Things get hot when pots and pans are polished in the production process at Kuhn Rikon AG, the number one Swiss brand for crockery and kitchen aids. Dust explosions can easily occur if the temperature rises above a certain threshold, which in the worst-case scenario can lead to significant fire damage and production outages.
In June 2015, overheated polishing plates caused a dust explosion at the Kuhn Rikon main facility in northern Switzerland, starting a devastating fire that destroyed the production system and parts of the factory building. Together with the associated production outage, the total damage amounted to approximately $7 million.
“Luckily no-one was hurt, but the incident made us drastically aware that we urgently require reliable protection of our production processes that exceeds the scope of normal fire protection,” says Paul Brunschwiler, production technician at Kuhn Rikon.
IP video systems manufacturer Mobotix AG and fire safety systems provider Hekatron Brandschutz teamed up to deliver complete protection against this risk for Kuhn Rikon. Mobotix M16 thermal imaging cameras monitor the production process for critical temperatures and intervene autonomously in the production process. Not only does the system trigger an alarm in the case of possible overheating, it automatically stops the production machine and starts the extinguishing process where necessary. The cameras offer outstanding image resolution and enable precise monitoring of all the danger zones within the production workflow. In addition, the software package for the IP cameras allowed tailored programming to suit Kuhn Rikon’s needs.
“We programmed all three escalation levels exactly: a warning for critical temperatures, production stop when the threshold is exceeded, followed by immediate initiation of the extinguishing process after the production shutdown to prevent any spread of the fire,” says project manager Mathias Stauffacher.
Daniel Triebswetter, specialist for extinguishing system control at Hekatron Brandschutz, adds: “The incident at Kuhn Rikon plainly shows that fire protection for technical systems is extremely important as a ‘life-insurance policy’ for the company. Here, protecting the employees and the company's output go hand in hand. The solution for Kuhn Rikon catches the eye with its simple connection of the Mobotix thermal image camera to the fire alarm and extinguishing control centre Integral IP, as well as the smart fire management system – from production stoppage to triggering the extinguishing system.”
Brunschwiler concludes: “The compatibility with Mobotix and Hekatron Brandschutz, as well as the user-friendly and low-maintenance system, convinced us 100 per cent. Continuous, precise temperature measurement also allowed us to optimise our production process to ensure that we always operate at the ideal temperature and largely prevent any production errors. Overall, we managed to optimise our production process by around 5 per cent and in doing so make the general working atmosphere more pleasant for our employees.”
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