The cost of functional safety for food processing
In 2014 in the UK, a large food manufacturer had to pay a £800,000 fine after a serious industrial accident. An engineer was trapped by the machinery while examining a conveyor belt and suffered major injury and ongoing nerve damage. An investigation revealed that this dangerous accident could have been prevented if a guard was in place on the machine. Here, Jorgen Saxeryd, Safety Products and Functional Safety Advisor to ABB’s food and beverage program explains how safety procedures must be developed in food processing plants.
Across the globe, there are a variety of different regulations for food processing plants. In particular, North America and Europe have strict regulations for safety in these potentially dangerous environments. This also applies to the safety of employees in the processing plants and employers who fail to make adequate safety considerations can face large fines. Not only can these authorities enforce these in the case of accidents, they can also be enforced during regular inspections.
In Europe, the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC requires machinery to be designed and built so it can be used safely. In food processing plants, there are many dangerous machines for which plant managers should follow safety regulations, or the plants may face closure or high fines. Machines such as decanters operate at high centrifugal forces and it is not unknown for the machine's g-forces to reach more than 2000 times gravitational force. This is clearly a dangerous environment for employees to work in, however as these machines are essential for use, the key concept is the management of risk.
In the 1970s, the increase in heavy machinery such as the creation of the steel press led to increased safety guards. Since then, many safety conscious companies undertake a risk analysis in the initial stages of machine development. In the case of decanters, it is not possible to remove the risk, but it is possible to mitigate the risk to an acceptable level by putting safety guards such as enclosures or emergency stops into place.
Often, companies find it too difficult to manage the complex world of safety regulations alone. In this case, it is always better to consult professional services rather than to not comply with the regulations, as this will work out to be a costly mistake. ABB’s experts can provide specific advice on regulations, which also takes into account the needs of food processing plants.
As companies become more knowledgeable about regulations and regulations become more stringent, the need for retrofitting old equipment with additional safety measures may arise. Although it may seem instinctive, where there is a dangerous moving machine, the safest answer is not always to shut it away behind an enclosure or barrier.
In the food processing industry, companies should consult functional safety experts who have experience in the sector. The experts will for example suggest equipment such as light grid, which perform an emergency stop on a machine when a light grid is broken by an object. These devices are more appropriate for the food processing sector than using physical guards or barriers as they allow easier access for maintenance and washdown, which is essential for hygiene in food processing plants.
Managers of food processing plants in all countries, regardless of the country’s regulations, should consider safety as a priority in their plant. From the safety of single pieces of equipment to line safety and then plant safety, plant managers need to be aware of what they can do to mitigate risks. Plant managers not only have a responsibility to put in place an accurate safety strategy to protect their employees, but they also need to protect their businesses from costly infringements of worldwide safety regulations, as proven in the many cases gone by.
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Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.