Drone services provide faster and safer cleaning (webinar)

Feb 15, 2022

Combustible dust is the leading cause of industrial firesDust creates significant problems and risks for paper mills, especially to tissue manufacturers with a bulkier and softer end product. This issue is clearly visible in any paper manufacturing facility, getting worse when approaching the dry end of the machine hall. Typically, dust accumulates on horizontal construction frames, crane assemblies and electrical cable support rails, to mention a few. This all creates obvious fire hazards and dangers for process lines underneath. Not to overlook other threats for people working in these conditions.

A traditional way to remove this dust has been either to use scissor lifts - or in more challenging cases, build scaffoldings for hard-to-reach spaces - to manually remove the dust. Not only is the latter method time consuming but it is also hazardous and risk prone.

Valmet's dust droneUnderstanding this matter, a flying drone has been developed for industrial usage. The drone is equipped with a gage to protect it while cleaning and the drone itself uses an integrated heavy-duty blower to remove the dust. The drone is further equipped with sets of batteries which enable "continuous" flying and cleaning. The drone is operated by two pilots who are assisted with a pair of augmented glasses.

A webinar presented on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022, by Bobby Hyde, Product Specialist, Tissue Solutions, answers the questions:
- Why was the dust drone was developed?
- How a drone can improve dust removal safety?
- How does the drone operate?

Click HERE to view this free webinar.

Here is an excerpt from the webinar regarding combustible dust:

Drone's eye view of dust removal in action high above the mill floor

Drone's eye view of dust removal in action high above the mill floor

An average of 37,000 fires occur at industrial and manufacturing properties every year, resulting in $1 billion in direct property damage. Let's take a look at the five main causes of industrial fires and explosions:

  • Combustible Dust - Often overlooked, and extremely deadly, combustible dust is a major cause of fire in a very large list of industries.
  • Hot Work - Hot work is one of the leading causes of industrial fire across all industries. Most of the time hot work is commonly equated with welding or torch cutting, but there are many other activates.
  • Flammable Liquids and Gasses - These fires often occur at chemical plants but are not just limited to them.
  • Equipment and machinery - Faulty equipment and machinery are also major causes of industrial fires.
  • Electrical hazards - Are one of the top five causes in manufacturing mainly because of wiring not to code or exposed, overloaded outlets, extension cords, overloaded circuits, and static discharge.

Combustible dust is the leading cause of industrial fires. According to OSHA 3371-08 2009 Hazard Communication Guidance for Combustible Dusts, Kst, the dust deflagration index, measures the relative explosion severity compared to other dusts. The larger the value for Kst, the more severe the explosion. Cellulose falls into the st 2 dust explosion class, where st 0 is not explosive, st 1 is a weak explosion, st 2 is a strong explosion and st 3 is a very strong explosion.

Even materials that aren't fire risks, while in larger pieces, have the potential to be combustible in dust form. The chances increase during winter months due to lower humidity. The secondary explosion is worse than the first.

The key ingredient in combustible dust fires and explosions is the presence of the dust itself. According to the National Fire Protection Association's NFPA 652: Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, as little as 1/32” or the thickness of a dime can be enough for an explosion. While you probably won’t be able to eliminate dust entirely, you can make sure it doesn’t accumulate to a dangerous level simply by following a regular housekeeping regimen. Part of this regimen should be Valmet's dust drone service, for safer and faster dust removal.

For more information about drone services and dust cleaning, watch the webinar and contact your Valmet representative.