Packaging Machines for Hazardous Areas

Episode 9 of “On The Pulse of Packaging” features packaging machines that PAC Machinery makes for industries classified as hazardous areas per OSHA’s Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program. The episode features Chief Operating Officer, Mark Goldman and Vice President, Greg Berguig from PAC Machinery. 

This is topic has become relevant because of recent explosions at several manufacturing facilities in recent months. Additionally, in January 2023, OSHA added 6 more industries to its combustible dust program for companies that generate dust. OSHA found they had a higher likelihood of having combustible dust hazards or experienced combustible dust-related fatalities/catastrophes  The NEW industries include:

  • 311812 – Commercial Bakeries
  • 325910 – Printing Ink Manufacturing
  • 321912 – Cut Stock, Resawing Lumber, and Planning
  • 316110 – Leather and Hide Tanning and Finishing
  • 321214 – Truss Manufacturing
  • 424510 – Grain and Field Bean Merchant Wholesalers

If you are in one of these industries and you want to be in compliance with your packaging equipment, you should consider getting a machine quote from PAC machinery.  

PAC Machinery has been manufacturing sealers for hazardous areas for decades from its Packaging Aids brand of machinery that are for environments where explosive powder or gas are present regulated by OSHA.  These machines:

  • can make  your workplace safer
  • Be in compliance with OSHA regulations
  • Avoiding fines
  • Avoiding workplace explosions resulting in injury and death
  • Avoid costly lawsuits 

Over the last 6 years, on average, there were 30 dust explosions, 27 injuries and 2.3 fatalities per year. Food and wood products made up nearly 75% of the combustible dust fires and explosions recorded (Source: 2021 Combustible Dust Incident Report Summary)


PVG XP ATEX Explosion-Proof
electrical components are enclosed inside the NEMA enclosure, plus the heating element is fully enclosed within the seal bar in accordance with NEMA specifications. All controls are designed for use in hazardous classification areas, and are built in strict accordance with corresponding specifications.

Video Transcript 

Hi I’m Shannon Winans host of “On the Pulse of Packaging.” Today we have with us Chief Operating Officer, Mark Goldman and Vice President Greg Burguig from PAC Machinery with decades of expertise in the packaging industry they are here to talk about this relevant topic on our episode today. A little background into this topic PAC Machinery has been manufacturing sealers for decades for use in explosive areas from its packaging AIDS brand of machinery these machines are used in environments where explosive powders or gases are present. Regulated by OSHA, these machines can make businesses safer, keeping them compliant, avoiding fines for non-compliance and avoiding workplace explosions resulting in injury and death. In January 2023, OSHA added six more Industries to its Combustible Dust Program for companies that generate dust that can potentially cause explosions that can result in catastrophic consequences. Here’s a look at the new Industries under the program.  

Mark and Greg, you’re here to tell us about safer packaging equipment options these types of companies need.

Yes thank you Shannon for bringing up this very important topic. I know Mark certainly has a lot of experience in it and I do as well so let’s chat packaging and bag sealing and vacuum packaging for what we call explosive, potentially explosive or hazardous classified locations also known as ATEX rated locations.

Q-So tell me a little bit about what are some of the safety features of these machines.

A lot depends on the environment. Whether it’s a gas related or a dust related environment as to what is required in in the case of gas related environments basically all of the electronics need to be sealed and any openings that could allow for the gas to penetrate need to be completely sealed off so those types of environments generally require constant heat sealers because that allows us to do some special things with how the wiring is routed and we’re able to seal the tubing and things like that with essentially almost like an epoxy type or concrete type sealer that limits any exposure for the gas to any kind of ignition source. In the case of powder, there are a couple of different kinds of things that we can do we can do.

Impulse sealers with powder requires a special kind of enclosure to limit access to any potential ignition source to the powder generally requires a pressurized systems that prevent powder from seeping into the machine. Mark I think you’re talking about a few different types of machines or configurations of the machine.

