Flame-proofing escalates in Australia

News Story
- 20 Jul 2006 ( #269 ) - SYDNEY, Australia
2 min read
A Toyota forklift flame-proofed by Chess Engineering.
A Toyota forklift flame-proofed by Chess Engineering.
by Daphne Haneman
Australian forklift flame-proofing providers have experienced an increase in demand.

Sydney flame-proofer Chess Engineering Pty Ltd has modified electric forklifts for hazardous areas for 25 years. Chess's flame-proofing consultant Mike Robbins said there had been significant increase in trade in the last year.

"In the past 12 months we've seen a 50 per cent increase in dollar terms in flame-proofing. The peaks and troughs in the business have tapered out, giving way to a steady increase."

Robbins attributed the increase to several issues.

"It could be a combination of environmental concerns where forklifts work in dirty, dusty areas, heightened workplace health and safety awareness, the internet, and larger companies buying smaller ones," he said.

Chess offered 10 protection techniques for 1.8 tonne to three tonne diesel forklifts.

Robbins said the most popular technique involved power limiting and, due to space constraints, it was important to maintain original control switches rather than the more bulky flame-proof switches.

Another Chess technique included fitting a stainless steel, water-cooled exhaust manifold in the engine. That prevented gases exiting the cylinder head from igniting in a hazardous area atmosphere.

A Chess statement said equipment flame-proofing was important in the mining, oil, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and munitions industries which had explosive gas atmospheres.

It said spark ignition engines, such as LPG and petrol, were not permitted in hazardous areas.

Narrow aisle forklift distributor Flexilift Australia Pty Ltd marketing officer Kate Jost said she had received 10 orders for the flame-proof Zone 1 NA20 forklift in the past three months.

She said although flame-proofing could increase the cost of a forklift by 30 per cent, clients found it cost-effective and safe.

"With flame-proofing, the NA20 can cost up to AUD90,000 (USD 67,365) but it can do the job of three different trucks," she said.

There are three flame-proofing specialists in Australia.

Victorian based Forktorque Pty Ltd managing director Murray McLeod said as well as an increase in business, there had been a move to flame-proof electric forklifts.

"In 1993, 95 per cent of our business was diesels, but now 60 per cent is electrics."
McLeod said there had been a noticeable increase in inquiries for flame-proofing access equipment, such as cherry-pickers.

New Zealand's Industrial Truck Sales (NZ) Ltd sales manager Dennis Rose said forklifts requiring flame-proofing were sent to Australia.

Australia's other flameproof provider in is R G Flameproofers, in Victoria.

A Forktorque statement said atmospheres were designated as classes or zones. Classes referred to areas where explosive gas/vapour mixtures existed and zones were areas which contained hazardous atmospheres.
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