Marcin Sieniek interviewed by Sebastian Gruszka | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.grupa-wolff.eu
Each investment project requires intercommunication between the investor and the contractor. It is the same with design and construction of industrial plants. Let us take dedusting systems for example – setting objectives, goals and priorities in the initial phase of the project makes possible a further implementation of the task in accordance with the customer’ expectations and also with applicable regulations. It happens that the investor is not aware of the standards, restrictions, and regulations that are in force in a particular area. But this is nothing unusual, because in this specific tandem, the contractor is an expert. It is precisely the contractor who should lead the investor to the aim along the optimum path – in terms of both technology and economy.
The many years’ experience of the sales engineers – people who are at the forefront of communication with customers – shows that obtaining input data is frequently a considerable problem. So how does the communication with the investor look like in practice? Is it so that any difficulties in obtaining brief foredesign and inputs from the investor disqualify the design? Can the contractor assist in obtaining the data needed for the task implementation? We have asked Marcin Sieniek, sales engineer for dedusting and central vacuum system at GRUPA WOLFF, about these and other issues related to the design and construction of industrial plants.
Interviewer: Good morning, Sir. You have been working with investors from various industries for several years. Is it really such a big problem to obtain key information that is necessary for the design and construction of a plant?
Marcin Sieniek: Indeed, I very often encounter the problem of a lack of necessary information. Our potential customers do not know what data they must gather or what problems consider so that the task is carried out in a manner satisfactory for both parties, I mean that the plant is efficient and its construction cost-effective.
Interviewer: So how can we tackle this problem?
M.S.: In our case, the lack of inputs that are necessary to design and then construct a dedusting system is not an insurmountable obstacle. In recent years, we have developed some “data recovery” mechanisms. What’s more, it has become our speciality. For example, documentations of industrial plants have worked a dozen or so years are most often incomplete or out of date. In such situations, we are able to carry out an inventory of the plant; such an inventory, depending on the needs, may include:
- inwentaryzację stanu instalacji elektrycznych,
- pomiary gabarytowe urządzeń,
- pomiary rzeczywistej grubości ścianek urządzeń i aparatów,
- obliczenia aktualnej wytrzymałości konstrukcyjnej urządzeń i aparatów,
- weryfikację doboru urządzeń i zabezpieczeń pod kątem bezpieczeństwa wybuchowego i procesowego,
- opracowanie rysunków 2D, modeli 3D lub szczegółowego projektu wykonawczego,
- opracowanie raportu wraz z wytycznymi w zakresie poprawy wydajności, skuteczności lub bezpieczeństwa instalacji.
As regards dedusting plants, which fall in the area of my specialisation, we can additionally determine the dust loading for a given space, which is crucial for the proper design and execution of an air-purifying system.
Interviewer: So let’s focus on dust extraction plants. What information is necessary for you to prepare a concrete offer? Please specify the indispensable minimum.
M.S.: First of all, it is necessary to identify the sources of the formation of dust. At this stage, we can rely on information provided by the investor, but personally, I prefer a site inspection. A visit to the site allows me learn its specificity and see a lot of details that at a later time may be crucial to the design. It happens that during such visits new, improved concepts of the plant are created that can be implemented faster and cheaper than anticipated by the investor.
Certainly, it is not always so rosy. There are also reverse situations when we need to inform the investor about the issues that he did not take it into account previously. For example, system owners and users are frequently not aware of the fact that the dust that they want to collect in the filter has explosive properties. Since filters belong to the group of equipment very seriously threatened with explosions, we cannot be indifferent to the issue (acc. to BIA Statistics – Reports 11/97, filters and cyclones are the second group of equipment most seriously threatened with explosions after silos and containers, and in case of metallic dusts, as much as 44% of all explosions in industry occur in dust extraction systems).
Interviewer: How is it possible that the owner of the installation, does not know that dust that frequently occurs in huge amounts in manufacturing plants poses a threat of explosion?
M.S.: Where coal dust is extracted, the situation is clear – the product is explosive and legally required safety measures should be applied. We can feel it almost intuitively. However, in the industry, there are hundreds of products that are generally considered safe, e.g. metals, various polymers, wood, sugar, flour, biomass. Although we know that most of them are flammable, we seldom realize that their dust is explosive.
For example, in the case of metal dusts, I mean aluminium or magnesium, explosive parameters are so high that typical anti-explosive systems do not manage the task. In such situations, it may be helpful to inert the plant by injecting limestone into the system. This solution does not eliminate completely the risks, but it allows to reduce the explosive parameters of the above dusts to a level that enables application of conventional anti-explosive systems.
Coming back to the core question – the preparation of reliable offer requires a good knowledge of the processes that are executed at the site and which are to be de-dusted. For example, the most dust-generating processes include crushing, grinding, screening, mixing and transporting bulk materials, as well as the extraction of raw materials. On the other hand, at the production of steel in electric arc or induction furnaces, not only dust but also gases are secreted. Furthermore, in the case of processes of sharpening, grinding or polishing, we have to do with high concentrations of the most harmful, highly dispersive dusts. Each of these cases should be dealt with individually.
Here is other information important from my point of view:
- in what configuration do individual devices / installations operate and which of them are subject to dedusting – this is necessary for determining the maximum efficiency of the dedusting,
- extracted dust parameters (temperature, explosive, wiping and corrosion properties – also after mixing with water, shape and particle size distribution),
- if the process that is to be dedusted generates gases and/or vapours – what are their parameters (temperature, corrosion properties, whether or not they are flammable/explosive, and in the case of gas – their humidity),
- location of the dedusting plant – overall dimensions dust extraction unit and the fan have to be taken into account here, as well as the ability to collect easily the product from the device and then to transport it; one should also keep in mind the access to utilities (electrical power, compressed air).
Interviewer: Does the investor need to know the answers to all these questions at the stage of the first contacts with the sales engineer?
M.S.: Such a situation would be perfect, but, as we know, such a thing does not exist in nature and in practice. In the first place, not all of these issues will be relevant for a given situation, therefore my job is to ask right questions and obtain only the necessary information. If the investor does not know the answer to a particular question, we can base ourselves either on our own experiences from similar implementations or carry out necessary research and analyses. The complexity of our services is something what we want to be distinguished by against other companies.
Interviewer: When you already have all the necessary information, then what’s next?
M.S.: In the next step, it is necessary to estimate the amount of dust that will be collected in the filter and how it can be utilised. There are a lot of possibilities here. For example, the product can be recycled to the process through a pneumatic transport system. Alternatively, it can be packaged in big-bags or formed into briquettes. It all depends on what product we collect in the filter and what its value is. For example, the wood industry, waste is often burned in boilers, thus producing heat required in the production process.
Interviewer: I understand then that the best option for preparing fast and reliably a concept of a dust extraction plant or an offer for the same is when the investor prepares answers to the above questions. Nevertheless, the lack of certain information is not an insurmountable obstacle. In such situations, you rely on your own experience or carry out relevant research and analyses.
M.S.: Precisely. Then let it be a summary of our conversation.
How to set about investing in dust collection systems? The first step is to determine:
- sources of dustiness,
- dustiness degree in each area,
- what substances are drawn into the plant (dust, vapours and gases) and what their parameters are (including temperature, corrosiveness, toxicity, explosiveness),
- the number and type of dedusted plants and equipment and the configuration they operated in,
- location of the foundation of the dedusting plant (including the availability of utilities, the distance from dedusted installations and equipment, overall dimensions of the constructed plant, the ease of erection).