I think Shannon one thing and you know for the most part people need to understand what environment they are packing their product under right so there’s a few different rating systems out there. Here in the US, we typically use the NFPA 70 NEC rating system for hazardous locations. In the rest of the world, they typically use the ATEX rating so the ATEX talks about zones you know.  Zone one, zone 21 Etc. and it kind of touches on what Mark is talking about especially for those here in the U.S. So I have the class is it is. If it gases or Vapors that may be present or is it dust that may be present. Those are typically it’s either class one or class two and then it’s that they may exist for some time during normal operating conditions or they are not likely to exist during operating conditions. So I think based on that then we get a good sense of what type of value machine in the U.S. It’s a class and division rating in fact the chart on the wall behind me is actually the chart that’s used to determine what kind of environment we’re talking about and what kind of technical rating the machines require to meet so if a customer is needing this type of machine, we go out to their location and look around or how do those requirements come to us.

Actually the first time I was ever involved in this I actually did it by going to a site. It was a site where they were they were doing these charges for the oil field for penetrating pipes and wells into different strata layers. Unfortunately two weeks after I visited them, the facility blew up but you know this is a pretty old problem and I mean you can’t do it by querying the customer remotely you just need to get a good description of what the environment is like. I know like for instance the flower exchange I think in Minneapolis has blown up twice dating back to I think the 1930’s the first time so this is a problem that goes back a long time and in a lot of cases what people didn’t realize is the discussion you can have. A lot of times with them, remotely is what type of product are they dealing with and you know what is actually becoming airborne whether again it’s gas leaking because of their process or whether it’s powder of some type and again a lot of times people are surprised you know because they don’t think of their product as being combustible but we’ve seen every you know things like onion powder that gets packaged in a facility and goes airborne and can be combustible so you know it could be anything flour you know onion powder or pretty much anything food. I think there’s also a whole pharmaceutical segment too and that’s where we see a lot of as well right in our experience in the medical pharmaceutical industry and those different types of powders but you know ultimately the customer will know a couple things. They will know the rating that they need to meet right if it’s in the US the class and div or internationally. The Zone they will know that they will know the bag material that they’re currently using which could dictate whether it’s a constantly heated bar or an Impulse rated bar. They will also know are we just sealing the bag or do we need to remove the air out for whatever reason like either nitrogen flush in there or I’m just going to reduce the air because then it’s in a drum or something like that right so they will know those things and then based on that you know to Mark’s point we have different designs of bag sealers.

Q-What is the third party certified?

Well there are nationally recognized testing facilities that will certify products to meet a certain standard and so if somebody needs to have the machine certified that it meets you know class two division one or you know some particular standard for their particular product and environment they could have us and we’ve done this on a number of occasions brought in a testing laboratory to certify the machine before it gets delivered to the facility. Yeah, they’ll go right down to the component level to make sure that everything that’s been used meets that particular specification requirement.

One thing I can tell you is that a lot of times people don’t realize and I think that’s changing now but I think for a long-time people didn’t realize that they had an environment that required it. The example I was talking about before the facility that was packing essentially black powder into these charges had purchased some off-the-shelf sealers and then sprayed some spark inhibitor onto the electrical connections and they thought that was fine for what they were doing and like I said two weeks after I was there the facility blew up. You know it’s difficult I think from the standpoint that a lot of times these plants will have lots of different kinds of equipment and so you know they’re looking for solutions you know that are going to meet their broad requirements and so we’re not the only ones that really need to provide specialized equipment for this.

We’ve we have done it for a number of different kinds of facilities in the oil industry you know gas and oil industry and as Greg said pharmaceuticals and food product like onion powder was one of them so there are a number of different kinds of applications that we can fall into and I think that’s the important thing going back to what Greg said is that we don’t just say here we make a sealer and we’ll do a few things to kind of try to make it fit into what you’re trying to do but we’ll try to understand the application you know as well as the environment and try to configure something that actually meets their requirements.

I think also talking about custom customers I mean a couple there’s certainly stories that come to mind right where they’re using something that we will see their current process and it’s certainly not rated any type of rating and it’s actually a liability in their current environment.

We’ve seen other applications where the product needs to be moved out of the room that it’s being packed in so you imagine these big like you know few hundred-pound drums of product that actually need to be physically moved out. You talk about sterility as far as that goes because their current sealer doesn’t do the job. We even had a customer that they bought something from someone else that they thought was ATEX or uh you know had a hazardous rating and turns out it didn’t and they spent like, I don’t know, a quarter million dollars plus building a custom room around the existing sealer. So it’s important to get the right piece of equipment and I think if you need it to be third party certified which I mean it’s all liability so you know to budget that into what you’re doing.

Q- So it doesn’t really surprise you guys that OSHA added six more industries that would need or require this type of machine?

