A globally-renowned International Dairy Industry Group consulted IEP Technologies SAS located in France when an expansion project for one of their production sites in Western France led to the requirement for the upgraded process plant to be protected against the potentially dangerous and costly effects of industrial explosions.

risk of explosion protection

The company had decided to invest in the plant to increase its production capacity of dairy-based ingredients which are used in the food industry, however as part of the design review the company’s Global Insurance Underwriter judged that the new fluid bed drying and powder cooling plant as well as the upgraded dust collection equipment all needed to have “state of the art” explosion protection to meet or exceed their own internal engineering safety standards and rules.

In addition to the dairy and food Industries, many manufacturing processes are at risk of dust explosions which may occur when fine particulates, dispersed in air, are exposed to an ignition source within a contained environment.

Dust collectors

These types of contained environments are commonly present throughout industry, for example piping and ducting, process vessels, dust collectors, and numerous types of special process machinery.

Ignition sources should always be minimized or eliminated through a combination of engineering and safety controls

The ignition source may originate from several conditions, including hot materials or surfaces, flames, self-heating clusters, friction or uncontrolled electrostatic discharges. Such ignition sources should always be minimized or eliminated through a combination of engineering and safety controls, effective management and operator training and awareness.

Spray Drying process

However, even with these safety measures in place, the explosion risk cannot be ignored in abnormal or fault conditions and therefore techniques to mitigate the potentially catastrophic effects of such an event must be employed.

In this specific case, the upgrading of the Spray Drying process formed part of a much larger plant expansion which included a new external fluid bed dryer for final drying and effective powder cooling. In addition to this, the Cyclones currently in use were replaced with a totally new process bag filter.

First protection concept and budgetary proposal

IEP Technologies was first contacted by the project integrator in March 2018, and after an initial meeting where material explosion data and process specifications were collected, IEP Technologies responded with the first protection concept and budgetary proposal within a tight four-day turnaround.

The existing drying chamber (10 meters in diameter) was already equipped with explosion venting panels and these were judged to be sufficient enough to provide explosion relief for this part of the process.

Explosion suppression for the external fluid bed

However, it was also necessary to isolate the chamber to reduce the risk of explosion propagating to the associated new equipment, at the same time as providing explosion suppression for the external fluid bed and the process bag filter.

Deep discussions followed with the end user, integrator and insurance company to ensure that IEP’s proposal fully complied with the Insurer’s in-house standards and requirements as well as the pre-requisite local safety regulations and the European ATEX Directive.

SmartDS dynamic explosion detection solution

The key elements of the protection system selected consisted of SmartDS dynamic explosion detection solution

During this phase, an extremely effective ongoing working partnership was formed between IEP France and the local integration manager and it is considered that this open and honest relationship facilitated a smooth execution of the overall project.

The key elements of the protection system selected consisted of SmartDS dynamic explosion detection solution to provide early detection of developing explosions and to initiate the High Rate Discharge (HRD) Explosion Suppressors installed on the external fluid bed and process bag filter.

High Rate Discharge Explosion Suppressors

High Rate Discharge Explosion Suppressors actuate within 1.5 milliseconds of receiving an activation signal from the control unit, discharging the optimal quantity of powdered extinguishant through a special design nozzle system.

The SmartDS is a SIL 2 certified rate of pressure rise detector which uses multiple algorithms that constantly interrogate pressure data to allow robust explosion detection while providing excellent false alarm immunity, thereby avoiding costly plant downtime.

IR-13 Optical Detectors

Additionally, in view of the relatively short distances involved, IR-13 Optical Detectors were installed on the process ducts to enable a suppressant isolation barrier to be rapidly activated before the flame front propagates through to associated equipment and creates a secondary explosion.

The overall system is monitored and controlled by an EX-8000 multi-zone unit with the capability to selectively control discreet functions to initiate the appropriate protection devices only where and when they are needed.

Explosion Protection System

IEP’s local service team in France will be responsible for ongoing planned periodic maintenance

IEP France was finally awarded the contract in July 2018 and all the elements of the Explosion Protection System were delivered in October 2018 with the project commissioned in December 2018, which was considered to be well within the project timeline.

