Although taken for granted, and with a level of reliance reduced due to our modern digital world, it is difficult to imagine life without paper. From packaging to party hats, banknotes to lavatory paper, books and magazines, contracts and coffee cups, paper is everywhere.
For 2000 years, since its invention by Cai Lun during the Eastern Han dynasty, paper has become the dominant vehicle for information transference. Production of paper spread from China to the Middle East and then on to Europe. In England, the industrial revolution brought automation and mass production to the paper making process, transforming it into what is more akin to today’s paper production.
Over millennia paper production has been transformed through automation, chemistry and technology into a hi-tech industry producing 7 main paper types, of which there is a vast array of sub-types per category. The industry maybe unrecognizable to that of Cai Lun’s, however, one basic element remains the same, its primary base, wood pulp.
Today’s mechanized paper production involves converting wood chip into pulp. It is washed bleached, beaten and the fibers are dyed. It is then formed into sheets and rolled using a Fourdinier machine, originally invented by Frenchman Louis Robert in 1799. The machine and its process was later improved and patented by Englishmen Henry and Sealy Fourdenier, from whence it gets its name.
These processes have become highly technical, are conducted with precision and provide extremely fine parameters of final product quality. The paper will then go on to be made into an almost infinite number of products that are used by everyone every day. From wood pulp to final product, although very varied, the one thing the industry cannot do without is industrial fans, both centrifugal and axial.
Application of Fans Within the Industry
One of the numerous enemies of the paper production industry is dust. The industry is acutely aware of health and safety regulations in the workplace. Dust pollutes the air, and as a contaminate poses a risk to employees should dust be inhaled. To protect the health and wellbeing of the workforce removal of air contaminates is essential. This can only be done through efficient extraction of polluting particles and ensuring an inflow of fresh clean air. Maintaining the required air quality can only be achieved through the employment of industrial fans.
The depositing of dust is also to the detriment of the machinery used in paper production and the building in which it operates. The accumulation of dust particles, and any added chemical substances, can lead to machinery malfunctioning, corroding or overheating. The building is at risk from corrosive damage if dust is allowed to accumulate, and of course, excessive dust is a fire risk.
As part of the paper making process it is necessary to introduce chemicals into the material. Every chemical will have its own risks to man and machine. Chemicals are often sprayed under precise high pressures. Carefully calibrated fans are employed to supply consistent air pressure to ensure the even spread of the required chemical substances.
Some chemicals can emit toxic fumes and the spraying process may force particle into the surrounding airspace. Efficient extraction of these potentially hazardous pollutants is vital to safeguard the working environment and the workforce. The importance of extraction by industrial fans during any chemical process can never be understated.
To produce paper, extreme heat is required as part of the process. Precise and even heat distribution is achieved using industrial fans. Heating any substance in an enclosed area will result in an increase in air pressure. It is important that this is monitored and controlled, using industrial fans, to eliminate the risks associated with fluctuating air pressure.
After using extreme heat, for the production process to continue the material needs to be cooled. In order for the production to be a continual, uninterrupted process rapid heat extraction is required. Cool air blowers are utilized to ensure that the product is cooled quickly to required temperatures. The industrial fans employed for this part of the process are essential in ensuring that the paper making process is continual, and thus, cost effective.
Exiting the Fourdinier machine the edges of the paper are trimmed. The trimmed edges are not wasted, they are conveyed away from the final paper product and back to the pulping process. This conveyance, as with that of all the procedures within the process, is done using pneumatics. Compressed air fuels the conveyers that move everything throughout the workplace, industrial fans ensure a continual flow of this fuel, without which the entire process would stall.
Some areas of the workplace undertaking paper production may be classified as hazardous areas. This would be in areas where there is the potential of excessive dust emittance or where solvents or other chemicals are employed. Any machinery used in these areas need to be fit for purpose, and that includes industrial fans.
Non-sparking and explosion proof fans have been developed to work efficiently and safely in these hazardous areas. Specifically designed electric motor enclosures and disconnection switches, along with utilizing non-ferrous metals in the fan’s construction, ensure that the fans can operate safely in what is a potentially dangerous working environment.
The design and use of these specially built fans is not done on a whim, there are internationally agreed standards of built in safety that these fans adhere to. They are extremely safe, they ensure the wellbeing of the workforce and vastly reduce the risk of fire or explosion, whilst still efficiently delivering effective and efficient service.
Writing paper, tissue paper, cardboard, your money and your passport, take paper for granted, everyone does. The paper production process is now a high-tech industry, which delivers a product upon which we all rely. Paper production is efficient, cost effective and potentially hazardous, but it’s unrelenting and the continuity of production is entirely reliant of industrial fans. No industrial fans, no paper!
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