Propane Industry’s Largest Event Sees Double-Digit Growth Following Move to Nashville
More than 4,100 individuals attended The National Propane Gas Association’s 69th Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo, which took place April 8–10, at Music City Center in Nashville. This broke a previous record set in 2006 and resulted in the ninth consecutive increase. Attendance by propane marketers grew by more than 35%, while supplier participation increased by 22% and the size of the exhibit hall expanded by 11% to 71,100 net sq. ft. Officials attribute the growth to the overall health of the propane fuels market, combined with the event taking place in a new host city and an increased focus on marketing.
The annual event attracted participants from all of the U.S. states except Idaho, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and 37 foreign countries and territories. Programing included a keynote presentation by Charles Esten, star of ABC’s Nashville, along with more than 40 education sessions, various networking events, and a new Leadership Forum presented by the Women in Propane Council.
The exhibit hall featured more than 240 exhibiting organizations—including over 50 vehicle/transporter displays. Highlights of the Expo included an Autogas Pavilion, focused on manufacturing products, processes, education tools, and services specific to the rapidly growing autogas market; as well as a New Products Showcase, presented in partnership with the Propane Education & Research Council, featuring emerging trends, new products, and cutting-edge technologies.
Next year, NPGA’s Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo returns to Nashville from April 21–23, 2017. The event moves back to its previous home of Atlanta in 2018 and 2019.
Offered below are some of the new and interesting products found on the show floor.
Bergquist to Distribute New Vertical Trinity Dispenser Tank
Bergquist, Inc. has unveiled the new vertical Trinity Dispenser Tank. A vertical tank provides advantages over a traditional horizontal tank cannot offer, giving customers another option that may better suit their specific needs. With a smaller footprint, the Trinity Vertical Autogas Dispenser takes up less space, giving customers more room for additional tanks and other propane accessories. The footprint, including the skid dispenser, is 15 feet tall by 4 feet wide and weighs 3,000 pounds. The vertical tank offers better visibility, allowing for more advertising capabilities for companies deploying this option. Additional benefits of the vertical include more capacity and the funnel effect. The tank’s positioning can bring the container closer to empty, meaning that it does not need to be filled as frequently and propane utilization is enhanced.
The Mango SX4 by Advantage Route Systems is an affordable, ruggedized handheld with an integrated laser scanner. Although the camera on an Android device can be used to scan bar codes, it can be slow to respond. This system was designed to offer the simplicity, accuracy, speed and durability. The device comes in with an IP rating of 65 which means it can take dust, water and a 4-foot drop to concrete. It is backed up by a one-year warranty. Options include a 2D scanner and RFID. Using the company’s ‘build-to-order’ various configurations can be delivered in less than 30 days.
SNAP-FILL is a 3/4” M NPT is a forklift\lawn mower cylinders filler valve, built with proven technology used in today’s propane vehicle filling systems. SNAP-FILL’s direct connect feature eliminates propane bypass caused by worn or improperly threaded connections and eliminates propane fuel line discharge. Ergonomic features with enhanced ease and speed of connection to minimize filler fatigue while increasing productivity. SNAP-FILL also dramatically reduces emissions and is compatible with new automated carousel-style filling systems.
Ditech unveiled its cloud-based asset tracking solution. The app, due to be launched this summer, will allow customers to track their assets and streamline yard counts. Not only will a company be able to ensure assets are available and always ready when needed, but they will also have valuable information about its assets in real-time. Data capture on tanks will include an assessment of the tank’s condition, serial number, propane level and more.
CuantumLabs Levelgas is a wireless sensor that quickly measures the propane gas level in a homeowner’s tank using Bluetooth technology that can be accessed through an app on a smartphone. It provides alerts for minimum gas level so a refill can be arranged with the propane gas provider/supplier. Refill quantity can be confirmed. Purchase can be made directly through the app and authorize the supplier to refill the tank even when the customer is not at home. Statistics allow the customer to optimize gas consumption. And, before making a refill the app can calculate the amount of gas or the cost needed to reach a certain gas level.
