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Supply issues: An ATEX update

11 October 2021

Shortages and delays are extending forklift OEM lead times, says Darren Boiling, who offers advice on ensuring you have an ATEX forklift when you need it.

I’VE BEEN in the materials handling industry for more than 30 years and I have never known forklift OEM (original equipment manufacturer) lead times like this. We have recently seen year long lead times to build a forklift and some deliveries stretched so far (after the original order has been placed) that orders have been cancelled.

Of course, some businesses just can’t wait a year, particularly when the trucks are needed in ATEX hazardous areas. So what options are available?

For those that can’t hang around for their exact make and model, it may be possible to adapt to a truck that is in stock. We can convert forklifts for use within potentially explosive atmospheres within 4-6 weeks.

Some operations may decide to wait until lead times return to normal levels and extend the contract on their existing fleet. Of course, this depends on the state of the forklift trucks after years of operation, for example.

If this is your strategy, it’s a good time to consult with Pyroban and explain your plans. Ex-ASAs (Annual Safety Audits) are key to assuring the trucks are still safe for use in zoned areas, but you may also benefit from additional maintenance to help extend the working life and reliability of the trucks.

The delays in manufacturing new forklifts are driving growth in the used forklift truck market across industry. Some pre-owned forklift trucks for sale or hire may already have been Pyroban converted to operate safely in potentially explosive atmospheres, but there are certain steps to be taken to ensure they are safe and ready to use. 

First, it is important to establish the operation risk and identify whether the area is Zone 1, 2, 21 or 22 under ATEX 1999/92/EC or DSEAR in the UK. Factors such as temperature class of the hazard, operation intensity and ambient temperatures need to be considered to establish if the truck is a match.

They should also check that the trucks are clean and uncontaminated by chemicals or hazardous materials, as well as looking at the service and inspection history to ensure the correct maintenance schedule has been adhered to and the correct parts have been used. Understanding the quality of the original truck build is also important. 

Pyroban recommends that all explosion protected forklifts, including used trucks, undergo an annual Ex-ASA, a thorough inspection of all safety critical components and systems. This is even more crucial when buying a used explosion protected truck. Talk to us if this is your strategy as we may know of any used truck fleets available and can undertake Ex based inspections of short-listed trucks before you commit.

If these options aren’t viable and yet you have identified that there is a hazard to address and ceasing the operation isn’t an option, under an ATEX 1999/92/EC or DSEAR (in the UK) risk assessment you may consider installing the Pyroban Gascheka system on existing standard trucks is an acceptable interim solution.  

Gascheka will provide alarm and shutdown in the event of a gas release; albeit not addressing all ignition sources required for full ATEX compliance, but may reduce the risk to be As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) in the circumstances. You can rent the Gascheka system for the interim period, Pyroban installs it and removes it when your longer-term solution is ready.

Darren Boiling, materials handling sales manager, Pyroban

For more information, visit www.pyroban.com