential issues before they escalate into significant problems, protecting the safety of plant personnel and the integrity of the compressed air system.
Inspecting the bowls and guards for signs of wear, damage, or improper installation can prevent unexpected system failures. Simultaneously, these checks ensure the system continues to function at optimal efficiency, helping to maintain operational productivity while minimizing downtime.
Safety should never be an afterthought when it comes to the operation and maintenance of compressed air systems. The failure of a plastic filter bowl is a stark reminder of the potential risks posed by certain common practices. By adopting metal bowl filters and guards, and implementing a regular inspection routine, plants can create a safer environment while ensuring the efficiency and longevity of their compressed air systems. These proactive steps are vital in reducing operational costs while prioritizing the safety of the workforce.