The grain and animal feed manufacturing process has always been an area of concern when it comes to combustible dust. Therefore, the NFPA has a standard specifically for this industry: NFPA 61 (Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities).
OSHA also highly regulates dust hazards in the animal feed processing industry. In fact, OSHA has leveled some fines higher than $1 million for recent fatal explosions in this industry.
Explosions at grain and feed mill processing plants kill several people every year and cause many explosions. Certainly, the feed manufacturer is especially prone to these accidents because their materials are often in dust form and just need an ignition source to explode.
The best way to control dust at a feed processing plant (and the way recommended by NFPA and OSHA) is with a dust collection system. However, handling all the dust in your facility is going to require a major investment… so, how do you make sure you get the best system for your money?
The key to a safe, efficient system is having it designed by a company with experience in your industry and a track record of not cutting corners. Further, a cheap system will cost you money in maintenance and attempts to fix design flaws.
ELEMENTS OF A GOOD SYSTEM DESIGN FOR FEED MANUFACTURING:
- Proper airflow through the entire system
- Correctly sized fans
- Explosion and fire protection
- Good dust containment
- Correctly sized dust collector
- Enough filter area
Let’s look at each of these to see why they’re important for you.
If air can’t move through the ductwork efficiently, then there will be places where it slows down or runs into obstructions. As a result, this causes three problems. First, it decreases your system’s efficiency and wastes fan power. Second, it slows down the air so dust can fall out and build up in the duct. Third, dust traveling through a badly designed system can cause wear and tear on the duct at bends and corners.
CORRECTLY SIZED FANS
If the fan isn’t big enough for the job, it won’t keep dust flowing through the system. Also, if air moves too slowly it won’t pick up dust at the capture points and it won’t keep it moving through the ducts. Consequently, dust built up in ductwork can cause fires.
EXPLOSION AND FIRE PROTECTION
Any dust collection system for feed manufacturing has to have proper fire protection. Some examples of this include spark traps, abort gates, explosion isolation valves, or extinguisher systems. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. An experienced system designer will help you choose the best tools to protect your facility and your employees.
GOOD DUST CONTAINMENT
It doesn’t do much good to have a dust collection system if it isn’t controlling your dust problem. Dust is probably being generated at lots of places in your animal feed processing plant. If the dust collection system isn’t capturing the dust at those spots, it will get loose. In short, nobody wants the facility to be a dusty mess, and it’s also a fire hazard.
CORRECTLY SIZED DUST COLLECTOR
It might be tempting to go for the smallest dust collector that will work for your cattle feed processing plant. Ironically, this might not save you as much money in the long run as you think. This is because an undersized system is going to require more filter changes and other maintenance. Further, if your production expands, that barely-big-enough system may not be able to keep up anymore.
ENOUGH FILTER AREA
A dust collector can’t do its job if its filters can’t function. Every type of system has an ideal air-to-cloth ratio, the amount of filter area that should be available for the air flowing through them. So if you don’t have enough filter area, your filters may get overloaded with dust and stop working. Therefore, they will need replacing more often, which costs money and time.
A dust collection system for feed manufacturing must be designed for this special application. Grain and feed manufacturing facilities like a feed hammer mill can have fine and coarse dust at different parts of the feed mill process. Most feed processing methods have many places where dust is being generated. Also, dust in this application is usually very combustible.
In conclusion, talk to an expert in dust collection system design to keep your facility and your employees safe. Our Imperial Systems professionals will make sure you get the best system for your money without cutting any corners or leaving gaps in your protection.
Read more about safety in hammer mill material handling.
Dusty Jobs Issue 7 is the third quarter of the year. Check out the articles! Charlie is back with an article about food, and we interview one of our welders, Richard Matters. If you would like a printed hard copy of this issue of the quarterly newsletter, contact your Imperial System Sales Rep.
Click the cover to download and print the newsletter.
CLICK THE ARTICLE TO READ.
