Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grinder fires can cost you

Grinder fires can cost you
The past month or so I have had two customers have grinders burn to the ground. Neither of the grinders was one of mine, but it affected my customers greatly.
Getting a call that your grinder has burned gives you a sickening feeling. I know, it happened to me.
Not only do you lose the use of your grinder, your insurance costs will surely increase and waiting for the insurance investigation and payment of coverage will further delay the replacement of your equipment. In these Industries, fires are always a possibility, so using some standard operating procedures will help reduce your chances of your equipment catching fire. Sometimes things are out of your control, but in most cases, housekeeping is the issue.
An air compressor is a necessary tool for every grinder operation. Even a leaf blower can be used in a pinch.
How can these fires happen:
·         Material Buildup on engines and exhaust systems
·         Hot metal that has been discharged from the grinder
·         One major issue is cracks in the muffler or exhaust systems. Mufflers not only reduce the noise of the engine, they actually capture sparks and disperse them prior to exhausting into the atmosphere. When cracks develop, the sparks can be sent out into the engine compartment. In addition, all the rust particles in the exhaust system get hot and are set out of these cracks to settle and burn themselves out somewhere.
·         Bearings failing create a lot of heat and can start fires
·         Exhaust air can also catch material on fire

What can you do? Standard operating procedures should include:
·         Blow off equipment daily with an air compressor, even with leaf blower if needed. This includes the radiator, hydraulic cooler, fuel cooler, air filter, etc.
·         Portable machines should be moved out of place, the area cleaned, then the put back in place. This will remove any surrounding debris and any hot metal that may be in the area
·         Face the discharge the furthest away from wind. For example, if wind is from the west, then the feed hopper or tub is the furthest west and the discharge is the furthest part of the machine east. This eliminates the ground materials from blowing back onto the machine.
·         Use a hopper or bin to collect metal debris
·         Use exhaust wraps or blanket to keep debris off exhaust system and heat controlled
·         Shutdown equipment at least an hour before you leave the site. This isn't an exact science because when it happened to me, the grinder had sat for two hours before I left the site. An hour and a half later, I had no grinder.
·         Use a Fire Suppression System. See my previous article about fire suppression systems.

                Also , in warm climates, you could face the radiator and coolers into the wind as long as the discharge of material is carrying opposite he radiator. This not only helps keep the engine cooler, it help the fuel cooler keep the fuel cooler which as we have talked about in the past, reduces your fuel usage.

Be smart, if the wind is blowing the material back over the machine, don't be a dumb grinder guy, you are just asking for a fire.

You may have other ideas. Turn them into a SOP List and have your operators stick to it. It's the best you can do to not lose $500,000 or more.

Dave Whitelaw, The Grinder Guy

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