Introduction to Dust and Fume Collection for Shipbuilding

The shipbuilding industry always follows cyclical trends, and today is no different. Commercial ships aren’t built in a day, and orders take years to fulfill. But the outlook is currently good for shipbuilding, especially beyond 2017. A steady growth in global trade and demand for more efficient and environmentally friendly ships will lead to continued orders for container ships and related vessels. Demand for other ships, such as cruise ships and naval vessels, as well as ship repair services, appears steady.

While most of the growth in the industry is occurring in the Asia-Pacific region, shipbuilding in Latin America and the Middle East is growing, as well. While Europe is currently in a low point, the Netherlands remains a robust producer in the industry, and other European shipbuilders should rebound after 2017.

Short-term challenges in the industry include unpredictable oil prices, which affect orders for tankers, and financial crises, which affect the tourist trade and orders for cruise ships. Changes in military budgets impact shipbuilding, as well, and the number of orders for naval vessels.

Long-term challenges in the industry remain the same: materials costs, labour costs, compliance with environmental standards, and protection of workers from exposure to harmful substances. The costs of materials and labour are unlikely to decrease in the foreseeable future. Complying with manufacturing standards remains challenging but nevertheless essential. Maintaining a clean and safe workplace and good air quality—even in the heaviest welding environments—is more important than ever.

Dust and Fume Collection Challenges in the Shipbuilding  Industry

Any workplace that involves welding or metal-cutting operations faces numerous air quality challenges. As shipbuilders know, the European Union and member states issue standards for air quality in the industry. Failure to comply can carry serious legal and financial liabilities.

Workers’ health is a serious concern, as well. Weld fumes, in particular, are a major inhalation hazard. The high levels of heat involved in welding produce particulates of microscopic size; these particulates are easily inhaled and quickly become dangerous for workers. Substances such as hexavalent chromium travel in weld fumes. This byproduct of welding stainless steel is a known carcinogen and, when inhaled, has been linked to incidences of cancer. Weld fumes carry other toxic substances, as well, such as manganese and beryllium. Exposure to these substances carries serious risks, from major respiratory problems to manganism, a condition with symptoms like Parkinson’s Disease.

Shipbuilding creates serious air quality challenges. Welders often move along large components, making it difficult to capture the weld fumes produced. Constantly moving a fume arm is often impractical, or at the very least inconvenient. Welders, under pressure to meet deadlines, often fail to keep up with fume capture. Another challenging situation is welding in a ship’s hold. This frequently encountered situation makes it very difficult for the welder to capture weld fumes, at least with conventional equipment.

The shipbuilding industry, and many others, faces yet another challenge, today: attracting and retaining skilled workers. Young workers are turning to service sector jobs, rather than manufacturing, and a skills gap has appeared. One objective for employers to set themselves apart and attract the best workers is to maintain a clean and safe workplace. Good air quality is a key component of that.

Solutions for Dust and Fumes in the Shipbuilding Industry

For decades, RoboVent has designed, manufactured and installed the best air filtration equipment in the industry. RoboVent understands the needs of the shipbuilding industry and has a solution for every application. One of our most advanced and applicable products is the Extractor fume gun. This revolutionary fume gun provides unrivaled flexibility and source capture of weld fumes. Much lighter in weight than previous generations of fume guns, the Extractor delivers the highest quality welds while collecting weld fumes efficiently. Welders working in the tightest of spaces or moving along the largest of components are protected by the Extractor’s powerful fume evacuation. Plus, employers can be assured that standards are met, as workers’ exposures are kept to a minimum.

Facilities with a need for a larger collector or a building-wide system are suitable for the Fusion Series Series of collectors. This system is designed to save energy while delivering powerful air filtration. Larger operations can opt for the Grid Configuration. This scaled-up array provides powerful fume and dust collection with a high degree of efficiency. For smaller and lighter applications, RoboVent makes a number of portable collectors.  These offer a range of fume arms or hoods to protect workers and everyone else in a facility.

Fire and explosion threats are minimized with RoboVent’s proprietary solutions, as well. The Delta 3 spark arrestor and the Supprex-200 Fire Suppression System stop fires before they start. These systems protect workers, property and production facilities.

As always, RoboVent guarantees satisfaction. Our manufacturing standards are the highest in the industry, and our warranty is the best in the business.

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