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Pyroban warns industry of explosion risks


Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 ( #500 ) - Shoreham by Sea, United Kingdom
News Story
Pyroban’s System 6000 combines a range of explosion protection methods that make forklifts ATEX compliant.
Forklifts handling flammable materials in the inks and packaging industry have the potential to cause an explosion, according to leading explosion-proof specialist Pyroban.

There is no doubt that explosion-proof forklifts are critical for any solvent-based ink manufacturing and packaging printing operation, says Pyroban’s customer services manager, Darren Boiling.

"It is important for businesses to know the risks of handling flammable materials and to use the right equipment," he says, explaining that standard forklifts can be converted using Pyroban’s explosion-proof technology.

Without safety systems, standard forklifts could ignite solvent vapour fumes in many ways, like through hot spots on the engine exhaust or motors, arcs and sparks from components like switches and motors or friction and static caused by the truck’s forks and tyres.

For inks and packaging manufacturing operations, the need for protected forklifts begins as soon as raw materials arrive from the chemical distributors, continues during the production process, and carries right through to the storage and dispatch of finished goods.

Boiling warns that diesel forklifts used in Zone 2 areas, where flammable inks, solvents and other ingredients are received or stored, have the potential to pose safety threats without the appropriate protection.

"Often diesel trucks are handling sealed containers so a release of vapour is not expected unless there is an accident. In those cases, trucks should be fitted with Pyroban’s System 6000 to actively detect any flammable vapours and to immediately shut down the trucks if there is a problem," he explains.

In post-production areas, including those in satellite operations and third-party logistics providers, blended inks are often sealed in pails or drums. The areas are also usually classified as Zone 2 and materials should be handled by equipment fitted with protection systems.

"In the event of solvent spillage in Zone 2 areas, Pyroban’s System 6000 will sound an alarm and automatically shut down the truck and prevent the possibility of an explosion," Boiling says.

He adds that a greater risk of a flammable atmosphere exists in production areas considered Zone 1, where vats and blenders are open to the atmosphere and small electric forklifts are typically used. Despite local and background ventilation and risk management, there is "always the potential" for flammable solvent vapour in the atmosphere and for spillages to occur.

"Safety should be approached as a priority in the inks, packaging and related logistics industries. Unfortunately, not all businesses are aware of the risks their employees face on a daily basis when using standard forklifts," Boiling says.

Pyroban’s System 6000 combines a range of explosion protection methods to ensure that any component on the forklift cannot be an ignition source, making the entire truck ATEX compliant (ATEX is the legal framework for controlling explosive atmospheres and standards of equipment and protective systems used in them). The engine temperatures are reduced, switches and motors assessed and modified and even the forks are clad in stainless steel to reduce spark potential. The system also includes an automatic gas test on start-up to check that it is correctly calibrated and working every day as required by the European standard EN 1755:2000+A1:2009.
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