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“For several years we have used standard flexible connections, with a hose clamp. This solution makes it difficult to clean and change, and there are also problems with dust and powder leaks everywhere. That meant we used to spend a lot of time on cleaning.
“We were presented with the BFM fitting, and we must admit that it is a whole new world of flexible connections. There are no hose clamps, it is easy to clean and easy to switch.
“This provides much more efficient production and there are not such long periods, when the machine is stopped due to cleaning and repairs. It gives a better flow in production and satisfied customers.
“At Novozymes, we are very happy with the solution at all our branches in Denmark, so we will replace all flexible connections with BFM Fittings.”
Novozymes A/S Kalundborg
Powder silos usually need some sort of activator at the bottom to ensure that the product continues to flow, and does not clog the outlet. For this reason, two flexible connectors are needed to connect the activator to the silo above and to the outlet below. The upper connector is usually of a fairly large diameter. The lower connector is much smaller as it leads to the connecting pipes or rotary valves. Both of these connectors cause the usual problems experienced with flexible connectors. The large diameter connector is typically installed in difficult-to-reach places and because of the sheer size it is very time consuming to replace. Traditionally, this connector is either held in place with hose clamps around the outside of the connector or with an internal clamp system, which means that the connector needs to be pulled through two sets of steel rings, which are then fastened with screws all around the whole circumference of the connector. The hose clamp has the usual disadvantages of product leakage and poor pressure resistance. The ring connector is a slight improvement, but is even harder to replace because of the numerous screws and the difficult process of pulling the connector into the correct position. Both the upper and lower connectors are subject to the usual leaking from around the clamp and are particularly vulnerable to major hygiene issues from the product being caught for long periods of time between the flanges and the connectors.
The BFM® solution:
In this particular case, the upper connector was 1,600 in diameter and 100-mm long. The lower connector was 200,in diameter with a length of 100 mm. Below the lower connector was a tapered steel part, enlarging the exit of the silo from 200 mm to 250 mm, which was the necessary diameter to connect the silo outlet to the rotary valve underneath. Quite often the vertical space is limited and the space requirement for BFM® connectors including the necessary spigots can be a problem. The solution was to remove the tapered steel part at the bottom and lower the complete activator down, far enough to allow for the four spigots to be installed and still leave enough height for each connector. A tapered BFM connector at the bottom solved the problem due to a difference in outlet and inlet diameter.
The end result:
BFM connectors now solved all four problems, difficult and time consuming installations, unhygienic environment and areas around the clamped connector, product leakage and insufficient pressure resistance. Whereas it previously took the operators up to two days to complete a replacement of the upper connector, this can now be done within 15 minutes max. The lower connector, which was previously held in place with hose clamps, is now completely dust-tight and, when using the correct connector material, will withstand even exceptional inside pressures.
In the past, the hose clamp connectors would flow off occasionally, when the valve below was not working properly and inside pressure exceeded the normal range. So the customer now has a safe, hygienic and easily maintained piece of equipment!
The BFM® fitting significantly improves air quality for a medical technology company.
A sand cloud: that’s the best way to describe it
Amedica is a medical technology company, which uses medical grade silicone nitride ceramic powder to create revolutionary spinal implants. When processed, this fine‐as‐talc powder infiltrated processing equipment connections and created a consistently powdery atmosphere.
“Our bulk powder processing facilities transform nitride ceramic from powder into spinal implants, and improve the health of thousands of people,” states Jeff Goodell, Director of Facilities and Maintenance for Amedica.
“Ironically, the sand cloud created during this processing threatened the health of my employees.”
Nothing Could Stop The Powder Cloud – Not Even Duct Tape
“Rubber hose clamps around everything from silicone sheets and fabricto duct tape,” laughs Goodell. “We tried everything to contain this powder in the connections between our processing equipment. Ultimately, it was too fine to contain.”
Whether Amedica sent powder through a vibrator, down a chute, or sifted it through a mesh, the cloud would always appear. “Expensive respirators had to be worn by all employees to minimise the risk of powder inhalation,” continues Goodell. “To ensure a healthy environment, our employees also spent nearly six hours every other day, scrubbing caked-on powder off the processing equipment.”
If It Can Hold An Explosion, It Can Hold Our Powder
At the 2008 National Safety Council Congress and Expo in California, Amedica Safety & Hygiene Manager David Echols walked by a booth for Powder‐Solutions, one of two BFM distributors in America. It was there that Echols discovered the BFM® fitting.
“The DVD I saw of the BFM® fitting in action simply blew me away,” states Goodell. “The BFM® fitting, essentially a clear polyurethane sleeve and spigot system, was able to suppress what looked to be a major powder explosion.”
Explosions are a risk in bulk powder production facilities, as airborne powder can become volatile fuel in the presence of an ignition source. While traditional hose clamps failed to contain the explosion, the success of the BFM fitting shown in the video proved to Goodell that the BFM® fitting was the solution for Amedica. “If it could hold an explosion,” states Goodell, “it could hold our powder.” The BFM® fitting Is The Perfect Fit
“I began consulting with Jeff and Amedica soon after the 2008 National Safety Council Congress and Expo,” states Marv Deam, CEO of Powder‐Solutions, distributors of the BFM® fitting. “Our consultation began with the two of us sharing detailed drawings back and forth.”
“Once I received Goodell’s drawings, I drew specs, showing how the BFM® fitting would be customised to securely connect each piece of equipment,” states Deam. After merely two weeks of consultation, Powder‐Solutions had customized a BFM® fitting system, which included spigots and replaceable sleeves, for the bulk powder processing facilities at Amedica. Zero Powder Infiltration
“Deam assured me that once the spigots were welded into place, the BFM® fitting sleeves could be installed within minutes, but I was able to beat that estimate. I had the sleeves snapped in place within seconds.” While easy snap placement was convenient, it would mean little if the BFM® fitting did not solve the primary problem experienced by Amedica. Quite simply, the BFM® fitting had to prevent powder from escaping between bulk powder processing equipment connections.
“From the day I first turned on our bulk powder processing equipment with the BFM® fitting installed, I was amazed,” continues Goodell. “There was no more sand cloud and absolutely zero powder infiltrated from the sleeve.” Zero powder leaking between powder processing connections also eliminated six hours of cleaning every other day. Not only were Amedica employees working in a healthier environment, labour costs were also cut, as frequent cleaning was no longer needed. Works Like A Champ
After several months of daily use, Goodell reports the BFM® fitting is containing powder as well as it did during the first day of implementation. “As my employees no longer have to work in sandy air, there is a very real chance, based on testing results, that we will soon approve them to work without the need for respirators,” continues Goodell. “This would save me a significant amount of money on respirator cartridges.” While the potential for additional cost savings is promising, Goodell is happy with what Amedica is currently seeing in terms of return on investment.
“The BFM® fitting works like a champ,” concludes Goodell. “I don’t know how else to say it.”
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