Safe Choice Education
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Interact with Nilfisk's Safe Choice guide to learn more about choosing the right industrial vacuum for food processing
and manufacturing facilities. Simply rollover each block for more details and information.
Learn more about our Safe Choice Commitment.
Certified Explosion-Proof Vacuum vs. Standard Industrial Vacuum Cleaner
OSHA ranks food production as one of the most “at risk” industries for potential dust fires and explosions.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) defines combustible dust as any finely divided solid material that is 420 microns or smaller in diameter and presents a fire or explosion hazard when dispersed and ignited in air. In its Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (NEP), OSHA defines combustible dust as a “particulate solid that presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations, regardless of particle size or shape.”
If your facility handles flour, starch, grain or other food product dusts that are rated by the National Electric Code (NEC), you should have your dust tested for combustibility.
Private laboratories or OSHA can test and rate material for combustibility and classification. The authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) will make the final decision as to whether the dust is combustible, and whether it requires an “explosion-proof/dust ignition-proof” vacuum. Not all facilities handling combustible dust need an explosion-proof vacuum.
For more detailed information, visit www.explosionproof-vacuum.com.
Wet/Dry Collection vs. Dry Collection
Even if you may only need to collect small amounts of liquids, you need to select a wet/dry vacuum.
A wet/dry vacuum has a grounded bypass motor to avoid electrical hazards. Dry-only vacuums are not equipped with features that enable the collection of liquids. Attempting to collect liquid with a dry-only vacuum can ruin the machine and cause serious injury. For best results and a longer, more efficient vacuum life, choose a wet/dry vacuum with a stainless steel or polyethylene tank to prevent corrosion and an automatic shut-off valve to prevent overfilling.
Electric Explosion-Proof Vacuum vs. Pneumatic Hazardous Location Vacuum
Air-powered or pneumatic vacuums are a great choice for both continuous and intermittent use when you have enough compressed air available at your plant. In order for a pneumatic vacuum to achieve the same performance level as an electric vacuum, the compressor must supply a specified volume of air at a specific pressure rating through an appropriate diameter air line.
Many facilities choose a pneumatic vacuum because they require less upfront investment and long-term maintenance costs. Pneumatic vacuums deliver extended periods of virtually maintenance-free performance because there are no moving parts in the venturi (the counterpart to the fan/blower motor in an electric machine).
And finally, safety is often a key reason for selecting a pneumatic vacuum – for example, if the use of electricity might cause a serious hazard for operators (around water or other liquids).
Single-Phase vs. Three-Phase
The duration of usage will help you begin to choose the right vacuum. Production lines that operate on a scheduled cleaning regimen will benefit from using a single-phase vacuum. For example, if the line must be cleaned once a day, a single-phase vacuum will most likely be sufficient.
For continuous use or 24/7 operations, consider a three-phase vacuum as it’s the most economical configuration. Compared to a single-phase motor, a three-phase unit will operate with a higher efficiency over longer durations.
Dust Collector vs. Industrial Vacuum
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but dust collectors and vacuums are very different machines. A dust collector has high airflow (cfm) but low waterlift, or suction. It can effectively collect airborne dust but cannot pick up dust from the floor.
An industrial vacuum cleaner has a better balance of airflow and waterlift to provide the performance required to collect debris, dust, etc. from floors, machinery, overhead beams and walls.
Focus on high-performance industrial vacuums that are designed for use in a pharmaceutical environment. If the vacuum is to be used in a cleanroom environment, it must meet demanding standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 14644-1 sets guidelines for air cleanliness determined by the permissible particle size and levels of concentration allowed. Compliance with this standard requires a designated cleanroom vacuum with a HEPA and/or ULPA filter.