How 3D scanning can make a positive difference in safety at processing facilities
Casey Shockey, President, Chief Engineering PLLC
Dust Safety Science is an organization dedicated to promoting awareness of combustible dust hazards and safety within the bulk solids handling industry. We're a proud member of this organization, and we've learned incredibly helpful information from leaders and members within the group that helps us ensure the safety of our customers.
One of my favorite resources is the Dust Safety Science Podcast, a weekly podcast hosted by Dr. Chris Cloney, Managing Director and Lead Researcher at DustEx Research. I was honored to have been featured in episode 94: Use of 3D Scanning in Processing Facilities. In this episode, we discuss the following topics:
Listen to the full episode here: https://dustsafetyscience.com/3d-scanning-casey-shockey/
“You can really take a hazard assessment to the next level by literally seeing the equipment, seeing how it’s arranged, pointing out everything that needs to be fixed, and pointing out the things that are right with the system. Because a customer knows generally where their gaps are and they don’t really get praise on what they’re doing right. But this gives you the ability to get that all into one place.”
Thank you again to Dr. Chris Cloney for having me on the podcast and for the great work he and his team are doing at Dust Safety Science. Make sure to check out dustsafetyscience.com for the latest and greatest in combustible dust research and safety advice, and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in learning more about using 3D scanning in your facility.
HOW 3D SCANNING IS CHANGING THE ENGINEERING GAME
Dylan Shockey, Project Engineer, Chief Engineering PLLC
The old reliable tape measure. A simple and essential tool that has been the staple of workers from blue collar to white collar. Tape measures have been used not only by the home handy man, but also by professional engineers across the globe to aid them in designing the newest innovations and technology for their customers … until now. In the engineering world, the tape measure is starting to be phased out – you can, almost literally, measure its untimely end in the engineering consulting world with a tape measure.
How can such a crucial tool - one that has long been essential for every engineer - suddenly become obsolete? The answer is in 3D scanning. 3D scanning technology is changing the way modern engineering consulting is done. Now, at this point, some of you have probably stopped reading and scoffed at the idea of 3D scanning replacing old faithful. Nothing can ever replace the trusty tape measure and human error—I mean, human eye. How can some blocky 3D image possibly replace a tape measure? Well, the answer is in the cloud—point cloud, that is.
Today’s 3D scanners produce imagery far superior to older, blockier 3D images by using LIDAR technology which uses lasers, reflection, and refraction that provide accuracy in scans up to 1/1000th of an inch*. Modern scanners can map a process exactly as it is in a facility and, while the scanner is at it, will map out the whole facility, just because it can—and because you told it to.
How many engineers and even fabricators have run into a situation where they measure for hours upon hours, draw up a process as best they can, design everything according to those drawings and it still just doesn’t quite fit? Countless engineers have fallen into this trap, and we end up spending extra time, and money, making field adjustments or having to back out of a project to redo the entire design just because something didn’t quite add up.
We all know the situations, too: the floor isn’t plumb and square like we assumed it was; the supports aren’t actually the same height; the platforms aren’t actually square with each other; the list of time-, money-, and trust-losing scenarios goes on. With 3D scanning and point cloud technology, these variables that you find during installation of your design are no longer unknown. An engineer can scan an entire process, building, or component, and get any measurement they want from it, all in a fraction of the time.
An engineer can scan an existing process in a facility and use the point cloud scan to get the exact dimensions needed to create an innovation or design that fits in the field. With the point cloud technology, you can measure the needed dimensions for an addition to a process, design the addition in AutoCAD, and install the actual design into the process on the point cloud. You can show your design installed in your client’s facility before it is even built (see below).
Above: 3D scanning allowed a new component to be designed in the exact environment in which it would be installed
A prime example of a company utilizing this technology to improve efficiencies is Chief Engineering in Memphis, Tenn. Because of 3D scanning, Chief Engineering can provide unparalleled designs and concepts to clients, helping it become one of the Mid-South’s leading engineering firms. 3D scanning ensures each design is done quickly and more accurately than ever before, which shortens the time from discovery to installation.
The age of the tape measure in the engineering world is reaching its end and a new age is dawning. Chief Engineering, and other firms like it, can keep your customers or business on the forefront of this new age. Welcome to the age of 3D scanning. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
If you have any scanning or engineering solution needs, contact Chief Engineering at 901-574-3403 to speak to an engineer.
