The key problems faced within the ceramics production industry
1. Dust exposure
Airborne dust concentration at various sections of the production process tends to be higher in the ceramics industry compared to other manufacturing industries. Case studies have found that the departments with highest dust concentrations tend to be grinding and glaze spray.
Airborne dust particles that contain silica (the dioxide of silicon) cause very high exposure risks that can affect the respiratory system of workers in ceramic factories. Factory inspections suggest that approximately 80% of airborne dust particles within the industry are of respirable size – creating all kinds of health & safety and legality issues.
The greatest occupational health hazard within ceramic production facilities is silicosis which can then lead to silico tuberculosis, to which both are correlated with the respirable dust and free silica content in the working environment. Workers who have been exposed for more than 20 years have shown lung disorders and damaged respiratory functioning due to dust not being cleared away properly.
2. Poor quality raw materials
The two most important inputs within the ceramic industry are raw materials used and fuel. The key issue with raw materials used in ceramics is that the quality of the goods tend to be inferior, due to a high proportion of manufacturers being in the small scale sector and not having the money to invest.
In addition to this, coal is one of the major sources of fuel for the ceramics industry. To economise on the purchase of coal, some manufacturers opt for coal that is more affordable and consequently poorer quality. When coal is of poor quality, it is needed in increased quantities in order to produce optimal levels of fuel. Several times, the coal supplied to the industry is of lower grade and is dusty and powdery creating particulate build-up in equipment and the air.
When coal is of poor quality, it is needed in increased quantities in order to produce fuel. Increased use of coal causes an influx in dust particles and fumes, impacting on the already existing health concerns of workers furthermore and further heightening the environmental impact.
3. Creates environmental hazards
Due to the nature of the industry, it comes as no surprise that the manufacture of ceramics creates pollution that contributes to environmental degradation – especially with the consumption of fuel. Air pollution is the most hazardous for the environment, with many ceramic manufacturing facilities being reported to have poor, unhygienic conditions both inside and outside the plants.
Air pollution arising out of ceramic production is in the form of suspended dust particles, aerosol particles, smoke and unburnt particles of fossil fuels, paint and glaze spray particles and hot air.
In many units, dusty working environment have been found and also unbearable thermal conditions in the kiln department. In colour, dyes and paint sections within ceramics plants, it has been found that hazardous chemical spray particles in the air affect the ceramics workers health.
Plant designs including sanitary facilities and exhaust systems must be improved for increased production, employee safety and environmental welfare which is where Primasonics Solutions can help.
4. Unplanned plant shutdowns
Ceramics plants are also hit by emergency closures every once in a while to either tackle smog, or for necessary deep cleaning of the facilities to tackle material build-up. In such periods, plants require shutdown maintenance work which puts the facility out of business for a little while – resulting in loss of revenue and potentially costing companies thousands.
To prevent unexpected plant shutdown, regular cleaning of the ceramics plant must take place. By doing so, it prevents material build-up (especially dust exposure) to not only make the working environment safer for staff and the environment, but to boost productivity of the production facility.