If something isn't used it becomes dusty. John Astad is worried that a thick layer of figurative dust is forming on his LinkedIn discussion Group. Coincidentally, this group is dedicated to talking about dust—combustible dust.
This is far from a boring topic. In fact it should worry any business person where the right conditions exist for a spark to ignite a fire or even an explosion. I've blogged about several such incidents in which lift trucks played some role.
The most recent was last year, involving a Hoeganaes Corporation plant in Gallatin, Tennessee (see related links at the end of this post). This company produces atomized iron powder for industrial customers. I was amazed that a plant that dealt in dust for a living would suffer not one, not two, but three explosions. The last one wasn't related to dust but to a hydrogen gas leak and it killed two people. A newspaper account of the incident showed a lift truck's tines being used to lift a grate near the source of hydrogen in the plant. Astad believed a spark caused by the metal-to-metal contact could have caused the conflagration when it met up with the gas leak. That gave Astad's group much to talk about.
But lately that group of 1,000 members has become a silent majority. Astad is frustrated that he seems to be the only one generating any dialog. He even asked members if they wanted this group to continue.
I am one of those thousand members, and I must confess, I don't contribute much to the forum. But a press release entered my e-mail in-box this morning that gave me a convenient excuse to start a discussion, not only for Astad's group, but for MH&L readers as well. Now, mind you, it's a press release promoting a dust collector, so it's selling a product. However, it includes a video simulation that turns the viewer into dust. You get to see what a dust particle sees when it's sucked into a dust collector. The dust collector's manufacturer worked with Arkansas State University's Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) to create this 3D animated video and ended up calling it "Clean Air Rocks."
No fires or explosions are involved, but maybe the experience of returning to the dust from which we all came could spark an interesting existential discussion—like should LinkedIn's Combustible Dust Policy Institute Group continue to exist?
I vote yes.