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Health & Safety - including Dust Control

Putting dust to better use SkipVac turns a dust problem into a solution for Gypsum Industries

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.” May 2012 • Solids & Bulk Handling 29

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