Filter Maintenance for Paint Operations


The goal for owners of businesses with painting operations is to create a cost effective air filter maintenance program that will reduce both the purchasing cost and labor cost associated with air filters throughout the facility without adversely affecting worker safety or product quality.

Maintaining air quality throughout the entire painting operation is one of the most important parts of a total quality program. It must be noted, however, that a filter maintenance program is only one part of an overall facility maintenance program. Keeping the entire painting operation in a clean an orderly manner goes hand-in-hand with a filter maintenance program. This write-up focuses on the filter maintenance portion of the overall facility maintenance program.

A filter maintenance program is most effective when regular visual inspections of the filters and air handling systems are combined with written records of pressure drops. With this information and time, a proper filter changing program can be developed.

Weekly visual inspections are recommended to help in keeping accurate performance information and to prevent interruption of normal production schedules due to non­scheduled filter changes. After one year of recording filter information, visual inspections can be less frequent if they are based on the performance results recorded during the base year but should be no more than three weeks apart.

Along with visual inspections it is suggested that pressure drops across each filter system be recorded for performance evaluations and to help in determining the remaining life of each type of filter being used.

By recording and evaluating this information, filter changes can be scheduled in advance. This will assure proper air flow in the painting operation being served by the filter systems and will help prevent non-scheduled filter changes and interruptions in production.


Representatives from the following departments are needed to properly implement a filter maintenance program and to adhere to quality standards:

  • Production
  • Painting
  • Purchasing
  • Maintenance
  • Facility Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Process / Quality

Representatives from each of these departments should form a “Corrective Action Team” which meets at least once a month.


A filter maintenance program is designed to reduce cost through reduced filter use, selection of the proper filter based on the application, and effective use of labor. It will take time to get the maximum savings from this program although immediate savings will be realized quickly upon implementation of even a most filter maintenance program.

Phase One: Establish baseline standards and target areas for cost reduction. Obvious areas of concern such as premature filter replacement or use of inappropriate filters for the application should be addressed to maximize savings. Typical implementation time frame for Phase One is four to eight months.

Phase Two: Further identify areas where utilizing maximum filter service life and use of different filters will provide the most benefit. Just-in-time purchasing of filter products should be fully operational in Phase Two and filter inventories within the painting operation should be maintained at the lowest practical level. Utilizing the services of will greatly expedite your move to just-in-time ordering / filter fulfillment. Typical implementation time frame is for Phase Two is six months after completion of Phase One.

Program Outline

  1. Establish the Corrective Action Team.
  2. Complete surveys for all filter systems.
  3. Perform weekly inspections of all filter systems and record all changes and any other pertinent information.
  4. Conduct a weekly inventory of filters.
  5. Establish a master list of all filter changes and filter system cleaning.
  6. Establish a rolling three-month report that details the filter changes scheduled for the next three months and that will evaluate the overall performance of the last three months compared to the same three months of last year.
  7. Maintain a monthly filter use report and purchasing records for evaluation and comparison.
  8. Routinely evaluate results of this program with the Corrective Action Team.

Creating the Corrective Action Team

The formation of the Corrective Action Team is essential to maintaining quality while reducing costs. The team concept allows the varying interests and goals of each department to be identified and adjusted all with the common goal of reducing painting operating costs.

The responsibilities of the team members will usually fall into four categories:

  • Product Quality
  • Filter System Operation
  • Labor
  • Technical Support, Products and Services

Product quality, Filter System Operation and Labor are normally the responsibility of the appropriate plant departments. Technical Support, Products and Services are normally the responsibility of the filter supplier.

By consistently evaluating the impact of variations in air filter type and use, product quality standards can be maintained while reducing overall cost. Typically, facilities and industrial engineering groups, helped by the maintenance department and filter supplier will determine the areas to be targeted for evaluation.

Production and process / quality department representatives must establish a means of determining possible adverse effects before making changes. They must perform tests that will show the effectiveness of any changes. These tests usually include air flow readings (velocity), particle counts, and pressure drop across the filter systems. These tests will determine filter integrity, service life, efficiency and any other performance related evaluations to better document the cost effectiveness of the changes made.

