Powder and Bulk Solids Show with Todd Havican from Fagus-GreCon – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E1

Powder and Bulk Solids Show with Todd Havican from Fagus-GreCon – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S4 E1

Our first episode of the 4th season of the Dusty Jobs Podcast. We are in our booth at the International Powder and Bulk Solids Show in Chicago. Here we met up with Todd Havican from Fagus-GreCon where he talked about what Fagus-GreCon does. He explains what detect and extinguish equipment is, how it works and why it is important. This podcast is all about fire prevention.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs podcast. Today we are live at the Powder, Bulk and Solid show. Joining us live at our booth for Imperial filtration is Todd Havican with Vegas and GreCon. Did I say it right? Fagus-GreCon. Fagus-GreCon. There we go. That’s it. Solid. Solid. So Todd You have been with GreCon for how long now?

Todd: I’ve been with GreCon for three years now, but I’ve been in industrial sales for about 25 years. 25 years. Wow. Yep. And you know really high quality product line and really enjoying the Powder & Bulk Solids show.

Donovan: Yeah, you guys have it’s having a good time?

Todd: Yeah. Yeah, we’ve got a booth over here at #3712  and You know working with partners like yourself, you know in the show.

Donovan: There’s probably a lot of people out there that when we talk about your name your product They have no idea what we’re talking about. So So explain it to me like I have absolutely no idea what you guys do

Todd: Absolutely. So what we do at Vegas Grey Con is that we manufacture infrared detectors that will detect sparks and embers that are a threat to our customers process. And then we’ll extinguish it with water right after that. And the customers process continues operating. There’s no interruption. The threat is resolved. And so the risk of fire and explosion is mitigated.

Donovan: I got it. So OK. So let’s start this from the beginning. I have a process that’s over here, right? And that process creates sparks?

Todd: Yes, it is. You can have a grinding operation, you could have a shredding operation, you could have a motor. Anything that’s turning could create a spark.

Donovan: Okay.

Todd: And then we detected that and extinguish.

Donovan: Gotcha, so then we have the spark generated in one spot. And then the fan from a dust collector is starting to draw it towards the dust collector.

Todd: Right.

Donovan: There are some other things you could put in between here and there, but not in every situation, right? You can’t like maybe you have a spark trap, but maybe your dust doesn’t allow for that, right? Right. I’m thinking a wood dust. You could never do that on a wood dust application.

Todd: No, no and really what’s required for dust collectors in many cases is a spark detection system.

Donovan: Right.

Todd: And again, because it extinguishes, you know, while the process is running and keeps the customer going, it keeps them safe while they’re operating.

Donovan: Right, so the spark is now traveling through the ductwork.

Todd: Yes.

Donovan: And so your detection system is in the ductwork?

Todd: It is mounted to the ductwork. – We have at least two detectors. – At one spot.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Todd: Because each detector has a cone of vision, we want to make sure we see the entire duct. – And then with the material flowing through and all that, so we want to detect the spark, extinguish 20 feet away.

Donovan: So the spark’s traveling, it gets picked up, and then you need some distance till you can put the extinguisher in.

Todd: Approximately 20 feet.

Donovan: 20 feet, okay.

Todd: That’s what we do. And then we extinguish in line.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Todd: With just enough water to extinguish, so we’re not coating.

Donovan: You’re not putting the full fire hydrant to it.

Todd: Nope, nope, not wide open. It’s typically a mist that we’ll put into the ductwork.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Todd: That way it impacts very minimally the customer’s process.

Donovan: Now how do you guys know how much water to add to that?

Todd: We typically follow NFPA standards.

Donovan: Oh, OK.

Todd: In terms of the amount of water required for this application.

Donovan: Gotcha. So there’s already somebody out there, really smart, did all the calculations, did some testing, figured this out.

Todd: Yep. and we follow those guidelines.

Donovan: Okay, so it gets picked up, it travels down the air duct, the water hits it, goes to the collector, and then–

Todd: And then nothing happens at that point.

Donovan: Nothing happens.

Todd: That’s the whole point is the spark is, or embers extinguished, and then there’s no threat to the dust collector, there’s no threat to the process, it’s all mitigated, and then the customer continues operating.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Todd: Well, sometimes what causes that spark will be you’ll get a piece of metal that will get into a fan and that’ll throw sparks into the ductwork. And then as that occurs, there could be more than one spark. There could be 20, 30, 40 sparks will still extinguish continuously as the operation goes on.

Donovan: But then once it realizes that there’s no more sparks, it stops applying the water, right?

Todd: Yes, it does. Once when the sparks are not detected anymore, it’ll stop. Now the customer may choose to say, “Okay, if we have 50 sparks in quick succession, I want to know about it.” So then we’ll notify the customer because…

Donovan: So you can put an alert system on it.

Todd: Yes. We have a control console that communicates between the detector and the extinguisher, and then it’ll record how many sparks we’re seeing, what duration, how long did we extend distinguish and all that detail can be given and then an alarm will go off if it meets the customer’s requirements for an alarm.

Donovan: Oh, okay. Because some applications you might…so in some applications we get a lot of sparks. This might be going off once, twice a day.

Todd: Exactly.

