Jotun uses Powerlifters to improve OH&S standards

Who do you turn to when you need intrinsically safe lifting equipment to operate in a highly flammable production environment – Powerlift Nissan of course.

Melbourne based Jotun Coatings Australia recently turned to Powerlift Nissan for their advice on replacing two forklifts with a Class 1 and Zone 1 compliant lifting alternative for use in their paint manufacturing facility.

Founded in Norway, Jotun is a specialist manufacturer of paints, coatings and powder coatings for residential, marine and industrial applications, and is widely regarded as a market leader in these fields.

According to Jotun’s Vince Trimboli, the Australian manufacturing facility was set-up to be able to meet local demand quickly and economically. “The markets we service are fairly unstable so forecasting demand is next to impossible, and with extensive lead times involved in importing product a local manufacturing capability is the only viable alternative.

“Last year we conducted an audit of the OH&S issues effecting our production facility and decidedto become more pro-active with some safety issues. “The main area of concern was our use of forklifts to move paint and tanks in and out of the plant, as we had high levels of pedestrian traffic and tightaccess through a series of pillars that support a mezzanine level.

“Initial investigations lead us to believe that walkie stacker type products were the most viable alternative to forklifts, as they offered the same lifting capability with a much smaller physical presence and they could be operated without a licence, which made them ideally suited to our operation.

“We approached three suppliers for recommendations on which products would best suit our needs for operating in a hazardous environment – which on the surface seemed a fairly straight forward exercise, but soon proved to be far from it.

“One leading supplier of forklifts had no idea of the regulations that govern the use of motorised equipment within a hazardous environment, which left us with two suppliers.

“In both cases their knowledge of our specific requirements was very good, but in the end it was Powerlift Nissan who impressed the most with their professional presentation and extensive knowledge of the processes involved in making their Powerlifter walkie stackers intrinsically safe.

“The clincher for us was how Powerlift Nissan made a complicated process simple. They recommended a product, the 2 tonne Powerlifter R Series heavy-duty reach truck that was more than capable of meeting our needs, they took care of appointing a company to flame-proof them for intrinsically safe operation and they even lent us a non flame-proofed version of the Powerlifter so we could test its performance and get used to its operating procedures.

“Add to this their competitive pricing and their ability to provide service personnel with experience in maintaining and periodically checking flameproofed equipment, which was a very important issue for us – as we didn’t want a diesel mechanic being sent to service an aircraft engine. “Once we placed the order the conversions took a couple of months which was fine with us as we were spending a considerable amount of money to create some pretty serious and sophisticated pieces of machinery that would weigh considerably less but outperform the forklifts they were replacing.

“Since delivery, the biggest change has been with the Powerlifter’s operating procedures, but it only took a few weeks for all 17 guys involved in manufacturing to become fully proficient.

“Operator feedback has been extremely positive, while safety in the factory has been greatly increased. The re-engineered Powerlifters have definitely met all of our specified requirements, and Powerlift Nissan has delivered on every promise and exceeded our expectations – demonstrating an eye for detail to ensure the efficient operation of the walkie stackers that was a refreshing change.

“My advice for anyone looking for a forklift or reach truck is to talk to Powerlift Nissan. They know their products, know what they are talking about and deliver on their promises,” Vince said.

Brad White from Powerlift Nissan Melbourne was responsible for overseeing the flameproofing programme and worked closely with Australian Flame proofing Services (AFS) throughout the entire process.

According to Brad, in order to determine what modifications were required a risk assessment was carried out by AFS in line with the Australian and International Standards to identify potential sources of ignition in hazardous environments.

“Commenting on the project AFS Director, James Walker, said that generally for this type, size and configuration of machine to incorporate all aspects of the modifications from the initial risk assessments, through to design, manufacture, installation and final conformance testing a project like this takes approximately ten weeks.

“In order to gain compliance under the appropriate Standards extensive re-engineering was undertake that included modifications to the battery compartment, DC electric drive and pump motors and AC power steering motor, an Exe battery connector plug housing was installed, while electrical enclosures were manufactured and installed.  “In addition to these modifications the forklift controls were converted to Exi intrinsically safe circuits via Zener and switching barriers, leakage to frame detection units were installed and the units were checked for static electricity dissipation with static straps installed as required.

“The end result is a unit that is certified as being compliant with the governing Australian Standards that is capable of performing to its original equipment specifications within potentially hazardous environments with very little external evidence of modification and with no change to the original ergonomics or serviceability of the machine,” James said.