After significant investment in research and development over the last five years, Pyroban has decided to stop its plans to offer ATEX conversions for “Stage V” forklifts and mobile industrial equipment.
Diesel forklifts used by businesses handling flammable material are commonly converted so that they cannot be the source of an ignition. The conversion process ensures ATEX compliance, but as emissions regulations have got stricter, safe conversion has become more complex.
“While it is theoretically possible, we have taken the commercial decision to not offer an ATEX compliant solution for the latest Stage V forklift truck technologies,” confirms Steve Noakes, Pyroban’s Managing Director.
“Offering a Stage V solution has the expectation that the emissions will perform to Stage V limits. With the changes required to meet ATEX, true Stage V performance can’t be guaranteed and therefore Pyroban does not want to mislead customers,” he continues. “We don’t wish to claim Stage V compliance when we believe this isn’t possible.”
Pyroban states that one reason is due to the extreme temperatures that are produced, for example during the particulate filter (DPF) regeneration cycle, which must be managed. Standard forklift truck duty cycles can be very variable which poses challenges to keep the exhaust system hot enough for the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to self-clean. This will be further compounded with the exhaust gas cooling required for ATEX.
Many other factors also exist such as the number of sensors that must be kept operational if the full benefit of Stage V controls are to be maintained.
“We have conceptually developed an ATEX Stage V solution for leading lift truck brands over the last few years,” confirms Steve. “But with Stage V not yet proven in standard applications, and the additional compromises expected in the ATEX versions, offering ATEX Stage V does not fit with Pyroban’s business principles.”
Another much discussed conversion route is to remove or modify the components required to achieve Stage V emission levels such as the EGR and the original filter assembly (DOC+DPF) and use other parts which are easier for ATEX compliance. However, in doing so, the Stage V lower emissions levels are lost, and the actual emissions levels achieved are likely to be unquantified. Therefore, businesses may be paying a premium and yet still need to work with the operational compromises of the after-treatment cleaning requirements, plus more complex maintenance.
Pyroban identified the conflict between ATEX and after treatment systems involving DOC+DPF arrangements many years ago and worked with the UK Government to successfully lobby the EU commission to include a special exception (derogation) in the EU emissions Directive for the niche ATEX applications. This means that full Stage V compliance in Zoned hazardous areas is not mandatory.
“Whilst achieving full Stage V and ATEX would be great, we don’t believe a full Stage V solution that is both practical and reliable is available at this time,” says Steve.
“The trend towards electric lift trucks is increasing globally due to customer climate and sustainability policies. Customers are attracted by zero-emission ATEX trucks,” he says, explaining that Pyroban continues to place its research and development investments in the EV (Electric Vehicle) market with a number of innovations in the pipeline.
Where it is not possible to use ATEX compliant electric forklifts, businesses still have the option to use Stage IV or even Stage IIIA equipment which are often still produced for non-regulated countries in the same forklift factories as those working to the Emissions Directive derogation. Pyroban is working with some leading brands on these configurations.
Despite the forklift OEMs placing huge investment in Stage V developments, the trend towards ATEX compliant electric trucks is clearly increasing and Pyroban has successfully worked with many customers in making the switch from diesel to electric.
Pyroban has been converting electric lift trucks for hazardous area operation since the 1970’s and develops ATEX solutions for the latest models that are highly reliable with a low cost of operation.
“Just this week, we won an order from a drinks manufacturer that was all set to update their IC trucks with Stage V models. After explaining the Stage V challenges, the new fleet will now be all electric,” says Steve. “The customer was really open to the idea and supported the reasons for electric, and we expect that this will be a growing trend in the ATEX market.”
Finally, as another alternative, Pyroban has developed a compliant solution for LPG powered equipment. Pyroban will release more information on this soon. Meanwhile Pyroban will continue to develop solutions for large Stage V engines used in the energy sector at its Shoreham by Sea, UK, factory.
For more information contact Pyroban’s technical sales team on +44 (0) 1273 456800 or email@example.com.