Donovan: Nothing to worry about but you get 100 of them, then we want to know.

Todd: Right. In typical wood applications where you don’t have really any grinding operations, it’s really not a problem. If you have a hammer mill where you are actually grinding up wood.

Donovan: Is that where you guys see a lot of this?

Todd: That’s where you see a lot of sparks.

Donovan: Oh.

Todd: So, and we’ll protect the hammer mill, we’ll protect shredders and recycling applications. We’re in grain applications as well.

Donovan: Yeah.

Todd: You know, a lot of food applications where we’re detecting not just sparks and embers, but hot spots as well.

Donovan: Oh, yeah. – So it has the sensitivity down to just something that seems warm.

Todd: Yes.

Donovan: Huh.

Todd: Yep. And using infrared, our reaction time is so quick, we react in 250 milliseconds. – That’s why we have such a short distance for–

Donovan: So someone who doesn’t normally operate in milliseconds, what is, compare that to something?

Todd: It’s a quarter of a second.

Donovan: So as fast as I can blink.

Todd: Right.

Donovan: It’s gonna react to that.

Todd: We see it. We extinguish, we activate extinguishing, and that’s why we need the distance that we have so we can extinguish so quickly.

Donovan: So do you guys just operate with water or is there other things you would use to extinguish?

Todd: Mainly in the ductwork, we work with water. But customers will say to us they would like to activate other devices, other equipment, such as CO2 systems, or dry chemical systems, we can do that as well.

Donovan: Gotcha, so it’s not, so you can tie into other systems too. – That might get– – That might get to be utilized.

Todd: And we can do machine shutdown as well. So if a customer wants to completely shut down, because they might have a dangerous situation, they can shut down and save the equipment.

Donovan: So like I’m saying, when I get 100 sparks, that’s it, we gotta shut this down. We can wire it up to do that too.

Todd: That’s right.

Donovan: That’s great. So let’s say, I mean, we’re in Chicago right now for this,

Todd: Yep.

Donovan: And in the winter time, it gets a little chilly here. So if I’m using water to extinguish my system, what do I do with that whenever the temperature get cold? How do you guys handle that?

Todd: Yeah, so great question, because we have insulating jackets that we provide to the customers so they can prevent freezing from occurring if the extinguishing is outside.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Todd: If the extinguishing is inside, obviously not much of an issue.

Donovan: Right.

Todd: But, you know, we suggest that the customer, they use heat tape along with our

Donovan: Insulating jackets.

Todd: Insulating jackets.

Donovan: Yeah, okay. So that seems to, and then like we were talking about earlier, you’re not putting a lot of water into the duct. So it’s a minimal effect on the dust collector or the other systems.

Todd: Because of the air speed, a lot of the water ends up evaporating.

Donovan: Oh, okay. But it’s just enough.

Todd: Just enough to extinguish either the hot ember or the spark.

Donovan: Gotcha, gotcha. So what’s the main applications you guys end up in? Is it wood dust? What’s your major?

Todd: We’re big into, our big markets are, we’re in the wood industry quite a bit. So any panel manufacturers, wood pellet manufacturers are very big. But we’re also in the grain market. also in any kind of any place that has a dust collector that may be transporting a spark along with that dust yeah we will be in that market place right okay

Donovan: We like at Imperial we have a spark trap and we know that that is only good in certain applications and it’s mostly fume applications for us and so I know what I’ve talked to you guys in the past it’s always come with the dust that has characteristic of it being maybe a fluffy dust or something that if you try to put it in another device it’s just going to clog it up and cause an issue.

Todd: Many cases will be in like wood applications and the dust they often call wood flour, which is really really fine like a sanding operation. All of our detectors do not collect dust from that material but But also our nozzles that spray into the ductwork are self-closing. So we don’t collect any…

Donovan: So, we don’t collect any maintenance on yours.

Todd: Yes, exactly. Exactly. And with our control panel, we monitor all the components. So if something goes wrong, we can go ahead and notify the customer ahead of time that there’s any problems. They can, you know, change nozzles out, change detectors and all of that. If they have a problem.

Donovan: So there’s a proactive monitoring.

Todd: Yes, sir.

Donovan: If something’s gonna go wrong, which is what you want on your production devices.

Todd: Exactly. So if there’s no warning signs or no alarms, the system’s working. It’s fine.

Donovan: Yeah.

Todd: The customer can continue working without worrying about fire exposure.

Donovan: You’re a big puddle in their dust collector because of that.

Todd: Exactly.

Donovan: Right. Huh. So is there any applications that you would say, “Do not use this system on”? Is there something that you’re like, “Listen, if you have this, this is not the system for you”?

Todd: Well, if you have a material like black carbon, black carbon does not do well with water.

Donovan: Gotcha.

Todd: We can detect in those applications, but typically we will detect an alarm rather than extinguish because black carbon tends to cake very easily. Other applications is metal applications. A lot of times you can’t add water to those metal applications so we will detect only and then notify the customer if there’s a spark or ember that has moved into a particular area.

Donovan: Yeah so you guys aren’t just detected and extinguished but you are also detected and aware just to let people be aware.

Todd: Because many cases because of reduced maintenance staff, reduced plant staff, they need to have these notifications, this automation so they can monitor it without having to go to it every, have somebody there all the time.

