Trailer Magazine

Safety at distance

Safety at distance

When transporting hazardous products such as LPG and industrial gases, operator safety is paramount. For Supagas, the Alfons Haar PreciGAS LPG metering system ticked all the boxes, with automation and the ability to control the system at distance seen as key benefits.

Operating nationwide, Supagas is one of Australia’s largest distributors and suppliers of LPG and industrial gases, supplying to both the commercial and domestic markets.

Annually, the business delivers approximately 1 million cylinders, 60,000 tonnes of LPG and 10 million cubic metres of bulk liquid and compressed gases.

Throughout Australia, Supagas operates a fleet of over 200 vehicles, including semi tankers, rigid tankers, trucks and utes. Among the most recent deliveries is a new six-tonne rigid, with a 14,000 litre LPG tanker barrel supplied by BHA. The new unit was delivered in May 2019 and is based at the Supagas head office in Ingleburn, Sydney.

The vehicle features the PreciGAS LPG metering system by Alfons Haar, chosen for its accuracy and advanced technological features. Though this is the first time Supagas has worked with the fuel pumping solution specialist, project engineer Reza Pourdarvish indicates it won’t be the last. “This is just the starting point,” he says.

“Accuracy is really important to us at Supagas and that’s one of the reasons we chose the PreciGAS LPG metering system – to ensure our customers get the right amount of product. We want to make sure customers are billed correctly and accurately.

“Flow metering systems we’ve used in the past use technology that goes back 20 or 30 years, whereas the technology on the PreciGAS system is very advanced. There are many features that come with that sort of new technology; and that’s what makes the PreciGAS system different to other products in the market.”

Designed for ease of use, the lightweight PreciGAS system is fully automated, helping to reduce the chance of operator error. As there is no need for any operator valve handling, it eliminates the risk of running pumps dry. Instead, they simply select the required mode of operation and PreciGAS does the rest – including managing engine start/stop, PTO engagement, pump or compressor activation and all valves. Maximum pre-set volumes are automatically suggested to the driver. The system also provides litres or kilograms with real-time measurement of volumes, temperature and density information, enabling users to easily match loading and delivery balance sheets. Supagas will also be rolling out the remote control option, meaning all of the system’s features can be controlled at distance.

“Being automatic, it makes the LPG delivery process very easy and manageable and removes possible human error. As the operator can control the pump remotely, they don’t need to be next to the tanker while LPG is being pumped. Instead, they can control the pump from their watch – which is a similar concept to the Apple watch. Being able to control the pump from a wrist worn controller is something that couldn’t be done with older technologies,” says Reza.

“Safety is very important for our operations. Our LPG tankers are a hazardous operation due to the properties of LPG, so having drivers away from the unit is a great safety feature. In the case of an emergency, they can control the process using either their watch or the remote control, without needing to be too close to the vehicle. And the movement monitoring capabilities provide another effective man-down monitor which we will be implementing.”

According to Reza, the operator currently using the system has reported that it is very easy to use and is also user friendly. A simple push button is all that is needed to commence or stop the pumping process. This results in faster deliveries, greatly enhancing efficiency – and in some cases allowing the vehicle to undertake additional deliveries throughout the day.

While some LPG metering systems require a great deal of maintenance and service, the PreciGAS system is designed to reduce downtime. The meter does away with moving parts, resulting in less wear and reduced maintenance costs. While Reza reveals that Supagas’ older metering systems have typically required ongoing maintenance expenses, he says Supagas anticipates maintenance costs to be greatly reduced with the new PreciGAS system.

The PreciGAS LPG metering system by Alfons Haar can be easily fitted to new or existing tankers. It comes complete with a factory pre-manufactured metering line, and its PreciBUS and PreciNODE connectivity eliminates the need for a junction box or any excessive wiring.

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