My profession has taken me to many interesting places across the US, Mexico, and Canada over the past 48 years. In my travels I visited a wide variety of business ventures from a mushroom farm in Kentucky, to a prosthetic breast manufacturer in Texas. I’ve been to automotive plants in Mexico and nuclear fuel cell producers in Canada. Work opportunities have taken me to 38 of our 50 Great States, from Maine to California, and I’ve seen many wonders along the way. Some of the most memorable things about all those trips are the regional foods I’ve eaten.
Leaving my Pittsburgh home and moving to Cincinnati in 1971 was my first encounter with regional cuisine. I had only been in Cincinnati a few weeks and was just learning my way around. A friend had invited me to join him for lunch at the chili parlor. It had been a while since I had any of my mom’s homemade chili and that sounded great. When the food came I was served a plate of spaghetti with about a half pound of grated cheddar cheese on top. I told the waitress she made a mistake, I ordered chili! She looked at me like I had two heads. I soon learned to love “Cincinnati Chili”. Whether it is Gold Star, Skyline, or Moonlight Chili, it’s all good. Another Cincinnati delicacy is Goetta, sometimes referred to as “Cincinnati Caviar”. The German immigrants brought Goetta to Cincinnati. It is made with ground pork or beef, mixed with steel cut oats and seasonings, and then pan fried to a crispy brown. It is a breakfast staple served with eggs and grits.
I’ve eaten many stranger regional foods in my travels. In previous articles I wrote about my first field trip to Syracuse with A-Man-Named-Earl. Being a very “junior” apprentice on that trip, I was dependent on Earl to pay all the travel expenses, including meals. The very first night Earl took me to a Syracuse bar. As we sat at the bar to watch the ball game, Earl asked for a beer and a “Bean Sandwich”. The bartender pulled a large can of pork-and-beans from the cooler. He scooped out a wad of cold beans, spread it on sliced white bread, and handed it to Earl. He then asked if I wanted one, but I passed on the offer. Thankfully, we did go out to dinner at a little nicer place after that.
Later in my career another experience found me in Mexico with one of our installation mechanics. He had previously spent a year in Mexico on another project. He knew the language and basically how to stay safe in a foreign country. He was with me to help field measure, and to watch my back. On our last night in Mexico he suggested a better steak house for dinner. He ordered for both of us and began with an appetizer of Cridillas. He dug right in when they arrived. When I sampled the dish, he stifled a snicker and asked me if I knew what I was eating. I said I was pretty sure they are better known as “Rocky Mountain Oysters” in the western states.
Another delicacy I’ve tried, and surprisingly enjoyed, is escargot, which is a fancy French word for snails cooked in herb butter. I found them to be a bit chewy and tasted just like..Snails! Along with the snails I also enjoyed a meal of frog legs. In Canada I’ve tried Poutine, which is cheese curds with French fries covered with brown gravy. In Milwaukee I had Butter Burgers; a burger served with big pads of butter that melt into the bun. Some places serve them with so much butter that the plate will be swimming with it. I’ve eaten fried rattle snake in Texas, and fried gator in Florida. But, I’ve never tried fried Twinkies. Some things are just too gross to consider. Louisville, Kentucky is known for its barbecue and hosts one of the largest annual barbecue festivals in the country. There is another Kentucky dish called Burgoo made with four or five different meats and vegetables. It is cooked into a thick soup, or stew. I believe they created this dish just to get rid of leftovers. One of my more unique dining experiences came when a Japanese customer I became friends with invited me to an authentic Japanese restaurant for a traditional meal. We sat on floor mats and were served at a low table. I did not speak Japanese, so my host interpreted for me. I tried the traditional meal he suggested consisting of soup, rice, tofu, seaweed, pickled radish, and tempura. I enjoyed the experience and left there very full. On recent travels I discovered some of my co‑workers enjoy Sushi. Initially, the thought of eating raw fish was not too appealing, but I did try it and found it to be much better than I expected. One of the weirder snack foods I’ve tried is meal worms. When these little guys are dropped into hot oil they puff up about 20 times their size. They have the consistency of crunchy cheese puffs and taste a little like fried pork rind. I understand them to be full of protein.