Donovan: Babysitting.

Todd: Yeah, exactly.

Donovan: Yeah, and we have technology to help with those things, and that’s what you guys are doing.

Todd: Yep.

Donovan: So is there anything new or anything that people should be thinking maybe you guys are coming out with down the line, or are we just–

Todd: Yes, we have a new detector that can be used in this kind of an environment. Most infrared detectors are used in dark environments.

Donovan: Yeah.

Todd: So they can sense embers and sparks.

Donovan: Right.

Todd: New daylight detector which can work in this environment where you have all this light and it can go ahead and detect the same sparks and embers. You know so if you have a, if you have material that’s being taken off of the conveyor into a drop chute, right, we can detect sparks and embers in that drop chute in this environment and then extinguish if need be down down the way. So that gets us into any operation like recycling operations that are outside, We can we can detect hotspots and sparks there as well That’s been a new area. We’ve gotten into with this new detector.  So yeah, and what we’ve done is it’s a digital detector that’s been Specifically programmed to look for the sparks and embers there are threats And filter out all the ambient light that you see in the area

Donovan: So because I know we’ve I’ve seen at times where if the detector is too close to the opening of something sometimes some daylight could get in there or reflection and cause a false alarm. So that’s phenomenal that now there’s one out there that can overcome those challenges.

Todd: Right, exactly. And we also have a new extinguisher that’s going to be our standard that is going, it’s rather than having a 20-foot distance from sensor to valve, yeah, it’s going to react a lot faster and it’s going to, we’re going to be able to reduce that distance to about 10 feet.

Donovan: 10 feet? Yes. Well that’s so we have a daylight sensor and 10 feet distance. Yep. Boy that’s a that’s a big game changer in a lot of these situations.

Todd: We’re having a lot of success with that and customers like it because it plants are getting smaller so they need the shorter distance and there’s more daylight in these applications than what most customers realize and that’s really what we’re looking to make it easier for the customer as much as we can.

Donovan: Yeah and that’s where I think we’ve seen that as an industry where people are trying to make their facilities brighter, more enjoyable for their workers. With that being great for the workers, sometimes it does bring new challenges for safety where it would have worked back in the day. It’s some of the dungeons that people used to work in.

Todd: Absolutely.

Donovan: Yeah.

Todd: Yeah, and you know, our again, our control console is control panel is has memory where it can – and if anything happens to the system that will record that if there’s a line break if there’s if power shut off. Oh, it will be able to still it still has a battery backup, but it’ll still be able to record and operate for a period of about I think about 10 hours.

Donovan: Well that’s great. So in a larger event maybe something’s going on maybe a natural disaster that’ll still be able to do its job. Exactly because a lot of

Todd: Exactly because a lot of times if you lose power to the plant customers are powering down their processes. Sometimes that’s when the threat actually occurs. So our system will still be active and operating still doing what it needs to do without interruption.

Donovan: Well that’s great. That’s really good stuff. Well So Todd, thanks so much for giving us a little bit of your time. I know you guys are busy here at the show. I hope people stop by and see you. If you’re listening to this after the show, you can reach out to us at Imperial. We work with GreCon on all types of things. You can look at GreCon. We’d all be glad to help you out.

Todd: Absolutely. Great. Well, thanks very much. Thanks for having me on.

Donovan: Have a great day. And everybody who’s out there listening, just thanks for listening to the podcast, stay healthy, and stay safe.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer. 

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Special Fabtech Edition with Al Bohlen, the President of Mazak Optonics – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S3 E9

Special Fabtech Edition with Al Bohlen, the President of Mazak Optonics – Dusty Jobs Podcast – S3 E9

This is the last episode we are recording at Fabtech Atlanta 2022 from our booth. For our last episode from Fabtech we got to get together with Al Bohlen the President of Mazak Optonics. He talks to Donovan about how he got into the industry and about what machine tools are. They also discuss how Mazak helps make the manufacturing process more efficient and what some of the future machines of Mazak will be.





Narrator: Welcome to the Dusty Jobs Podcast from Imperial Systems. Industry knowledge to make your job easier and safer.

Donovan: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Dusty Jobs podcast. We’re here at Fabtech for our last podcast we’re doing here live. And we’re here with Al Bohlen. Is that I said that right?

Al: That is correct. You got it right.

Donovan: And you’re the president at Mazak

Al: President of Mazak Optonics. That is correct. Yeah.

Donovan: Yeah. So we’re so excited to have you with us today.

Al: Thank you.

Donovan: And how long have you been with Mazak?

Al: I’ve been with Mazak 12 years. And I started in the industry over 30 years ago.

Donovan: Oh wow.

Al: Yeah, I’ve been in the industry literally since I graduated from college. So I started in electrical engineering. I went to an engineering school and got a degree in electrical engineering. And when I first graduated, I was just really looking for a way to apply my knowledge. And quite candidly didn’t know a whole lot about the machine tool industry. My dad and my brother, we all grew up in the car world. We owned auto body shops and did a lot of wrenching and we were mechanics and those kinds of things, but I really didn’t understand machine tools. But there was a job opening in a local area. I grew up in New England and that was Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, jet engines. So they actually build machine tools for manufacturing of jet engine parts. And I really got my first job straight out of college working on a machine tool, working in the jet industry, jet engine industry. And over a period of time, started to become more familiar with the different processes milling and machining and show my age a little bit. But back in those days, there were no laser cutting machines. So it was a lot of turning and milling kind of applications. Eventually found my way into another very large fabrication equipment company and just spent a greater part of my younger years being a service engineer in the field. So installing equipment, servicing equipment.

