Container handling equipment is a major contributor to fire at container yards, as revealed in a claims analysis by TT Club, a leading insurance provider to the international transport and logistics industry.
TT Club found that a significant cause of fire damage to mobile yard equipment is inadequate maintenance:
- Inadequate maintenance causes about 25% of all equipment damage costs
- Resulting fires account for 30% of all equipment damage costs from inadequate maintenance
- 80% of those fires occur in mobile yard equipment.
This means that 6% of all equipment damage costs (considering weather, operational, or maintenance related claims, inside and outside of buildings) are attributed to fires in improperly maintained mobile yard equipment.
In addition, 67% of costs related to fire at container yards can be attributed to mobile yard equipment. This indicates that mobile yard equipment should be of top concern for fire risk, and that there are likely other causes of fire to consider in addition to inadequate maintenance.
Clearly, there is room to reduce operating costs from fire with enhanced fire protection and improved maintenance strategies for mobile yard equipment.
This compelling data drove the development of the safety standards titled “Recommended Minimum Standard Safety Features for Container Yard Equipment,” published by TT Club, PEMA, and ICHCA International. This publication explains that installing proper fire suppression systems and executing robust maintenance schedules can nearly eradicate the possibility of a total loss of yard equipment and prevents the risk of serious injury.
How Does Mobile Container Handling Equipment Catch Fire?
1. Hydraulic Leakage
The top hazard for fire in container handling equipment is hydraulic leakage, causing 90% of yard equipment fire. Fires occur when hydraulic oil sprays or leaks through hoses or bad connections onto a hot surface in the engine compartment. Upon heating, it ignites a flame that quickly fills the compartment with fire. While this fire risk can be largely mitigated by using quality components and executing regular servicing and cleaning, properly maintaining yard equipment poses several challenges.
- Maintenance schedules can be impacted by frequent use of equipment, not allowing for proper maintenance as the equipment is needed to maintain productivity.
- Maintenance schedules can also be impacted by financial pressures to reduce planned maintenance to increase productivity.
- Unanticipated wear and damage from the punishing environment of container yards can accelerate the need for maintenance as well.
In these cases, having an automatic fire detection and suppression system installed in the engine compartment can essentially mitigate the cost, downtime, and operator safety risks that arise from equipment fire.
2. Diesel Fuel Leakage
Similarly, diesel fuel leakage into the engine compartment can ignite and cause a fire in container handling equipment.
3. Electronic Short or Failure
Another area of concern is electrical rooms and compartments. Short circuits, electrical arcs, and failure of the electrical components in the rooms and panels can also pose a risk to catastrophic fire.
What Mobile Equipment has the Most Fire Risk?
All mobile equipment with hydraulic systems are at the highest risk of fire. As outlined in the publication, “Recommended Minimum Standard Safety Features for Container Yard Equipment,” it is recommended that all of the equipment listed below is fitted with automatic fire detection and suppression systems:
- Rubber Tired Gantry Cranes (RTG)
- Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes (RMG)
- Automatic Stacking Cranes (ASC)
- Straddle Carriers
- Lift Trucks
- Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGV)
- Terminal tractors
Read more about recommended safety features for container yard equipment by TT Club, PEMA, and ICHCA International.
Firetrace can help mitigate the risk and damage of fire in your equipment from hydraulic, diesel, and electrical hazards and serves as a reinforcement when equipment service is overdue.