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Source: Convenience & Carwash Canada

Answering the "Why's?" of remove-by dates on hanging hardware

By Ed Kammerer | March/April 2017

It’s simple human nature to wonder “Why?” when asked to do something new or unfamiliar. In 2005, there were a lot of those questions coming from the operators of retail and commercial fueling sites. That’s because that was the year that a number of manufacturers of forecourt hanging hardware (fuel nozzles, swivels and breakaways), after consulting with various third-party testing organizations, announced that the optimum life cycle for a fueling nozzle was approximately five years, and that they would begin putting “remove-by dates” that reflected that on their products.

OPW


Ironically, this decision was actually driven by the users of hanging hardware, more and more of whom were beginning to wonder: “How long should my nozzles last?”

While the manufacturers arrived at a five-year life span for hanging hardware, that time frame is actually not as straightforward as it may seem. You see, while you can say that a nozzle may work effectively for five years before failing, there’s no true way to know that it will — or won’t. That’s because their operation is affected by numerous outside conditions like fuel formulations, customer use and abuse, weather extremes and the fueling site’s throughput levels.

Hanging hardware falls into that category of products that will not last forever — think of vehicle brakes, light bulbs, faucets and door handles — but no one can know with any certainty when any of them will fail. Also, other items like milk and eggs may have “best if used by” dates on them. There is no regulation that says you can’t use the product after that date, but we all know you would be wise to take the supplier’s advice and not pour that spoiled milk onto your morning oatmeal!

In other words, while it’s a fact of life that all fuel nozzles will eventually fail, you can’t put an indicator light on them that will turn red to show that a failure date is approaching. Simply put, fuel nozzles work until they don’t work, and it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint when they will fail.

Remove-by dates are a preemptive way to generally let site operators know when the component may not work as designed anymore, therefore alerting them that they should consider replacing it before a negative event can occur.

Further clouding the issue is that unlike a light bulb, which just burns out and has to be replaced, when a fuel nozzle stops working, there is a good chance a negative event will occur, such as a non-shutoff, spill or leak. The ultimate concern is that nozzles, swivels and breakaways may not always “fail safe,” which means that a dangerous situation can be created for the fueling site’s employees and customers, as well as the environment. In sum, remove-by dates are a preemptive way to generally let site operators know when the component may not work as designed anymore, therefore alerting them that they should consider replacing it before a negative event can occur.

So, what is the ultimate response of remove-by date devotees to those wondering, “Why?” Simple, if you’re using a nozzle, swivel or breakaway without a remove-by date — which some manufacturers continue to provide — how do you know you’re using a safe product?

In the end, those manufacturers who include remove-by dates have a simple, convincing, even altruistic, response: It just makes sense. The wise site operator who uses equipment with remove-by dates is letting the world know that he is very concerned with protecting the safety of his site personnel, the environment and, most important, his customers.

About the Author
Ed Kammerer is the Director of Global Product Management for OPW, based in Cincinnati, OH, USA. He can be reached at ed.kammerer@opwglobal.com. OPW is leading the way in fueling solutions and innovations worldwide. OPW delivers product excellence and the most comprehensive line of fueling equipment and services to retail and commercial fueling operations around the globe. For more information on OPW, please go to www.OPWGlobal.com.