Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Diesel Powered Equipment: Underground Mine Safety – The Role of Insulation.
Firwin Industry Series – Underground Mining
From scoops and scalers to pallet handlers and personnel carriers, underground mining relies on diesel-powered equipment to get the job done. Diesel power provides the mine with a rugged, reliable, and cost effective energy source; overall, diesel accounts for 72 percent of the energy used by the mining sector.* With developing economies such as China and India fueling demand and contributing to record high prices for aggregates, precious metals, and other natural resources, mining equipment manufacturers are experiencing an increasingly strong demand for diesel powered vehicles that can extract, load, and transport.
(* Diesel Service and Supply website, Industrial_Industry_Usage)
Diesel Powered Equipment in an Underground Environment: The Challenges
As can be imagined, underground mining poses a number of challenges when it comes to the safe and efficient use of diesel powered mining equipment:
•Exposed exhaust and engine components: Diesel exhaust can get extremely hot. With work in an underground mine often taking place within confined spaces, workers are at risk from severe burns from uncovered exhausts and engine components.
•Diesel particulate matter: Exhaust from diesel powered mining equipment must be properly filtered in order to protect personnel from noxious fumes. Fire Safety: Oil from a burst hydraulic hose, or from an engine leak, can start to smoke upon contacting exposed exhaust components.
•High ambient heat: The heat generated by diesel powered equipment can heat up an already sweltering underground environment. Furthermore, it can cause heat sensitive cables and sensors to malfunction.
Meeting the Challenges: How Insulation Blankets Can Help
Blanketing the exposed engine and exhaust components is an important step in meeting the challenges of operating diesel powered equipment. Once properly insulated, ambient heat is reduced, and workers are shielded from burns. A good ventilation system is of course essential in ensuring that hot air is removed and cooler air is brought in, and to remove noxious fumes from the mine.
As regards the latter, pollution control equipment, such as catalysts and particulate filters, are essential in removing much of the noxious material before it leaves the exhaust. Proper insulation can even help catalysts burn exhaust pollutants more effectively by maintaining an optimal high exhaust temperature as the exhaust travels along the piping and into the catalyst.
Standard Insulation Blankets: Why They Sometimes Fall Short
The underside of a regular-issue insulation blanket is typically fiberglass material, which is non-combustible, held in place by wire mesh. While fine for most applications, in an underground mine, oil from a burst hydraulic hose line, or an engine leak, can seep underneath an insulation blanket and lodge in the insulation material. Separated from the hot component by only a wire mesh, this mixture of oil and insulation material can become a fire hazard, the last thing you want in a underground mine.
Standard Insulation Blanket Construction
The second limitation of standard insulation blankets is the outer cover. Typically a silicone impregnated fiberglass, the outer cover is designed to be durable and withstand normal wear and tear for years. In an underground mine, however, the confined spaces and potential rock falls can lead to sharp objects coming into contact with the insulation blankets. Not designed to withstand this kind of treatment, regular insulation blankets can be prone to tearing or puncture.
MineWrap™ Insulation Blankets: Designed for the Underground Mine
MineWrap Mark II’s Stainless Steel Inner Liner
To meet these concerns, Firwin’s R & D department designed a blanket with the specific needs of underground mining in mind. Known as MineWrap™ Mark II, this blanket features a stainless steel inner liner, which seals off the insulation material and prevents any oil from seeping in.
For those applications that require extra strength and rigidity to reinforce its outer cover, MineWrap™ comes in a Mark III version. The Mark III blanket features a reinforced stainless steel foil exterior, which in turn is covered with a stainless steel mesh. Joint safety seals can be added to further seal off any exposed exhaust between blanket sections.
With its added dimensions of increased fire safety and rugged exterior, MineWrap™ has become the insulation blanket of choice for a number of mines and equipment manufacturers.
Firwin Hard Coat: A Permanent Insulation Solution for Underground Mines
Some underground mines have determined that while they need their hot exhaust components insulated, they do not need to have the insulation be removable. These mines have opted for Firwin Corp’s Hard Coat™ insulation system . Hard Coat™ features a durable, lightweight exterior, and is typically applied to components such as exhaust manifolds, turbochargers, elbows, and exhaust piping. Unlike removable insulation blankets, which are wrapped around an engine or exhaust component and fastened with a fastening system (typically stainless steel lacing wire), Hard Coat™ insulation is a permanent insulation applied directly to the component being insulated. This results in the insulation material being completely enclosed and shielded from exterior elements. As such, the danger of equipment oil and fluid leaks that might otherwise seep into the insulation material and cause a potential fire hazard is eliminated.
According to Firwin President Paul Herman, “For certain high-temperature applications where safeguarding for oil leaks is a priority, space is at a premium, and a removable insulation product is not required, Hard Coat™ insulation is a definite option, and may be more economical in the long run.”
“While permanent insulation such as Firwin Hard Coat™ has its advantages, for instance it compactness and durability, there are drawbacks as well”, notes Paul Herman. “It cannot be removed should a part require servicing. The coating must be applied at our factory. It is also more expensive up front than traditional insulation blankets.”
