The case for not buying dumb filter solutions

Real or figurative; a filters basic function is the same: it controls what gets through. It separates the good from the bad.  When functioning optimally, our psychological filters keep our minds clean.  They stop invasive thoughts from violating the sanctity of our inner zen gardens.  Filters regulating our speech stop us from the utterance of harmful words – and the consequences thereof.

The fact is: filters save lives. They aren’t a choice they are a non-negotiable. They are as important as the rule of law. We all need them. Real or metaphorical, filters are everywhere. Yet, the importance of these devices is far too often overlooked. 

The human body contains a series of high functioning filters. The kidneys, liver and lungs are all filters.  Beyond our own bodies, filtration is a necessity for a vast array of industries. Coffee and beer both require filtration to reach the sublime state in which they are enjoyed.

If you are reading this, the chances are that you are already well aware of the importance of filters and their ubiquity in industry.  Be that as it may, the evidence suggests some design engineers and procurement managers do not always give the filtration-system decision, the diligent consideration it so obviously deserves. Others do but are simply unaware of the diagnostic hoops required to make the right choices. Sometimes decision makers over-specify to mitigate risk unnecessarily, other times they take a chance and buy on price.

Choose your filtration system wisely

To choose an industrial filtration solution based only on the initial purchase price, or even on basic specifications is to filter logic from the decision making process. Depending, upon the requirements, a filtration system can be expensive. Yet, in most circumstances the cost of the filtration system is insignificant when compared to that of the entire plant.

There is nothing wrong with considering price – after all, a business’ economic imperative is to maximise profit. What is remiss, however, is to erroneously under-value the benefit attained. This inevitably happens when short-term goals take precedence over long term objectives.  This results in being, ‘penny wise and pound foolish’.

A poorly considered, ‘quick fix’ solution to filtration could result in persistent problems. The time, money and effort spent managing a ‘problem filter’ or in unnecessary operating and maintenance costs could far outweigh the initial benefit promised by a cheap, quick fix. The likely lifetime cost of the filtration system must be considered – not just the initial capital outlay.

It is generally a small part of the whole but, a faulty or inappropriate filter can cause the means of production to cease through stoppages – costing money.  This cost extends beyond lost production – possibly including reputational damage. 

Problem filters are not always “cheap or poorly made” – they could in fact be very good but still, not quite right for the job. The problem in such cases is not with the filter but with its application.

Seek first to understand 

The more you think about it the more rational it seems that: choosing a filtration system without conducting a thorough analysis of your specific filtration needs, is like a doctor prescribing medication without studying the presenting symptoms.

“The ability to accurately diagnose industrial filtration issues is rare. Identifying the ‘problem’, however, is only one half of the equation. Then, it is time to prescribe.”  Over the years Peter Walker, MD of Superior Filtration has designed eight types of filters, claiming the importance of uniqueness of each filter, “Each of these filters are the perfect choice in certain circumstances. But they work completely differently to achieve different ends. They are unique, but share the common characteristic of intelligent, application dependent design”.

Key to this design in most, but not all of Superior Filtration designs is the absence of many moving parts, and in many cases the fact that they are autonomous, and do not require power to make them work. This results in low to no maintenance and therefore a reduced life-time cost. His ‘smart’ filters even know when and how to clean themselves!

We started by saying that “filters save lives” – some do.  While not as important as ‘life’ itself the correct choice of filters can save careers, time and money – choose wisely!