Clearing up the air: All about fume collection in the auto industry

The automotive industry is one of the many air pollution contributors, producing carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, as well as other types of pollution. Activities such as robotic welding create hazardous metal fumes, which need to be collected to the source as close as possible. There’s no reason to threat, though, because the car sector is doing its best to keep the air clean for all of us. To be more precise, the manufacturing processes have been adapted and measures have been taken so as to avoid air quality issues altogether. If you’re curious to find out more, please continue reading. 

Heavy metal emitting from welding fumes 

Welding technology is used to a high degree in the automotive industry. Welding is a simple operation that implies joining two pieces of metal through a blend of temperature, pressure, and metallurgical conditions. Commonly deployed welding methods include but aren’t limited to resistance spot welding, metal inert gas welding, and plasma arc welding. As you can imagine, the list doesn’t end here. What is important to keep in mind is that numerous vehicle body components are joined together using welding technologies. 

As the metal is heated above its boiling point and vapours begin to form dense particles, fumes come to life. Not many know that welding fumes are extremely dangerous. Workers who are exposed to the fumes for a long time risk developing cancer and serious illnesses such as kidney damage. Welding fumes have the power to penetrate the lungs, which isn’t at all good for respiration. Manganese oxide, for instance, one of the many harmful substances resulting from welding, has an irritant effect on the respiratory system. So, there is a risk of pulmonary infection. 

Ventilation is already used in the automotive industry. Fans force the fresh air in, but it has been discovered that they haven’t been capable of diluting the welding fumes. This is due to the fact that the working station comprises an enclosed space. Heavy metal emits from welding fumes in the automotive industry, which in turn has a considerable impact on the life of workers. Millions of people are working under hard circumstances, which is why measures need to be taken to address the situation. 

The solution – extracting welding fumes 

The automotive industry is one of the most important industries in manufacturing. It’s highly competitive and manufacturers deal with more changes than ever. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the Health and Safety Executive has implemented important changes when it comes down to control standards for welding fumes. Welding fumes, as well as allied processes, generate dangerous fumes and gases. Examples include but aren’t limited to iron oxide, aluminium oxide, fluoride, copper oxide, nickel oxide, etc. Consequently, it’s necessary to minimise worker exposure and extract welding fumes. Ventilation systems aren’t enough to reduce air pollution. 

According to the experts at Welding Extraction, automotive manufacturers need to invest in industrial air filtration. This means that they have to update practices to make sure that they reflect the new requirements. Even the smallest increase in air pollution can have drastic consequences. These are the steps involved in fume extraction: 

  1. LEV testing 

The process begins with LEV testing. LEV is an acronym and it stands for local exhaust ventilation. It’s practically a system that is designed to reduce exposure to airborne contaminants. At the end of the analysis, you know for sure if the systems in place meet the necessary safety standards. If workers are exposed to excess levels of hazardous waste, the company knows. 

  1. Installing fume extraction arms 

An extraction arm is a piece of heavy-duty machinery that extracts welding fumes where the airflows are demanded. Generally speaking, they range from 1 metre in length to 10 metres in length. The hoods can be placed and maintained in any configuration. This solution can be deployed in an environment with heavy smoke, vapours, and non-explosive dust. It’s designed for continuous use. 

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-gray-shirt-and-welding-mask-covered-in-welding-smokes-2760344/ 

Attention needs to be paid to the fact that fume extraction arms are meant to work together with industrial-size fume extractors. It has many applications, so the auto industry isn’t the only one that can benefit from such a solution. Examples include manufacturing, laboratory, food and beverage, and construction. 

  1. Opting for portable fume extraction units 

Welding fume extraction can be done with the help of mobile units. These devices are basically vacuum systems that remove and filter the air when it comes to light-duty welding applications. They feature a mechanic or electrostatic filler, so they are versatile solutions. Taking into consideration the proximity of the system to the weld point, it can be concluded that it’s the most effective method for extracting fumes

Final thoughts

Fumes and gases are produced during manufacturing activities, which significantly impact the surrounding environment. There’s nothing more important than clearing up the air. Before designing or implementing a fume extraction system, it’s necessary to measure worker exposure. This evaluation should be carried out by a qualified professional. With proper information, you will know what to do to comply with regulatory requirements. There may be alternatives to some welding processes which can reduce fume generation without compromising on quality.

The bottom line is that companies in the automotive industry have an obligation to install a fume extraction system and to come up with a maintenance strategy to ensure consistent operation. Numerous businesses provide solutions for dust and fumes. Nevertheless, it’s recommended to work with a company that understands the processes, as well as the challenges associated with the car industry. Only an organisation of this type can make the facilities safer and healthier. 

Based on the total number of welding stations at the facility, a centrally located or portable fume extraction system may be suitable. It’s important to take into account the size of the manufacturing facility, not to mention the budget. Efficient systems continue to be developed, so auto companies are able to meet the requirements of the day, not to mention safety standards.

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