By moving into a new 43,500-sq-ft repair and parts supply facility, Brenner Tank Houston, Houston, Texas, has increased productivity by 25%, says Bill Stone, general manager.
"When we moved in and started to work, our efficiency immediately improved," Stone says. "The new building has given us more flexibility, which has enabled us to expand service."
The company provides total repair service - from work as simple as brake jobs to complete tank trailer rebuilding - and is DOT certified and Texas Railroad Commission approved with ASME "U" stamp and National Board "R" stamp for tank repair and fabrication. Brenner can perform hydrostatic tank testing and other tests required under federal cargo tank regulations. Tank container and intermediate bulk container repairs are available as well as those for LPG tank trailers.
The Houston facility is the newest of three Brenner service centers. The others are in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Mauston, Wisconsin.
In the 29,000-sq-ft shop are 28 bays where vehicles can be easily rearranged as necessary. The shop has room for about 30 trailers, compared to about 20 in the former shop. Company planners laid out about 100 parking spaces on a two-foot-thick calcium sulfate foundation topped with a chip seal tarmac consisting of a mixture of asphalt and gravel. The large yard, encircled with a chain-link fence, allows for even more maneuverability that promotes productivity.
However, efficiency doesn't stop in the repair division. Sales and service in the 11,500-sq-ft parts department has been enhanced by the additional space for the approximately $1-million inventory. Parts are more visible and accessible. Shelving and pallet racks far outnumber those used at the previous facility.
"This new parts department changed our direction a great deal," Stone points out. "We have space for growth as our customer base increases. We have installed a new computer system to better serve our customers and improve inventory control."
In addition to inventory bar coding that the company has had in place for several years, the new computer system will expand the company's ability to communicate with customers and vendors, says Dina O'Loughlin, Brenner information support specialist. The system is part of a corporate-wide project that moves the company from a local area network to a wide area network. Servers and PCs are being upgraded for Y2K compliance.
Administrative offices are in a 3,000-sq-ft area that contains a lounge for employees and customers.
Construction on the new building began in mid-1998. By September 25, the facility was opened. Brenner Tank Inc, based inFond du Lac, Wisconsin, established the Houston shop in 1996 at a leased location, but the lease was not renewable after 1998. Managers had planned to eventually purchase property and construct a building, so the plans for a new location moved forward.
"We needed to grow and expand," Stone says. "We were out of space and even doing a great deal of work outdoors."
Five acres were selected adjacent to east Houston's Beltway Eight and near Interstate 10 and Loop 610. The location is conveniently near Jacintoport and the chemical manufacturers that generate heavy carrier traffic.
"A lot of our customers are near here," says Stone.
Twenty-six Brenner mechanics and two shop foremen have been with the company since the Houston facility opened in 1996. They handle tank trailers, flatbeds, and vans, but tanks are the majority of the business, Stone says. Of that majority, almost 85% are chemical and petroleum trailers and about 10% are LP gas trailers. Many foodgrade and dairy trailers also make their way to the shop.
Equipment includes Kranco overhead cranes, MIG welders, TIG welders, a Niagara hydraulic press brake, a Cincinnati shear, and numerous small iron-working machines. In conjunction with its parts service, Brenner is a distributor for vehicle and tank hardware manufacturers. They include Sealco, Neway, Betts, Girard, Emco Wheaton, EBW, Meritor, Truck-Lite, Fort Vale, Scully, Knappco, Dixon, Seal Fast, Kysor-Westran, Reyco, Sarco, Midland, Civacon, Holland, JJ Keller, Motor Wheel/Hayes, Ultraflo, and many others.
The company operates two shifts in the shop, so service is available from 7:30 am until 11 pm. On-call service is available around the clock.
"We provide a wide range of services for our customers," says Stone. "With this new facility, we are able to expand those services."