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The system, which includes tags attached to filter cloths and readers mounted on a framework that holds the filters, tracks when each filter is installed, when it was replaced and why this was necessary, Valmet says. In this way, the technology provides analytics that help customers monitor the replacement of cloth filters, enabling them to better schedule future filter changes. The system will also help Valmet improve its products, by allowing it to view how well they perform in specific environments and under certain conditions.
Valmet makes a variety of textile-based filters for various industries. The filters are designed to separate solids from liquids or gasses. Organizations such as mining firms, paper producers and energy companies use such filters to remove solids for numerous purposes. Over time, the cloth can become clogged (a process also known as "blinded") or break, requiring that it be replaced by a new, clean filter. These cloths, provided by Valmet, vary in size from 50 square centimeters (7.5 square inches) to large pieces that can measure as much as 100 meters (328 feet) in length and require a crane for installation or removal.
Traditionally, says Sanna Uusitalo, Valmet's product manager, customers must track their own filter cloth consumption. Some cloths need to be replaced every few weeks, she explains, while others could last for more than a year, depending on the application. Determining when a filter will need to be replaced has been an imperfect science — some users try to manually monitor the filters via paper and pen, whereas others simply end up replacing filters when they fail (if they break during the filtering process, for example). The latter method can lead to unnecessary delays in the operations of equipment, which can be costly. On the other hand, companies that simply replace filter cloths on a predetermined schedule could end up replacing them prematurely, resulting in an extra expense.
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