Donovan: Oh yeah.

Al: And actually spent time in the manufacturing sector, actually building those machine tools and a lot of electronics, a lot of servo drive motors, PLCs, controls, that kind of stuff. And just year by year, step by step, found my path to a higher level in the machine tool world and then found myself in Mazak.

Donovan: That’s great. So you not only have you been out, done the work on this equipment, you’ve kind of been in the industry in a lot of different facets. That’s exciting.

Al: Correct. Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, it’s just, it’s my life, but I have a passion for it. I still enjoy it. I still like to wrench the machines. A lot of my guys now would rather me keep my hands off the equipment, but I enjoy it. So yeah, even now, if a new machine is being installed in our technology center, I like to participate in it because I still like to get my hands on it. But yeah, I’ve spent my entire career really being a hands-on, you know, participant in the creation of new machine tools.

Donovan: Yeah, yeah. So you’ve been talking about machine tools a lot. So anybody out there who’s maybe not familiar with Mazak, what is the piece of equipment that you guys make and what do they do?

Al: So Mazak is essentially the largest machine tool builder in the world. So we’re making equipment for metal processing. Metal processing can be many different categories, right? I mean we can cut it, we can weld it, we can bend it, we can remove metal, add metal, you know, machine it. But I like to also associate that, you know, again, because I’m a car guy, I like to kind of connect the dots to our world, right? So if you take a raw casting of metal and you want to make it an engine for a car, you’ve got a lot of metal to remove and then and then bring it to a very high tolerance, right? So whether it’s a jet engine part or whether it’s an automotive part, chassis suspension part, I think in our Midwest world, we see a lot of agriculture, right? So we see a lot of equipment being planting and seeding and harvesting and all this kind of stuff. And people can relate to that, they see it. They’re driving down the road and they see a combine pulling up corn, especially here in the fall. And all the parts associated with those combines our main and our kind of equipment.

Donovan: Or that tractor that they’ve been driving behind for the last 20 minutes. – Right, yeah.

Al: So that’s us.

Donovan: So you guys, basically there’s a raw piece of metal that goes into this side of the process, and you guys make it come out as something that can actually be used.

Al: Right, a finished product. – Yeah.

Donovan: Right.

Al: So you’re taking a raw piece of metal and saying, “Okay, what’s this gonna be? Is it gonna be an engine component? Is it gonna be a chassis component?” Or maybe something quite simple. It could be a sheet metal cover, a guard over something, or let’s talk about heating and ventilation, air conditioning, heating equipment, all of this stuff has a tremendous amount of sheet metal around it, right?

Donovan: Right.

Al: And you’ve gotta cut it to some shape or size, and then ultimately that might be bent or welded, and then eventually painted, and then assembled to the final product.

Donovan: So when we’re talking about cutting, cutting these pieces, what’s the process you guys use? If someone’s out there saying, I have this process that we’re looking at, What would Mazak come in and say, we can help you guys cut that with a laser, cut it with plasma, cut it with–

Al: Right, right. – So, you know, typically the type of customer that is approaching Mazak is probably looking for a very high accuracy part and a high quality part. Meaning, okay, yes, there’s many different ways to process a piece of metal, right?

Donovan: Right.

Al: I mean, you could physically, manually cut it by hand. You know, you could use a grinder and actually cut through a piece of metal with a handheld grinder that you bought at Home Depot.

Donovan: Right, right.

Al: But soon people graduate to, okay, I need a more sophisticated way to cut this part. I need it to be higher accuracy, right? And that first step probably is a thermal cutting process. It could be oxy settling torch. It could be a plasma table. Could be a water jet, high pressure water cutting with an abrasive. But those processes typically yield a less accurate part. and maybe the edge quality, the fit and finish of the part is a little bit lower. So it might be less expensive way to make the part, but a lot of handling.

Donovan: Yeah, okay, yeah.

Al: So they’ll come to us and say, look, we don’t wanna handle the part so many times, we wanna higher accuracy part, we wanna better quality part right off the machine. And they say, okay, do you make a machine that we don’t have to do five secondary operations to this part? We wanna go right from your machine, right onto the final assembly. Okay, so they’re looking for maybe a higher capital equipment investment, but less secondary operations.

Donovan: Right, so like in our shop, we do a lot of welding.

Al: Yep.

Donovan: And we have a laser cutter from you guys. And I know that when we started using the laser, the guys cut their weld time down tremendously.

Al: Right.

Donovan: Because it was so much easier because those cuts were so much closer.

Al: Correct.

Donovan: It just saved us a ton of time in our shop. And if our guys are welding less, that means they’re being exposed less and it’s healthier for them.

