Propane Distributors Go Slow on Remote Shutoff Systems
Mar 16, 2001 12:00 PM, Mary Davis
Many propane distributors appear to have taken a wait and see approach before installing remote control shutdown systems on their bobtails. That was the comment by several fleet owners and suppliers at the Midwest Propane Gas Association Convention March 10-13 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Although a new rule from the Research and Special Programs Administration(RSPA) requires that installation of the remote control systems begin by July 1, 2001, a delay is possible for various vehicles if they receive a scheduled pressure test before that date. Bobtails with capacities greater than 3,500 gallons must be equipped with remote control systems no later than July 1, 2003, and those under 3,500 gallons have until July 1, 2006.
By delaying installation, propane distributors said they will have the opportunity to review the remote control devices that are on the market before making a choice. Distributors attending the Midwest Propane Convention said they want the systems to have time to prove themselves.
However, not everyone is waiting. Some of the major operations are outfitting their trucks immediately, as are other distributors, said Bill Ruhl, vice-president marketing, Syltone Industries LLC, Louisville, Kentucky.
Some companies are having the device installed when they take a truck in for repairs, and others have specified the equipment on new vehicles.
Companies that have installed the devices report their drivers are quickly trained, have adapted to their use, and are pleased with their convenience, said Steve Belyea, president of Base Engineering, St John, New Brunswick, Canada.
Cost of the equipment varies from as little as $100 to as much as $1,500 per vehicle, said Joe Hampton, regional sales manager, transportation division, Syltone. But he emphasized that the typical cost is about $700-$800.
The RSPA regulation requires a remote control that will cut off the engine and close the internal valve in one function. Options include controls for the throttle, clutch, and hose reel retraction.