Mining exhaust with both MineWrap™ and Hard Coat
Turbo and Manifold with Firwin Hard Coat insulation
While insulating exposed hot exhaust components are essential for underground mines, it is important to choose the correct insulation solution so that the insulation itself does not add any new safety concerns. MineWrap™ Removable Blankets and Hard Coat Composite Insulation have been designed to effectively insulate mining equipment exhaust components in a manner that encompasses the safety concerns of underground mines.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Introduction to Engine Component Insulation
Engines play a vital role in a wide range of industrial applications. However, they also introduce a variety of hazards and risks to the work environment if the proper precautions are not implemented. For example, they can generate a significant amount of heat, which can negatively impact nearby equipment performance and integrity, and employee health and safety in the absence of a proper insulation solution. Insulation is key to protecting nearby employees and equipment while optimizing engine performance.
The Importance of Engine Component Insulation
If an engine does not have proper insulation, the heat it produces during use can lead to a significant rise in temperatures. Elevated temperatures can cause a number of problems for equipment and employees, such as:
Increased employee discomfort. The heat generated by engines can raise ambient temperatures within the work environment to uncomfortable levels, which makes it difficult—if not impossible—for workers to complete their tasks safely. Insulation keeps heat contained within the engine or exhaust so it will not influence conditions in the surrounding area.
Higher risk of employee injury/illness. Increased temperatures inside and outside the engine can also lead to employee injury or illness; for example, hot exterior surfaces can cause severe burns, while hot ambient temperatures can trigger heat exhaustion. Engine insulation protects employees from exposure to overly hot surfaces and temperatures.
Greater chance of equipment damage. High engine temperatures can cause overheating in some systems. Additionally, they put any nearby thermally sensitive components (e.g., hoses and wires) at a higher risk of suffering thermal damage. Insulation shields components and equipment around the engine from potentially damaging heat.
Decreased equipment performance. The performance of an engine is significantly affected by its ability to achieve and maintain proper internal temperatures. While high heat is detrimental to nearby components, systems, and people, it is critical to efficient operation. Insulation enables an engine to keep the heat it generates contained inside of it and its exhaust system so it can operate at optimal capacity. As a result, it helps reduce energy usage and emission levels.
Engine Component Insulation Solutions at Firwin
Firwin is an industry-leading supplier of insulation solutions. After nearly 40 years in the industry, we’ve garnered the knowledge and skills needed to create insulation products for a range of industrial applications. Our engine component insulation offerings include:
Removable Insulation Blankets
Our flagship product, removable insulation blankets are typically composed of the following 3 layers: an inner steel mesh layer, a middle insulation medium layer, and an outer silicone-coated fiberglass layer. Fastened in place with stainless steel lacing wire, they are perfect for engine components that require regular maintenance since they can be easily removed and replaced as needed. Additionally, they can be customized for fit and application-specific characteristics, such as alternative materials and fastening systems.
MineWrap™ Removable Blankets
Our MineWrap insulation blankets are engineered to meet the specific needs of the underground mining industry. The flagship MineWrap Mark II has a flame-resistant foil inner liner lined with stainless steel mesh, which protects it from oil and hydraulic fluid intrusion and, consequently, eliminates the risk of fire. The MineWrap Mark III has a reinforced stainless steel foil exterior covered by a layer of stainless steel mesh, which makes it better suited for more demanding mining applications.
Permanent Hard Coat Composite Insulation
Our hard coat composite insulation coatings are an ideal insulation option for components that do not need regular repair and maintenance. After the composite coating is thinly applied to the target material, it forms a permanent high temperature insulation layer, that also protects the insulation material from combustion in the event of an engine leak or malfunction. It is rated for temperatures up to 900° F.
Stainless Steel Foil Insulation
Our metal foil insulation (MFI) is another permanent insulation option for exhaust components (e.g., tubes, piping, and elbows). The insulation material is encapsulated by an outer foil layer that is permanently welded to the engine component, which results in a durable, leak-free, and highly customizable solution.
Contact Firwin for Engine Component Insulation Needs
Firwin’s highly customizable range of engine component insulation solutions makes it easy to prevent even the most powerful engines from harming your employees and equipment. Whether you need a removable or permanent product, we can help you protect your people, products, and processes. To learn more about our engine component insulation solutions and how they can benefit you, contact us today.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Hard Coat Insulation vs. Removable Insulation
They may sound like the same thing, but insulation coating and insulation blankets are actually quite different. When you face choosing between these two, equally high-quality products, you need to know some key facts to make the right decision.
Essentially, it comes down to some key factors including the need for removability, your space constraints, the importance of fireproofing, and finally, cost.
Type of Insulation:
An important factor is the type of insulation needed, including the desired strength. Considering that Firwin HC™ is in fact hard and more durable, it is more suited for extremely rugged conditions. Our blankets, although also tough, are not as impenetrable as our hard coatings. The hard coat is more applicable where there is a possibility of sharp objects coming into contact with the insulation and the possibility where insulation can be torn.
