GRIT Automation - Dust Collection Automation system (Rating: 5)

I've newly installed this system and haven't been using it long, but I wanted to put out some information about what I think is a game changer for my shop, and maybe for yours too.

I found GRIT Automation randomly while surfing through Facebook woodworking groups. Actually, their name came up as a reply to a post, nothing more. I did a little research on GRIT and actually had a hard time finding out much about them. It turns out they're a newer company, but they've been working to perfect their product for about 5 years. I got in contact with them and we started an excellent dialog about their dust collection automation system. They use a proprietary mesh network that allows all their devices to communicate cleanly and quickly, and what's best is that they communicate wirelessly over the system's own ad hoc network. What this means is you don't need to have internet access in your shop for this system to work! Their user interface is simple, despite the amount of background technology at work, and even folks that aren't particularly tech savvy shouldn't have a problem setting up. And, while the system can be accessed through a smart phone or tablet, once it's set up you don't need to use your phone for anything. Turn on a machine, or flip a manual switch, and the correct gates open and the DC turns on. That's it! The blast gate actuators are servo driven and the brackets are designed to fit multiple sized gates, with replaceable arms to make it all fit right.

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Install for my small shop (12 gates, 10 triggers, Mag Switch for the DC, air filter controller, and Hub) took about one long day to complete. Once I got a feel for the process, it went very smoothly and, keep in mind, I was integrating this into an already established DC ducting system so there was extra work just getting access to some parts of my system.

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I've got my shop DC divided into three zones, which means each tool has a zone gate and a local gate at the tool that needs to be actuated when the tool is in use. This used to mean walking back and forth to a couple gates for each tool. Now, I just turn on the tools, the right gates open, and the DC turns on after a preset delay to allow the gates to be fully opened. When the tool is powered off, the DC turns off after another preset delay to allow the lines to clear. The current gates stay open so there is no more action needed if I want to use the same tool again, as in multiple cuts. This is great for the miter saw!

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Another thing I really like about their system is that it was designed not to need additional wall receptacles to power the system. The machine triggers feature an inline plug, so it plugs into the wall and the tool plugs into it. What's more, there is a low voltage power take off from all the triggers to allow you to daisy chain together several devices and power them all…again, without an additional receptacle. And since the system communicates wirelessly, the devices daisy chained together don't have to be associated with each other at all. So Trigger A and Gate A don't have to be physically connected.

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The system uses a central hub to communicate. The hub can also be used to lock out everything associated with the system as a safety. The user interface looks and acts like an app, but it actually a web portal that you save to your phone or tablet for access to the various menus for set up and configuration. Each device within the system can be configured with various different criteria. Triggers can be associated to more than one gate allowing for local gate control as well as zone control for each tool or trigger. There are configurations for DC on/off delay to allow gates to open before the DC powers up, or lines to clear before turning off. There are also various other customizable features to make the system do what you want it to do. While it's technical, it's also very well laid out and easy to understand. The one piece that I needed help on was integrating the Mag Switch into my Oneida Supercell. I reached out to GRIT and they contacted me by FaceTime and walked me through the entire process while I did it…which took all of about 5 minutes, minus the friendly chit chat.

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GRIT offers both Machine Triggers as well as Manual Triggers so, if you want to have a gate just for a shop clean up hose that's not associated with any specific tool, you don't have to open the app to turn it on, rather just flip a manual switch (which can also be carried as a wireless switch on your belt or apron) and you'll be ready to sweep the shop.

The system is designed to be scalable and can include multiple Dust Collectors and a variety of other devices such as a particulate sensor that automates your shop air filter, a variety of different sized blast gates, 110v 220v 220v50a and 3 Phase triggers and controllers are all available, and the system can be expanded to include RFID access and tracking. I understand this RFID is being used by a couple Universities for their shops, and would also be useful for large or industrial shops I'd imagine.

For those that ARE more tech savvy, you can set up machine maintenance intervals and warnings, and there is a full suite of analytics to show how much and how often machines are being used. You can track users via RFID and allow or restrict their access to specific machines.

I created a couple videos and posted them on YouTube if you'd like to see more about it.

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On a personal note, I've had several discussions with the folks at GRIT and they clearly know what they're doing. They're knowledgable about their own product, of course, but they're actually real woodworkers who are passionate and understand how a shop actually works. I'm told they're working on more whole-shop integration devices and I expect to see more from them in the future!

If you want to check them out, more info is available at GRITautomation.com