Students wave bye-bye to fumes
The new gas welding area for students attending Whitireia Institute in Porirua.
Whitireia New Zealand, the tertiary Institute of Technology, has almost 8000 students based in 4 campuses, and boasts a high level of student success. The Porirua site, established in 1986, offers a huge range of courses including basic trades courses that teach welding – and they take the subject of fumes very seriously.
When an upgrade in the work room was required due to an increase in student numbers, Carol Drysdale, the Programme Manager, contacted Geoff Ebdon at NZ Duct+Flex and asked him to visit the site outside Wellington to explain how things could be improved. As it is NZ Duct+Flex company policy to offer the best long term solution for best practice, Ebdon quoted on three separate areas to make the improvements. The first phase was completed earlier this year by the company’s own installation team and has improved the ventilation for the existing and new welding bays, as well as creating a new area specifically for gas welding.
A JK40D fan with an 18.5kW motor from Danish supplier JKF Industri was installed to drive four new fume arms used by the students in a centralised bay. The fan also was effective in providing improved extraction for a number of other areas that never received adequate ventilation before.
As the students are gas welding, and only a small area is used, the fume arms installed to remove the smoke were the smaller 75mm dia with one metre reach, although a range of arms are available from NZ Duct+Flex right up to 160mm dia and four metre reach. The powerful fan specified also vents the other bays and area’s and has plenty of capacity to cope if the welding area requirements continue to expand in the future.
“So often we visit sites where the fans are too small to be effective, or someone has tried to deal with welding fumes by ventilating the entire room. This is not the best approach as it is important to remove the fumes where they are generated and not drag them past the operator then on to other areas in the workplace, where other workers will also needlessly be affected before the fumes finally exit the building,” said Ebdon.
Fume arms work really well, need negligible maintenance, and as they work the welders and students in this case, must use them properly. Regarding ‘proper use’ Ebdon explains that one of the key issues with installing Fume Arms is that welders do not position the hoods correctly. “Manufactured out of aluminium, hoods on our arms from our European supplier can withstand the working temperatures and therefore be positioned close to the source of fumes, with no risk of melting. The easy-to-grab all round handle also means the hood can be repositioned as the welder carries on. Frequently I observe this type of work and see that the operator is so busy concentrating on the weld that they can’t be bothered pausing to adjust the hood to the correct capture position because their fume arm is jammed and won’t move easily using one hand.”
Welding fumes are best captured close to the source and fume arms are more efficient if fumes are removed in a smooth flow – the NZ Duct+Flex fume arms with external hinging and articulation not only last longer because the moving parts are on the outside, they also contribute to a beneficial smoother airflow minimising eddies occurring in the capture hood that could push contaminated air back out in front of the welder.
Drysdale confirms that the work carried out by the Installation team from NZ Duct+Flex is all working well and there will be further enhancements in the future too for the students to look forward to. “This simple system is good value as all the components can easily be reconfigured if the workshop changes yet again in the future.”
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