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At the Van Gansewinkel waste management facility in Moerdijk, the Netherlands, a forklift operator confidently lifts a barrel marked “flammable materials” and transports it safely to an area where the material can be processed.
Handling potentially explosive materials is all in a day’s work for the Dutch waste handler thanks to three recently-purchased Toyota forklifts that have been fitted with special anti-explosion safety features.
The forklifts use the Pyroban system6000E, a safety system that uses gas detection and other anti-explosive features to keep the company’s operators and property safe and secure.
Standard battery-powered forklifts are not equipped to handle highly explosive substances like the kinds of chemical liquids, contaminated water, batteries, aerosols, glue, ink, acid, paint and other materials that regularly arrive at the Van Gansewinkel facility, according to Eelco Huisinga, a Pryoban sales manager.
“There are many ways a standard electric forklift can be the source of ignition,” Huisinga said in a company news release. “One small spark from any of the unprotected electrical equipment, heat from motors, brakes, and other components, and even static build up and friction can create enough energy to cause ignition.”
Keeping People and Property Safe
The anti-explosive system installed on the waste hauler’s forklifts include restricted breathing enclosures, stainless steel cladding for forks, and a surface temperature cooling system that makes sure brakes, electrical components and other parts of the vehicle never exceed the temperature levels that could result in auto-ignition of flammable materials.
The forklifts also use pellistor based technology to detect when explosive gas is present. A warning signal alerts drivers so they can remove themselves and their vehicles from potentially explosive environments.
The system6000 also auto-calibrates and self-tests every time the forklifts are started up.
Additional Layer of Protection
The new anti-explosion forklifts are a key tool for helping prevent accidents at the waste hauler’s facilities, according to Jan Goedhart, site manager.
“We process several thousand tons of chemical waste each year at the Moerdijk site,” Goedhart said. “A lot of the waste is flammable, so it is critical that we manage the operation with no compromises to safety.”
When drums of waste arrive at the facility, their contents typically are already marked by the client who sent them for processing. Those that aren’t marked are tested at the facility’s onsite laboratory.
Those materials that are deemed as potentially explosive are unloaded and handled using the specially outfitted forklifts.
Van Gansewinkel’s 75,000-square-foot facility has about 30 employees, all of whom are highly trained on the safe handling of potentially dangerous materials. The forklifts are just an additional layer of safety, according to Goedhart.