In today's world of increasing legislation on manual handling and environmental pressures on spill prevention, the question should be why are operators STILL using hoses as a means of transporting bulk liquids from storage into tankers and vice versa.
Sure, a hose is cheaper to purchase, or that's how it looks on the surface... However, it requires bi-annual pressure test; it is difficult to stow neatly when not in use; can be dropped; can be driven over; is very heavy to use if fitted with a valve at the tanker connection point and cannot be easily heated or have vent purge valves fitted to it. Heavy hoses, laying on the floor, are a trip hazard; not to mention they can be easily damaged, tangled, twisted, confusing (now, which hose was used to load what again?) and dripping residue liquids.
So generally speaking, hoses are at greater risk of being:
- An environmental spill waiting to happen
- More likely to become a major manual handling incident
Why wait for any of the above to happen?
The use of loading arms, or articulated pipe systems, to replace hoses is becoming increasing popular, especially on bottom loading or unloading operations. Indeed, some major chemical companies have “outlawed” the use of hoses for bulk transfer. Loading arms are balanced throughout their movement envelope; are designed not to hit the ground – protecting the valves and couplers; carry a (negotiable) five-year warranty; allow a one-man operation; can be moved into position with ease and left hanging in the air while the operator prepares the tanker connection; are parked neatly and can have various interlocks fitted to give permissives/warnings of arm condition/position.
The tanker drives up to the loading point. The line of approach can be determined during commissioning and a line painted to ensure correct positioning. The arms are designed to connect to the rear and/or side connection of the tankers specified by the client. The operator unlatches the arm and guides it to the tanker point. Having first removed the tanker dust cap he then guides the arm onto the tanker valve and screws it into position.
On completion of loading, the main valves are closed on the tanker. The purge valves are opened to blow out the interface between the tanker and main product valve before the pump. When complete it is closed and the arm disconnected. The tanker is free to leave. The process described above is simple, easy to carry out, required little manual effort and carries very little risk of being unsafe or precious cargo being spilled.
However, just in case of the event of a drive-away, we have two options depending on your philosophy: drive-away prevention or drive-away containment. Either way we have solutions to suit.
- Barrier and Interlocks: We can supply a traffic barrier with key interlocks to prevent the tanker being driven away while connected to the arms. Arms have to be safely stowed and clear before the barrier can be raised.
- Breakaway Couplings: Fitted into the loading arms they will part when the tanker has moved the connected arms beyond a predetermined envelope. The breakaway will close the line on each side, preventing spillage and damage to the arms or tanker.
So, what are you going to choose? Long, heavy and clumsy hoses? Or fully articulated, self-supporting, loading and unloading arms with built-in shut off valves and options for drain and purge of the tanker connection that have no weight to lift, just simple guidance? Don't forget they are available in wide ranging materials and can be fitted with any end tanker couplings... Your choice!