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Combustible Dust, Sanitary Design Hot Topics

May 6, 2015

By Joe Florkowski

Sanitary design and combustible dust were among the topics discussed on the first day of the 119th annual International Association of Operative Millers conference at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs Wednesday.

When designing a sanitary facility, location, layout, and even the types of materials can make a difference, according to Franz Signer, vice president of engineering at Buhler, who presented the conference session Developing Sanitary Design for Equipment and Facilities.

When determining where to build your sanitary facility, factors such as deciding whether you want it in a city versus rural location, the geography of the area, and the climate can all affect the type of material you plan to process, said Signer. For example, if you are building a facility in a city, there may not be room to expand the facility unless you are willing to build vertically.

Signer said plant layout is another aspect of sanitary design to consider, with factors being: storage space, process steps needed, expansion space, utility connections, and maintenance operation space.

The layout will also have to consider traffic within the facility: there needs to be room for pedestrian traffic, trucks, material, and finished product. "We don’t want to have everything in the same spot,” Signer said.

When building a facility, the same kind of planning and care is necessary, according to Signer. When using building materials, an owner should consider the food product risks of the materials, how long the facility will last, what the processed materials may do to the building materials, and how the building materials will be cleaned.

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Conference members also learned more about the new combustible dust standard, NFPA 652, being developed by the National Fire Protection Association later this year.

Mill employees, owners, and others working in these facilities need to read and understand NFPA 652, as well as revisions to NFPA 61, to ensure that their operations meet the new standards, according to Craig Froehling, engineering lead with Cargill, who presented the session NFPA 652: Fundamentals of Combustible Dust – What Do I Need to Do?

In addition to udnerstanding these two codes, Froehling suggested other tips to help facility managers prevent combustible dust incidents from occurring, such as companies should consider how they will design and retrofit their buildings. For example, a company may want to add more automation processes to minimize the exposure of employees.

Froehling also said material handlers should know what types of dust they are using and its properties, as well as do a dust hazard analysis and risk assessment for their facility.

Froehling went on to say that companies may want to consider arranging their facilities to avoid incidents or minimize damage if there is one. Making sufficient space between grain bins and other buildings may limit exposure and offices and labs may be moved away from the operations area.

Joe Florkowski is the managing editor for Powder & Bulk Solids. He can be reached at joe.florkowski@ubm.com

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