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

May 9, 2023

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.