THE BUSINESS CASE FOR SAFETY AND SUSTAINABILITY
Manufacturers inherently use process chemicals and are always searching for the best, most efficient ways to handle them. Why? Because better fluid handling ultimately means greater productivity. Now, add the increase in environmental, health, and safety regulations (EHS) to the manufacturers search for a competitive and effective handling solution, and what do you get? As AdTech Ceramics’ EHS co-coordinator David Kuster discovered, you get one of GoatThroat’s unique hand-pressurized precision pumps.
AdTech Ceramics, Inc. (previously Ixion Ceramics) the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based subsidiary of AdTech Technologies, Inc. is a leading designer and manufacturer of microcircuit packaging for telecommunications, military, aerospace, satellite communications, and other high tech applications. The company manufactures precision-engineered technical ceramics and metals in two buildings totaling over 100,000 square feet. Ceramic materials are prepared as “tape” or “pastes”, while metals are prepared solely as “pastes”. The process of making ceramic tape begins by milling precise amounts of raw materials into homogeneous slurry – a mixture that is principally ceramic powder of controlled particle sizes combined with organic binders and solvents. The slurry is then poured onto a carrier and passed under a blade to produce a uniform coating. Once dried, this material becomes a ceramic-loaded “tape” which is easily handled in rolls or sheets for unfired processing. Metal pastes, prepared the same way, are subsequently used for screen-printing on green ceramic tape to form electronic circuits, while the ceramic paste is used as screen-printed dielectric layers. These electronic circuits can then be layered on each other to form 3-dimensional ceramic packages, which are then fired and plated – thus producing the final part. AdTech’s customers then populate these ceramic packages with electronic components to be used in their final applications.
Observing industry-standard facilities and safety considerations are a key component of AdTech’s fluid management program. The process chemicals are housed in a substantial, environmental containment facility which will hold upwards of 6000 gallons of fluids in the event of a spill or a flood.
With safety in mind and because of the flammable nature of the organic process solvents, AdTech has made it a policy that neither electric motors nor pumps can be used with or near these fluids. Most of the process chemicals and fluids arrive at the plant in 55 gallon containers. Until recently, many of these fluids were dispensed using a gravity fed system. AdTech Ceramics is now using GoatThroat pumps to manage alcohols and assorted cleaning solvents, including Toluene.
The alcohols are used in the production of the liquid ceramic “slip” used to manufacture the ceramic tape. The cleaning solvents are used for various clean-up procedures in the tape casting and screen-printing departments. When handling the fluids and drums, the workers are protected from splashing by aprons, gloves and safety goggles, and safety environmental spill containment pallets are in place in the event that any local containment of spills is required.
The hand operated GoatThroat pumps have recently replaced several gravity-fed brass fixtures in AdTech’s operation. The gravity fed process involved threading the brass fixture into the small bung in the top of the drum, threading a vent into the large bung, placing the drum on a roll down drum fixture and tipping the drum into the horizontal position for dispensing.
There are many inherent difficulties with the gravity-fed spigot system. First, the spigots can clog up easily and can be difficult to remove. It can be very labor intensive and awkward to remove the fluid from the drum. Secondly, it is difficult to control the flow rate from the drum. Further, leaks are common with the spigot system, which contributes to fugitive inventory loss. Finally, this system does not allow for complete removal of all fluid from the drum, so additional labor and handling is required to make the drum R.C.R.A. ready (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act). With GoatThroat, AdTech Ceramics is able to make all of its containers R.C.R.A. ready, which means that the drums have no more than two inches of product left in the drum after dispensing operations are completed. According to David Kuster, “These pumps will literally leave a few ounces of fluid in the bottom of the drum and that is a very good thing when you are paying for chemicals by the pound and or gallon. Our company was leaving approximately 5 to 8 gallons in the drums when we were utilizing the brass (horizontal drum caddy) set up and that was returned to the company that we bought it from. Then we had to pay for that much product again so what a great cost saver to be able to utilize that extra product thanks to the GoatThroat “”
The employees at AdTech Ceramics, Inc. appreciate how much easier fluid handling is with GoatThroat Pumps. Several people have commented that dispensing their own chemicals no longer daunts them. According to David Kuster, “Now the drums can stay in the upright position. This greatly reduces the handling of the drums, injuries to our workers and, guess what? No more leaking drum fittings. The GoatThroat pumps are a definite improvement for my Safety Program. These pumps nearly drain a drum dry. This helps on the disposal end when every drum is already RCRA empty and ready to be disposed of.” Almost every negative aspect of handling organic solvents in an explosion proof environment is addressed by the GoatThroat technology.