Al: Yeah, exactly. It’s all the downstream advantages of producing, again, a higher quality part and a better accurate part. So people say, okay, well, why do I need a more accurate part? Well, you just hit right on it. That’s a home run. My son happens to be a welder and in the shop that he works in, they don’t cut with a laser, they cut with a plasma table. It does the job. But when those parts arrive at the welding bay, the fit of those parts, so you may have several parts coming together, the fit of those parts is just not quite as good, right? So you have more gap, you might require more fixturing to hold these metal parts in place, ’cause they don’t fit as well as you’d like them to. So if you bring laser cut parts, there’s more consistency, accuracy, right? The fit is quicker, maybe you need less time jigging those parts, holding those parts for the welding process, right?

Donovan: Right.

Al: So now you’ve saved time there. and now it just moves down the line.

Donovan: Now, correct me if I’m wrong on this, but you guys also, not only can it be more accurate, but you get into a lot more automated systems. I know on our table, we’re able to just set it and it keeps loading and unloading the parts so that our operator can actually be standing there and working a lot more efficiently and things are coming out a lot faster too.

Al: Yeah, for example, we call it done in one, and that’s a kind of philosophy at Mazak, done in one, it’s a slogan we use. And what we mean by that is we want to do, bring more processes into the machine and less handling outside of the machine. So that when the part is done, it’s done in many ways. For example, we make machines that actually can do tapping operations, milling operations, not just thermal cutting. We can do many other secondary operations incorporated into that machine. Material handling is another aspect of that, right? So if a customer has a, what we call standalone machine, he’s going to have to manually, physically bring the material to the machine, maybe with a forklift and overhead crane or something like that. And that takes time, right? It takes time to load it, takes time to unload it. And there can be moments in time where the laser itself, the cutting device is not running because it’s waiting. It’s waiting for you to bring material to it. It’s waiting for you to remove material off of it. So if we can automate that process, we’re saving more time and that gives us more parts per hour.

Donovan: Now, and I’ve seen it in some shops where you’re able to load a skid of material on a cutting table and then that can even run when there’s nobody there.

Al: Correct, you know, we call it value added. Of course, everyone likes to use that term, but if you’ve got an operator that has to kind of babysit the machine, in other words, they have to stay there at every minute to make sure that it has the material it needs and make sure that it continues to run for extended periods of time, there’s nothing else he can do. The operator has to kind of man that machine.

Donovan: Right, and then handcuff too.

Al: Right, he’s handcuffed or shackled or whichever term he wants to use. He’s the can’t leave, right? Now, if we automate that process, we have a device that can load the material, unload the material for extended periods of time, two hours, three hours, five hours. That operator is afforded time to do something else. It is quite common to have the laser operator, once he gets the laser set up ready to run and it’s an automated machine, he can do something else. He could be bending parts. He could be doing some other operations in the shop and he does not have to be attending to the laser. Let it run. And then you can reassign that person to some other task in the shop. So you’re really getting a bonus round of time.

Donovan: I know for us, as we have been able to become, we’ve been growing and as we grow, we were able to do with the same amount of people because of technologies like this.

Al: Sure, sure.

Donovan: We’re able to just be a lot more efficient with the same group of people.

Al: Absolutely. You know, of course the common thread here is certainly, we wanna be a strong employer to the community and we love the idea of adding more people to our team, but we want a dynamic team. We want a team of people that can do lots of different things and we can move them around in our operation, use them for different things. Same thing goes in your shop, right? You may have welders, you have vendors, you have painters, You know, if you could say, hey, if we can save time over here and we can reassign that person to do some other role in our shop and that’s value to our company, right? Everybody wins.

Donovan: I know the other thing that the guys like in our shop is that when they’re running that piece of equipment, it’s clean. They’re not having to climb up on there, mess with the metal, knock parts off. It’s a real clean process. You can stand there and not feel like you’re getting choked out with smoke or anything

Al: I mean, there’s been an evolution, again, being in the industry for 30 years, I can really step back and look at what has changed. And when you think about 20, 30 years ago, we’d have burn tables, whether it’s oxy acetylene plasma tables, whatever, wide open, no dust collection, smoke billowing from it, just literally filling the shop with smoke. I worked in a shop where you couldn’t see more than maybe 500 yards down the other end of the shop because the smoke was just staggering. know, right, but the idea of operator safety, cleanliness, environment, you know, really taking care of not only the machines themselves, but the people that run them, right? Now we started to look to, okay, how can we capture the cutting process? How can we capture the particulate capture the smoke and debris that’s coming off of these machines, right? Okay. And we started to look at, you know, dust collection systems, what is available to us, right? And we didn’t even know what we needed. We didn’t know how much filter capacity we needed or how or couldn’t can it extract smoke? Can you filter smoke? What is the smoke? What is the DNA of what’s coming off that burn table? And it’s taken a lot of years to really perfect that in our partnership with Imperial is really highlighted what what that means because we develop a lot of new products, And when we start from the beginning, we’re not sure yet how much capacity we need, So having a partner like Imperial to work with us on a new product development and look at the kind of capacities, the particulate per hour, the filtration rates we need. We’re not an expert in that category. So we really need someone like Imperial to come inside and look at what we’re doing and advise us and kind of guide us on the proper solutions. And it’s been just a tremendous partnership.