IEP’s local service team in France will be responsible for ongoing planned periodic maintenance, and the company has also purchased an inventory of running spares to minimize any downtime in the event of any system activations.

Trusted Industrial Explosion Protection Partner

The tight time scales involved in the execution of this entire project, right from initial contact, through protection concept design, proposal, proposal acceptance, system delivery, installation and commissioning, as well as the need to comply with the insurance company’s internal standards truly illustrates IEP’s capability as a Trusted Industrial Explosion Protection Partner, which comprises engineering review and design, system supply and ongoing maintenance, training and support.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

In case you missed it

How Can We Better Ensure Firefighter Health And Wellness?
How Can We Better Ensure Firefighter Health And Wellness?

Ensuring the health and wellness of firefighters is a burden shared among equipment manufacturers as well as the fire departments and individual firefighters. Thoughtful design of equipment and other products used in the fire service can be a positive factor as firefighters and other first responders face dangerous situations every day. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What steps can we take to better ensure firefighter health and wellness?

Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic
Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic

There have been challenges with completing fire safety maintenance and installation projects during the current Covid-19 crisis, most notably as a result of the difficulties for installers in safely accessing sites. Many construction projects halted for lockdown and this resulted in approximately 50% of the British installers we work with having to furlough staff. The challenges, however, are not just restricted to the UK. With Kentec panels sold in more than 90 countries across the world, we have seen varying challenges on a global scale. Throughout this crisis, fire safety continues to be paramount and as such key players, such as Kentec, are rightly considered essential businesses. We have continued manufacturing life safety systems throughout the current difficulties and it has been our mission to ensure that where new installations can take place, our panels are readily available to installers, as well as the expertise and technical support that goes with it for ongoing maintenance. Orders for spare parts have also, in fact, been consistently high during this period, as installers have been able to complete minor upgrades safely and end users have taken advantage of the period to do so. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines so that customers have not experienced any supply issues with any life safety systems or parts has been a major success. Critical Infrastructure We’ve personally seen an increase in sales for our industry-leading Sigma XT extinguishant panels during this crisis as it is widely used within critical infrastructure, in sectors such as telecommunications, data centres and healthcare. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines has been a major success During lockdown, with a vast proportion of the population working from home and relying on the internet to conduct their business and virtual meetings, it has been more important than ever that there is no loss in service in broadband and telephone services. This means that highly reliable and robust fire extinguishing systems are essential to protect essential workers and vital equipment – not only from the risk of fire, but also from the catastrophic damage that false alarms and the release of extinguishant could have, for example, on server room equipment. Understandably, this has resulted in considerable investment in fire systems in these sectors. Glasgow’s Louisa Jordan NHS Facility The recent fire safety installation at the Louisa Jordan NHS Facility Glasgow – located at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which provides more than 500 COVID-19 beds – is just one example of essential fire safety work being completed during lockdown. Vipond Fire Protection Ltd installed a total of seven Sigma XT gas suppression panels, and 32 detectors located within the electrical room that serves the 10,000m2 facility. The project was completed in what was an extremely tight seven-day turnaround, delivering proven reliability within a crucial healthcare facility. Kentec's Experience Operating Through Covid-19 We have learned that operating through this crisis and supporting installations that are going ahead is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration. For example, we’re supporting our distributors by shipping directly to their customers, when it is not safe or feasible to open their warehouses. Operating through this crisis is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration Our own workforce is also adapting to changing work patterns and demands. In the factory, at a practical level, this has meant implementing new shifts schedules starting from six o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night to ensure there are never too many people on site at one time. We have staggered arrival, leaving and break times to mitigate any risks involved at entrances, and we were lucky that space allowed us to make the canteen area bigger and increase the number of toilets from three to ten. We have moved work benches to ensure a safe distance between each employee, and where workflows make two-metre distancing impossible we have installed six- and eight-foot screens. Face masks have been provided to all staff and we are also trialling face shields for further comfort and protection. Our office staff have worked from home, and where going to the office has been necessary, they have similarly adhered to staggered arrival times. Internal communication has been essential and I’m immensely proud and extremely thankful for the positivity, proactivity and support that employees have shown through this process.     We have also adapted our Kentec Installation Partner (KIP) scheme to be fully remote to ensure training and support is there when it is needed for our installers. We are hosting webinars as another forum to solve installer queries remotely, and our new range of Taktis panels have highly advanced networking capabilities and a vast suite of communication tools that support remote monitoring. It is therefore critical that our installers fully understand how to help end users realise the benefits such panels can deliver and to ensure their installations are completed successfully. Looking Ahead To The New Normal Remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis We feel that remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis and the advanced communication capabilities of panels will be essential for both installers and end users alike. For installers it reduces the amount of time required on site, because they can access the system remotely to find out what equipment or parts they need to take with them. Similarly, for end users they can access systems remotely to check any alerts or queries off site if necessary. It remains to be seen how the rest of 2020 will pan out, but where projects have been necessarily put on hold, because of the essential nature of our industry we are confident that installers will be able to quickly and easily return to these projects when it is safe and feasible to do so. Communication, collaboration and support will continue to be essential in mitigating the challenges in our future ‘new normal.’

