Food processor stays ahead of dust concerns

Bathurst Speciality Blending – a specialist in bulk preparation of dry pet food that is transported to Masterfoods for packaging – recently completed an evaluation of air quality at its factory and installed a dust collection system from filtration specialist Donaldson Australasia.

With around 40 tonnes of dry food being produced each day at the plant, the company is staying ahead of potential health and safety implications for staff and ensuring there is no long term exposure to fine dust particles created during the blending process.

While no instances of respiratory problems had been reported by employees, the company wanted to eliminate future problems by eradicating excess dust from its operations, explained BSB director and maintenance manager, Paul McLachlan.

“We tend to use forklift vehicles to tip powdered mineral-based ingredients, including dicalcium phosphate and potassium chloride, into open topped hoppers for blending,” said McLachlan.

In recent years, these powders have become increasingly fine grained and therefore harder to eliminate without the assistance of specialised technology.

“The installation of a Dalamatic system was carried out primarily for health and safety purposes as well as the general cleanliness of the factory. We also wanted to eliminate any possible fire risk from excess dust,” he said.

Donaldson Australasia installed a Dalamatic 1/5/15 dust extraction unit with a 7000m p/h extraction capacity. Fitted with a weather-proof explosion relief, the unit has been designed to treat dust with a rate of pressure rise between 200 and 300 bar m/sec.

A sensor mounted on top of the cover bin warns if the collection bin is nearing full capacity, while a high-hopper level detector acts as a double safeguard.

The entire unit is fully insulated and clad to keep dust from reaching dew point, while the hopper is also permanently heated. For safety control, a fire sprinkler is fitted at the top of the unit and connected to a control system. The entire system is rated as Dust Ignition Proof (DIP). Access platforms and ladders are hot dipped galvanised, while the extraction hoods are designed for regular cleaning.

The modular system comprises four vacuum heads, each of which attaches to the four corners of the hoppers in BSB’s processing sheds. Excess dust from each hopper is sucked along ducting into the main unit and subsequently deposited into holding bins, to be emptied into the company’s waste management area and safely disposed of.

Installing the system required only basic modifications to be made to the hoppers to allow the vacuum heads to be attached, a process expedited by Donaldson’s technicians.

Operating at the flick of a switch for 12 hours a day, the system has caused only minimal increases to the company’s electricity outlay, confirmed McLachlan. The modular nature of the technology also means it can be easily expanded or contracted to fit capacity as required.

“Since installing the Dalamatic system BSB has reduced excess dust in the relevant areas of its operations by 99%,” said McLachlan.

“We’ve installed the system in two of our six sheds, and we will undoubtedly be installing it in all six over time.”

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