Donovan: Oh, and we really appreciate working with you guys too. It’s been a great learning curve for us too, to learn all more about what you guys are doing. And I think you even have more new stuff coming up, isn’t that right?

Al: Yeah, I mean, of course we never sit still.

Donovan: Right.

Al: And I say even being this business for 30 years and with Mazak more than 10 years, it seems like the next day tomorrow is an exciting new day of what are we gonna develop, you know? Even the products that we brought here to Fabtech, super excited about those, but those machines were in development for the past two, three years. Okay? We’re already working on things that are gonna come in 2023 and 2024, we already know where it’s going. For example, we have a lot of new tube laser products. We’ve advanced our cutting portfolio to really look at tube laser cutting as a big growing market. It’s already been established. We already sell a lot of tube lasers in North America, but there’s an opportunity for growth in that sector with larger format machines, larger diameters, this kind of thing. And again, we’re gonna have to look at, Okay, different sizes, by the way, different metals. A lot of people are cutting now, aluminums and titanium and all sorts of things on these tube lasers. And we’re gonna have to look at new ways to collect that particulate, right? It’s taking a dust collector and a flat sheet laser does not translate to a tube laser, all right? So we have to start all over again and say, okay, what kind of collection system do we need for that? But we’re super excited. I mean, those are fun things to work on.

Donovan: Yeah, yeah.

Al: We love those challenges.

Donovan: Because in the end it’s going to make a cleaner environment for the end user, for the people who are using this, the guy who’s there running that laser.

Al: Absolutely.

Donovan: It’s going to make a great product because of the way it’s getting cut and the way it’s getting processed.

Al: A cleaner product. Yeah. A safer environment for the operators, safer environment for all of us. And let’s not forget, we live on this planet, we got to take good care of it.

Donovan: We do.

Al: And so it’s not, yes of course, high priority is our people and the surrounding areas. let’s be very open and transparent. This particulate that we’re trying to capture, if we don’t capture it, it’s going out into our world.

Donovan: It is.

Al: And we have a responsibility, not just for the immediate operator around that machine, but to our environment, right?

Donovan: To the neighbors.

Al: Absolutely. I mean, Mazak has a global commitment to really being eco-conscious to what we’re doing. So for example, even when we manufacture our own machines in our own factories, we look at how much energy we’re using. How can we do energy reduction, electricity use? How are we impacting the environment with coolants and debris and by the way, consumables, you know? We don’t wanna fill a landfill worth of debris in our manufacturing process, right? So we’re looking at not just creating machine tools, but being environmentally conscious as how do we go about doing it.

Donovan: That’s awesome, that’s great. I know for myself, I really appreciate that you guys take that approach. That’s another reason we love to be partners with you guys in this stuff because–

Al: I think if we are more like-minded and we can kind of bring awareness to what we’re doing, right? Like even we, okay, our machines at times will need service and we need consumables and we’ve got a parts department, right? So we’re packing parts every day and we’re putting them in a cardboard box and we’re shipping them off to the customer. We think, okay, out of sight, out of mind. We just ship the cardboard box. I don’t know where it’s gonna end up. Does it end up in a landfill?

Donovan: Right.

Al: Is it a recyclable material?

Donovan: Right.

Al: Are we using packaging materials that are environmentally friendly?

Donovan: Right.

Al: You don’t necessarily have to think about those things, but if you’re really a conscious contributor to manufacturing, you have to also think about those things.

Donovan: Right, right. And it’s phenomenal that you guys are doing that.

Al: So thank you. – Thank you.

Donovan: Well, is there anything else that you think is, you wanna share about, I mean, how was your show? You guys had a good show?

Al: Yeah, it’s been a fab tech that we hoped for. We had the attendance volume that we were hoping, that means people are busy, that means they’re still buying machine tools, the economy is strong.

Donovan: Right.

Al: Certainly everybody has their concerns about inflation and the rising costs of goods and supply chain challenges and all those kinds of things. But at the end of the day, manufacturing is strong. And I’m really encouraged because of course, I’m a big proponent of onshoring and building more and doing more here in the US. And we see that, we see an embrace, especially coming out of COVID, where we saw those vulnerabilities to having this global economy is great. And we certainly embrace the idea of a global economy, but we do need to understand our vulnerabilities when it is that supply chains are disrupted and manufacturing more here in the United States is something we’re very optimistic about. And I think that’s shows true here at the show. So, we’re really encouraged.

Donovan: So let me ask you one more question. So I’ve seen a lot of students walking around this show too. haven’t you? And so yeah, we have some of these young people that are out there and they’re walking around the show and a lot of them are here because they’re welders but I mean talking to you and seeing a lot of what’s going on I mean there might be a young person out there listening to the show or maybe someone looking to make a career shift. So I don’t like maybe learning more about cutting systems, lasers, that kind of technology might be a real opportunity.

