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Clearing the air

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World Cement,

Greg Bierie, Benetech, explains how a quarry operation in the state of Washington was worked to improve its workplace safety, achieve air quality compliance and perform maintenance with ease.

A recent project using a combination of technologies was undertaken at a Northwest quarry operation in the state of Washington, owned and operated by one of the world’s top ten cement producers. At the plant operations and HSE level, the primary concerns were air quality and regulatory compliance at the secondary crushing locations. In addition to being ‘good neighbours,’ the plant was also concerned about safety during daily housekeeping and maintenance activities. Unscheduled downtime and the risk of entanglement in rolling components, along with production being ‘oversold,’ made the prospect of minimising housekeeping needs while increasing ‘uptime’ very attractive. Confined space entry concerns were also addressed to improve maintenance accessibility.

  • During the discovery process, plant personnel made the following observations:
  • Air quality is a regulatory compliance issue that needs to be improved.
  • The operation is dusty and requires daily housekeeping around dangerous rolling components on the conveyor systems. Accessibility and confined space are pain points.
  • Belt and component damage from fugitive materials is costly and (more importantly) causes lost production for downtime.
  • Maintenance workers are in short supply.
  • The aim of the business is to safely maximise production.

This facility has 22 conveyors, multiple crushing operations, and a quarry. Overland conveying is also used to deliver material to the plant. The decision was made to address the portion of the system creating the most dust as the first order of business. This was also an area where housekeeping and maintenance were in high demand and in short supply. Personnel safety was also a significant consideration that plant operations and the corporate EHS personnel wanted to incorporate into the final design for improvements.

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