Firwin HC™ Hard Coat is permanently applied and cannot be removed, while our insulation blankets can in fact be removed and even reused. This is important if you need to do periodic maintenance on whatever you are insulating. In that case, the blankets will better serve your needs. Additionally, since the hard coating is applied directly onto parts, you need to disassemble you components and send them to Firwin for coating. If the components are difficult to access and disassemble, then we recommend using our insulation blankets.
Space Constraints and Fireproofing:
Because Firwin HC™ is applied directly to the component, it conforms tightly to the part and is ideal for applications that offer limited space. The thinness and flexibility of the hard coating makes it more of a viable option when the blankets are too bulky to fit.
Firwin HC™ is non-flammable and proves to be a valuable safety and fireproof option. As for the insulation blankets, they are fire retardant. For those applications requiring a further measure of safety, Firwin offers our MineWrap™ blankets which completely enclose and prevent any oils or fluids from lodging in the insulation and igniting fire.
While both insulations take about 2-3 weeks in lead time from order to delivery, hard coating will last longer but are also more than removable insulation.
Therefore, whether you need hard coat or removable insulation, there is one thing you can count on, and that’s the experts at Firwin. If you have any doubts about which is right for you, just contact a rep at Firwin today and we can help you make the perfect insulation decision.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Underground Mining Safety and Firwin
There is no question that underground mining is a challenging and risky occupation. Over the past 12 years, the month of October has been the deadliest month for metal and nonmetal mining operations in the United States. It is with this unfortunate stat in mind that we wanted to talk about the role of insulation in underground mine safety of diesel-powered equipment.
Diesel accounts for 72% of the energy used by the mining sector. This dominate fuel source comes with some unique challenges. The exhaust given off by diesel engines can get extremely hot, and with workspace at a premium underground, this can get dangerous for miners. Additionally, the high ambient heat given off by these non-insulated engines can worsen an already uncomfortable environment.
By blanketing exposed engine and exhaust components, you immediately reduce ambient heat; plus, these same insulation blankets shield workers from burns. It’s a win-win and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort.
Of course, for all of this to work effectively, you need to choose the right insulation blanket partner. This is where Firwin can help. Thanks to their unique stainless steel inner liner and reinforced outer cover, our MineWrap™ insulation blankets are perfect for the rigors of underground mining.
If you want to raise the level of safety in your underground mining operation, the best place to start is insulating your diesel components, and the best place for insulation blankets is Firwin.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Firwin and Mine Safety
From August to October of 2010, it was next to impossible to watch TV for more than 10 minutes without hearing about the 33 miners trapped in a collapsed gold mine 2,300 ft below Chile’s harsh and isolated Atacama Desert. The Copiapó mining accident captivated the world even after the miners safely returned to the surface. It not only highlighted the strength of the human spirit, but it also shined yet another light on how dangerous mining can be. This near tragedy reminded us that even in the modern world, we cannot afford to ignore basic mine safety.
In our last blog, we discussed the basics of open pit and underground mining. Today, we are going to highlight the challenges of both styles of mining and the substantial role that Firwin plays in keeping the mining industry safe.
Open Pit Mining
Open pits, while being overall less demanding than underground mining, carry with them their own set of challenges. As with any activity involving large equipment like multi-ton trucks, loaders, and drills you need to use insulation blankets to shield personnel, cabling, and all heat sensitive controls from extreme temperatures. However, open pit mining also introduces the problem of excessive sound and vibration.
Many open pit mines across the world are located near population centers, especially in countries like Australia. Therefore, companies have to find a way to effectively mine, without disturbing nearby residents and businesses. Firwin has insulation blankets that combine both temperature and noise/vibration protection, thus allowing open pit mines to run 24-7 safely and without causing local resentment and structural damage.
As the world has turned more and more to underground mining, Firwin has started to focus on developing a special line of insulation products aimed at the unique challenges of underground mining. Digging any tunnel, shaft, or adit is difficult, time consuming, expensive, and inherently dangerous. After a good deal of research and testing, Firwin created our proprietary MineWrap™ Removable Insulation Blankets expressly for underground mining.
MineWrap™ Removable Insulation Blankets
Our MineWrap™ addresses some of the less obvious areas of concern of underground mining. It protects again the dangers of hydraulic oils spills on hot engine surfaces, reduces operator burns, limits oil seepage, and can withstand extreme wear and tear. Though not as well documented as cave-ins like Copiapó, these problems can lead to equally as devastating occurrences.
Whichever mining technique our customers utilize, they know that Firwin has the products, experience, and expertise to make the mining process safer, cleaner, and more productive. Furthermore, all of our mining insulation is custom made to fit your specific equipment and our blankets conform to UL2000 standards. If you want to learn more about our mining insulation, visit our website or contact an expert at Firwin today.