Al: Making stuff is something you can be very proud of when you create something with your hands and say, I made that. And I think for a lot of years in our country, we certainly have embraced and encouraged higher education. And that’s absolutely an admirable thing, right? And I have children of my own and some of them are, gone to a way to universities and have multiple degrees. But I also have a welder in my house and he’s a certified welder and he makes stuff and he builds stuff and he’s proud of that. And I think that’s the main message is that, You know, we can have an opportunity to bring a young generation into our world. It is something you can be proud of, but also, by the way, earn a really good living. Yeah. OK, we are desperate to find highly skilled mechanics and engineers and welders and tradesmen. And the trades can be something that’s very rewarding, as well as, quite frankly, a very financially rewarding career. Yeah. So we want to encourage that, right? We want to embrace the idea that not every person is built to go to a four-year university and become a doctor or a lawyer.

Donovan: I know I wasn’t built to be an accountant. I know that for sure.

Al: As me as well.

Donovan: Yeah. So, I’m glad we have other people that are. Yeah.

Al: Yeah, we need them.

Donovan: We need them, but we’re going to do what we do.

Al: Right.

Donovan: Right. So, well, hey, Al, thanks so much for sharing with us.

Al: It’s great to be here. Great to be here.

Donovan: Taking some time to sit down. I know you guys are busy. You got a lot going on. You’ve given us a minute at the show.

Al: Thank you for allowing us to participate. We love the partnership.

Donovan: Yeah. Yeah. So everybody out there who’s listening, you can find Mazak on your guys’ website. I’m sure you guys also have social media. You guys on LinkedIn.

Al: All of it. Right. YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn. You’ll find us everywhere.

Donovan: Right. So go on there, subscribe, get on their YouTube channel, see what the new stuff is they have coming out. And for us, same. Go on any social media platform. You can find us. Until we talk to you guys again next time, everybody out there stays healthy and stay safe and I just want to say thanks again for coming on.

Al: And also happy holidays, we’re coming up, right?

Donovan: That’s true.

Al: Happy holidays to everybody.

Donovan: Happy holidays to everybody. All right, thanks.

Al: Take care. Bye bye.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to the Dusty Jobs Podcast. Breathe better, work safer. 

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Duct Velocity: Its Importance for Optimizing Dust Collection

Duct Velocity: Its Importance for Optimizing Dust Collection

It is important to understand duct velocity when considering a design for a dust collection system. This term refers to the speed at which air moves through ductwork. This velocity is crucial in determining the effectiveness of a dust collection system and ensuring that it operates efficiently. Let’s look at why duct velocity matters in dust collection and how it can impact the performance of a system.

View of a CMAXX dust and fume collector outdoor installation

Why Duct Velocity Matters

Duct velocity plays a critical role in dust collection. That’s because it affects the amount of dust that can convey through the system. The size of the ductwork, the type of collected dust, and the airflow rate determine the ideal velocity. If the velocity is too high, it can cause premature wearing of the ductwork, especially in applications with abrasive dusts. A velocity that is too high can also cause increased system static pressure. Further, If the velocity is too low, it can lead to dust settling in the ductwork. This can reduce the efficiency of the system.

In addition to affecting the collection efficiency of the system, duct velocity can also impact the energy consumption of the system. If the velocity is too high, it can increase the energy required to move the air through the ductwork. On the other hand, if the velocity is too low, it can result in insufficient airflow. This will cause the system to work harder to collect the dust.

Click Here to download our duct velocity chart

Optimizing Velocity to Increase Efficiency

To optimize duct velocity, it is important to consider several factors. This includes the size of the ductwork, the type of collected dust, and the airflow rate. One way to ensure optimization is to use a duct sizing calculator, which can determine the appropriate velocity for a given system.

Using ductwork with smooth, straight runs and long-radius elbows can optimize duct velocity. This can reduce turbulence in the air stream and minimize the potential for dust settling in the ductwork. Additionally, using appropriate branch fittings, bends, and transitions in the ductwork can help to maintain a consistent airflow rate and minimize system static pressure. This reduces overall energy costs.

The best and easiest way to ensure duct velocity is optimized is to reach out to a team of trusted professionals to design your system. Our team of experts have the knowledge and experience necessary to design a new system, or evaluate your existing system and identify areas for improvement. They can help you select the right size ducts and fittings, and ensure that your system is properly balanced to achieve the desired velocity. By working with professionals in the field, you can be confident that your dust collection system will operate efficiently and effectively, helping to protect your workers’ health and safety while also reducing maintenance costs and downtime.

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Static Pressure 101: Understanding and Managing It In Your Dust Collection System

Static Pressure 101: Understanding and Managing It In Your Dust Collection System

What is Static Pressure in Reference to Dust Collection?

Static pressure is the force exerted by a gas or fluid, such as air, against an object. Its measurement is in inches of water gauge (in. w.g). In the context of dust collection, static pressure refers to the amount of resistance that the dust collection system’s ductwork and filters are exerting on the airflow. This resistance can come from a variety of sources, including the length and diameter of the ductwork, the type and condition of the filters, and the presence of bends or elbows in the ductwork.

Ductwork with smooth transitions and a minimal number of elbow reduces static pressureEffects on Airflow and Suction

Understanding and managing static pressure is crucial for effective dust collection. If it is too high for the fan to overcome, it can reduce the airflow and decrease suction. Loss of suction makes it more difficult for the dust collector to remove dust particles from the dust generation source. Another problem with suction loss and reduced airflow is that dust can settle and clog the ductwork. This can lead to poor air quality or other unwanted consequences.

