It all starts from a strategic approach beginning with detailed examination of process characteristics, determination of product characterisation parameters, careful selection of manufacturing materials and predominant use of preventive measures. This initial risk analysis produces safety measures that lead to constructive anti-explosion protection, systematic surveillance of manufacturing processes, and control and inspection of the entire supply chain.
At the design level, particular emphasis is placed on meticulous process analysis, which then translates into sharing with the customer direct experience of the environment, materials and processes involved in operational practice. Reference framework is the shared reference system for classification of dust explosion ratings, evaluation of explosion risks, and integrated safety principles.
These are indispensable prerequisites for validating the conformity of Idealtec equipment with ATEX directives. In this way, through concrete commitment, a culture of safety is disseminated, thanks to a precise response in terms of quality transparency and enforcement.
All equipment designed and intended for handling powders for producing solvent-based paints in ATEX category 0/20 thus becomes the subject of validation, for compliance with provisions of current legislation, the existence of adequate safety conditions, and the search for solutions aimed at risk mitigation The raw materials used are solid organic substances and dry substances, stored in bags and big bags.
The process consists of transferring these substances into three dispersers, to be mixed with liquid solution. These operations are controlled and managed by a PLC; the plant operates in batches. In the factory, supervision, control and inspection of assisting raw material unloading are done, as well as final packaging of the product.
The equipment goes from ground level to 5 meters in height and is located in internal areas of the plant; the material is unloaded from the FIBC emptying station and sent to the dispersers using a screw conveyor and an aero-mechanical conveyor on a self-propelled base.
From the evaluation of explosive atmospheres and given the almost constant presence of potentially explosive conditions, it is necessary to attribute the proper categorisation and consequent activation of the 0/20 certification process for inside the Idealtec equipment.
In addition, class St2 of solid substances in dust form, which implies an explosion strength between 201 and 300 bar m/s (evaluation of intrinsic risk of medium explosiveness), low resistivity of the product, and the material’s tendency to accumulate electrostatic charges accentuate the need for very rigorous adoption of preventive/protective measures against danger of explosion.
The context in which we operate makes it completely appropriate, in the plant zones and equipment under analysis, to constantly maintain and record earthing control practices, equipotential connections of single components, and limiting to the technical minimum the time of airborne presence of dust.
The unloading area of solid raw materials is kept slightly below ground level by means of a catchment point located at the back of the equipment, while the suction from these catchments is conveyed to a centralised filtration system. The raw material is then unloaded by equipotential connection of the equipment with the plant.
All components for transporting and containing dusts are made of AISI 304/316 steel, an electro-conductive material, in suitable thicknesses. Electrical continuity between the elements of the equipment (elements of the powder transport lines and parts of the equipment) is ensured by metallic mechanical connections and further equipotential connections using jumpers.
Electrical continuity checks between the equipment elements are particularly important, especially when unloading the product from the bags and big bags and when loading the dispersers. This is ensured by continuous monitoring of the special clamps and flexible earthing connections.
Also, protection from incoming foreign bodies – which could cause sparks – is achieved using an electrical absorption indicator. Accumulation of substance inside the equipment is prevented by sloping ducts and inspection doors. In the screw and aero-mechanical conveyors, in addition to the substance in powder form, an inorganic substance also circulates, to facilitate natural cleaning of internal dust deposits and removal of any residues along the transport circuit.
The equipment is suitable for transporting dusts with priming charge of >1MJ, while for more critical products, nitrogen blowing points can be arranged along the transport circuit to make the whole line inert.
A series of dedicated devices supervise control of the operating safety temperature, avoiding thermal drift due to overheating. Any overpressure is released by means of air vents.
Proof of the effectiveness of a production quality management system, legitimised by an eminent notified body, endorses IDEALTEC’s commitment to support adoption of measures aimed at a holistic vision of the sustainability of production processes.
In short: safety as a starting point, innovation as a rule.