Industrial vacuum cleaners offer cleanup and air purifying assistance to operators in industrial applications like woodworking, metalworking, and other processes that create a constant flow of debris. They step in where commercial vacuums, which operate at lower level than industrial vacuums, just won’t cut it.
Industrial vacuum cleaners are common in a wide range of applications, including construction, commercial custodial, allergy relief and air quality improvement, industrial manufacturing, food and beverage, healthcare, furniture manufacturing, disaster relief/home reclamation, aerospace, and the automotive industry.
Industrial vacuums are the descendants of the earliest manual vacuum cleaners, which were invented in the 1860s. Daniel Hess designed the first vacuum cleaner to generate suction using bellows as a suction unit and a rotating brush. He called his 1860 invention a carpet sweeper. Thirty-some years later, John S. Thurman patented the first powered vacuum. His model type worked more like a powered broom that a vacuum cleaner as we understand it today; it blew dust instead of sucking it up. Also, it was gasoline powered and it was so large that operators had to move it around on a horse-drawn carriage.
Early vacuums were large and clumsy and fairly inefficient. Nevertheless, by the early 1900s, they were a staple of wealthy homes. In 1905, Walter Griffiths invented the first so-called “domestic” vacuum. Just one year later, a man named James B. Kirby put his first vacuum, the “Domestic Cyclone,” on the market. His models did quite well, and he eventually founded the Kirby Company.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, manufacturers worked hard at redesigning vacuum cleaners so that they could be more practical and more people would buy them. One of the most important contributors to this cause was Henry Dreyfuss, an industrial designer working on the behalf of the Hoover Company, known before 1922 as the Electric Suction Sweeper Company. Dreyfuss made vacuum cleaners much more lightweight and appealing. He was even able to include a signal that lit up when the bag was full. Despite innovations like this, the upright vacuum cleaner did not become popular with middle-class households until after the post-World War II boom.
Manufacturers began using industrial vacuum cleaners during the latter half of the 20th century, when technology had finally advanced enough to allow it. One of the earliest industrial vacuum cleaners was the wet dry vac, which lets users vacuum both wet and dry areas. This allowed manufacturers to start more efficiently and effectively cleaning large spills and large sections of dirty air. As the years have gone on, industrial vacuum cleaners have gotten more diverse and more capable. Today, the industrial vacuum cleaner market is thriving. Some of things design engineers are focused on for the future of vacuum cleaners include greater efficiency, environmental friendliness/sustainability, increased ease of use, and greater suction power.
How It Works
Vacuums can be configured to pick up almost anything; fine powders, abrasives, explosive media, litter, non-free flowing media, metalworking chips, toxic media, pet hair, coolant, oil mist, and welding fumes are all fair game. Of course, they vary by design. For example, vacuums designed to pick up wood chips differs in design from one that vacuums fluid waste.
Commercial vacuum cleaners may be used for similar purposes. However, these types of cleaning equipment are characterized less by efficiency and are not used in heavy duty cleaning processes as much. More often, they are sought out for their economy price and for use in light duty cleaning processes.
Small vacuum cleaners and portable vacuum cleaners can be designed for industrial use, but they are mainly used in commercial contexts in less demanding applications.
Canister vacuums are a great example of a portable vacuum type. Canister vacuums consist of an outer shell, usually made from stainless steel or plastic. They are lightweight and easy to carry.
Continuous duty vacuums are built to operate 24 hours a day with limited interruption; in settings where dangerous debris is created regularly, explosion proof vacuums may be necessary to reduce the risk of fire or other dangers.
HEPA vacuum cleaners are industrial vacuum cleaners equipped with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, sometimes called ultra-fine air filters. With HEPA filters acting as their second line of defense, HEPA vacuums capture even the most minute particles. Often, they are put to use on manufacturing floors to help filter workspace air while vacuuming. They are also popular in the food industry, where they can help workers sanitize and clean equipment and production lines.
Auto vacuums, some of which can be wet dry vacuum cleaners, are high-capacity, specialized vacuums used in the cleaning of vehicles. They may be stationary or portable, and they may feature removable attachments, such as crevice tools, for easy interior cleaning. Most often, you see this type of vacuum cleaner next to a car wash.
Central vacuum systems allow for the collection of debris throughout a building by central vacuums that connect to built-in vacuuming duct work. The motor and dirt filtration system of central vacuum systems are usually mounted near the ducts, to which they are connected. They also have additional outlets dispersed around the building in which they are installed. Workers make them work by attaching extensions like tubing, hoses, and preseparators. They are most common in building maintenance applications and in some industrial settings.