Even with Firefighters Retiring Earlier, Pension Costs Remain Manageable
Even with Firefighters Retiring Earlier, Pension Costs Remain Manageable

Because the physical challenges take a toll, firefighters tend to retire at earlier ages than other occupations. There is also a greater likelihood of workplace disability. Firefighter pension plans are often more generous to offset a lack of Social Security eligibility for some public safety employees. Also, more years of retirement translate into an overall increase in medical care costs for fire service retirees. Therefore, pension benefits for public safety workers are more expensive than those for other government employees, according to an analysis by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). Even so, retirement costs for firefighters and police officers represent only a small percentage of total expenditures for city, county and school district jurisdictions – around 2%. Even if you focus on jurisdictions in which public safety costs are most significant—the city and county levels – the burden is still small, averaging only 4.9% of aggregate spending for cities and 1.9% for counties. Pension Changes Could Impact Firefighter Recruitment Pension benefit generosity is about 25% greater for police and fire employees Any changes in retirement or medical care plans could negatively impact efforts to recruit enough firefighters, which are already a challenge. For example, shifting the retirement age would reduce total employee compensation, which could negatively affect retention. A wage increase to offset the change would maintain total compensation at previous levels. In 2016, the costs of pension benefits earned for police and fire personnel made up 15% of the payroll, compared with only 8% for non-public safety local employees. Annual retiree health care benefits made up 6% of payroll, compared to 4% for other employees. Analyzing Retirement Benefits Earlier retirement ages translate into longer retirement periods for these workers, which impact higher pension costs. Public safety employees are eligible for their benefits at younger ages than other groups, even though the average expected lifespans at retirement are similar. Pension benefit generosity is about 25% greater for police and fire employees, a difference that offsets the lack of Social Security coverage for some public safety employees. Any changes in retirement or medical care plans could negatively impact efforts to recruit enough firefighters, which are already a challenge “Local governments across the country are continually analyzing the retirement benefits provided to the public safety workforce, along with associated costs,” says Joshua Franzel, PhD., President and CEO of SLGE. “This research provides government leaders and policymakers with a national snapshot so they can make informed decisions.” Outdated Assumptions? Some evidence suggests that assumptions about earlier retirement ages for police and firefighters may be outdated. Despite the physical demands of the jobs, some local governments have sought to retain experienced employees using a Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP), which allows employees to claim pensions while continuing to work. Higher DROP participation rates – with some public safety employees working five years longer – suggest that employees may be able to stay on the job until later ages. Also, the U.S. Army (whose jobs can also be physically demanding) has raised its mandatory retirement age for active duty soldiers from 55 to 62.  emphasizing employee health and fitness Use of technology can help to ease the physical burdens of public safety jobs, and an emphasis on employee health and fitness can also improve the picture. The analysis was conducted by CPR researchers Jean-Pierre Aubry, Associate Director of State and Local Research; and Kevin Wandrei, Research Associate. The research assesses the size of public safety retiree benefit costs using public safety employee data from the Public Plans Database, the U.S. Census Bureau, and government actuarial valuations.