A Health and Safety Engineer, HSE, is a position that combines knowledge of engineering with safety development procedures. EXAIR speaks to many HSEs from different companies about our OSHA safe and reliable products. The discussions typically surround blow-off devices that violate noise level and dead-end pressure rules. In this instance, I was contacted by a HSE from a plastic extrusion company that needed a safe solution for a slightly different matter.
The HSE stated that they had an operator that twisted an ankle while carrying a bag of pellets up the stairs to a mezzanine. With his hands occupied on the bag, he was not able to use the handrails. Luckily, he did not fall down the stairs, but there was a chance for that dangerous possibility to occur. The mezzanine was needed to feed a hopper that was located above an extrusion machine about 12 feet (3.6 meters) above the ground. Whenever a material change was needed, they would have to clean the machine. The cleaning process was done with purge pellets.
In this scenario, a worker would pick up a 50 lb. (22.7 Kg) bag of purge pellets, walk up the stairs, and dump in about half the bag. This was enough material to completely clean the entire extrusion machine before the next production run. After their operator twisted an ankle during this method, they had to find a safer solution. And they found EXAIR.
The EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor, or Line Vac, was the perfect product for this. It is a compact, inexpensive, and simple conveyor that only needs compressed air to move material from point A to point B. They do not have any moving parts or motor bearings to wear, making them very reliable and long-lasting.
I recommended a model 6983 Aluminum Line Vac Kit as it was able to convey the desired amount of material to that height. This kit comes with a 1 1/2” Aluminum Line Vac, a mounting bracket, a filter separator, and a pressure regulator. The filter separator will keep the air clean as it moves the material to its destination. The pressure regulator is used to “dial in” the desired conveyance rates. At 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar), the model 6983 can convey nearly 13 lbs./min (355 Kg/hr.) at the height of the hopper. So, to move the required amount for a clean out, it would only take about two minutes to move 25 lbs. (11.4 Kg) of purge pellets.
For the company above, the HSE was extremely happy with the safety feature that the Air Operated Conveyor provided. The bag of purge pellets could stay on the floor, while the Line Vac was able to move the pellets to the hopper above. The operator could watch the required amount that was being transferred; and, once the bag was half empty, the operator could turn off the compressed air. It is that simple. EXAIR offers a range of Line Vacs to work in many types of applications. If your company has a potential for dangerous problems while moving material, you should contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if we have a safer way.