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    A little over 11 1/2 years ago on February 7, 2008, the Imperial Sugar Company manufacturing facility in Port Wentworth, Georgia was home to the most significant local tragedy to date. Fourteen workers were killed, and 36 others sustained severe burns and injuries after a reactive chain of sugar dust explosions. In the investigation report, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) found that the dust explosion had started in the enclosed conveyor system below the sugar silos. The initial blast stirred up sugar dust that had built up on the floors and other surfaces, causing a devastating chain reaction of additional dust explosions racing through the buildings. Then fires resulting from the explosions destroyed packing buildings, silos, a palleting building and severely damaged parts of the refinery and sugar loading area. The investigation conducted by the CSB highlighted numerous safety concerns where dust explosions were a severe risk and thus provided a list of recommendations to ensure that such fires and explosions wouldn't occur again. But, what does this have to do with the OSHA or Fire Code? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) addresses dust explosion and fire prevention provisions. After several investigation reports and studies, the CSB recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) develop a federal standard to address the increasing workplace hazards found in facilities. Especially where combustible solids are handled, used, or stored, which has the potential to generate or release combustible dust. It was the tragic event at the Imperial Sugar refinery that pushed this recommendation into action. OSHA later announced that they would initiate a rule-making process to develop a federal standard addressing these needs. Fast forward a few years, and a new committee structure was put in place at the NFPA to oversee the standards-making process for these documents related to dust hazards. As a result, NFPA Standard on the Fundamentals of Dust was born. This document provides the following two key points: 1) Basic principles of, and requirements for, identifying and managing fires. 2) Explosion hazards of combustible dusts and particulate solids. This helped place the NFPA policies as the standard for fire safety, who's policies will soon be enforceable mandates instead of just suggested principles. These NFPA principles have an impact on fire inspectors as well. It outlines operating procedures and practices; inspection, testing and maintenance of equipment; maintenance programs and procedures; training and hazard awareness; qualifications and training for contractors; emergency planning and response; management of change; documentation; and management of systems. It's the holy grail of fire safety for production facilities. An inspector/AHJ must be aware of the provisions related to these facilities and confirm that these protection strategies & procedures are in place. They must also recognize that facilities are maintaining those safety conditions for the welfare of the facility and its worker Rotary Airlock has an even deeper place in their heart for these safety standards. Less than 30 minutes from our facility, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) had a silo explosion that took the life of one firefighter, while causing another to lose multiple limbs. Scott V. of Rotary Airlock grew up in the same town as that ADM plant and his father retired as a Firefighter from that same firehouse. Having loved ones that not only knew the lives lost and changed that day but knowing it could have been that family member at one point, weighs heavy on the entire RA Family. That is why Rotary Airlock set out to provide the highest safety standard product we could. Rotary Airlock engineered drop-in replacement valves that meet, and even exceed NFPA standards — paired with a proprietary seal system that eliminates combustible dust leakage, AND a direct-drive available for EVERY SINGLE make & model. Rotary Airlock has a significant focus on replacing EVERY dust-collection valve in America to do their part in the safety of every person possible. If you ever needed a reason to replace or upgrade your dust-collectors, don't let it be when lives are lost or families are changed forever. Start improving your valves today and start saving a whole lot more than just money. You can CALL or TEXT Rotary Airlock at (815) 564-1729 or shoot a message here to get started.

  • . . .Especially Ethanol.

