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Resin Plant’s Filter-System Upgrade Boosts Safety, Efficiency

Mon, 04/11/2005 - 11:49am

The self-cleaning Russell Finex Eco Filter means less downtime and safer working conditions at a hydrocarbon resin plant in California.
When Neville Chemical Co. opened its Anaheim, CA, plant in 1958, its major competitors in the growing hydrocarbon resin industry were domestic giants such as Eastman and Exxon. Today, with a strong lineup of Asian competitors, the market for this product — used in printing inks, adhesives and various coatings — has become more competitive, particularly for smaller, family-owned manufacturers like Neville Chemical.

“With all of the competition, productivity and safety are essential to our survival,” says Rob Lonergan, general manager of Neville Chemical’s Anaheim plant. He adds that in California, those challenges are even more critical.

Neville Chemical determined that updating its resin filtration system with a state-of-the-art system on the finished goods line would improve productivity, reduce waste, and eliminate a laborious and unhealthy work step. “The call to upgrade our filtration on the solid resin line not only enabled us to operate leaner through improved productivity and reduced waste,” says Lonergan, “but also led us to vastly reduce the health and safety hazards that were present with our old system.”

Founded in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1925, Neville Chemical has used a variety of systems for filtration of impurities from its finished resin products for many years. While filter bags performed well in removing impurities from resin, they were costly, and required continual changing that interrupted production. It was also a difficult task and potentially hazardous task to workers, due to the heat and stickiness of the resin.

Neville Chemical’s bag filters were located on its molten resin line, where resin material is heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit to permit flow. After being filtered, the resin goes through a flaking process, becomes solidified and then packaged. The combination of the resin heat and build-up of contaminants caused filtration bags to load up and decompose to the point that they had to be changed at regular intervals.

“Those intervals required stopping resin product flow before a batch was complete,” says Lonergan. “Each filter bag was about 3 ft. long, and they were cumbersome when full. If the person changing the bags spilled resin on himself, it would stick and possibly burn him. Also, workers would often have to muscle out the filter bags because they were sticky. So, the bag-changing task was a back injury waiting to happen.”

Other risks were inherent as well, including exposure to the fumes and heat from the hot resin, which “you couldn’t control while the filter system was open,” says Lonergan. Filter-bag changers wore face shields, respirators and high-temperature gloves.

These problems were eliminated when the company replaced its bag filter system with a state-of-the-art, self-cleaning Eco Filter system made by Russell Finex, Inc., of Pineville, NC. The Eco filter integrates directly into the pipeline and eliminates the need to change filtration bags. By means of a spiral wiper design, the filter element is kept continuously clean. The process can be completed between batch runs, and is quick and easy with minimal disruptions during production changeovers.

The totally enclosed Eco Filter prevents outside pollutants from contaminating the product, and protects operators from harmful fumes and spillage. The system also features the Russell Filter Management System, a technology that continuously monitors filtration, thereby enabling the filter to be operated efficiently without operator involvement. The Eco Filter also has a unique Q-Tap valve that allows the sampling of freshly filtered material, so the quality of the resin can be monitored on the fly without interrupting production.

At Neville Chemical, use of the Eco Filter has resulted in reduced downtime and labor. Its reusable filter element eliminates the need to replace and dispose of messy bags or cartridges. “The Eco Filter has paid for itself in terms of productivity and waste elimination,” says Lonergan. “The Pittsburgh operation tested this system after we installed ours, and has ordered some based on our success. Also, we’re planning to expand the new filter throughout our Anaheim plant.”

Lonergan says he believes the system’s safety benefits have helped the company even more. “We’re safer now,” he says, “and our workers like the Eco Filter system because it eliminates all those physical demands. It dumps all the junk directly into a drum. The filter does all the work.”
Russell Finex, Inc. www.russellfinex.com .

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