The sensor industry has many devices to monitor air quality and detect volatile organic compounds. Why should embedded developers and manufacturers care? Leveraging these air quality sensor systems can help facilitate proper ventilation during electronics production. This can optimize the production process. Here are some specific and compelling reasons why a manufacturing plant specializing in electronics should be well-ventilated.
1. Ventilation Can Reduce the COVID-19 Threat to the Electronics Manufacturer Workforce
There’s a well-established link between individual and community health. Imagine if a person gets sick while caring for a family member who has a highly contagious illness. That individual could unknowingly spread germs to everyone on their work shift or while visiting crowded public places — like grocery stores and schools — even before feeling sick.
That’s one of the many reasons public health officials have recommended wearing masks during much of the COVID-19 pandemic and still advise at-risk individuals to consider doing so. However, as researchers learn more about how people can live with the virus as safely as possible, they frequently recommend ventilation as part of an all-encompassing strategy. Electronics manufacturers in Shenzhen, China recently had to halt production due to outbreaks in the area. However, any preventive measures might avoid such consequences.
The guidance for proper ventilation in industrial settings includes increasing the outdoor air supply to 100% or the maximum allowable by the specific system. Another tip is to set the system to perform six to 12 air changes per hour, enabling a purge of more than 99% within 30-60 minutes.
Since that advice is for all industrial environments, an electronics manufacturer should consider the particular needs associated with a facility’s production requirements. For example, efforts to maintain the proper ventilation should account for any clean-room necessities established with an electronics factory.
Having the right equipment to keep a production facility operating smoothly is vital. Decision makers should consider having stocks of other protective measures like masks and hand sanitizers. Similarly, it’s advisable to look at the non-manufacturing-related areas in the building. Could keeping windows open in the plant’s cafeteria help people avoid COVID-19 exposure during breaks?
2. Proper Ventilation Can Minimize Dust Explosions
Keeping an electronics factory sufficiently ventilated is critical in preventing combustible dust incidents. Specially designed vents open once reaching a preset burst pressure, allowing combustion gasses to escape a confined space and enter the atmosphere.
Some of the most widely used explosion-prevention vents feature plastic film placed between stainless-steel sheets with slots or holes cut into them. Usually, the vents open once the pressure reaches 1 to 1.5 PSI.
Such vents are essential parts of a dust-management strategy, but decision makers must also look for the right equipment to capture the particles. A dust collector’s hood is the particle entry point. However, designing a dust-collection system means examining factors like velocity and positioning so the equipment meets or exceeds expectations.
Statistics from 2021 indicate that 83% of dust explosions that year caused injuries. Deaths also occurred, but at a lower rate. Moreover, property damage is a frequent consequence when dust triggers blasts. Exploring and evaluating ventilation and dust-mitigation efforts makes good business sense if an electronics manufacturer wants to stay competitive and able to fulfill customers’ orders while keeping the workforce safe.
3. The Right Equipment Can Reduce Occupational Risks
Besides the COVID-19-related threats that can disrupt electronics production, specific industry processes arguably expose workers to more dangers than employees in other sectors face. Ensuring the areas posing the most significant threats have proper ventilation can reduce the likelihood of negative health consequences for workers. However, employees should also take other precautions, such as wearing their roles’ recommended personal protective equipment.
One investigation of health threats associated with power cable manufacturing showed evidence of formaldehyde in the area of the plant where plastic extrusion occurs. The researchers stressed that the occupational exposure limits could become too high due to various factors. Plus, people can still experience symptoms when the OEL stays at levels considered normal.
Maintaining proper ventilation with the right equipment is a proactive way to stop employees from experiencing adverse short or long-term problems from their work. Other people researching threats associated with electronics production pointed out that solvents vaporize at room temperature. Local exhaust ventilation can help control their effects.
Inadequate ventilation can cause workers to experience issues ranging from dizziness to drowsiness. Some substances can also burn the nose and throat linings. If people have prolonged exposure with few or no mitigation measures, they’re at an increased risk of complications like organ damage or delivering children who have congenital disabilities.
4. Ventilation Supports Quality Control
An essential part of electronics-manufacturer success involves reducing the factors that could cause quality control issues. If dust and other contaminants enter the manufacturing process, those particles could interfere with an electronics component’s performance.
Measures to maintain proper ventilation typically align with the requirements needed to operate a clean room that meets the standards for electronics production. A recently opened SINBON Electronics plant in Taiwan includes ISO Class Four and Five clean rooms. Executives also invested in numerous automated technologies like automated mobile robots and industrial robotic arms. Leaders believe such technologies and the establishment of on-site clean rooms will help the company remain competitive and meet its clients’ needs.
Fulfilling the requirements for different clean-room classes requires an all-encompassing effort that includes considering the ventilation system’s design and functionality. However, once people verify that the ventilation setup meets or exceeds expectations, there’s still more to do.
Training people to follow the proper procedures in a clean room is essential. Decision makers should set a schedule for testing to ensure contaminant levels remain below acceptable levels. Keeping the ventilation system’s components well-maintained is also vital in making an electronics factory operate without issues. Unexpected parts failures could shut down or slow processes, but preventive or predictive maintenance plans can reduce such events.
Ventilation Improvements Need an Ongoing Commitment
These four areas highlight why people who manage or own electronics-manufacturing facilities cannot afford to overlook the importance of ventilation. Keeping the facility well-ventilated and pinpointing the riskiest areas will help employees stay safer while allowing the factory to achieve consistently high-quality levels.
|Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist who enjoys discovering how the IoT is impacting different industries. Emily is editor in chief of Revolutionized – an online magazine exploring trends in science, technology and industry. Subscribe to her newsletter to keep up with the latest.|
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