Processing over 30 tonnes of tube each week, Iracroft Limited is the UKs leading tube manipulation company, achieving its prominent market position through a program of continuous investment and diversification. This strategy has seen the Blandford Forum business invest over £2.3m in new buildings and plant over the last 5 years.
The result has seen the Dorset operation increase its floor space from 4300 to 5770 square metres and its turnover more than double to £16m in only five years. By taking on new units Iracroft has expanded or completely moved many departments to consolidate production and improve workflow. To support this, the rigid tube specialist has installed new dust and fume extraction systems to provide its staff with a clean, dust and fume free workplace that conforms to health and safety legislation such as the EH40 ‘Workplace Exposure Limits’. Due to the size of the project Iracroft considered a number of potential solution providers, however it was market leading dust and fume extraction specialist Nederman that was selected.
Since its inception in 1972, the ISO:9001 & 14001 company has been manufacturing 1/4 to 3 inch rigid tube assemblies such as air coolant and brake piping products for the yellow goods industry. Whilst household names such as JCB, Caterpillar, Ingersoll Rand, Hitachi and Terex form a robust customer base, part of the Iracroft engineering infrastructure investment has seen it recently diversify into stainless steel energy delivery systems and the offshore engineering sector. To cater for its organic growth and diversification, part of the Iracroft investment has been used to expand the tube manipulation, fabrication, orbital welding and oil pressure testing departments. In these departments, Nederman has been instrumental in delivering a clean working environment.
Building a Compliance Strategy
One of the first departments to be expanded at Iracroft was the brazing department. Commenting upon why Nederman was the chosen partner, Iracroft's Director of Engineering & Continuous Improvement, Mr Kieran Mullen says: 'We needed a full range of extraction solutions and Nederman has the most extensive product line on the market. Furthermore, the Nederman team project managed the solution with complete transparency and professionalism at every stage. The Nederman project engineers reassured us from quote to project completion with their technical expertise and understanding of our needs. Nederman worked closely with our welding and force arc vendors to create fully compliant systems that would also deliver maximum extraction with minimum impact on the operator workspace. Most importantly their professional project management team delivered a complete solution that required very little input and stress on our behalf.'
By doubling the size of its brazing department, Iracroft replaced smaller less efficient extraction systems with 14 extraction drops to 8 induction heating stations and a number of brazing benches. The 'at-source' extraction systems remove the brazing fumes to a single extraction point outside the building. For Iracroft, its concern was the generation of acidic flux fumes that could potentially cause a carcinogenic environment for its brazing team. By installing the Nederman Original extraction arms with an impressive air flow rate of 800m3/hr, the fumes are now efficiently extracted to a Nederman NCF120/15 fan unit outside the building. By project managing the complete process, Nederman complemented its flexible and user friendly extraction arms with a complete ducting system that delivers the brazing fumes to the NCF120/15 fan unit. With a maximum air flow rate of 12,000m3/hour and noise level of 66.4dB, locating the NCF120/15 fan system outside the brazing department has also eliminated the continuous noise the staff may have encountered with an internally sourced system.
Breathing Easy in the Welding Department
The effortless manner in which Nederman delivered a solution for the brazing section at Iracroft resulted in the Preston fume and dust specialist being invited to deliver a new bespoke solution for the welding department that has also expanded. This growth has evolved in the guise of 23 working bays being increased to 31 and a building extension to provide 8 new MIG/TIG welding bays for the production of mild steel bracket assemblies. The existing preference of staff in this department is for the provision of downdraft benches, which the company already had in place prior to Nederman involvement. Added to this, the existing building had two roof mounted media filtration systems to extract any airborne particulate not caught at source by the benches.
By doubling the size of the department Iracroft needed to remove the additional airborne particulate to comply with the EH40 regulations. To meet compliance levels prior to the expansion, Iracroft's roof mounted extraction needed to achieve an 'air change per hour' rate of 3, and it achieved close to this with existing systems. However, the area of the department was expanded to 210 square metres and a Nederman technical study of the welding department’s air quality resulted in Iracroft requiring an 'air change rate' of 14 to comply with health & safety regulations. This was comfortably achieved by augmenting the existing extraction with three 2,550m3/hr rated Nederman MF 12-15 media filters installed at high level.