Electronics manufacturers need properly ventilated plants — otherwise, they risk decreased manufacturing effectiveness and product quality and can even expose their workers to harmful particulate matter.
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure that an electronics manufacturing plant has the proper ventilation, as well as methods that plant managers can use to improve this ventilation if it's not up to the task.
Why electronics manufacturers need proper ventilation
Any manufacturing process is bound to generate dust and particulate matter. But if left to build up, dust can pose huge issues for manufacturers — slowing down the manufacturing process, potentially damaging machines, and presenting health risks for employees. Particulate dust generated by the manufacturing process can also be combustible, and some of the most severe industrial accidents of the past few years have been the result of combustible dust. Between 2006 and 2017, there were 111 combustible dust incidents reported in the United States, resulting in 66 worker deaths and more than 300 injuries.
In addition to all the risks usually posed by dust, electronic manufacturers are particularly vulnerable due to how easily dust can damage sensitive electronics.
The sensitive nature of the electronics means that for electronics manufacturers, dust can present problems beyond the safety risks. On top of the usual problems caused, dust can also severely damage products and slow down manufacturing processes. Dust is known to have a serious impact on the reliability of printed circuit assemblies. Dust particles can also carry oil, water, and organic materials, which can all decrease the lifespan of electronics before they've even left the assembly line.
Fortunately, much of this damage can be mitigated with a little planning and the right equipment. Having the proper ventilation system can help keep workers safe and ensure that shipped products are the highest possible quality they can be.
Tips for high-quality ventilation
When planning a plant's ventilation system, there are certain factors that plant managers should keep in mind.
Depending on the type of manufacturing processes your plant is performing, you may need a ventilation system equipped to filter out high volumes of dust. In cases like these, you can select a ventilation system with automatic purging filters, which are designed to clear their filters automatically. For lower volumes of dust, scheduled manual cleaning of dust filters may be enough.
The proper ventilation system will need to be equipped for the specific size of your plant. If the ventilation system is not designed to ventilate the entire manufacturing space, dust may continue to build up over time.
Standard plant ventilation techniques may not be enough for an electronics manufacturing plant, just due to the sensitive nature of the electronics. Depending on the kinds of dust your processes are producing, you may need specialized dust collection systems to ensure adequate dust removal.
For example, some types of dust — like silica and aluminum dust, which can be created by electronics manufacturing — can damage ventilation systems or create unsafe conditions without the right equipment. Silica dust can be abrasive and damage specific kinds of dry ventilators, while aluminum dust can be flammable, and may need to be held in a specialized dust collection system.
When planning upgrades to your ventilation system, know in advance what types of materials you're working with, the dust most likely to be produced by your plant so that you can install or upgrade to the proper ventilation system. Before committing to a dust removal system, a plant manager should research other ventilation safety tips that might be useful in planning their dust removal system.
You may also want to purchase spare ventilation components once the system is designed and ready to be installed. This can help plant managers ensure that even if filters or other components are damaged, their plant will have a backup available, which can significantly reduce the risk downtime or unsafe working conditions.
Properly ventilating an electronics manufacturing plant
High levels of dust can be harmful to any manufacturing process. Still, the uniquely sensitive nature of electrical devices makes electronics manufacturers especially vulnerable to dust-based product damage — on top of the other dangers posed by dust.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep dust levels low in a manufacturing plant. By installing the proper ventilation, it's possible to reduce the amount of dust in your plant, ensuring little or no dust damage and that the products shipped out are the highest quality possible.