Fast track to ATEX forklifts when OEM lead times grow

In the shadow of COVID, global Printed Circuit Board (PCB) supply shortages and ongoing steel supply problems, forklift OEMs are pushing lead times further than Pyroban has ever seen. For those businesses that need an ATEX forklift truck fast, Darren Boiling, Materials Handling Sales Manager for Pyroban® says there are five options.
 
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, perhaps due to site expansion, new site build or replacement of an aging fleet that keeps breaking down. So what options are available?

1) New forklifts for ATEX conversion – be flexible

It’s true that not all trucks are taking a year to build and, in many cases, forklift buyers may be able to wait.
 
But 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, perhaps with a higher lift capacity or even a different power source.  
 
There are also many different forklift brands, so by shopping around and being more flexible, you may be able to find trucks that are “in stock” elsewhere that almost match your exact specification. 
 
We work with all forklift OEMs and can support in the specification process to give helpful advice.  One thing is for sure, you may compromise on a slightly larger truck or different brand, but there will never be a compromise on the explosion protection safety, no matter what truck you chose. 
 
Once you find the right truck(s), Pyroban has never been so quick at converting forklifts for use within potentially explosive atmospheres with lead times of around four to six weeks being possible, thanks to huge investments at the manufacturing facility in the UK including tactical stock holding. In some cases, we have been able to start projects immediately.

2) Maintain existing Pyroban forklifts on contract

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.  We see many good quality trucks leave site at the end of a contract with many years’ left in them. 
 
Note that Pyroban conversions and components are built to last for the most arduous conditions, but the truck needs to have the quality and stamina required too.  Be sure to check the brand and quality of the original truck to help assess whether rolling on the contract is the right solution.  In support, we have field service technicians and parts held in stock to help maintain uptime. 
 
And if you wanted new safety systems on a potential new forklift fleet, at this point it may be possible to add items such as Blue Ex Spot™ lights, Red Ex Line™ perimeter lighting or telemetry to help further improve operational efficiency and safety on your existing trucks.

3) Used explosion proof forklift trucks may be the answer

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. 
 
Firstly, 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.

4) Converting “standard” used forklift trucks

Pyroban can also convert pre-owned trucks for use in hazardous areas, depending on the condition of the used equipment.  
 
First check the specification and truck history to ensure suitability for your application. Pyroban can then conduct a full pre-assessment. The used truck should also be clean and uncontaminated by chemicals or hazardous materials.

5) Consider Gascheka installed on an existing truck as an interim solution

If options 1-4 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.

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