As a dad of three daughters and one son, I know that all of our hearts ache when we hear the very real recording of a little girl calling 911 and, through tears, pleading, “Please help, my daddy is on fire!” It is an unspeakable tragedy, especially if industry safety precautions have failed her.
In addition to the personal, human aspect of safety issues, there is also the very real, negative impact they can have on our businesses and the families who make their living from working in our industry.
So, how do we eliminate these problems?
With the support of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), the World LPG Association (WLPGA) held a global contest to find new solutions that may enhance safety. The goal of the World LPG Challenge ’19 was to leverage new technology in a revolutionary way that would reduce safety risks, improve compliance, enhance safety training, and serve our industry for now and years to come.
Forty different technologies entered the contest from the United States, Europe, Asia, and many other parts of the world. Each had to demonstrate its technology on video and provide in-depth explanations, examples, and testimonials in both written and video formats.
An American technology called the Propane Safety App (aka TankSpotter) was selected as one of three finalists. It provides several critical tools such as intelligent customizable inspections, forms, and documents—essentially auto-checking, auto-reporting, auto-filing, and auto-storing all critical field documents into a database for easy filtering, searching, and downloading. In our busy world, this app eliminates hours of paperwork, spot checking, clerical labor, back-and-forth communication, human errors, lost paperwork, etc.
Next, it stores, uploads, sends, and tracks all safety-related and general training needed in the propane industry right to employees’ smartphones. This enables them to complete and document their training anywhere and at any time, thereby decreasing training costs and increasing the accessibility of the best industry training to the busiest and most distant employees. As tracking and ensuring timely completion of assigned training can be a tedious task, it is programmed with an auto-reminder (affectionately called auto-nag), so management can use technology to help ensure everyone completes training on time with little or no extra effort needed on their part to do tedious follow-up.
Since drivers in the propane industry see more tanks in a day than a non-industry person sees in a month, the Propane Safety App is equipped to work on an easy-to-carry smartphone (Apple or Android). Drivers can have it in their pocket with hands free to pull the hose, and in 35 seconds or less, document every safety or maintenance issue they discover. Documentation includes a photo, video, geo-capture, signature, and date/time capture, and instantly sends the same to a database while notifying management by text and email and while flagging it in the dashboard and database if an issue is deemed urgent. Now every tank, regulator, and installation can be verified, inspected, and documented to ensure 100% safety at every installation.
Because propane industry technicians, drivers, sales reps, and management all wear many hats, this American-made app is similarly multifaceted. It incorporates all the tools a service tech, sales rep, delivery driver, safety rep, or manager could ever need. Its comprehensive collection of features includes service work orders, sales rep estimates, invoices, delivery driver forms, every inspection form in the industry, and, finally, an automatic scheduler—allowing management or sales reps to schedule customer installations and notify team members with a couple of clicks, thereby eliminating endless phone calls back and forth to the office and to other employees.
Imagine if, right now, you could download from the Apple or Android app store an affordable, easy-to-use, single app that managed your safety program; provided all your service, safety, sales, and maintenance forms; and covered all the paperwork your field employees use. Via the new technology that was selected as a finalist in the World LPG Challenge ’19 sponsored by WLPGA and PERC, we may be able to take safety and marry it to smartphone/tablet app technology that reduces costs, time spent, and effort, while it improves compliance, and makes propane the safest fuel in America.
So if you and your team have an Apple or Android smartphone or tablet, you may want to try out the Propane Safety App (aka TankSpotter) available at TankSpotter.com and via the app stores. Improved safety and profitability for 2019 and beyond may only be one click away.
Bill Stomp is a war veteran; has helped over 200 propane companies improve sales, safety, and profits; and is an international presenter on these topics. He is a partner at TankSpotter.com and DigitalSoftwareServices.co.