NPGA Southeastern Convention Promotes Remote Shutoff Systems

April 12, 2001
Exhibitors and visitors at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) Southeastern Convention and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, April

Exhibitors and visitors at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) Southeastern Convention and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, April 7-10 had different opinions about the readiness of propane carriers to comply with the federal government’s July 1 deadline for the installation of off-truck remote shutoff systems for new and remounted pressure vessels.

Most exhibitors who sell and service pressure vessels say about 50% of their customers are in the process of completing the five-year hydrotest mandated by the Department of Transportation to avoid remote control shutoff system retrofits this summer. The other half already have purchased and installed the systems, and have trained their drivers in the operation of the equipment.

No one at the show is predicting a last minute rush of customers calling for installation of the remote shutoff systems before July 1. “No one’s been knocking down our door this year to buy the equipment,” said one equipment exhibitor who expects sales of remote shutoff systems to steadily increase this spring and summer. “A lot of propane carriers were running at full steam during the long winter. This is the first time they’ve had a chance to catch their breath. We’ll probably install 15 to 20 systems this year.”

Another exhibitor who sells propane bobtails said there are plenty of carriers in the propane industry who are qualified to install the remote shutoff systems themselves. “We’re not selling that many radio controls with our new trucks,” he said. “But a lot of our customers’ inhouse repair shops are handling the installations. “

Despite the added cost of the equipment, everyone at the convention agreed that remote shutoff systems offer additional safety protection for their drivers and customers. “It’s not up to the driver to decide whether to use it,” said Steve Krutsinger, president of Krutsinger Services Inc. “If he forgets to bring it with him, he can’t operate the truck. Manufacturers in the propane industry have been aggressive in promoting this technology for quite a while. So if you don’t use it, you’ve raised a liability issue.”

Remote shutoff systems received high visibility at the NPGA exposition. Virtually every bobtail on display in the Georgia World Congress Center was equipped with one. If there had been a best marketing award at the exposition, it probably would have gone to the exhibitors of Base Engineering Inc, St John, New Brunswick, Canada, whose company logo was prominently displayed on the back of most of the trucks at the show.

Remote shutdown system retrofits are mandated on MC330/331 cargo tank motor vehicles already in metered delivery services with water capacities of 3,500 gallons or less. Retrofit must occur at the first scheduled pressure test after July 1, 2001. All retrofits must be completed by July 1, 2006.

MC330/331 tanks with capacities greater than 3,500 gallons that are in metered service also must have remote shutdown equipment. For obstructed-view deliveries allowed by the regulations, an off-truck remote with a query feature, or passive shutdown capability must be installed. These vehicles must be retrofitted at their first scheduled pressure test after July 1, 2001, or by July 1, 2003, whichever comes first.