© fotolia.com/martinseb, Gernot Walter

Air cleaner: Sucking it away

Air cleaners from ISI Indus­triepro­dukte GmbH keep the air pure around machining centers.

The chips fly when modern machine tools are at work, and the cooling lubri­cants they use are a source of aerosols, oil mist and vapors that can endanger the health of the employees who work with them. To keep that from happening, machine tools have air filters that safely extract emis­sions and suspended partic­u­late matter to protect the health of the people around them.

A leading manu­fac­turer of such filter units is ISI Indus­triepro­dukte GmbH from the town of Buch­holz in the German state of Rhineland-Palati­nate. The company has made a name for itself over the decades while steadily improving its prod­ucts. Like the rest of the sector, in 2013 its manage­ment faced the chal­lenge of designing its filter systems to conform with the newly intro­duced ErP Direc­tive.

Improving instead of merely adjusting

The simplest approach seemed obvious enough, as Guido Vostell, sales manager at ISI Vertriebs GmbH, recalls: “At first we simply wanted to replace the existing AC blowers in our filters with more effi­cient blowers — like our competi­tors. But while searching for suit­able prod­ucts, we came across ebm-papst and real­ized that this forced modi­fi­ca­tion was a big oppor­tu­nity for us if we actively shaped it instead of just trying to do the minimum to satisfy the stan­dard.” So ISI found out more about EC fans. They not only promised energy consump­tion consid­er­ably below the usual levels, but also offered other attrac­tive advan­tages for ISI. “We noticed quickly that we could imple­ment nearly all of the extra bene­fits offered by the EC fans from ebm-papst as bene­fits in our product,” says Vostell.

„We noticed quickly that we could imple­ment nearly all of the extra bene­fits offered by the EC fans from ebm-papst as bene­fits in our product.”

Guido Vostell, sales manager at ISI Vertriebs GmbH

The first posi­tive effect already showed in the redesign of the air filters. Since the newly installed EC fans are very compact, ISI was able to make the entire air filter smaller, saving space in the machines in which the final product is used. Another big benefit that the EC fans can realize in the air filters is their precise control­la­bility through their entire speed range. Vostell explains how his customers benefit: “Espe­cially big OEMs who install our air filters can now inte­grate fan control completely in their machine control systems. Then the air filter adjusts its air perfor­mance auto­mat­i­cally to the step currently being performed by the machine. If more pollu­tants are being gener­ated, it sucks harder; when the machine is not working so hard, fewer pollu­tants arise and the filter runs more slowly. That wouldn’t have worked so easily with AC fans.” This control­la­bility also means a longer service life for the installed filters since they don’t have to work with maximum filter surface loading when it isn’t needed.

Energy costs cut in half

Since the aim of the new gener­a­tion of air filters was compli­ance with stricter guide­lines, the high effi­ciency of the fans natu­rally played the biggest role. On average, the energy costs for the air filters with EC fans are more than 50 percent lower than those of their prede­ces­sors. “For just one machine, that’s a differ­ence of several hundred euros per year,” says Vostell. “When an entire building is full of machines, it really pays off.” The savings are so high because the power consump­tion is approx­i­mately propor­tional to the cube of the speed. That means that half the speed means only about an eighth of the power consump­tion. The energy savings become espe­cially notice­able in partial-load oper­a­tion since the effi­ciency of the EC motors remains at a high level.

A pleasant side effect of the high effi­ciency is that the fans bring little extra heat into the building and make work there more toler­able in the summer. During all seasons, the low noise emis­sion of the EC fans is notice­able. And thanks to their smooth oper­a­tion, they cause signif­i­cantly fewer vibra­tions than conven­tional fans. That’s espe­cially impor­tant for preci­sion machines that need to work as free as possible from nega­tive external effects.

Today ISI uses EC fans from ebm-papst in almost all of its air filter designs. “The details of the appli­ca­tion don’t really matter; the EC prod­ucts show their advan­tages every­where,” says Vostell. “And we’re ready for the future with them because we still haven’t maxi­mized the possi­bil­i­ties for increased effi­ciency offered by control­la­bility combined with sensors. We see more poten­tial there to make even better prod­ucts for our customers.”

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