Safety upgrade for forklift trucks

Paul Boughton

Businesses producing, storing and distributing flammable materials are at risk of potentially explosive atmospheres and the consequences of ignition, regardless of location. Local hazardous area classification standards led global special chemicals manufacturer and marketer Huntsman, to define specific areas where flammable chemicals are stored as Zone 2, at its facility in Guangzhou, China. 
Materials handling equipment is required to operate safely in these Zone 2 hazardous areas, so Huntsman selected safety company Pyroban to be its explosion proof equipment conversion partner and to help prevent the equipment becoming the source of ignition.

Huntsman originally imported its explosion proof materials handling equipment from Europe, which was compliant with the strict ATEX 94/9/EC European Directive. However, to meet compliance with Chinese standards, they needed additional modification, locally.  

Existing international standards for explosion proof equipment include the International standard IEC, the European standard EN1755: 2000 and the American standard UL NEC500/505, but there is only one accepted standard for explosion proof equipment in the Chinese market.

China's national standard for explosion protection GB19854-2005 "General Principles for Explosion Proof Industrial Trucks in Explosive Atmospheres" was issued in 2005, and officially implemented in 2006.  As a result, all explosion proof forklifts used in China have to comply with these national explosion protection regulations, so imported explosion proof equipment has to undergo a system upgrade.

In order to meet the intensive production requirements, over ten explosion proof forklifts are used for handling raw materials in the Huntsman factory in South China.  Pyroban’s highly efficient technicians completed the project from dismantling to installation, within four working days.

“The aim was to conduct an overall system upgrade on the European converted explosion proof trucks to meet the Chinese national standard” Mr Li, Pyroban’s senior After-sales and Training Manager who was in charge of this upgrade project, noted.  

“All the requirements of explosion protection safety management and safety supervision were considered, including, for example, the design and installation of Exd batteries and Exd lights, rewiring of Exd enclosures and changing the start-up battery on the diesel trucks.”

Huntsman's engineering department is responsible for the safety and maintenance management and system upgrades of all material handling equipment to ensure that every forklift is safe to drive.  Routine maintenance of all explosion proof forklifts is carried out by Pyroban certified professional engineers after formal training and a detailed maintenance report is provided after every service.  Huntsman also conducts periodic safety training for drivers and staff.

Pyroban is entrusted by Huntsman to conduct annual safety audits to test all the explosion protection functions of the trucks.  The inspection not only ensures the efficient and continued safe use of material handling equipment, but it also extends the service lifetime of explosion proof forklifts and helps reduce lifetime costs.  

Huntsman seeks ever greater performance in respect to environment, health and safety. Huntsman’s Engineer Mr Luo, who is in charge of project maintenance and reconstruction, said: “For a chemical manufacturer, safety is put first. Our safety management is a combination of hardware and system improvement as well as development of safety awareness”.

Mr Luo continued: “Management has always supported and encouraged improvement in production techniques and safety facilities, and safety awareness training in the material handling equipment management is particularly important. This is a long-term process of building up safety habits, which are in line with our environmental, health and safety awareness as well as the corporate culture.

“Huntsman is a people-orientated organisation and we have safety awareness from management level to operation level. We support the government laws and regulations and safety standards, and we also value our lives and protect our property," he added.

Pyroban recently opened its Technical Service Centre in Guangzhou to offer a professional and faster service to customers in Guangdong and Southern China. The facility, supported by the Pyroban factory in Suzhou, offers a complete explosion prevention service including hazardous area consulting and training, explosion proof equipment conversion, explosion proof truck rental and other services.  

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