Jetmark LLC’s VENTUR-EVAC (distributed by LPG&NH3[subscript] Supply Inc.) is designed to make evacuating a propane easy. With welded steel construction and weighing only 6 pounds, the VENTUR-EVAC is highly portable and easy to carry. Tank evacuations can now be performed by delivery drivers while they are on their routes. By carrying the VENTUR-EVAC in the tool box of a bulk truck, additional service personnel are not required. Immediately remedy overfills by connecting the VENTUR-EVAC to remove excess gallons. No more calling back to the shop to dispatch service personnel for costly pump outs or flare offs. Efficiently evacuate propane into the bulk truck for valve or gauge repairs with drivers while making deliveries. Setting crews can be more efficient by utilizing the bulk truck to evacuate the current tank and filling the new tank set.
RegO Compact Back-Mount Regulator
Engineered Controls International’s RegO LV3403BR Back Mount Regulator is designed to reduce first stage pressure of 5-10 PSIG down to burner pressure normally 11” w.c. It is designed as a second stage regulator for smaller applications with flow requirements up to 450,000 BTU/hr. and is ideal for homes, mobile homes and cottages. It features built in ⅛” F.NPT pressure taps on both regulator inlet and outlet side of the regulator. Plugs can be removed with a 3/16” hex Allen wrench. A large vent helps prevent vent blockage, and it is tapped for ⅜” F.NPT for vent pipe away applications. With 15 PSIG inlet pressure, the regulator is designed to not pass more than 2 PSIG downstream with the seat disc removed per UL 144 specifications and it incorporates an integral relief valve per UL 144 specifications. The unique bonnet vent profile minimizes vent freeze over and its compact design saves space.
Rotarex North America’s MLD is a low propane level sensor that detects when a cylinder has enough LPG remaining for up to ten minutes of operation. This gives the forklift operator time to complete a job and exchange cylinders in a safe area. Reliable in all conditions, it ensures forklifts will never run out of gas – increasing propane forklift safety and saving money. MLD serves as a low propane fuel gauge – not a pressure gauge. Once the liquid phase in the cylinder is nearly depleted, the vapor phase of LPG passes into the system. MLD detects this change and alerts the operator that it is time to replace the cylinder. This occurs when there is enough time for the driver to finish a job and return safely to the exchange cabinet. The digital technology used in MLD has been proven to be extremely reliable over many years, as it is used in “fill-stop” devices, produced by Rotarex SRG, that are in service throughout Europe.
Tank Utility Monitors
Tank Utility’s connected monitors provides accurate, up-to-date data on a customers’ fuel needs, which will help in prioritizing and reducing unnecessary deliveries. Access to data allows for optimization that can save a company money in fuel and labor costs. Adding to its app-enabled WiFi monitors is a new cell-enabled monitor that has an even easier installation procedure. Just one press of a button, and it’s set. This is a solution for a location without consistent WiFi, or if you a company wants to deploy a large quantity of monitors as seamlessly as possible. Data is stored in the cloud for easy access.
OWL Underground Tank Monitor
The new OWL tank monitor from Technology Assurance Labs is designed to fit under the dome of underground tanks with a flush mounted external antenna on top of the dome. It regularly transmits tank level data to a dealer’s OWL© software portal that can be accessed via any device (laptop, smartphone, or tablet) with a web browser or via an application interface for back office systems. It also provides a monthly usage invoice (e.g. virtual metering) so dealers can offer a “pay as you go service.” The radio sensor is economical enough to be worthwhile for residential propane tanks with a short ROI.
Single-Axle Blueline™ QX Bobtail
Westmor Industries showcased its Blueline™ QX Bobtail that allows a marketer to replace a 3,200 gallon unit with the new 3,700 gallon single-axle unit to maximize the full load potential. The payback period on this unit is said to be less than two years and when maximizing the full load and drop potential, less than 6 months. In addition, the new truck is simple to operate, safer to drive and easier to maintain.