Dust Collector Clears the Air for Snack Food Manufacturer

June 23, 2016

6 Min Read
Dust Collector Clears the Air for Snack Food Manufacturer
Arms used in snack food manufacturing

Barrel O’ Fun (BOF) produces an extensive line of snack foods, including traditional and kettle-cooked potato chips, whole corn tortilla and corn chips, cheese puffs and curls, gourmet popcorn, and baked potato crisps. These products come in a variety of flavors and seasonings and are shipped nationwide to retail stores, food service organizations, and private label customers. Over the years, they have perfected their recipes, ingredient list, and manufacturing practices to offer quality, wholesome snack foods. In addition to its focus on tasty snack treats, Barrel O’ Fun is committed to sustainability.
BOF’s facility in Perham, MN is no exception, and the potato chip tumbling process turns out a variety of products including very spicy chips. While the seasonings and spices used in the process create a tasty delight for consumers, high concentrations of spice dust can be a significant irritant and allergen to the employees of BOF tasked with producing these taste sensations. In addition, if allowed to collect on equipment and electronics the powder can present potential maintenance issues and, most importantly, the fine dust particles can represent a significant fire and explosion hazard. The goal was to design a dust collection system to handle 22 separate operations, optimizing dust evacuation, energy utilization (sustainability), and minimizing maintenance requirements and costs. Enter IVEC (Intelligent Ventilation Energy Controls) Systems.
IVEC Systems is located in Southeastern Wisconsin and offers intelligent air cleaning equipment and complete control systems and installations for a wide range of applications. It began in 2007 when a team of industry experts was assembled to design a state-of-the-art ventilation control system to better monitor, manage, and optimize dust collection and mist filtration systems. Having achieved that goal, IVEC has now launched a series of intelligent dust collection models, while continuing to improve the various control systems it has to offer.

The Challenge
Hastings Air Energy Control Inc., New Berlin, WI, is IVEC’s Midwest distribution partner. In 2009, Hastings had previously supplied a small 12,000 CFM source capture system utilizing IVEC’s Advanced and IPS (Intelligent Panel System) and nine IVEC automated EZ Gates on source capture arms located at the chip seasoning processes. The IVEC controls monitored filter pressure and adjusted the blower/motor based on the number of gates that were opened. The gates automatically opened when a process started and, almost as importantly, closed when the process shut down, reducing energy consumption and operating costs by reducing the amount of vacuum air required from the dust collector. This system worked well, providing excellent filter life, minimizing energy consumption and, most importantly, cleaning the air around the processes. By late 2014, BOF had outgrown this original system. While they had tried portable dust collection units to augment, they were bulky and did not provide enough air suction to remove all of the airborne spice dust. In addition to the potential safety concern, BOF also found that poor collection on some chip coating processes was allowing cross contamination of spices to other mixing lines/chips.
Since the advanced control system is expandable, BOF could have simply increased the size of the dust collector and ducting and added the additional necessary source capture drops and automated gates. However, working with Allen Mejan, a Hastings sales engineer, BOF made the decision to dismantle the original system and move it to another plant in Ohio where its size and capabilities were a better fit. A new 22,000 CFM system was designed, again utilizing IVEC’s IPS system to monitor and adjust the blower based on the number of processes operating. However, it was recognized that most of the processes ran continuously, so rather than invest in the automated gate systems, Hastings/IVEC recommended stainless steel arms with manual gates so that operators could simply close the duct when they shut down the process. In addition to saving on upfront costs, the stainless steel arms were designed to be quickly removed without tools or fasteners. In addition to eliminating the possibility of fasteners falling into the food line, the stainless arms were easy to wash down and by acquiring two spares, BOF was able to quickly change out the source capture arm and keep the process up and running while keeping the arms clean.

The Results
IVEC and Hastings designed and installed a turnkey system, providing a consistent 1000 CFM of suction at each process/source capture arm, 40% more airflow than the portable units. Rather than simply applying a cookie cutter design, the new system reflects the unique needs and desires of the Perham plant and has provided significant benefits in:

Product Quality. The new system insures the appropriate amount of suction at each mix station, eliminating the potential for cross contamination of the various spiced chips.

Energy Reduction. The IPS controls monitor filter pressure to insure the optimal amount of suction is available at each process. Filter pressure is impacted by the number of source capture arms open as well as the amount of build-up on the filters themselves. New filters allow air to pass more easily, requiring less motor energy, while more seasoned filters (no pun intended) create additional pressure drop thus requiring additional blower energy. Typical dust collectors without IVEC controls simply run the motor up to 60 HZ, wasting energy.

Ease of and Low Cost Maintenance. The easily removable and cleanable stainless steel arms allow BOF to keep the system up and running, eliminating potential down time costs. Additionally, with a single central dust collector, all of the captured dust is collected in one location and maintenance monitors and empties just one 55-gal drum, rather than keeping track of 22 separate portable source capture units. Finally, as described above, the IVEC controls provide the optimal air flow and velocity in the system and across the filters. Limiting the air flow to just what’s needed, reduces unnecessary wear and impingement on both new and seasoned filters and improves overall filter life, again reducing maintenance time and costs. In addition, the use of oleo phobic spunbond filters eliminates spices from sticking, particularly during the humid summer months, and allows the filters to be washed down. BOF has instituted six month wash down PM which further extends filter life.

Quality of Work Life and Safety. Most importantly, the BOF employees are enjoying a significant enhancement in their work environment. Prior to installation of the new system, airborne particulate was visible around some of the mix stations. Post start up the air is visibly cleaner and eye and nasal irritation has been virtually eliminated. Also, by modulating the blower motor and typically running at reduced speeds, system noise has been significantly improved. Finally, collection and removal of the fine dust reduces, if not eliminates, the potential for explosion and/or fire. The new dust collector is equipped with explosion venting to further enhance safety in the unlikely event of a flare-up.

In short, Barrel O’ Fun is extremely happy with the new system and the results they have seen. Relying on IVEC and Hastings to optimize their work air environment with reduced energy requirements has allowed BOF to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees while achieving their goal of sustainability.

For more information on IVEC Systems, visit www.ivecsystems.com. For more information on Hastings Air Energy Control Inc., visit www.hastingsair.com.

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