OSHA has been through an interesting history on this too because  going back a number of years they didn’t even realize they had inspectors going into plants to do osha inspections and didn’t even look at this issue and part of what started this process I think to become more mainstream was the fact that there was publicity about the fact that an OSHA inspector was at a plant you know two or three weeks later the plant blew up and it was never even part of the OSHA observations with regard to you know the dangers in the plant. You  know it’s really changed and now we’ve kind of started to swing the other direction where they’re now adding more and more Industries and products that you know are of concern and that they’re going to be looking at and you know they make their money based on finding people for violating their rules and you know it’s going to be become more and more serious for people both from a human risk standpoint as well as from a financial standpoint.

The two that I believe you sent me articles last week,(the Chocolate Factory in Pennsylvania tonight the death toll Rising after a Pennsylvania Chocolate Factory violently exploded Friday the terrifying moments caught on camera by local station Fox 29 Philly massive explosion fire we have a number of damaged buildings) I just wanted to highlight that was in the news it killed seven people reportedly and sent 10 to the hospital it damaged other buildings that the factory was near so it devastated that community. Then another one in Iowa. A roofing shingle recycling factory. There’s an employee now suing the company from injuries he reportedly suffered during the explosion there’s lawsuits there so you know that’s still under investigation. That just happened so that’s in the news. So you’re starting to hear more and more about these factory explosions. I know we just had one here in Ohio too. It seems to take a while for the investigation to be fully conducted and find out what the cause was but you know for sure this is something to look at.

You know it’s kind of like worker safety in a number of respects. You know we’ve seen over the years, I’ve been involved in a few investigations you know that were based on buildings catching fire for whatever and you know it takes some months and months to go through the investigation to try to find sources and like in the case of the explosion proof stuff it would be an ignition source but even in in fire investigations you know they’ll look for wiring faults and machinery and things like that. It’s just something that has to take time

Q- Do you want to talk a little bit about the build process?

It’s highly customized and the components used are highly customized as well. It’s not about the time to build it once we have all the parts but I mean it is a many months process with order of magnitude six months-ish or something like that right this is something that you don’t need one tomorrow this is something you plan for and you should start doing your research now. I mean like if it’s something that you might need it’s not like you know customers typically plan this one year, two years in advance of them knowing that like hey we have this mandate requirement so

Q- And I was just going to follow up with kind of what you touched on. If you’re a customer out there and you need some kind  sealer for hazardous areas that PAC Machinery makes, what is it about PAC Machinery and about our machine types? What would you want a customer or potential customer to know about our company and the way we build this machine or about this product category?

I mean I think from my standpoint Mark feel free to chime in.  I’m mean this is an area we have experience extensive experience in. We have machines literally all around the world doing this. We’ve had them third party certified.  I think the fact that we’ve successfully built them for the most extreme environment you know to you know a lighter types of requirements and we’re probably in you know a second or third generation of designs that we’ve been through so we’ve got the engineering experience as well as the practical application experience from having done this for a long time. It is that because of the products that we’ve developed and the product lines that we have that we can fit something to their need as opposed to you know here is a fixed product and then you could try to figure out how to use it in your environment.

Our approach to things in this regard isn’t any different than it’s been for pretty much all of our all of our life as a companies to try to find the right design of a product and the right fit for a particular customer’s application and we can do that here as well you know these aren’t just fixed products they’re products that can be configured for what the customer actually needs to run their plant efficiently and I think that’s important.

That’s an important distinction between us and other companies in the field and understanding how to deal with the engineering and manufacturing aspects of this are not something you just do overnight.  I mean we we’ve learned a lot over the last 25 years of doing this kind of thing that and we’ve been doing it for just about that long I think the first class one Division one machines we built were probably over 20 years ago. Just knowing the components that are required you know like Greg was saying I mean there’s applications where we use these cast aluminum control boxes that have to be machined and then they have to use special kinds of components to plug the holes when you machine them and stuff like that.It’s just not a something that anybody could do you really have a lot of learning there’s a learning curve with it.

Reach out to us and let’s have the conversation more than anything even if you don’t think you need something today like we’re here and we’re here as a resource.

Well thank you Mark and Greg for this really important conversation on keeping companies safer and the combustible dust program and for bringing awareness to PAC Machinery’s abilities and experience with these classified hazardous area packaging machines.

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