Variable Frequency Drives - are they worth it?
Beau McLeod, P.E., Chief Engineering PLLC
Running a 100 horsepower motor for a year at full speed can be costly. Installing a variable frequency drive (VFD) can result in big savings, with payback periods often measured in months, particularly when utility company rebates are considered. A VFD controls the speed of a motor by varying the frequency and voltage of its power supply. Motors required to meet varying demand by operating with a throttled-down output are good candidates for VFD operation. Ultimately, three things help determine if a VFD is right for the application:
Let’s use an example to determine if a VFD is suitable for a certain application. The following table shows input power percentage vs. flow percentage controlled by a VFD and an internal vane damper.
Now, let’s assume that the fan specifications include the following:
To determine if a VFD is financially feasible for the application, a detailed financial analysis will need to be performed to calculate the payback period to cover the initial cost of the equipment. According to the example above, if the application only utilizes an 80% airflow load every year, the VFD will have an annual energy savings of $6,704.10. By dividing those savings from the capital cost of the VFD itself ($35,000), the result is an approximately 5-year payback period. If the VFD service life is 25,000 hours and the fan is operating 2,295 hrs./yr., then the lifetime of the VFD will be approximately 11 years. In this case, a VFD does make sense for this application and will receive ~$40,225 in VFD savings ($6,704.10 x 6 yrs.) after capital costs have been recuperated.
Even though VFDs are expensive, they can be a huge money saving device served in the right application. So, are VFDs worth it? Yes, in the right circumstances. Follow the exercises above to determine if a VFD makes sense for your application. If you need help with an application regarding fan sizing and performance, contact a professional engineer at Chief Engineering or visit our website at www.chiefengineering.us.
Casey Shockey, P.E., Chief Engineering PLLC
Everything seems fine. Your systems are running smoothly, nothing looks broken or out of the ordinary. But lurking beyond eyesight, things like combustible dusts and condensates could be building up within your system. And when that happens, safety is jeopardized and employees’ lives are endangered. From flash fires to explosions, several deadly but preventable incidents have occurred across multiple industries due to dust accumulation (for a list of examples, check out this article from Nilfisk). Understanding the combination and characteristics of materials moving through your system and the necessary conveying velocities can help mitigate these risks and help you meet NFPA standards and OSHA regulations.
Several actions can prevent dust accumulation incidents from happening:
Ductwork accumulation occurs based on insufficient conveying velocities in the ductwork system. Typically, poor ductwork sizing, expansions without the provision of additional airflow, capped branch lines, and improper modifications to the ductwork system can cause insufficient conveying velocities. In many cases, our team has seen instances where a machine center will have a small connection stub that is connected to an expansion fitting. For example, a table saw might have a two-inch diameter connection and then a fitting is added to increase that diameter to a larger, more readily available size such as a four-inch diameter. The increase in diameter reduces the ductwork velocity of the air stream through the downstream fittings. This reduction in airflow can cause a loss of momentum that leads to the dust falling out of suspension and settling in the bottom of the ductwork. In some cases, we have seen two-inch diameter connections expanded multiple times up to a six-inch diameter line downstream of the connection to the machine. In every case, a simple inspection of the ductwork showed that material had packed and plugged the ductwork allowing no airflow to the connection point and reduced conveying velocities downstream of the plugged ductwork. These situations can be hazardous and should be corrected immediately to meet NFPA and OHSA compliance standards.
Accumulations due to low ductwork velocities are typically seen at expansions, elbows, and in the worst case, through the entire ductwork system. Common ways of combatting these situations are to size the system’s blower to provide adequate airflow and pressure to keep the ductwork velocities at acceptable levels, or, if possible, increase the speed of the existing blower. Typically, the latter is not possible due to the size and class of the blower selected for the original design. You can also change the connection size or hood to allow consistent velocities without the need for an expansion fitting. Ductwork branch lines that are no longer needed should remain open and the airflow intake should be metered into the ductwork system to ensure the acceptable ductwork velocities are maintained. For larger ductwork modifications, consult an experienced engineer to obtain proper and compliant ductwork modification for the section or area in need of adjustment.
If your team needs help modifying or identifying issues with your dust collection system, call our team. We’re experienced, licensed, and ready to assist.
Chief Engineering, PLLC
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