Filter Survey

The filter survey is a complete documentation of all filters in the facility. This survey will give a filter supplier, such as, the opportunity to become familiar with all the filters used. This will allow for the evaluation of future filter applications based on the knowledge and performance of existing filter systems.

The filter survey will become the basis for evaluating filter cost and will help in defining areas where filter use can be reduced or alternate filters can be used for effective cost management of each system.

Completion of the filter survey will allow a yearly budget for air filters to be established. Cost comparisons then can be made for alternate filters in different departments and common filter applications can be assigned a single filter type. The filter survey will also help in creating and maintaining a just-in-time filter inventory, reducing the need for keeping complete filter changes on hand at all times.

Weekly Inspection Record

In order to get the proper control over the air filter systems, weekly inspections covering all the systems within the facility are necessary. These inspections are the means for gathering important information that will establish the base line needed to evaluate the effectiveness of any changes made. The information to be gathered is:

  • Pressure drop across filters (if possible)
  • Filter inspection (comments about condition)
  • Air house inspection (comments on condition)
  • Equipment condition

By recording the pressure drop across air filter systems early changes of filters can be stopped, insuring maximum filter utilization. Inspecting the filters will assure that any adverse changes in filter condition will be solved at once. Making note of equipment condition, such as slipping fan drive belts, broken air intake louvers or bird screens assures that they will be corrected at once. Collecting data on filter changes and pressure drops will allow future decisions on filtration to be based on fact when these events are correlated with changes in paint booth performance (particle counts, defect level).

Master Record

A master record of all filter changes and air filter system cleaning is important. It will assist in determining the reasons for performance changes and will be the basis for setting proper filter inventory levels used in the facility.

Filter Inventory

It is very important to have all members of the Corrective Action Team involved with this part of the program to prevent expensive delays in an emergency. Moreover, partnering with a reliable just-in-time delivery partner such as is critical in establishing a minimal inventory without resulting in unexpected down time due to delays in filter deliveries. As your filter supplier, will maintain inventories of filters in order to be able to give just-in-time delivery of filter changes. The filter change forecast and the emergency stock levels decided on by the Corrective Action Team will drive the inventory required.

A filter inventory, updated every week, is needed to reduce filter expense. By maintaining only the inventory needed as determined above overall cost is lowered and the possibility of loss or damage of stored filters is reduced. Assigning a part number to each filter will be helpful in consolidating information and will reduce confusion when ordering.

Quarterly Reports

Based on the information being gathered during weekly inspections projections will be made for filter changes. It is important to note that these projections are tentative because filter changes will be made according to the pressure drop across the filter system and the availability of labor to do the change.

By determining tentative dates for changing filters, cleaning crews can be scheduled and can be ready to deliver the required filters when needed.

This quarterly report should include the date of the last filter change, the quantity of filters required and the type of filter or filter part number. This will save time and prevent confusion in determining what is required and when it is required. Providing the last change date will alert the responsible persons to a variation in the changing frequency for the system being scheduled for change.

Use / Purchase Records

Use / purchase records allow for the most accurate tracking of filter activity. By showing this information year-to-date vs. previous years’, filter use can be easily monitored. These records will also indicate areas that need attention and that are candidates for immediate action to reduce costs.

This report will also allow comparisons on a cost per unit of production basis compared to other facilities manufacturing the same or similar products. Filter use is recorded from the master record, and purchases are taken from purchasing records.

By comparing use and purchases, cost control for monthly budgets can be successfully maintained.

Evaluation of Information

The various reports noted in this filter maintenance program are designed to provide meaningful information to help in reducing filtration costs in a production painting operation. As previously stated, material cost and labor cost must be evaluated when looking for ways to reduce costs. In areas where filter changes are made frequently, a longer lasting filter may provide a suitable means of reducing labor expense as long as the filter cost is less than or equal to the total cost of the filter being replaced. This must be balanced against employee comfort or safety.

It is with these critical thoughts in mind that discussions with members of customer service team are essential to a filter management program. is the expert on product performance and availability. Cooperation from plant personnel in the form of outlining performance expectations, including the efficiency required will allow to make suggestions for product alternatives that will fit the performance guidelines in the most cost effective manner.