Explosion proof vacuums are vacuums specially designed to clean up materials at risk for explosion, such as combustible dust or flammable liquid.
Industrial vacuums, depending on their design, can come with a lot of parts. Most of these vacuum parts, aside from the filter, are made from stainless steel or plastic. Common industrial vacuum components include air pumps, hoses, brushes, controls (on and off switches, remote controls, etc.), a power source, filters, and a dirt receptacle.
Air pumps, like centrifugal fans, create the partial vacuum that vacuum cleaners need in order to suck up debris and contaminants. Hoses are important connections that make it possible for users to expand their reach. Brushes help vacuum users clean hard to reach areas.
There is a myriad of reasons that vacuum cleaners can be the perfect industrial cleaning tools. First, vacuums are an excellent means of collecting liquid and solid waste industrial materials for reuse. They don’t damage the material, and specialized filters can be designed to minimize the number of unwanted materials like dust or dirt collected by accident. After being collected, the waste materials can be cleaned if necessary and then reprocessed for future use.
Second, unlike sweepers, they don’t kick up dust, which in some cases can be hazardous. Also, their use is minimally labor intensive. An added benefit of using vacuums to clean workspaces is that they can be fitted with HEPA filters. In environments where a high-volume of waste shavings or dust are created, HEPA filter vacuums can remove the large particles as well as fine particulates that degrade workspace air quality.
Design and Customization
When designing an industrial vacuuming system, vacuum cleaner manufacturers consider design aspects such as power source, filter material, dirt storage units, and airflow design. Let’s go over each of those now in a little more detail.
Manufacturers must decide if your vacuum will be centrally powered, powered using an outlet, or battery-powered. This has a lot to do with whether you require portability or not.
Manufacturers select filter material based on the type of material your vacuum will be picking up (solid material, liquid material, dirt, dust, hazardous, etc.) and the level of filtering you require. Some filters, for example, can only pick up dry materials. Others can only pick up wet materials, and still others can pick up both. In addition, some filters can only capture larger particles, while others, such as HEPA filters, can catch much finer particulates. Some, like water filters, stop dust from recirculating.
Dirt Storage Units
Manufacturers must decide the best system of dirt disposal for your vacuum cleaner. They may design a system with a reusable or disposable bag, or they may create a vacuum that works using the cyclonic separation principle.
Vacuum airflow is the velocity of the suctioning air stream used by a vacuum. The more suction you require, the greater the air pressure the vacuum motor must induce.
Safety and Compliance Standards
Depending on your industry and location, your vacuum cleaners will need to meet different safety and compliance standards. All industrial vacuum cleaners used in the United States, for example, must meet OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards. Also, any vacuum to be used in a potentially explosive environment must be explosion-proof. In the European Union, explosion-proof vacuum cleaners must be certified per the regulations of the ATEX directive. This EU directive explains 1) the requirements of equipment to be used within a hazardous area, and 2) the way in which you must maintain that environment in order to keep it safe. In the EU, working environments are divided into ATEX zones per atmospheric conditions. If you will be using your vacuum cleaners within the EU, you will want to make sure you and your supplier are on the same page concerning your vacuum zone ATEX.
In addition to safety and compliance standards like these, your industrial vacuum cleaner must meet those standards chosen by your industry. Examples include FDA standards (food and beverage; medical), Mil-Specs (military) and USDA standards (agriculture, forestry and food). Make sure you know the standards to which your industrial vacuum cleaners must adhere before you make any purchases. Do so by checking with your industry leaders.
Things to Consider
To find the right industrial vacuum cleaner for your application, you need to find the right manufacturer. We believe that that manufacturer is among those we have listed on this page. All the companies we have listed are experienced, trustworthy, and known for their high-quality work. Check out their individual profiles, which are wedged in between these info chunks, to learn more about each of them. Before you do that, though, we recommend you compile a list of your specifications. This list will not only help you focus your search, but also help you have fruitful conversations with your potential suppliers. Make sure to jot down details such as your budget, your power requirements, the type of materials you intend to vacuum, how often you plan to vacuum, your portability requirements, your standard requirements, the size of your space, your delivery preferences, and your post-delivery support preferences.
Once you have written down your specifications, it’s time to get started on your hunt. Browse the vacuum manufacturers listed on this page and check out their websites if you’d like as well. Pick out three or four to whom you’d like to speak about your application, then contact each of them individually. Discuss your application at length, and then compare and contrast your conversations. Pinpoint which manufacturer is the right one for you, based on their services, and then get started on your vacuum order. Happy hunting!