With potentially explosive atmospheres present throughout the chemical supply chain, Mark Nailer, Industry Manager for Hyster Europe, discusses the 360-degree Hyster® solutions that support compliant and efficient handling.

“It can only take one spark or hot surface to cause an ignition in the potentially explosive atmospheres found across the chemical supply chain,” says Mark. “Heat and spark control are therefore primary considerations for businesses involved in the production, storage and transport of flammable chemicals.”

The production and delivery of raw materials to a manufacturer is the first stage of the chemical supply chain. These potentially flammable raw materials are likely to be delivered, pumped and stored in large tanks. Drums and IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) may be found indoors or outdoors, in areas where Hyster® ICE diesel or electric forklifts will commonly be working, or passing through.

This may be a Zone 2 hazardous area, classified by ATEX as where a mixture of air and flammable substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist is possible, but not likely to occur in normal operation. To prevent the risk of ignition, it is vital that only explosion protected and rated lift trucks enter this area.

Hyster Europe works with specialist partners, such as Pyroban, who conduct explosion protection conversions to help materials handling equipment comply with local legislation. In Zone 2 applications, the Pyroban conversion of a Hyster® truck combines gas detection with various explosion protection methods such as restricted breathing enclosures and surface temperature cooling.

“It’s important for drivers to be aware of the presence of a flammable atmosphere, so Hyster® trucks operating in Zone 2 areas can be converted with ‘active’ gas detection systems,” explains Mark. “This means if certain levels of gas or vapour in air are detected, the driver receives an audible and visual warning, and if that level elevates further, full equipment shutdown may occur.”

Though more commonly found in Zone 1 operations, some applications may choose to use a ‘passive’ gas detection system. Instead of initiating a system shutdown, these lift trucks are converted to work in these conditions.

During the next stage in the supply chain, raw materials are mixed or processed to manufacture specific chemicals with a whole range of uses. Here, Hyster® lift trucks are commonly used to transport and feed chemicals in to the production line. Those operations mixing ingredients may benefit from mobile weighing systems fitted to trucks as these allow dosing to be done straight from the drum or container. Using weight information, the truck can accurately deliver quantities.

Chemicals in the form of combustible powders or dusts also pose a risk of ignition. To reduce risk, explosion protection modifications are available for diesel and electric Hyster® materials handling equipment operating in these so-called Zone 21 or Zone 22 areas.

“Explosion protection conversions can be applied to most Hyster® diesel and electric trucks, including warehouse equipment,” says Mark. “This allows applications to select a solution such as a Reach Truck or VNA which delivers on efficiency and suits their infrastructure, even if the equipment will be operating in a potentially explosive atmosphere.”

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