With new requirements in effect, retailers can benefit by testing tanks in-house.
Visual inspections for all anhydrous ammonia nurse and applicator tanks are now required annually under the new CSA B620-14/B622-14 regulations, introduced in January of this year. The industry expects this increase in inspection frequency from the previous two to three year schedule to put a greater demand on current inspection capacity.
Most visual inspections are currently done by independent inspectors, but the new regulations present an opportunity to bring testing in-house. By becoming a Certified Transport Canada Visual Inspection Facility, retailers can provide additional service to growers and streamline their operations.
“Depending on the size of the facility and the time frame they’re dealing with, it would be prudent for retails to internalize the process – having someone available at all times to provide the inspections,” says Mitch Rezansoff, executive director of CAAR.
Rezansoff points out that certified retailers can inspect farmer-owned tanks, creating a greater service offering and increasing value for customers. Of the 11,000 to 12,000 tanks in use across Canada, he estimates approximately 20 per cent are farmer-owned.
Another reason to become certified is geography. Rezansoff says retailers in less-populated areas may have difficulty accessing an inspection service in a timely manner each year. For these retailers, even if they don’t have a large fleet, applying for certification makes sense. Glenn Dickson, NH3 consultant and CSA B620 committee member, concurs.
“I think it’s a great idea. It gives retailers the flexibility to do the inspections when it’s convenient for them and gives them a way to keep employees on during the slower summer months,” says Dickson, adding, “The way I look at it, it’s all part and parcel of maintaining your assets.”
A Thorough Process
The process to become a Certified Transport Canada Visual Inspection Facility is quite thorough, and most retailers should expect it to take a minimum of four months to complete. To be ready for next spring, both Rezansoff and Dickson suggest retailers who are considering applying for certification start now by learning what is required.
“Retailers need to work with Transport Canada to understand the requirements,” says Rezansoff. “There should be a documented record of the people you want to be recognized as inspectors, showing their work history and level of experience working with anhydrous.”
The next step, Rezansoff says, is completing CAAR’s Nurse Tank Safety Program Training, which includes all necessary application paperwork and a template for developing the Quality Control Manual (QCM). Once the QCM is completed, retailers must submit a copy to Transport Canada, along with documentation demonstrating the experience of the employees applying to become certified inspectors.
After reviewing the application, Transport Canada will conduct interviews with the potential inspectors to ensure they are knowledgeable and verify their qualifications. If everything is in order, certification is granted, and the retail is issued a registration number, valid for five years.
A Smart Decision
Shur-Gro Farm Services and Munro Farm Supplies saw the advantages to developing the in-house capacity to conduct their own inspections six years ago.
According to Wawanesa branch manager Brian Downie, who took the lead on the company’s certification process, achieving certification was a smart business decision because it allowed the company to streamline the inspection process of its large fleet of tanks and better utilize its staff, especially during slower periods in the anhydrous division.
He says freedom to do the inspections on their own time, rather than waiting for an outside service to schedule them in, has been the biggest benefit of achieving certification.
“There’s a lot of testing that needs to be done, so it certainly gives us the flexibility to do our testing when it’s convenient for us,” says Downie. “That’s the big bonus, the way I see it; time saving and managing the workload. There are times in the fertilizer industry when things are quiet, so it’s a good way to utilize our staff to do the inspections and keep up with things.”
A Team Effort
For Dickson, the key factor in the ongoing success of an inspection program is making sure that every member of the staff is involved in or, at the very least, aware of inspection activities.
“It’s a team effort. It’s not just a one or two-person job at any dealership,” says Dickson. “It’s something that virtually all of the employees need to be aware of; helping the people who have the primary responsibility. Even the administrative staff can get involved with the planning process and scheduling.”
As part of the process, Dickson and Rezansoff both emphasize succession planning – making sure a plan is in place so that if a key employee retires or moves to another employer, someone can assume their role.
“By having a plan, you can bring people up to speed very quickly. Even though they’re not recognized as an inspector now, they could easily qualify six months from now,”
It’s in everyone’s best interests to follow requirements, so the product can be available to everyone and the experience will be a positive one.
Succession planning should include keeping a record of employees’ daily walk-around inspections and contact with anhydrous, such as filling tanks. Then, when it’s time to have new employees recognized as inspectors, those records can be submitted to Transport Canada as evidence of their experience.
A Positive Experience
According to Rezansoff, by achieving certification, retailers will benefit both themselves and the industry. More certified testing facilitates will address the demand for more frequent inspections, ensuring the product is available to farmers well into the future.
“Overall, the anhydrous industry has had a tremendous track record and a lot of that is the result of having a strong, supported training program,” he says. “You are dealing with a product that can cause issues if not managed correctly. It’s in everyone’s best interests to follow requirements, so the product can be available to everyone and the experience will be a positive one."
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