Grain Mills: Preventative Maintenance and Dust Control
Grain Mills: Preventative Maintenance and Dust Control (Part 1)
January 11, 2013Every week, we see news about grain mills with dust control and maintenance issues. Simply by the nature of their processes, grain mills have difficulty keeping a clean and safe environment. This series of blog posts will review solutions for general maintenance, oil spill response and combustible dust control.
General facility maintenance and employee safety go hand-in-hand. Providing a clean, sanitary environment means your employees are risk-free of job-related injury or infection. General maintenance in grain mills also addresses concerns like combustible dust and cross-contamination from allergens, bacteria and other hazards. These threats are heightened by the residual powder and dust created during grain processing.
While dust collection systems and other cleaning methods are accepted for facility maintenance, industrial vacuums are the ideal solution for efficient and effective cleaning. These vacuums provide safe ways to clean up combustible dust and help eliminate food safety hazards, keeping the product and workers safe.
HEPA filtration is an important feature of industrial strength vacuums. HEPA vacuums prevent hazards like mold and insect infestations and eliminate downtime caused by health and safety code violations.
There are many ways to ensure an industrial vacuum meets your needs and supports your maintenance plan:
- If cross-contamination and the collection of ultra-fine particles is a concern, HEPA filtration should be considered a must-have on your vacuum. It will also keep contaminants from re-entering the air supply;
- The range of dust and debris you’re collecting may require different levels of suction and airflow;
- Stainless steel options for easy wipe-down and, depending on your environment, it may be required;
- When there are multiple production lines that require cleaning, using different food-grade accessories like color-coded hose nozzles, can prevent cross-contamination of product; and
- Cleaning times for manufacturing equipment can vary, so use a vacuum with a strong, high quality motor that can run for long time periods without any fluctuations in power.
For more information on general maintenance and safety in grain mills and other food processing facilities, visit www.foodprocessingvacuum.com.
Grain Mills: Beyond Dust, Spill Response Takes Priority (Part 2)
January 29, 2013Food manufacturers are faced with many types of obstacles when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. While dust and general maintenance are
well-known challenges for milling facilities, by-products of production like liquids and oils create hazardous conditions on and around processing equipment. Municipal sewer discharge, vegetable oils and other wet materials can create slippery conditions and put employees in harm’s way.
Regulatory bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and OSHA require food production facilities to maintain certain standards and processes for on-site safety. An efficient, thorough process for immediately addressing oil spills is important for preventing accidents and protecting the company from incurring fines or penalties.
Should an oil spill occur, industrial vacuums with wet collection capabilities and outfitted with ergonomic, oil resistant accessories can play an important role in clean-up. Things to consider:
- The “waterlift” or suction power of the vacuum. For the collection of dense liquids, high waterlift can be more crucial than airflow (or cfm) to contain the spill quickly.
- Overfill prevention such as a liquid sensor or float valve. This can prevent material from leaking and damaging the vacuum motors and filters and/or spill onto clean surfaces.
- Easy draining or pump out methods to streamline oil disposal. Tip-and-pour systems eliminate heavy lifting while those that collect and discharge products at the same time shorten the cleaning process.
Part 3 on combustible dust preventative maintenance coming soon! And, just in case you missed it, you can read part 1 about general maintenance in grain mills.
Grain Mills: Combustible Dust Housekeeping (Part 3)
February 6, 2013
The potential for explosions to occur from dust collections made of flour, sugar, cinnamon or grain particles, for example, poses a significant risk to employee safety, facility maintenance and food purity. Traditional plant maintenance methods like sweeping and blowing down with compressed air only make the situation worse by spreading the explosive dust around and making it airborne. This actually increases your chances of a combustible dust explosion.There is a lot of confusion in the food manufacturing sector regarding hazardous materials, particularly combustible dust. In short, just because your facility handles combustible dust does not mean you need an explosion proof vacuum but you might. According to OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on combustible dust, dust accumulations greater than 1/32” or the thickness of a paper clip are considered hazardous. The standard calls for electrical vacuums used in dusty areas to be approved for the hazard-classified location.
A solid maintenance plan with a HEPA-filtered industrial vacuum can significantly reduce the risk of a combustible dust accident. Vacuums equipped with features such as an external filter shaker and polyliner allow operators to easily/safely maintain the filters and dispose collected material. When dealing with classed materials within a grain mill, a certified explosion proof industrial vacuum is the best choice. Things to remember:
- A certified explosion proof vacuum is grounded and constructed entirely of non-sparking materials such as stainless steel, from the outer shell to the internal mechanics including the motor, switches, filters and inner chambers.
- Some industrial vacuum manufacturers dress up their equipment with a few anti-static accessories and describe them as suitable for explosive material. These basic models can still create arcs, sparks or heat that can cause ignition of the exterior atmosphere and overheating that can ignite dust blanketing the vacuum.
- For peak safety and operating efficiency, the explosion proof vacuum should have a graduated filtration system which uses a series of progressively finer anti-static filters to trap and retain particles as they move through the vacuum. To eliminate combustible dust from being exhausted back into the ambient air, a HEPA or ULPA filter can be positioned after the motor to filter the exhaust stream.
- Purchasing an explosion proof vacuum approved by a NRTL will protect buyers by providing legal certification that the vacuum can be used in a particular NFPA-classified environment. It ensures every component in the vacuum from the ground up meets strict standards for preventing shock and fire hazards.