    The Basics Before delving into the intricacies of ethanol use, it's important to understand what it is and how it is developed. In its most basic form, ethanol is derived from plant materials, such as corn and sugar. Previously, oil companies would mix a small amount of ethanol into their fuel blends, in a mixture that was referred to as gasohol. Since this mixture can run effectively in any engine, it helped to reduce the environmental impact of the fuel, while also avoiding any major sacrifice in quality. With recent advances though, an even better mixture has been developed. At 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, E85 has effectively reversed the properties of gasohol. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has even gone so far as to praise E85 for its ability to significantly reduce carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions. And, with gasoline supplies slowly diminishing, there has been an even greater push for ethanol mixtures that push the boundaries of how much gasoline is actually required. The Conversion Process In order for plant materials to transform into ethanol, it must undergo a specific process. Ethanol is not naturally occurring in the environment, which means plants need to be fermented and distilled in order to create it. Of course, ethanol has been a component of human society for a very long time, as it can even be found in alcoholic beverages. As previously mentioned, the key to rapidly developing ethanol is to use crops that are high in sugar. Once crops have been gathered to be processed, they are ground up and refined. The refined sugar that is gathered is then left to ferment into carbon dioxide and ethanol, with yeast added to speed up the process. Up until this point, it is basically the same process used to create alcoholic beverages. After the ethanol has been gathered, it is then distilled and purified before it is ready to be used as a bio-fuel. The relative simplicity of the development process helps to make ethanol production considerably cheaper than many other fuel sources. Since ethanol is a cleaner fuel source, it doesn't add harmful particulates to the air when it's burned. Instead, burning ethanol just creates water and a smaller amount of carbon dioxide than other fuel sources. Expanding Production More than 90 production plants have already been established for ethanol, with at least another thirty planned, as well as several expansions and government regulations in certain states have also made a greater push for ethanol to replace traditional fuel sources. Since ethanol can potentially be just as effective as gasoline, it's not a matter of if it will replace gasoline fully, but rather when. With all of the information above covered it is safe to say a few points. One, that the process of ethanol production is not simply a system that can be stopped or paused, as there are chemical reactions taking place. Two, that Ethanol production facilities are in need of specific machinery and production materials that were created with them and their processes in mind and three, the Ethanol Production industry is only going to grow which means more production and more competition in the marketplace. If we look at these distinct points its not hard to see why Ethanol plants are experiencing excruciating amounts of frustration with valves not intended for their application. Theses valves were designed and engineered to fit within systems but haven't been engineered to prevail within the Ethanol application. These original valves are not intended for what these facilities are producing, their chemical properties, or the people who work there to provide for themselves and their families. Some of these valves are so corroded so quickly they aren't even a valve anymore, but a chute complete with immense pitting and irreparable fissures and breaks. How is a production facility to keep up with the demand if their valves keep failing; shutting down production lines and even come with the expense of ruined product that was stopped part way thru it's process. How are they suppose to compete in a significantly rapid growing industry? Rotary Airlock provides a Master Class option not seen anywhere else. So clients working with them already have a hand on the crown in the growing ethanol industry, but what ethanol facility of the 90 is falling short? Which one's will we see be swallowed up by those who took actions today, instead of hoping for tomorrow? Only time will tell.

  • Direct Drives Only...

    We’ve made it quick and convenient for you to swap those 'thorn in your side' chain drive valves straight to direct drives in no time. In this post we’ll share the capital project plan by Rotary Airlock with the safety & maintenance conscious Ajinomoto Group and how they are creating a whole new Master Class working experience that's driving World Class Profits. Hands Off! We usually hear that coming from our Wife's mouth when it comes to sneaking a piece of her dreamy Carrot Cake before supper. This time however it was the VERY serious mindset of the Ajinomoto Group when it came to their airlocks. Ajinomoto was very clear. They wanted to eliminate safety and maintenance hazards. We mean ELIMINATE, like disintegrate their existence as if they were the target of Thanos at a open mic poem reading (snap, not clap....get it?). Terrible jokes aside, Ajinomoto was adamant on their 'No Touch' approach. If there was going to be any work done with a valve, it was going to be pulled and replaced with an upgrade. Simple as that. No more chains to be repaired, no more sprockets with broken teeth to be replaced. No more tons of inventory weighing down their budgets. If it needed work, it needed to go. The OEM doesn't offer that. What?! Now you would think Ajinomoto wanting to upgrade and replace ALL of their valves to the safest possible model would be a task their original OEM would be happy to offer. To Ajinomoto's shock their original OEM's didn't offer a conversion to Direct Drive valves (literally the industry's safety standard). Actually most OEM's don't. Since they are in the business of selling valves for SYSTEMS not for APPLICATIONS, the Direct Drive conversion doesn't fit into their business model. So Ajinomoto was stuck with their OEM's limited options (that definitely were not safety conscious). This is where Rotary Airlock offered what they needed, instead of just what they had. 20 Valves And Counting. With 25 years of experience under their belts Rotary Airlock approached Ajinomotos Capital Project like they always do, by putting the customer first. By working directly with the Ajinomoto team Rotary Airlock was able to evaluate their concerns and layout the road map, costs, and timeline to accomplish their dreams of Pull, Plug & Play their entire fleet of valves. Rotary Airlock was the ONLY OEM who even offered the possible of achieving their goals. With this dream a possibility now. Ajinomoto set an initial project with Rotary Airlock. Rotary Airlock engineered, upgraded, tested, and provided 11 Kwik-Clean Valves ALL WITH Direct Drive options. Just what Ajinomoto was after. The configuration on the valves ELIMINATED the need for those additional parts, lubricants, and overall inventory. Meaning increased profits, standard maintenance across the board, which meant shorter training and onboarding needed for staff AND Reduced safety hazards to a minimum, and even prolonged the running life of their airlocks. Now Rotary Airlock has completed over 20 valves and counting. All because they focused on the people instead of the product. By listening, engaging, and collaborating with Ajinomoto, Rotary Airlock set to provide the Safest Solution Possible specifically for Ajinomoto and has continued to upgrade all their valves to Direct Drives and with a Maintenance Dream configuration. If Rotary Airlock can be the Aspirin for one customers headache, I wonder what they can do for yours? #DirectDrive #BeTheAspirin #DoingBusinessRight

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