There are a few foods I have tried with regret; Oysters-On-The-Half-Shell and Mud Bugs. I know there are folks who love Oysters, but I made the mistake of chewing this glob of nastiness when I tried them. I was unaware that the proper way to eat them is to just let them slide down your throat. This is probably to sneak the oysters past your taste buds before they realize it is in your mouth. I hear some people chase them with a shot of Vodka, probably to kill the taste. Mud Bugs are better known as crawfish and are a Louisiana treat usually prepared in a boil. I’ve thought about trying these on several occasions, but just could not get past the smell. I’ve only seen these served at festivals, and they do seem to be enjoyed and sell out fast. Maybe someday I will build up the nerve to try them.
I do have a few more years of travel ahead of me, and if you think I will refrain from sampling the local cuisines on my ventures, well Good Luck with that!
Richard has been welding at Imperial Systems for twelve years, and in various other jobs for eighteen years before that. He is a graduate of Jamestown High School. Outside of work he enjoys relaxing with his wife and spending time with his three kids and eight grandkids.
Q: What date did you start working at Imperial Systems?
A: September 17, 2006
You said it was only that first bay?
A: Yeah. It was probably ten or so guys working. The road crew was there.
Q: That would be pretty tight.
A: Yeah it was for everything we build, like us with the big BRFs. You see how much room the fourteen footers take up here. It was tight, but we did it.
Q: How long have you been welding?
A: Oh jeez. Twenty-five or thirty years. I had thirteen years in at Trinity Industries, twelve here, and five at Tri‑County. I was welding dumpsters and stuff, rebuilding them. Then I worked a couple other places. There was a rail division down in New Castle. I didn’t work there very long because it was too far of a drive from my house. It was an hour and a half each way.
Q: Did you go to trade school?
A: No. When Trinity shut down we did get to go to school. You could keep your unemployment because they moved out of the country and went to Mexico. So they put up a school and you could draw your unemployment while you were in school. Even when I started at Trinity they put me through weld school at Mercer Vo-Tech. It wasn’t a long class, thirty days or something like that. It was heavier. Rail cars. It was big.
Q: How many kids do you have?
A: Three. Two girls and a boy. I’ve got eight grandkids. Two are twin boys.
Q: Do you like any sports?
A: I watch a lot of football. I’m a big Steelers fan.
Q: You got that question correct.
A: I’m a little unhappy with them right now.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: We usually sit down back. We built a big pavilion and we usually sit down there, me and the wife, drink beer and listen to the radio, build a fire.
Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Country. Willie 95. They’ve changed country so much. Its more getting into pop or something.
Q: Do you ever go to concerts?
A: Nah. Once I went up to Crawford County and George Jones was there. It was a pretty good concert. Loretta Lynn was there too that night, but she wasn’t feeling good. She had laryngitis and was having trouble singing.
Q: Do you have any projects at home that you do?
A: All the time. It seems like the wife always has something for me to do!
Q: You ever go to any football games or anything?
A: No, I always wanted to, but usually I say “Why would I want to go watch that live when I could sit at home and watch it with no crowd?” And usually its too cold, too. I don’t want to be out there in the freezing weather. Then, when you drink like I do you can’t afford to go there with the price of their beer, jeez.
Q: You’re just a good country guy, huh?
A: That’s pretty much it. I don’t bother no one, no one bothers me. That’s what I like. We have a lot of parties though. We have a big Fourth of July party every year. We’ve been doing that for about twenty years now. We invite a bunch of people and get fireworks. Seems like it keeps getting bigger every year. More and more people come, and more fireworks we have to buy. But its fun. We have a lot of fun. We’re out in the country enough that no one bothers you either, thats whats nice.
Q: What do you think about being in the magazine?
A: It’s good. It gets it out.
Q: We’re showing off our employees. We’re proud of you guys. We want you to be known for the work you’ve done. It’s because of you guys that this place…
A: It goes! And that’s good. We need it to keep going for a long time, hopefully.
Q: Do you have anything else you want to say?
