Sliding dampers: electric versus pneumatic

The SHUTR Electric, Automated Sliding Dampers are the next generation of sliding dampers. How do they compare to the existing pneumatic sliding dampers used in ducting for dust collection systems?

A typical pneumatic set up uses an air compressor with compressed air lines connected to all dampers, a programmable logic controller (PLC) unit that is wired to machine sensors, the valves and sensors on the dampers and the dust collector (motor).

The SHUTR set up is always simple and straight forward: each processing machine is equipped with a sensor and a sliding damper. A central controller is connected to the dust collector (motor). That’s it. No further wiring is needed other than a single mains outlet per damper/sensor combination.

Let’s look at a number of significant differences:

Ease of installation
In a pneumatic system, each damper needs both an electric connection to the PLC as well as a compressed air line. The sensors also need to be wired to the PLC. In effect there will be a lot of time involved installing all the cabling and air lines.

The SHUTR dampers and sensor are wireless. The components only need power which is derived from a small wall mount adapter. The sensor power can be taken directly from the damper or from a small USB adapter. The end result: the time needed to install a SHUTR Connect system is a fraction of the time needed to install a pneumatic system.

Setting up the controller
Pneumatic systems use a PLC.  Although a PLC is commonly used in industrial applications, they are not very user friendly. The PLC always needs a specialist to program it and needs to be wired to specifications. All in all, this is costly, requires a specialist, and installation takes time to prepare.

The SHUTR controller is a next generation device using wireless technology, secure connections and configuration backup in the cloud. The entire SHUTR Connect network with controller, sliding dampers, sensors and remotes connected, can be programmed by anyone without prior knowledge using a mobile app. This requires very little time, and everything is visually represented to the installer. No setup of (IP) network or Wi-Fi access point is needed.

Single point of failure
Perhaps one of the most significant differences between a pneumatic system and the SHUTR electric system is the fact that the SHUTR system does not have a single point of failure.

For instance: if in a pneumatic system the air compressor or the PLC fails, the whole system of sliding dampers can no longer operate. This is a complete disaster in a factory where usually dampers are mounted high up near the ceiling with no chance to operate them manually. This means production will come to a complete standstill.

The SHUTR system operates in a completely different manner. All its components operate independent of each other. Once configured, all are aware of their role and of the status of other components. If a component fails for whatever reason, all other components will remain operational.  Even if the controller fails, the whole system of sensors and dampers will remain operational.

Failure notification
In general, pneumatic dampers have no signal going to the PLC to report their status unless end-switches have been installed. However end-switches are normally not installed. So, in the event of a jam, the user will only notice this at the processing machine.

The SHUTR system is equipped with a comprehensive failure notification system. The SHUTR electric sliding dampers provide feedback to the Connect network about their status continuously. Thus, if a jam occurs, the damper involved detects this and will first try to resolve this by opening/closing it 3 times. If this fails, it will notify the network and workers will see an indicator flashing red on the related damper and also on the controller.

Replacing faulty components
In the case of a pneumatic system, replacing a faulty damper or sensor is rather straightforward. But not in the case of a PLC failure. A new PLC needs to be installed, re-wired and re-programmed. This requires a specialist.  It also means that one needs to have a copy of the original software and settings. During this replacement time, all sensors and dampers are not operational.

The SHUTR system is similar when it comes to replacing a faulty damper (gate) or sensor. This is also rather straightforward. The big difference is the replacement of the SHUTR controller. After the configuration, the installer may choose to make a backup of the configuration to the cloud via his mobile device. In case of a defective controller, using the app, the backup may be restored on a replacement controller and operation continues. All this while the sensors and sliding dampers remain to operate. This means: no downtime at all.

Pneumatic systems: disadvantages of using compressed air
Not only is there a considerable cost associated with the installation of the pneumatic lines, there is also the fact that air compressors have a running cost. Both for electricity consumption as well as for maintenance on a regular basis.
Often pneumatic systems suffer from leakage which causes pressure loss and increased power consumption by the compressor as it needs to keep the pressure at a minimum level. In case of leakage it is usually very time consuming to find the leak.

With the use of new technology,  secure wireless connectivity and a next generation mobile app to configure the system, the SHUTR system with automated electric sliding dampers offers far more features and flexibility compared to a pneumatic system.  The time needed to install a SHUTR system is minimal, changes can be made instantly without any downtime and unlike pneumatic systems, it does not have a single point of failure stopping the production.

Comparison overview:


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