Risk-free process development with specially designed facilities

Reducing risk is one of the biggest challenges associated with developing and scaling new processes. One solution that is becoming increasingly popular is the use of purpose-built semi-permanent units to house the development of hazardous processes and enable remote R&D. Industrial conversion specialist Andrew Capella of S Jones Containers discusses 9 of the most common reasons process engineering companies opt for purpose-built containerized units and the modifications needed to create ideal test and development conditions .

Rapid innovation

Rapid development and testing are essential to the commercial success of new processes. Although obtaining the necessary planning permissions and implementing security modifications or expansions to existing facilities can take years, a containerized solution for risk reduction can be developed off-site and installed in months. only, without the need for planning permission. Engineering and research companies often approach us when developing a proof of concept before making a major ongoing investment.

Inherent risk

In some cases, the risk inherent in the process itself means that it cannot be effectively controlled on the spot. Offsite construction can allow riskier processes to be operated externally to minimize the number of people in contact with the hazardous process.

Remote and contactless process innovation

One risk reduction option that is becoming increasingly popular is contactless or remote process development and management. In some cases, this could include dividing the container, with one side providing a protective environment for operators and another housing the necessary chemicals and equipment. A gas-tight door can also be installed to provide additional protection. Alternatively, engineering companies keep the whole process in a stand-alone environment managed remotely from the main site.

Fire and explosion

The need to house process development away from main sites is particularly important where there is a risk of fire or explosion, which could invalidate existing insurance contracts. A self-contained unit prevents damage to larger facilities and people.

Non-responsive environments

Ensuring a non-reactive environment is paramount when dealing with hazardous chemicals. By using specialist coatings and materials, a self-contained unit can be specifically developed around the risk reduction process that will prevent adverse reactions. There are a number of chemical resistant materials, such as Plastisol coated steel, oriented strand board (OSB/3) and hygienic PVC, which can be used for the internal structure and insulation of a purpose-built process development site to ensure the right testing and development conditions.

Constant temperatures

One of the greatest dangers for many chemicals is destabilization due to rising or falling temperatures. The advantage of a stand-alone unit is that heating and cooling requirements can be developed specifically for the process in progress.

Intelligent ventilation

Gas leaks or gas explosions are one of the most frequently cited risks in the development of new processes. To solve this problem, additional vents can be fitted to the units to quickly and efficiently vent toxic fumes in the event of a leak or buildup of toxic gases. In the event of a fire, a ventilation system that can stop automatically is essential.

Transportation

One of the added benefits of using a container for process development and implementation is that it can be transported to the point of need. We have established process engineering and test labs that are transported across the UK and around the world, helping to unlock new markets and applications for advanced engineered systems.

Test until destroyed

In some cases, engineering firms and research organizations may want to understand exactly what is wrong and under what circumstances with a given process. One of our latest applications was to create a battery abuse testing site, pushing chemistry to the limit to identify technology tolerances. With extreme R&D and testing like this, there will be a catastrophic incident and it’s about making sure the environment is as robust and safe as possible to achieve that. Most of the time, this will require the use of fire and sprinkler system suppression technology to help contain the damage.

Risks of explosion, fire or toxic gas emissions can often mean that existing installations are either impractical or too expensive to convert. Whether solving the global energy crisis, developing and testing the latest lithium-ion battery technology, or creating and scaling new industrial processes, self-sustaining research labs are often the way fastest, safest and most efficient way to enable process development.

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