Smartphones, apps can help boost propane safety

June 30, 2016 By    
A simple smartphone or tablet can revolutionize day-to-day operations within this industry. Photo: iStock.com/aniaostudio

Retailers, experts share how technicians can use smartphones to boost safety in the field. Photo: iStock.com/aniaostudio

Propane delivery drivers and service technicians should always avoid using smartphones while driving, but there are perks to keeping these technologies on hand.

Some smartphone or tablet functions can make driver and technician jobs easier and safer. Several retailers and industry experts shared a couple of ways they encourage their employees to use smartphones and tablets on the job.

FaceTime: Drivers and technicians can make a traditional phone call to simply report any delays or problems in the field. But if an issue seems more complex, Dan Richardson, president and CEO of Conger LP Gas, suggests his employees with iPhones use FaceTime, a tool that allows users to make video calls.

Richardson says he requires his service technicians to carry iPhones in case of emergencies, and he tells his younger technicians to use the FaceTime tool to video call more experienced technicians when they have questions in the field.

“If we have a younger guy who is unsure about something in the field, he can use FaceTime to call a more experienced guy on the issues he’s having,” Richardson says.

Through FaceTime, Richardson adds, the younger technician can show the older technician the problem in real time to try to solve it quicker. Although this tool can only be used on iPhones, Android and Windows owners can use Skype to make video calls.

WhatsApp: Instant messaging services such as WhatsApp allow users to send messages or photos to an individual or a group.

Gerrit Heinen, owner of a retail propane company in the Netherlands, shared with us how his drivers and service technicians recently launched a WhatsApp messaging group to discuss propane safety tips on a daily basis.

“It’s been so easy for them,” he says. “Just recently, for example, one of our employees installed a new filling device at an autogas station. He took a picture of it and shared it in the WhatsApp group to let everyone know what was going on.”

Heinen adds that these groups create a constant exchange of safety information and tips among his employees. Although this messaging app tends to be more popular outside the United States, propane retailers can adapt this to a similar format through Facebook or LinkedIn groups.

Cellphone camera: While it’s nothing new, a traditional cellphone camera can come in handy when drivers and technicians are working at a customer’s facility.

Ed Anderson, principal of LP Gas Training & Consulting, says drivers and technicians should use smartphones when performing a Gas Check to take pictures and add to the documentation.

“You should take a picture of anything that’s required in Gas Check,” he says. “Take a picture of tank installations, any exposed piping in a cellar, the regulators and even the surrounding area.”

Anderson says these images should be saved and filed away on a computer. He adds that pictures can support Gas Check documentation if a lawsuit comes up.

Megan Smalley

About the Author:

Megan Smalley is the associate editor of LP Gas magazine. Contact her at msmalley@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7930.

Comments are currently closed.