Alliance AutoGas Secures Patent For LPG Evacuation Pump

(December 2, 2019) — Alliance AutoGas, an alternative fuel company based in Asheville, N.C., has secured its first patent. It covers the organization’s LPG evacuation pump, which will be widely used in its operations and was designed by LPG consultant Jessie Johnson and David Kennedy. When working on an autogas system, all fuel must be emptied from the tank in order to perform internal repairs and service. The evacuation pump was designed to accomplish this task in an economical and safe way for both the environment and technicians.

Alliance Autogas secures first patent on LPG propane vehicle Evacuation Pump reports BPN the propane industry trusted source for news since 1939“Customers were coming to us and asking for help servicing their autogas vehicles,” said Kennedy, director of autogas design at Alliance AutoGas. “After listening to their needs, we developed a quick and easy way to remove propane and prepare the vehicles for service. Receiving this patent is exciting for us and shows a serious commitment to the alternative fuels industry, specifically the autogas segment, where we see continued growth in the future.”

Alliance AutoGas engineers designed the pump to deliver fast, reliable recovery of autogas from any vehicle. The pump works for all liquid propane injection systems and ensures that everyone remains safe and no fuel is wasted. The device allows the evacuation of autogas into any certified cylinder or tank, as well as another vehicle. The simple unit is powered by an air compressor that connects two tanks with a qualified LPG hose. When fuel evacuation is complete, technicians may safely begin work.

“Jessie Johnson and David Kennedy reflect the innovative spirit of our company when we see an unfulfilled need,” said Stuart Weidie, president and CEO of Blossman Gas and president of Alliance AutoGas. “Their invention, the LPG evacuation pump, will greatly enhance the safety of fuel transfers, allowing the repair of critical components on autogas vehicles. We are proud of their accomplishment and thrilled to have obtained our first patent.”

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, Nov. 25, 2019)

ThompsonGas Acquires Tacoma’s APP Propane

(December 2, 2019) — ThompsonGas (Frederick, Md.) has recently acquired APP Propane Inc., a propane provider in Tacoma, Wash. While details regarding the transaction were not released, ThompsonGas noted it was committed to serving the residential, commercial, and industrial customers who have valued APP Propane’s presence in the area for many years.
thompsongas logo“We are very excited to add APP Propane to our existing operations in the Northwest,” said Jeff Kerns, ThompsonGas CEO. “This is a significant addition to our customer base and we bring strong, tenured propane professionals with this acquisition into the ThompsonGas family.”

“The acquisition of APP Propane is a game-changer for us in the Northwest,” added Jim Davis, ThompsonGas COO. “We will be adding this business to our rapidly growing propane Northwest brand, and the addition of these excellent propane professionals will enhance our ability to take advantage of this great marketplace.”

Industry-Specific Locks Provide Many Benefits

(December 2, 2019) — Five years ago, Frank Minnella was talking with a neighbor who was in the propane business. He asked what propane marketers do when someone doesn’t pay, and was told that the operator usually cuts them off. Minnella wondered if they locked off the tank. As CEO of Lock America (Corona, Calif.), he saw an opportunity. He knew his company could apply its expertise to provide security and other benefits for the propane industry.
Lock America  specializes in lpg industry-specific locks for propane cylinder cages have many benefits reports BPN nov 2019
Today, Lock America offers two high-security locks for propane tanks. While designed specifically for this industry, the locks benefit from the company’s 30-plus years of experience developing security solutions for the vending, gaming, and self-storage industries.

“The development of these locks was customer-driven,” Rich Morahan, marketing consultant to Lock America, tells BPN. “Frank saw a need for protection and revenue enhancement. Based on his knowledge of the self-storage industry, he knew propane marketers needed a way to lock their tanks.”

SCREW-ON FITTING
One of the products offered by Lock America is the Fill Valve Lock, which prevents unauthorized fills of tanks owned by the propane marketer. The Fill Valve Lock is a screw-on fitting with a slip ring on the top. When installed, the cap just spins when turned, preventing access to the tank without a key. The authorized delivery driver just puts his key in the slot, turns it, lifts off the cap, and pumps in propane.

