Toyo Seat Invests in New Air Filtration System for Plant
Five years ago Toyo Seat Programs Planning Manager Ken Swanstrom was nervous when he walked down the hall with a purchase requisition to buy a new air filtration system for a new welding line at the Imlay City, Michigan plant.
Toyo Seat had added various air filtration systems as the plant grew, but they were still seeing smoke in the plant and some of their fume collectors had caught fire. Management made the decision to renew its commitment to air filtration by making the investment needed to capture all fumes, smoke, reduce the risk of fires, and improve employee safety.
“I was going out on a limb and there were a lot of people watching me to see if I made the right decision,” Swanstrom said of his decision to use RoboVent™ air filtration products from Great Lakes Air Systems.
Five years later Toyo Seat management and Swanstrom are sure the decision to invest in improving air filtration was a good one.
Air quality has improved by four to five times inside the plant and Tim Dufort, Plant Superintendent, credits cleaner air for having a positive effect on employee motivation, absenteeism and productivity. Dufort says customers have also noticed cleaner air in the plant. “We have people visit here and say: ‘This is a welding shop?’” Dufort said.
Highlights of the air sampling results taken after the RoboVent air filtration system was installed are:
- Airborne arsenic concentrations ranged from less than 0.001 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) to 0.00028 mg/m3. The airborne arsenic concentrations measured at the facility ranged from approximately 50 -100 times lower than the 8-hour time weighted average PEL of 0.01 mg/m3 established by MIOSHA.
- Airborne concentrations of particulate matter/oil fume ranged from 0.36 mg/m3 to 2.0 mg/m3. The airborne particulate/oil fume concentrations measured at the facility ranged from approximately two to ten times lower than the 8-hour time weighted average PEL of 5 mg/m3 established by MIOSHA for respirable particulate matter and oil mist.
- Airborne concentrations of welding fume ranged from 0.36 mg/m3 to 2.0 mg/m3. The airborne welding fume concentrations measured at the facility ranged from approximately two to ten times lower than the 8-hour weighted average PEL of 5 mg/m3 established by MIOSHA for welding fumes.
- Airborne concentrations of mercury vapor ranged from 0.00074 mg/m3 to 0.0008 mg/m3. The mercury vapor concentrations measured at the facility were approximately sixty times lower than the 8-hour weighted average PEL of 0.05 mg/m3 established by MIOSHA for mercury vapor.
Toyo Seat is a tier two manufacturer of seat parts including seat frames, seat backs and recliner mechanisms for a variety of auto manufacturers. Toyo Seat uses a variety of welding processes including 70 welding robots.
Conserving floor space was a huge issue for Toyo Seat as they looked at air filtration systems. “We said we wanted floor space conserved and (Great Lakes) came up with the FloorSaver system,” Swanstrom said of the RoboVent™ air filtration system that mounts on top of a robotic welding cell and makes no footprint in the plant. In the RoboVent floor saver unit, the collection unit is mounted above the welding cell. The collection unit consists of a housing with a blower, motor, silencer, filter cartridges and a unique compressed air pulsing system to clean the filters.
The RoboVent collection unit uses a patented filtration process in which air flows in a downward path. This is unique to the RoboVent product and provides more efficient air cleaning. As the collection unit receives air from the hood, it immediately shifts the airflow 90 degrees downward through the filter elements where the air is cleaned. This causes separation and deposition of the larger, heavier smoke and welding dust particles, which reduces the load on the filter cartridges.
The down flow of air within the collection unit reduces air turbulence and virtually eliminates re-entrainment, or re-blowing dust within the collection unit that has already been cleaned off of the filters, back onto the filters. Re-entrainment is the primary cause of short filter life.
The RoboVent units use vertical filters, which are more efficient and have a much longer filter life than the horizontal filters used in most air filtration units. Vertical filters allow collected dust and debris to shed off of the filter and fall directly down (with the direction of the RoboVent’s airflow) into the containment or collection tray when the filters are pulsed by the filter cleaning system.
Using horizontal filters is very inefficient, according to John Reid, president of Great Lakes Air Systems. “We’ve found that dirt and debris tends to fall off only the bottom two-thirds of a horizontal filter, rendering the top of the filter ineffective as it becomes clogged with debris,” he said. “This results in a 30-40 percent loss in filter area and a substantial reduction in filter life.”
The RoboVent has a proprietary filter cleaning system to keep filters clean and extend filter life. Each time the RoboVent unit shuts down, the automatic cleaning system sends a pulse of compressed air to blow debris off of the filters, keeping them clean. The debris falls downward (in the same direction as the downward airflow) into the collection tray, where it is later removed by maintenance personnel.
Toyo Seat’s investment in air filtration and the RoboVent™ systems have met the expectations of management, and proven to have a positive effect on working conditions as well as protecting the environment.