Propane Bulk Plant Maintenance

Foster Fuels' Rick Tate with a Bulk Propane TankAs an owner or operator of a propane bulk plant, you know how critical proper maintenance is. The safety of your employees, customers and neighbors depends on it. An accident, leak or explosion at a bulk propane plant is instantly a major concern, and can lead to very serious consequences. At the very least, it can mean unplanned downtime to your business, which can quickly eat into your profits and destroy the relationship you have with your customers who are used to reliable, on-time propane delivery.

However, when you ensure proper propane bulk-tank maintenance and compliance, your business benefits as you can offer safe, reliable propane distribution, and earn a reputation as a responsible, trusted propane supplier.

At Foster Fuels, we take safe propane tank compliance seriously. Like you, we deal with fuel every day, and understand the importance of:

  • Proper propane bulk plant design, following all laws and requirements
  • Continuous inspection and maintenance of all propane-related safety devices
  • An emergency contingency plan in case the unexpected occurs
  • Conscientious employees who have the training necessary to work safely

In the end, to earn and keep your license as a bulk propane storage and supply site, you must guarantee you are NFPA 58 and API 2510 compliant at all times. These aren’t casual guidelines, these are strict requirements that mean the difference between running a legal business and having your bulk propane installation shut down. We’ve put together a list of some of the important things to consider with respect to LPG bulk plant maintenance, because we wanted to ensure you’re aware of all of the requirements to running a safe installation, and let you know how Fosters Fuels can help.

Safe Bulk Propane Storage by Design

foster-fuels-bulk-propane-tank-webRunning a safe bulk propane plant doesn’t happen by accident. There’s no room for chance and error, so make sure you’re doing what is required to create and maintain an NFPA 58 and API 2510 compliant installation. Here are the first two questions you should ask about your bulk plant:

  1. Does your propane bulk plant have the required Emergency Shut-Off System?
  2. Does the system work?

Even if the answer to both of those questions is “yes”, there are still a number of important best practices for your bulk plant:

  • Design: From the original conception stage of your LPG tank layout and installation, you need to have in mind all the necessary functional and safety requirements. 18,000- and 30,000-gallon propane storage tanks require significant planning with respect to space from other installations, type and quality of piping, and adequate valves and security devices. You can also plan for future expansion, and save big time and money further on down the road.
  • Maintenance: Making maintenance difficult to perform – because of lack of space, complicated access and nonstandard components – is an invitation to ignore it. Regular preventive maintenance is critical in maintaining a safe, functioning bulk propane plant, and means less downtime throughout the year. You’ll also become more familiar with your LPG tanks and hardware, and be able to predict many potential issues before they become major problems.
  • Training: Training of personnel is often overlooked. It is easy to assume that once someone has been trained on the basics of your installation, training is completed. You and your employees need regular training on standard safety practices related to the use and maintenance of your bulk propane tanks and equipment. Organize yearly emergency drills and assess the readiness of your employees. Do regular spot checks to verify that all maintenance has been performed according to plan, and keep meticulous documentation as proof for auditor visits during your NFPA 58 or API 2510 compliance audit.
  • Inspection: Regular inspection is the only way to understand which upgrades and repairs are necessary to your LPG storage facility. Don’t wait until something fails: Plan your maintenance and upgrades on a regular basis. Pay close attention to all valves, shutoffs and connections. Check expiration dates on flexible hoses and gaskets. Verify your propane tank data plates to ensure they are properly attached and all information is legible. Understand your propane tank requirements, and create a checklist to go through on a regular frequency. This will create good habits for you and your employees.

You always want to avoid any stoppages at your bulk propane plant, either because of an accident or unexpected problem. If you need to shut down for regular maintenance, you can plan to have all of the necessary equipment, personnel and contracts ready to get you back up and running quickly. When an unexpected problem arises, however, you’re stuck scrambling to find a solution. You may also be exposing your employees and property to potential damages. Avoid surprises by scheduling and performing regular bulk plan tank repair and maintenance.

How to Get Started?

Now that you understand why you need to put serious thought into your bulk propane installation maintenance, you need to know what to do. You can count on us to share with you our years of experience. Our experts here at Foster Fuels can help:

  • We’ll send a professional, knowledgeable technician to your site for an initial inspection. We’ll do a thorough inspection of your tanks, compressors, valves, gauges, bulkheads, stanchions, piping and all other aspects of your propane installation. We’ll point out any missing labels and pipe supports, and test safety devices and lockout equipment.
  • We’ll work with you to create the necessary bulk propane plant-maintenance program. With years of experience in the legal and safety requirements related to the safe storage and handling of bulk propane, we can identify the critical aspects to include in your maintenance program.
  • We’ll cooperate with you to put in place your maintenance schedule to minimize downtime and create the least disruption possible for your business. We know that when your bulk plant is down, you’re not making money, so we always strive for fast, serious maintenance interventions that are done right the first time.

The peace of mind that comes with knowing your bulk propane plant is in compliance and operating safely is priceless. Contact our experts at Foster Fuels today, and we’ll get started right away on your personalized propane bulk-plant maintenance plan. We know that each installation is unique, and will tailor your maintenance plan to your needs, requirements and expectations.

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