The Filter Press:
Before we talk about the details of small business solutions and the impact small presses can have on an operation, it is important to understand what a filter press is and its function. Filter presses are commonly used for liquid/solid separation. Specifically, the filter press separates the liquids and solids using pressure-driven filtration across a filter media, wherein a slurry is pumped into the filter press and is dewatered under pressure. These principals of operation are the same across sizes of filter presses.
If we now consider the example of a small ready-mix operation, when concrete trucks return from a job site there is often residual concrete mix in the mixing drum of the vehicle. The driver upon completion of the job must washout the mixing drum using anywhere from 100 to 250 gallons of water. This process produces a slurry of wastewater that must be managed and typically ends up in a settling basin to dewater over several weeks. In this context, a small filter press can be employed to replace the settling basin and mitigate the need to maintain them. The filter press would work by pumping at high pressure the slurry material through the filter membranes and produce clean reusable washout water and solid cake material that can be hauled away and easily handled. The filter press’s ability to return usable water to the operation reduces the expense of overall water consumption and labor to manage the holding ponds. These benefits can be used to justify the capital expense of a filter press to a smaller operation.
Features of Operation: Automation vs. Manual
To further outline what makes filter presses even more viable today than before for small operations to consider, the advances in mechanical technology must be discussed. Traditionally, filter presses did not come with any features that alleviate the need for a person to tend to their function. Next-generation filter presses typically include the following:
When these features are all combined on small filter presses, the feasibility for a company to cost-effectively operate and own a filter press is reduced drastically.
Price, as usual, can be tricky because depending on what you do and the operation, there will always be variation. The plus with purchasing a small filter press, like the one we have been discussing, is that you can get all of the latest features such as, a shaker system, real wash cleaning system, and the PLC (program logic controller) to run the filter press automation at a substantially reduced price point allowing smaller organizations to make the capital investment.
These small and automated filter press can cost only between $30,000 and 60,000 typically! This cost is extremely affordable, saving not only money in the press itself, but also labor costs which could be a close equivalent to the same cost of someone operating a manual press for an entire year.
A precast customer explored options to replace its concrete waste slurry bin and ultimately decided to invest in a small 400 x 400 mm, fully automated filter press. The size of this filter press was chosen because it was the smallest commercial unit the press supplier could offer.
What else was considered during the planning phases, one might ask. For this type of project, the customer had to incorporate the following components typical to a precast installation:
The total overall implementation costs for the project was just shy of $80,000. This filter press size is mainly targeted at the Ready Mix and Precast Operators, but for small metal finishing and plating companies, this could easily be used at these facilities as well.
If a small operation has wastewater, these small automated filter presses could be an economical solution. The mindset of ‘too big, too expensive, and too much work’ can now be countered with ‘automation, saving money, staying reliable, and improving safety’. The benefits seem to be in favor of industries adopting smaller automated filter press that will streamline current operations