On the other hand, if your fan is too large for the static pressure in the system, it can cause the dust collector to be energy inefficient, resulting in increased energy consumption and higher operating costs.

Keep Static Pressure in Check

To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, it is important for controls to regularly measure and monitor the pressure in your dust collection system. Do this manually by using a manometer or a pressure transducer. These tools can be used to identify areas of the system that may be causing excessive resistance and determine if they require maintenance or replacement.

Another way to reduce static pressure is to use a high-efficiency filter or a filter with a higher filter area. Both the CMAXX Dust & Fume Collector and Shadow Compact Fume Extractor use our DeltaMAXX Prime cartridge filters, which have 400 square feet of media per filter. This allows our systems to maintain a lower static pressure drop and increase the airflow while still capturing the dust particles.

It is important to consult with an air ventilation professional when planning a dust collection system.  To help reduce static pressure requirements you should use a properly designed dust collection system that has adequate duct size, smooth transitions, and a minimal number of elbows.  Static pressure in a dust collection system can vary depending on the type and size of the ductwork, as well as the connected hoods, machines, and conditions.

Static pressure plays a crucial role in the performance and efficiency of your dust collection system. By regularly measuring and managing static pressure, you can ensure that your system is working at its best, and avoid potential problems such as reduced airflow, increased energy consumption, and higher maintenance costs. Our team of dust collection professionals is here to help you design a system that is the most efficient and effective solution for your facility.

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Protecting your Business: The Role of Regulatory Agencies and Dangerous Dusts

Protecting your Business: The Role of Regulatory Agencies and Dangerous Dusts

Dangerous and combustible dusts pose a threat to various industries and businesses. These dusts can be found in facilities handling metal, wood, grain, aggregate, and much more. So, to ensure the safety of residents and workers, regulatory organizations oversee the presence and removal of dangerous dusts in these types of applications. Here are the major regulatory agencies and organizations that protect everyone from dust and fumes:


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary regulatory agency under the United States Department of Labor. It works to enforce worker safety in a variety of industries. OSHA regulates hazardous dust to ensure the health and well-being of workers. To that end, the agency has issued a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) depending on the amount of particulate per meter of air over eight hours. Consequently, companies working in any industry must not exceed the PEL set forth by OSHA. Thus, if a workplace is unsafe for the individuals who work there, OSHA will intervene to improve worker safety. In cases that involve hazardous dust or fumes, OSHA enforces requirements for proper dust collection to be put in place. They also have the right to fine companies who do not comply.

OSHA is the primary regulatory agency under the United States Department of Labor In 2008, OSHA launched the National Emphasis Program (NEP) in response to dust explosions that had occurred in the years prior. The NEP’s goal is to reduce the number of dust explosions and the severity of those that do occur. The program includes targeted inspections, outreach and education efforts, and enforcement of applicable regulations and standards.

In February 2020, OSHA added Section IV, Chapter 6 to the OSHA Technical Manual. This additional chapter discusses the regulations and abatement of combustible dust in the workplace. Under this added chapter, employers need to ensure the proper removal and disposal of combustible dust. This applies to any indoor area to keep workers and property safe from harm.


United States Environmental Protection AgencyThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating certain types of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), including those generated by the combustion of certain dusts. The role of this regulatory agency in controlling combustible dust hazards is primarily through the implementation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and its associated regulations.

Under the CAA, the EPA has the authority to regulate HAPs that are released into the atmosphere from various sources. This includes industrial facilities and processes that generate or handle combustible dusts. The EPA sets National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) to control emissions from these sources.  Further, it ensures that they do not pose a risk to public health or the environment.

The EPA also provides guidance and resources to help facilities comply with the CAA and NESHAPs. This includes best practices for managing and controlling combustible dusts, recommendations for dust collection and control equipment, and information on potential alternatives to the use of combustible materials.


National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA)The National Fire Prevention Agency is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent injury, death, and damage caused by fire. The NFPA is another regulatory agency that develops and publishes codes and standards related to fire safety. This includes the Standard on Combustible Dust, NFPA 652. It provides guidelines for the management and control of combustible dust in the workplace.

The NFPA may work with an Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), such as a local fire department or building code official, to enforce its regulations. If the hazardous dust in the workplace is flammable, the NFPA can provide a risk assessment and advise on the proper steps to make the workplace safer. All companies must meet NFPA regulations to ensure the safety of people and property. The AHJ has the authority to shut down production and delay labor until NFPA regulations are met.

Insurance Company Requirements and Regulatory Agencies

It is in the best interest of insurance providers to make sure that the businesses they insure are safe. Insurance companies may place certain requirements and regulations on a business to ensure that a company is doing everything it can to provide a safe environment for both people and property. Insurance companies may require dust removal as part of their coverage requirements and may require compliance with NFPA regulations to receive full coverage.

Ensure Worker Safety with Imperial Systems

Imperial Systems is the industry leader in the removal of dangerous dust and fumes. Our team of dust collection professionals is ready to help you understand the rules of regulatory agencies and the measures needed at your facility to keep your employees safe. We can design a full turnkey solution to keep your business safe, healthy, and NFPA compliant.

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