SkipVac turns a dust problem into a solution for Gypsum Industries
- 17 May 2012
- Product News
The Gotland CompVac purchased by Gypsum Industries in Ireland has made all the difference to the standards of cleaning, general housekeeping and removal of all the dust and spillages around their crushing plant and in the factory.
Best known for its Gyproc brand and part of the global St. Gobain group, Gypsum Industries is the market leader in plasterboard and plaster, serving the Irish and UK construction industry for over 70 years. Gypsum rock is mined at Knocknacran, Co.Monaghan and crushed down to 3 inch rocks before being transported to the manufacturing operation at Kingscourt, where it is milled and processed down to the fine powder needed for plaster and plaster board.
Getting to grips with dust
In both the crushing plant and the mill, large quantities of dust are inevitably generated. The crushing plant in the mining area was originally set up with dust suppression systems using water mixed with air to produce fine mists, but this proved ineffective as the dust and water content combined to form a crude plaster that built up around and under the plant, sticking to rollers, belts and tracking. The system was decommissioned, and the dust build up was subsequently dealt with manually.
This of course was also very problematic, as Mining & Quarry Manager Dave Edwards explains: "Gypsum dust is very difficult to shovel, sweep or brush up into bags or barrows. In our Sampling Tower, for instance, there five levels with grated stairs. With a sample of 5 to 10 kgs being dropped through the chute with every 10 tonnes being processed, plus its own small crushing machine, there's a lot of dust getting everywhere just in this part of the process. Trying to remove all the dust manually from things like stair gratings was very inefficient and simply made the dust problem worse."
Getting a solution in place at the crushing plant
Edwards then found out about Gotland and its range of industrial vacuum equipment. "After a trial, we soon decided that a vacuum system would be a much more effective solution to the dust. With Gotland's advice and direction, a centralised pipework system was installed throughout the crushing plant, and this included inlet valves for suction hoses at all five levels of the Sampling Tower."
"A Gotland SkipVac provides the suction power for the pipework system, and to collect all the dust from wherever it is used. The flexible hose system enables 4", 3" and 2" hoses to be coupled up to extension pipes and nozzles, and all the gypsum dust is now removed easily, quickly and safely, and all of it is recycled back into the process for sending to the Mill at Kingscourt."
...and at the Mill
Over at Kingscourt some 7 kilometres away, the SkipVac is transported and then used to drive the existing pipework system, but as Edwards explains, the SkipVac provides far more suction than the previous vacuum system: "In the plastermill the old vacuum systems were nothing like as powerful as the SkipVac. There are specific areas where dust builds up and must be removed. In the hot pit under the kettle for example, the dust behaves like talcum powder."
"Although the pit is up to 8 metres square and as much as five metres deep, the suction power delivered by the SkipVac to the hose end makes light work of cleaning out the pit, compared to the bucket and rope system that used to be deployed. A job that used to be a major and unpopular chore is now a simple task with none of the manual handling issues."
A much more cost-effective and safer solution
As Edwards has also noticed, the SkipVac is far more cost-effective: "The SkipVac and pipework systems have dramatically reduced the time and manpower it used to take to deal with the dust build up. It only takes a third of the time it used with half the manpower."
With flexible hoses instead of brooms, brushes and shovels, it is much easier and safer for operatives to get into all the awkward nooks and crannies under the belts. Instead of having to work in very dusty conditions, all the dust is now sucked up into the SkipVac's own hopper, and as the system is fully enclosed from nozzle to hopper, there's no dust exposure issues.
Turning a major problem into a solution
The amounts of dust and finings involved when the crushing plant and the mill is running at normal levels can be huge. As much as 10 tonnes of dust can be shifted by the SkipVac in an afternoon assuming a weekly housekeeping schedule, all of which is removed from around the plant and recycled.
The SkipVac has also changed the attitude of the operatives to housekeeping as well, as Edwards notes: "Our operators have really taken to using the SkipVac. They know it's much faster, easier and safer, and far less back breaking." The advice, training and help from Gotland was also much appreciated by Edwards and his staff: "Gotland proved a very good company to work with, as the support and advice has been just as good as the equipment they provided."
So for Gypsum Industries, having tried other methods of dust suppression and removal to deal with their significant dust issues, the Gotland way is proving to be the best by far, as Edwards is happy to reinforce: "Where we used to have a major dust problem, thanks to Gotland we now have a simple and wholly effective solution to the dust issues at our mining and the manufacturing areas."