We are always talking about safety here on the InControl blog. We like to highlight the positive side of following the necessary safety regulations, like protecting your employees and facility, energy savings, and increased productivity, but the harsh reality remains; explosions and fires happen everyday. The damages run the gamut, from the worst case scenerio, the loss of life, to possibly having to rely on a competitor for help.
Before working with us, one of our customers had a fire on their coil coating production line which temporarily shut them down.
Their process consisted of bare coils of recycled steel and aluminum being uncoiled from a roll. The metal was then chemically cleaned, treated and rinsed to prepare the surface for optimum coating adhesion and corrosion protection. The coil then entered a coating room where a paint containing solvents is applied uniformly to both sides of the strip with rollers. The coated sheet then enters an oven in which the coating is cured at high temperatures. During the curing process solvent vapors are driven off. This is where the mistake was made, the Company was using ventilation air only to keep the solvent vapors at safe levels.
Safety and fire codes outline the design specifications for the safe operation of solvent ovens. The codes limit the maximum solvent concentration allowable to 25% of the LFL under worst case operation. Large volumes of ventilation air must be heated and circulated to keep the solvent vapors in the oven at safe operating levels. However, if a flammable vapor analyzer is installed as a safety control the maximum allowable concentration is 50% of the LFL, which means not as much air has to be heated to dilute the vapors.
Due to the extensive damage of the fire, the company had to purchase a brand new line. In order to fulfill their customer orders during the downtime they had to ask a competitor to produce the product for them.
Although the outcome could have been much worse, it is still not an ideal position to be in, spending money on a new production line and asking a competitor for help. The plus side is that they were able to install the proper LFL equipment on their new coil coating production line, achieving maximum safety and an added perk… they are saving a substantial amount of energy.
Find our more details in our Coil Coating Case History.