ATEX lift trucks in the ‘spirit’ of whisky cask handling

23rd August 2018

Scotland’s ancient art of whisky production is thriving with millions of casks of Scotch whisky currently stored in warehouses across the country.  The casks are stored for many years maturing, sometimes for more than 20 years. 

Several of the well-known distilleries have Hyster® lift trucks helping to carefully handle the casks in many of them as the whisky matures ready for blending and bottling.

However, for most of these whisky storage facilities the flammable nature of the whisky presents explosion risks often classified in the same league as the petrochemical industry.

ATEX lift trucks for Zone 2 whisky storage areas

Distilleries typically need lift trucks to handle the whisky casks within the potentially explosive atmospheres of the Zone 2 storage areas. Hyster® VNA and counterbalance lift trucks are often explosion protected with full ATEX* 2014/34/EU compliance for these operations.

Technology developed by safety company Pyroban® incorporates gas detection to continuously monitor the direct environment around a Hyster® truck. In these Zone 2 areas, drivers are made aware of the presence of a flammable atmosphere.

An audible and a visual warning are given to the driver when a mixture of flammable gas or vapour in air is detected at 10% Lower Explosive Limit (LEL – propane in air).  If and when it reaches 25% LEL (propane in air), full equipment shut down then occurs.

The Pyroban conversion of the truck combines gas detection with various explosion protection methods such as restricted breathing enclosures and surface temperature cooling.

Many operations make use of a whisky cask handling platform for picking, putting away and rotating the casks periodically. Pickers put away casks on the racking from a man-up cage on the front of a Hyster® forklift fully protected by Pyroban.


Other operations may use an explosion protected ATEX VNA machine for the high-bay racking.

Blending, bottling and packaging whisky

After the whisky has matured the casks are usually delivered to a bottling facility, sometimes on the same site, or at another location using road transport.

Casks are disgorged and fed into blending areas where vapour is more present in the atmosphere requiring a high level of safety of any equipment or plant operating in the Zone 1 (typically) area.

For Zone 1 applications, the lift truck driver is not alerted to the presence of a potentially explosive atmosphere. Passive protection technologies are used to convert the Hyster® equipment, so they can operate through a potentially explosive atmosphere.

All Pyroban conversions are in line with the new EN1755:2015** standards giving operators, and distilleries, peace of mind.

Hyster® lift trucks in the spirit of the beverage industry

ATEX compliance is not only a requirement for the whisky industry, other spirits such as brandy are also flammable.  Special considerations are required for the equipment used in any industry where flammable material is handled.

To find out more about our ATEX compliant Hyster® solutions, contact your local Hyster® distributor for or visit

Pyroban was a partner for the Hyster® Rhine Tour, which took place throughout June and July 2018.



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