Sy-Klone in the quest for a smart cab filtration system for clean air

For operators working in choking cab conditions where particulate matter (soot) and other nasties are streaming in and choking you, or worse – killing you, a solution is coming

Smart cab technology being developed will incorporate IoT-enabled sensors and Sy-Klone air filtration expertise to better monitor and manage operator cab air quality

Sy-Klone International is moving ahead quickly following a contract awarded to it by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) in the US to develop a filter that will eliminate unseen cabin killers.

The research will identify and create smart technology to actively monitor operating conditions inside the cab and manage air quality.

This will include the ability to adjust a filtering system in real-time, to optimise the cab’s air quality while operating in some of the most rugged and demanding work environments. 

The research and prototype development will combine advanced Internet of Things (IoT)-based technologies from Sy-Klone’s engineers that possess decades of applied engineering experience in enclosure air filtration and pressurisation systems.

The smart cab will integrate multiple sensors, active controls, machine-based and remote data-monitoring, and alerting capabilities for ongoing management of air quality as well as system maintenance checks.

The expected outcome of this project]is a body of research that validates how smart technologies can be used to better monitor, manage, and improve air quality conditions inside of an operator cab.

The findings will inform the creation of an ‘active’ Smart Cab Air Quality System, able to maintain clean air in the most rigorous work environments.

High on the wish list will be eradicating dust and all engine particulate matter (soot).

The research and prototype development project, with extensive lab and paddock testing conducted in concert with NIOSH, is expected to run through to early 2022.

Upon conclusion of testing, Sy-Klone will further develop the smart-cab technology from prototype to a market-ready solution.

The resulting smart cab monitoring system will join Sy-Klone’s suite of clean cab products.

With the added advantage of providing an additional air filtration solution to provide safe air quality for machine operators on job sites in agriculture, mining, construction, forestry, and any other industrial sectors experiencing issues.

Of course it’s killing you

You just can’t see it

Cab air quality systems can be integrated into any enclosed cab design and also be retro-fitted to older models by Sy-Klone International

This clean air cab research has been prompted by health issues that have surfaced from operators subjected to continual exposure.

This concern for operator health has placed an immediate emphasis on designing a solution. A clean cabin air filtration and pressurisation system that can be retrofitted to all heavy-duty rough terrain vehicles.

A clean air cab is a natural progression from what designers have focussed on in the past.

Heavy equipment operator cabs already provide the required comfort and safety for the operator.

However, somewhere along the line the air quality issue has been overlooked, and with the growing body of evidence that breathing air contaminated with dust particles is harmful and potentially fatal – an immediate solution is required.

Equipment owners that employ operators are also very concerned they could become involved in costly court proceedings should their operators fall ill from a terminal disease traced back to contaminated air.

There is an increasing interest in ensuring operators have clean air cab enclosures.

Dust particles, and engine exhaust fumes of all kinds and sizes are inherent at every turn for heavy equipment operators.

Machines such as tractors, harvesters, excavators, graders and dozers churn up veritable dust storms that release large quantities of particles into the cab.

Many of these particles are hazardous to human health.

To ensure a safe cab environment it’s recommended that a cab air quality system can safely follow these three principle steps.

(1) Only allow “cleaned” and filtered fresh air into the HVAC system of a cab; (2) continue to filter the air as it recycles through a cab; and (3) monitor cab pressure to assure it’s positively pressurised at all times. 

The aim of this current research will be to ensure cab air is made safe at all times for heavy equipment operators to breathe while working in their machine.

The air will need to be firstly precleaned and filtered prior to entering the HVAC system and then that its air that is continuously filtered inside the operator enclosure.

The goal of the precleaning and filtering processes is to remove the debris, dust and soot, and most importantly the invisible and dangerous respirable silica and soot dust particles measuring in size from 0.3-10 micrometers.

A micrometer is one millionth of a metre and anything smaller than 40 micrometers is invisible to the human eye.

Particles in the range of 0.3-10 micrometers are harmful because they can pass through the human body’s filtration systems (nose hair, bronchial tubes, etc.) and settle into the lower lungs.

Material that gathers in the lower lungs usually and eventually works its way out of the body through the bloodstream.

However, all respirable particles are not easily transported out, and some types, such as respirable crystalline silica and soot in the 0.3-10 micrometer range, remain in the lungs. 

The risk for operators working in unfiltered cabs include developing serious diseases such as silicosis (an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.

Often diseases that have been prominent in long-term, unprotected poorly filtered cabs of tractor and loader operators, but can be avoided if the necessary precautions are put into place.  

Given the harmful and potentially fatal effects of inhaling cabin fumes and dust, setting operator permissible exposure limits has been a priority in some industries.  

Set for operators to be exposed to no more than 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air (50 μg/m3) averaged over an 8-hour shift. A microgram is one millionth of a gram.

600In the diagram, powered precleaning technology is demonstrated in the RESPA Cab Air Quality System from Sy-Klone International

Equipment owners in all world markets will eventually have to concede to a standard that requires them to implement work practices for respiratory protection for operators.

Employers are counting on this latest round of research to design and manufacture a heavy equipment operator cab that will comply with clean air health standards.

From this research cab air quality systems will be available to maintain clean and safe air for operators of heavy equipment as production line first-fit installations, as well as for retrofitting existing machines.

A complete cab air quality system will include a fresh-air unit, a recirculating-air unit and a cabin-pressure monitor.  

A fresh-air unit will integrate powered precleaning and high-efficiency filtration to preclean and filter the fresh air entering a machine’s HVAC system and then deliver continuous airflow to positively pressurise the cab.  

The powered pre-cleaner is expected to remove more than 90% of all dust particles from the incoming fresh air before it reaches the high-efficiency filter.

The delivery of “low-particulate” air is critical because high-efficiency filters by design are more restrictive and clog more quickly and the filtered air must be able to continuously flow into the operator enclosure to positively pressurise the cab.

As precleaned fresh air passes through the high-efficiency filter, the filter should capture 95% or more of the toxic respirable particles in the range of 0.3-10 micrometers to achieve recommended dust exposure limits.

With a well-designed cab air quality system installed, the cabs of heavy equipment machines can be tuned to become the safest place to work for operators.