Manufacturers and FMCG businesses are being urged to give their laser production lines a health-check to minimise the risk of a process contamination leading to costly unplanned downtime.
BOFA International, a global leader in portable fume and dust extraction systems, says that while the COVID-19 pandemic has rightly concentrated minds on employee safety, effective extraction can also deliver productivity gains that sometimes go unseen.
The ability of BOFA technology to remove 99.997% of laser-generated airborne contaminants at 0.3 microns helps safeguard workplace operating environments for people, but it can also contribute significantly to maintaining equipment in optimal condition – creating a ‘win-win’ for manufacturers.
BOFA research shows that an effective fume and dust extraction system purpose-designed and commissioned for a laser production line will help to reduce dust and particulate contamination, protect sensitive equipment such as laser optics, mitigate the risk of over heating or fire and improve the quality of the finished product, whether cutting, coding or marking. It can also reduce friction and erosion of bearings, motors and running lines, reduce overall machinery wear and tear and remove contaminants and odours from the workplace.
“Particles emitted during laser processes can land on laser optics causing hot spots which damage them leading to increased capital costs and down time, so getting extraction systems specified and configured correctly is vital when it comes to productivity,” says Josh Evans MEng (Hons) IChemE, Applications Engineer, of BOFA.
Without suitable extraction, particulate can diffuse and scatter the beam, which will have a detrimental effect on performance and could result in poor product quality and costly reworking or increased rejects. In addition, when extraneous matter is not correctly extracted it can be deposited on process-critical components and equipment, resulting in unplanned downtime, potentially costly repairs, and/or the replacement of expensive capital equipment.
“With the economic pressure caused by the COVID pandemic, there’s probably not been a more important time for businesses to optimise their return on investment,” says Evans. “The message to laser users is to instigate regular fume and dust extraction health checks to ensure that their systems are not only keeping people safe but are contributing to optimal business output.”
Unexpected downtime can create havoc with production schedules, damage customer relations and hit the bottom line. A tailored extraction system controlled by BOFA’s iQ platform will help operators maintain productivity through features such as independent filter status monitoring and remote diagnostics, leading to improved extraction efficiency and a lower overall cost of ownership.
And because BOFA technology is portable, it captures any potentially harmful airborne particulate at source, in its three-stage filtration system, returning clean air to the workplace, whereas a fixed, centralised system is not only inflexible, it can have a negative impact on the environment by venting harmful contaminants directly into the atmosphere and increasing building heating costs.