Time is precious, especially when there never seems to be enough of it in the day to get the job done.
Four years ago, when Iowa Select Farms started remodeling barns for positive pressure filtration in an attempt to prevent porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome breaks, the management team found that retrofitting what had been used on negative pressure farms to try to make them work, and changing filters out in the boxes up in the attic were sucking up too much sand in the hourglass.
“We struggled with the time it takes with those boxes, that are made more for an attic system, to change the filter out — and often also struggled with, because they’re in a more high-traffic area — and how they’re put in, they just don’t hold up as well,” says John Stinn, environmental projects manager for the Iowa Falls, Iowa-based pork production company.
These types of positive pressure filters had been on the market before the swine industry came looking for filtration, but not nearly in the same capacity.
“Like hospital operating rooms and semiconductor factories, they would use a dozen or maybe a hundred, and then the swine guys came and said ‘We want truckloads, thousands of these filters. How are we going to install these?’” says Josh Sorenson, Hansen Ag Solutions business development manager. “Well, there’s a difference between installing a dozen and installing thousands. There really wasn’t a solution that existed for putting filters in quickly.”
Stinn says he doesn’t know how many iterations they went through to find the right clip to hold the main filter and prefilter in the frame properly, while still letting the employee pull filters out easily and put new filters in.
“Usually the trade-off is, the better the filter fits in the grid, the harder it is to change out,” Stinn says.
However, Stinn says after consulting with Hansen Ag Solutions, the global swine equipment manufacturer was able to develop a product that included both of these characteristics.
Simpler filter easier to use
Hansen Ag Solutions’ single-piece filter grid is cut from a single sheet of 16-gauge stainless steel and is designed to achieve zero bypass. All weld joints are vacuum-tested to ensure there are no voids allowing air to bypass. No assembly is required, and nothing on the grid is protruding or can be easily broken off.
“There’s no caulking, there’s no seams. It’s just one sheet of steel,” says Jeb Gent, Hansen Ag Solutions sales manager. “It helps guys sleep at night knowing that there’s going to be no degradation of caulking, causing air to bypass and eventually needing maintenance to reseal cracked caulking.”
High-quality clips are essential for a filter grid system to maintain pressure against the final filter gasket but Iowa Select Farms was also looking to be able to get filters in and out more easily.
With Hansen Ag Solutions’ single-piece filter grid, the robust stainless steel clips are factory-installed and riveted to the grid, allowing filters to be removed and replaced quickly — without tools.
“To install a new filter was maybe 30 seconds a filter with the old-style frames, and with the Hansen Ag Solutions product, we get that down to five seconds a filter,” Stinn says.
“It’s really an 80% labor savings just on a filter install or filter change-out; and that’s fairly sizable when we talk about we’re going to change 100,000 of the furnace-type filters every year, and we’ll probably change 20,000 to 25,000 of the main filters every year as well — so all those seconds of filters will add up across our system.”
Since installing the first filter grid system on one 7,500-head farm last year, Iowa Select Farms has installed the technology on two more farms and will have a fourth completed in a few months.
Currently, 15% of Iowa Select Farms’ filters across its system are held in the new grids, with plans to swap out all the old-style plastic grids and move fully to Hansen Ag Solutions’ stainless steel system.
Every quarter, a supervisor or a member of Stinn’s staff goes through the full filter inspection to see if there are issues with the new grid system, and so far on those farms, there have been no bypass issues.
“I would say that John and his team are innovators and leaders in filtration. There’s been other systems that have done filtration, but I don’t think anyone jumped in. People are walking into the water, and these guys dove into the water,” Josh Sorenson says.
“They needed a large-scale solution to do this, and they’re really the guys that are driving the improvements for this grid.”
The positive pressure filtration system has been one more tool in the pork production company’s biosecurity toolbox, says Jen Sorenson, communications director, Iowa Select Farms.
“Adopting filtration has proven itself in terms of PRRS mitigation — and therefore, production performance has increased, so it continues to prove itself,” she says.
“It’s really been a game-changer for us at Iowa Select Farms, and just continuing to tweak how we do it and continuously improving how we do it is really what we’re focused on now.”