Safety company Pyroban reports a “growing population” of electric tugs being used in potentially explosive atmospheres to support manual handling.
“Electric tugs can complete the ignition triangle in Zoned hazardous areas, unless they are suitably protected,” says Rob Vesty, Sales Manager, UK and Ireland, for Pyroban. “We believe there is a growing population of tugs in hazardous area operations and businesses need to ensure their staff are safe while offering manual handling assistance.”
Electric tugs are typically used to push, pull and steer heavy loads that are on caster wheels or rails, in a production plant for example. MasterMover is one tug manufacturer that has been working with Pyroban to ensure that any customer operating with a potentially explosive atmosphere receives an ATEX-compliant model.
“A recent example is at an aerospace manufacturing business where long aircraft parts are manoeuvred in the potentially explosive paint spraying areas using our electric tugs,” says Hugh Freer, Sales Director of MasterMover, explaining that MasterMover electric tugs concentrate the load weight directly over the drive wheel making it easy for the operator to accurately manoeuvre loads.
“We have eliminated the risk of solvent vapour ignition from the motors and other components with Pyroban explosion protection,” Hugh says. “We are not only protecting staff, but also the supply chain from the risk of explosion and consequential loss.”
Pyroban can convert almost all models in the MasterMover range for Zone 2 operation using system6000E, a conversion process which takes 6-8 weeks in one of Pyroban’s factories in the UK or the Netherlands.
One of the main features of system6000E is the gas detection system that will safely shut down the tug and bring it to a controlled stop when it detects rising levels of flammable gas or vapour. The system self-tests at start-up and auto-calibrates, giving assurance to operators working in potentially explosive atmospheres each day.
Restricted breathing enclosures are also used to house many of the components and surface temperature cooling ensures the motors, brakes, electrics and other components remain below the auto-ignition temperature of the flammable materials. Temperatures are also monitored leading to a controlled shut-down of the tug if they exceed certain levels.
“We have supplied many industries where flammable material is present, particularly in the automotive, pharmaceutical, chemical and petrochemical sectors,” says Hugh. “Demand for explosion protection has grown over the last couple of years and there has been a steady increase in our export markets.”
The company has recently supplied two MT400 models to a customer in Poland that manufactures woodcare products, where flammable solvents are present. Hugh explains that MasterMover customers see a dramatic reduction in manual handling, with quick and easy movement of wheeled loads such as vessels, containers, ingredients, machines and finished products.
Pyroban also provides explosion protection for Zone 1 operations and can provide solutions for Zone 21 and Zone 22 applications where powders and dusts are present. Certified with gas groups IIA and IIB, Pyroban conversions have full CE approval in accordance with the ATEX 2014/34/EU Directive and EN 1755:2000+A2:2013 standard. There is also written consent from MasterMover in line with ISO 3691-1:2011.
“Some businesses may not realise that small electric tugs present a very real danger of explosion in hazardous areas,” says Rob Vesty. “Where full ATEX compliance is not required, we can also provide added safety through Gascheka duo™, which can be fitted onsite and still provide gas and vapour detection and shutdown.”
Service support is provided through the local MasterMover dealers and technicians trained to maintain the Pyroban system.
MasterMover manufactures electric tugs in the UK and has customers all over the world moving wheeled loads from 50kg to 120,000kg.