A: I do appreciate having the opportunity to work here. I appreciate that. And Jeremiah’s real fair about everything, as far as I’m concerned. He’s a good guy, and good to his people too. There ain’t too many places where on holidays you leave early and they pay you for the rest of the day and stuff like that. I’ve never heard of any companies doing that, not that I worked for.
For several years, I worked as a Sales Rep for a large, European‑owned dust and fume collection company. Like most of the big companies in this industry, they had an aggressive way of doing business that was not consistent with how I believed things should be done. They called it “filling holes,” which was the practice of sizing dust and fume collection equipment large enough to perform well, but not at a capacity that would minimize periodic filter replacement. Regrettably, I condoned it for far too long. How did I reach the tipping point where I decided to start my own business? My story starts with my granddad.
I grew up in a family-owned and operated sheet metal shop. My granddad, a loving and driven man, had me slagging parts and sorting hardware by age seven. I spent every minute of every summer in and around the shop. It was a noisy, greasy and busy place – and I loved it! At an early age, I was fascinated to learn what a cyclone and baghouse were and how they were built. Warm family gatherings always included shop talk and I would eagerly sit in on those conversations, listening to every word. Today is no different. I still love fabrication and never pass up an opportunity to tour a fabrication facility. Dust and fume filtration is truly in my blood.
I started as a sales rep in my early 20’s. At the time, the industry was led by a couple of company giants who promoted the practice of filling holes. I was quickly taught to stretch the limits, get the orders and move on to more projects. This philosophy was fundamentally against what I had learned growing up in the family business. Unfortunately, top dust and fume collection companies continue with this practice today. But being ambitious and eager to please, I unwisely suppressed my opinion of it and sold collectors in this manner for years. Increasingly unhappy with my circumstance, conviction compelled me to start my own business.
In October 2001, I founded Imperial Systems with the mission that my company would build the best dust and fume collection equipment on earth. Our collectors would be designed and built from an end user’s point of view, last longer and filter better than any other collector on the market. Growing up in manufacturing, I knew that one of our strongest attributes was that we were a company that knew how to design, build and install complete systems from start to finish. This was a distinct advantage over the big companies and still holds true today. Every one of our sales engineers has spent time in the field installing systems so that they understand what they’re selling and what it takes to get equipment properly designed for a dependable installation.
For years we successfully built and sold cyclones, baghouses, ducting and airlocks. In 2010, I decided to expand the company by building cartridge style dust collectors. When we started, we copied a major brand’s collector almost exactly. Unfortunately, this was a mistake for several reasons. For one, it did not differentiate us from our competitors. The technology was old, and by replicating it we made ourselves a “me-too” brand. The only way to compete was on price, which immediately put us at a disadvantage. We were the smallest industrial dust collector manufacturer in the industry. Why would someone buy from us over one of the larger, more established companies? When it was all about price, we would win a job but lost money as a consequence. Regrettably, I realized that copying a competitor was a short-sided strategy. Being a “me-too” company is not what I had envisioned as our future.
So, we regrouped and made some innovative design changes. We committed to build a better cartridge dust collector and differentiate ourselves from our competitors. It was then that I realized that our strength was in our differences. From that point on, we reminded ourselves of this insight at every design and engineering meeting. It became a mantra as we insisted on being innovators, not copiers. That’s when our business started to thrive. Independent sales reps started calling us unexpectedly to represent our product line. We started winning the majority of the quotes that we were working on. It was a new beginning for the newly designed CMAXX, now the flagship of Imperial Systems.
I am proud of the new approach and success that Imperial Systems has had with the CMAXX. The innovations came from customers reporting to us the problems with other equipment that they have had for years. They spoke and we listened. Because of these innovations and loyal customers, Imperial Systems is now the most progressive dust and fume collection company in the industry today. Ironically, CMAXX is now the most copied collector on the market!
I guess you can say we are now doing things right. We’ve emerged with dignity from being an ambitious imitator to an industry thought leader. We are transparent about the solutions we provide to fill needs, not holes. I’m so grateful to my granddad for his influence on my life. And I thank every member of the Imperial Systems team for fulfilling my true vision of this company.