“This is designed to lock out delinquent customers and slow-pay customers,” Morahan explains. “If a customer owes you money, and your tank is not locked, he can call around to get propane from someone else who will give him 90 days to pay. The solution, like in self-storage, is to lock them out. Don’t let them shop around and put someone else’s propane in your tank.”

When beginning to lock their tanks, he adds, propane marketers typically start with delinquent and slow-pay customers and then expand to all customers.

“Another benefit is that the lock prevents tampering,” Morahan says. “A cheap device allows a customer to tamper with your tank. We know of at least two cases in which natural gas and propane marketers have been subject to lawsuits because a customer tampered with their tank.”

The other propane industry-specific product offered by Lock America is the POLock, which prevents unauthorized connections. The POLock works similarly to the Fill Valve Lock, but secures the output valve.

“If a customer owes money, again, you own the tank so you can lock them out,” Morahan says. “They can’t take this cap off without using a key.”

Both the Fill Valve Lock and the POLock are designed specifically for the propane industry and for these purposes. Both feature brass and chrome-plated brass components and are pick- and drill-resistant.

In addition, each Lock America customer gets a unique key code. They can have as many locks with that key code as they’d like, and all their locks will open with one key. The same key code can also be used for locks on the company’s gate and office. With this registered key code, the customer is the only person authorized to order a replacement key.

“This company started in the vending industry,” Morahan notes. “A company would have, say, 20 machines in east Massachusetts and 20 machines in south Massachusetts. Lock America would make one key that would be the same for all the locks.”

“Lock America has over three decades in the security lock business,” he concludes. “Building on the same principles as the vending, gaming, and self-storage industries, but specifically designed for the propane industry, these locks provide safety, security, liability protection, and revenue enhancement.” — Steve Relyea

World Propane Contest For Best New Safety Technology

(November 26, 2019) — By Bill Stomp… Propane is an amazingly versatile fuel, but as a combustible fuel, it requires strict safety requirements. Unfortunately, a simple Google search will reveal many very recent incidents where the unsafe use of propane has taken lives and decimated houses, businesses, families, and dreams.
Bill Stomp created a Contest to enter for propane safety technology as reported by BPN propane industry trusted news source since 1939
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.
Bill Stomp created contest to grow propane safety technology reports BPN LPG industry trusted news source since 1939
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. 
Bill Stomp created a lpg contest to enter propane safety technology ideas reports BPN the industry's trusted news source since 1939. nov 2019
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.
Bill Stomp creates propane safety technology contest reports BPN lpg industry most trusted news source since 1939. nov 2019 BPn magazine
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.

Message from NPGA President & CEO Stephen Kaminski

(November 26, 2019) — Earlier today, representatives from the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and Iowa Propane Gas Association (IPGA), along with other propane industry stakeholders, participated in a meeting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C. Below is a joint statement from all parties, which was agreed to under the terms of FERC’s regulations of confidentiality.
NPGA circle logo
JOINT STATEMENT
On November 25, 2019, Commission staff convened a meeting under the Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures with Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Company LLC (Enterprise), ONEOK North System, LLC (ONEOK), the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), the Iowa Propane Gas Association, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, and interested shippers to explore actions FERC and industry can take to alleviate potential propane pipeline constraints in the Midwest.
 
Operational updates were provided by the NPGA, Enterprise, ONEOK and other participants. As a result of the discussion, in order to bring additional propane supplies into the Midwest, Enterprise TE Products will file to extend its emergency propane service, currently provided under Docket No. IS20-66. ONEOK will file a tariff revision waiving a restriction for a limited time in its allocation policy to allow qualified shippers to transfer their current allocated capacity, which could facilitate additional capacity for propane shipments.
 
The parties will reconvene on December 16, 2019.