5 Reasons for Intrinsically Safe Solutions in Paint and Industrial Coating Plants

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In August 2021, an overnight explosion at the Yenkin-Majestic Paint plant in Columbus, Ohio, killed a worker and injured several others. In August 2023, explosions set a paint manufacturing plant in the Dallas suburbs ablaze, shooting a series of fireballs into the night sky, injuring a worker, and damaging property worth millions. Yet, these were not isolated incidents, with reports showing similar explosions recorded in the industry over the years.   Paint and industrial coating plants often handle flammable and hazardous chemicals, solvents, and materials, such as acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and methyl ethyl ketone in their manufacturing processes. Given that many of these chemicals and formulations are airborne, the risk of explosions occurring in the presence of an ignition source is high, leading to catastrophic injuries, death, and property damage. An effective way for the industry to mitigate these risks is to use intrinsically safe solutions like those provided by Aegex Technologies.  

What Causes Explosions in Paint and Industrial Coating Manufacturing Plants?

Paints and coatings often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other combustible substances. During manufacturing, these materials are released into the air as either dust or vapors, creating an explosive atmosphere. In the presence of ignition sources, such as sparks, electrical equipment, and hot surfaces, flammable vapors or dust particles in the air can ignite and cause an explosion. Other causes of explosions in the industry include:  
  • Static electricity: Friction can cause static electricity to build up in combustible substances as they move through the equipment or when workers transfer them between non-conductive containers. When there is a lack of proper bonding and grounding of the production equipment, the electrical charge could build up to levels that can cause the substance to ignite and cause an explosion.
  • Production of powder paint: In facilities where employees generate powders or dust particles during manufacturing, dust accumulation creates combustible environments that could lead to dust explosions if ignited. For example, during the grinding and crushing of the melt in the production of powder paints, sparks can occur and ignite explosions.
  • Equipment failures: Malfunctions or failures of poorly maintained equipment like pumps, mixers, or heating systems can lead to overheating or leaks, potentially causing an explosion if they encounter flammable substances.

How Intrinsically Safe Solutions Can Help Mitigate Explosion Risks

One spark and the presence of oxygen are all it takes for a disaster to occur in an environment where flammable paint dust and vapors are present. When it comes to safety from explosions in Zone 1 locations, one of the main tools to tackle the hazards is intrinsic safety. Intrinsically safe solutions, such as Aegex's 100M intrinsically safe tablet and NuxVu IoT sensors, are designed to prevent sparks, arcs, or thermal effects that could ignite volatile paint manufacturing substances. Using these digital solutions can reduce the risk of explosions and fires. Here are the five reasons to use intrinsically safe solutions in paint and industrial coatings.  

Eliminates Ignition Sources

As discussed above, sparks from tools and equipment in the paint and coating manufacturing environments enhance the risks of explosions. Aegex provides intrinsically safe devices that are foolproof to eliminate potential ignition sources within itself. The Aegex's 100M intrinsically safe tablet is designed to operate in environments where explosive gases, vapors, and dust may be present without posing a risk of ignition or explosion. They are also drop-, water- and dust-resistant devices, making them resist physical impacts and vibrations that could trigger malfunctions and sparks.   

Allows for Real-Time Detection and Monitoring

Real-time detection and monitoring of combustible dust and vapor buildup is crucial to explosion prevention in paint and coating plants. Aegex's NuxVu IoT solution can help supervisors identify and monitor combustible chemicals in the air as soon as they become airborne. The system can trigger alarms or alerts when the dust or vapor concentration exceeds safe levels. This early warning system allows plant operators to act immediately before the dust concentration reaches a dangerous threshold. Then they can use the data collected by dust particle sensors to optimize ventilation systems.   

Allows for Preventive Maintenance of Crucial Equipment

Regular inspection and proactive equipment maintenance, such as mixers, pumps, and storage tanks, can help remove ignition sources. Aegex's intrinsically safe devices feature IoT integrations and sensors that monitor equipment performance, making it easy to arrest malfunctions before they happen. The predictive maintenance approach can help the paint and coating industry eliminate explosion risks and avoid unscheduled downtime.   

Operational Continuity

Through preventive maintenance, intrinsically safe solutions promote operational continuity by reducing the risk of equipment malfunctions and safety incidents. This is particularly crucial in industries like paint and coatings, where production interruptions can lead to product quality issues and financial losses. Intrinsically safe devices eliminate risks of disruptive incidences in hazardous environments by their design, energy limitations, certification, and integration into comprehensive safety programs.   

Compliance With Regulations

OSHA and NEC/CEC have strict safety regulations and standards when using intrinsically safe equipment in hazardous environments. Compliance with these regulations is essential to avoid legal issues and ensure the safety of workers. Aegex's intrinsically safe solutions are certified under the highest safety standards for some of the most explosive conditions.   

Enhance the Safety of Your Workplace with Aegex Intrinsically Safe Solutions

In hazardous paint and industrial coating manufacturing environments, an explosion or fire could occur when enough flammable substances mix with an ignition source in the presence of oxygen. Aegex Technologies provides intrinsically safe solutions designed to combat the risk of explosions and enhance the safety of workers and equipment in hazardous workplaces. Our devices allow for safe operation by eliminating or limiting the electrical or thermal energy available for ignition. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.