Centralised fume extraction system makes Prattley’s new factory cleaner and safer

Welders at Prattley Industries are breathing, moving and working easier, following the company’s September 2013 move into a 4,000 square metre factory in Temuka, South Canterbury. The new workshop brings together the 20 employees and their activities, previously distributed over five facilities, under one roof.

prattley-1Iconic Kiwi company Prattley Industries is a leading manufacturer of animal handling equipment. Prattley production manager Colin Harrris says its trusted reputation here and abroad is the result of 47 years experience of and dedication to producing tough, durable, light-weight equipment.

“To maintain humane animal handling practices the correct equipment must be used – equipment that does not compromise rural worker and stock safety and welfare. Prattley addresses this by producing safe, versatile animal management systems for a total cost effective management solution,” he says.

However, Mr Harris says, a culture of safety begins at home. It was therefore a pleasure to have a free hand to specify the new building, designed and constructed by Thompson Engineering in Timaru, to the Prattley team’s safety requirements when it took the decision to relocate two years ago.

“One of the key issues was to get it right for the welders. The alloy used in production is bought in soft form and heat treated to give high tensile strength while remaining light weight. We generate a lot of fumes. We addressed this issue with the installation of a purpose-built centralised welding fume extraction system.”

Having read about Auckland firm Viking 1978 Ltd in New Zealand Engineering News, the Prattley team contacted Viking for a quote. “Viking sales manager Ross Metcalf came down for a visit, and based on the total product – project design, cost effectiveness and level of client service – we awarded Viking the contract. “Our welders report they are pleased with the new factory, notably the fume extraction system. The extraction system is easy to use, versatile and easy to move around, tidy, the air is clean and fume free – it’s altogether a more pleasant working environment,” Mr Harris says.

prattley-2Mr Metcalf explains the project consists of 10 16m2 personalised welding bays and one 16m2 robot welding bay. The booths for human welders each has a 3m articulated extraction arm mounted to a 2m extension boom. The articulated arms, manufactured by Italian company Aerservice, can each extract up to 800 m3/hr air. The extension booms can carry the weight of the wire feeders. The main extraction fans are positioned to the structural columns of the building and come complete with large attenuators to minimise noise. The robot welding section has been fitted with a large 7m2 extraction hood and fan unit exhausted to the outside atmosphere.

The system fully manages air quality and personalises ventilation for each welder and process. It can remove the by-products from MIG, TIG arc and sub-arc welding processes. While extracting, it draws clean, cooling air across the operators.

Says Mr Metcalf: “This is the big advantage of a custom New Zealand-designed and made system – we don’t just sell from a brochure. We do complete turnkey projects, from site assessment to designing, through to manufacturing, installing, and after-sales service. We’re manufacturers ourselves, we know what each process requires.

“We know what works and we make this knowledge and experience work for our customers.” He adds the new range of Armoflex extraction arms start from as little as $1050 each and Viking welcomes enquiries about it.