The production and delivery of raw materials to a manufacturer is the first stage of the chemical supply chain.  What should businesses handling raw materials in potentially explosive atmospheres consider when it comes to materials handling equipment?

Handling flammable raw materials

Potentially flammable raw materials are likely to be delivered, pumped and stored in large tanks. Drums and IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) may be found indoors or outdoors, in areas where Hyster® ICE diesel or electric forklifts will commonly be working or passing through.

This may be a Zone 2 hazardous area, classified by ATEX as where a mixture of air and flammable substances in the form of gas, vapour or mist is possible, but not likely to occur in normal operation. 

It can only take one spark or hot surface to cause an ignition in the potentially explosive atmospheres found across the chemical supply chain, so to prevent the risk of ignition, it is vital that only explosion protected and rated lift trucks enter this area.

Active gas detection

Hyster Europe works with specialist partners who conduct explosion protection conversions to help materials handling equipment comply with local legislation.

It is important for drivers to be aware of the presence of a flammable atmosphere in a Zone 2 area, so Hyster® trucks operating in Zone 2 areas can be converted with ‘active’ gas detection systems.  This means if certain levels of gas or vapour in air are detected, the driver receives an audible and visual warning, and if that level elevates further, full equipment shutdown may occur.

Passive gas detection systems

Though more commonly found in Zone 1 operations, some applications may choose to use a ‘passive’ gas detection system in Zone 2.  Instead of initiating a system shutdown when hazardous levels of gas or vapour are detected, these lift trucks are converted to work through the conditions.

Explosion protected Hyster® lift trucks

In addition to systems that alert the driver, those using Hyster® lift trucks in Zone 2 may also need to specify particular tyres, seats, batteries or other ancillary products, to reduce the risk of static causing ignition.  A wide range of options is available via local Hyster® distribution partners.

What happens during the next stage in the supply chain? Find out in our next blog – Understanding chemical supply chain handling: Part 2 – Manufacturing

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