ATEX compliant forklifts and chemical waste management

11th April 2017

The risk of explosion is continuous in the highly regulated chemical waste management industry. It can be a tough, dirty and challenging environment for lift trucks operating on these sites, and for the operators. David Reeve, Industry Manager, explains how Hyster supports these businesses with exactly what they need.

Most chemical waste management sites will need forklift trucks to handle IBCs and drums containing all different kinds of flammable material sent from chemical, pharmaceutical, and other manufacturing industries. This can be gases, solids (i.e. powders) or liquids (i.e. solvents) which are typically destroyed or recycled at these specialist waste management plants.

Ignition risk

A major challenge is that forklifts may end up handling substances with varying flashpoints, ignition temperatures, and explosive limits, at any point in time. This means that a standard forklift truck can’t be used in these operations as they may have ignition sources which are not suitable for chemical waste management sites.


ATEX compliance

Waste management firms are highly regulated and usually aware of the strict legal requirements which affect their processes and how hazardous areas are classified. For example, Zone 1 or 2 for gases, Zone 21 or 22 for dusts, or a combination of gas and dust.

Hyster® equipment needs to be ATEX 2014/34/EU compliant to legally work in these areas so the standard range of equipment must be specially converted. However, operators will still expect to have exceptional performance and reliability to ensure they can move materials from A to B, regardless of the ATEX requirements.

Hyster® trucks for Zone 2 operation

In most waste management operations an explosive atmosphere is not expected unless by accidental release. The trucks unload waste from trailers and transport it to the Zone 2 storage areas, a cycle during which spillage or damage is a possibility. Furthermore, the forklifts may feed the process areas in batches where containers are vented.

Usually at these sites a diesel Hyster® H2.5FT or larger Hyster® H3.0XT will be used in these Zone 2 areas and will typically feature a system which detects the hazard, and automatically shuts down the forklift in case of danger. Although, we have seen a growing trend for using electric trucks at waste management sites, with the Hyster® J series providing the power, durability and reliability needed.


Pyroban conversion and alerting the driver to risk

The choice of truck will depend on the throughput of the application. Hyster® will then work with explosion protection specialist Pyroban to convert trucks in line with the latest standards and directives, as well as the technical collaboration required by ISO 3691-1:2015. This ensures the trucks comply with the requirements of ATEX 2014/34/EU.

Pyroban’s system6000™ is an ATEX compliant forklift conversion featuring a system that detects the gas risk giving an audible and visual warning at 10% Lower Explosive Limit (LEL – propane in air) followed by shutdown before dangerous levels are reached. Restricted breathing enclosures, exhaust gas coolers and a multitude of other components and modifications complete the conversion. The gas detection system has IECEx certification to IEC 60079 standards.


Ongoing service support

Once the trucks are in operation, it is normal for Hyster® dealers to provide ongoing support for the equipment.

Service engineers are fully trained to work on the Pyroban equipment and given training about ATEX and potentially explosive atmospheres. Dealers are also trained to follow service schedules and use the correct parts to prevent a truck from becoming an ignition source during its lifetime.

In addition, there is a strong collaboration between Hyster and Pyroban across Europe, including parts and engineering support ensuring that field engineers from Pyroban can be ready to assist in emergency off-road situations.

Where required, Pyroban provides annual inspections to check and document the integrity of the safety system for the Explosion Protection Document (EPD), in support of ATEX 1999/92/EC and EN60079-17.

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