When Colfax Inc of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, entered a cogeneration agreement with Pawtucket Power Company, the contract resulted in the construction of a 65 megawatt electric station on Colfax property. That was when David Parrillo, vice-president of transportation, recognized the potential for a commercial wash rack.
"The $65 million cogenerating plant produces more than enough steam and hot water for our shortening and vegetable oil manufacturing division," he says. "Before the electric plant was built, we washed only our own tractors and trailers and those of our contract carriers. We also cleaned our own rail cars. But with the abundance of low-cost steam and hot water from the cogenerating plant, we knew we could expand our cleaning capabilities."
Agreeing with Parrillo's vision, Colfax senior vice-president, Gary Dressler, developed a detailed marketing plan that included a telephone survey of a dozen carriers. "We had a list of questions about what they needed in a wash service," he says. "We also attended New Jersey Bulk Carrier Day and talked to managers who were there."
Dressler learned the carriers wanted a quality cleaning system incorporated in the facility. "Some wash racks have systems that just don't clean properly," says Dressler. "We know the importance of maintaining correct water pressure and temperature from our long experience in cleaning foodgrade trailers."
Carriers suggested the company provide a chemical wash rack as well as foodgrade facilities. Carriers also said they wanted parking space where drivers could drop off trailers while they waited, or park tractors to sleep and eat. Most important of all was location, location, location.
"Carriers told us they didn't want their drivers to travel long distances off route for tank cleaning," says Dressler.
That was good news for Colfax. The company's 20-acre facility sits almost adjacent to Interstate Highway 95 just north of Providence, Rhode Island, where traffic passes along the Eastern Seaboard. Colfax managers see the company's location as a significant asset, based on what they learned from their queries.
After the carrier survey was analyzed and the decision made to begin chemical and foodgrade tank wash services, Colfax found no difficulty in turning three private wash bays into commercial racks (two for foodgrade and one for chemical). In-house employees worked with installers from C&K Electrical Co, which supplied the electronic equipment, and plumbers from Katzman Company, both Providence, Rhode Island, firms. Chemical and foodgrade bays are located in separate areas of the plant's compound to limit the potential for contamination. A large boiler no longer in use was removed from one indoor bay to make room for a cleaning system dedicated to chemical tank trailers. Two covered outdoor kosher-certified foodgrade racks, soon to be enclosed, already had systems in place. With equipment up and running, Colfax began commercial tank cleaning in early 1998, providing services Monday through Friday from 8 am until 6 pm and at other times by appointment. Almost all tank trailers are cleaned, excluding only those which contain extremely hazardous materials such as cyanide.
The tank wash project is typical of the company's 66-year history of growth. Founded in 1932 by brothers, Joseph, Hyman, and David Dressler, the family business began as a slaughtering plant, but by 1958 owners had spun off the slaughtering business to focus on manufacturing a wide variety of shortening and vegetable oils for commercial and consumer markets.
Today, the family continues to operate the company under the direction of Abbott W Dressler, president and chief executive officer; Gary Klein, chief financial officer; Larry Dressler, vice-president of marketing; Justin Abrams, senior vice-president of sales; and Gary Dressler.
Present manufacturing operations produce kosher vegetable-oil-blends that include canola, corn, cottonseed, coconut, peanut, and soybean oil. Products are sold to bakeries, food processors, foodservice distributors, and concessions companies. In recent years, Colfax has expanded into the international market and serves companies in Europe, the Middle East, and South America.
In addition to its tank truck fleet, the company utilizes LTL transports and rail cars. A Providence & Worchester Railroad track is near the property, accessible from Colfax's three rail sidings.
The family's expertise with tank trailers started in 1964. A Heil 3,000-gallon tank trailer and an International gasoline-powered tractor were purchased to transport shortening. Currently, the fleet includes 14 tank trailers for transport, eight tank trailers for storage, seven leased power units for over-the-road operations, and four yard tractors.
Almost from the time the first trailer was put on the road, a Colfax wash rack was operating, says Parrillo. "At first, we used a garden hose with water heated from a boiler." The tank wash operation changed significantly over the years. Colfax's cleaning and wastewater treatment systems comply with industry and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Water and steam from the cogenerating plant are maintained at 200 F while flowing through spinners.
Two trailers an hour can be cleaned in each of the foodgrade bays. Gamajet IV spinners, installed in both foodgrade and chemical racks, have fluid driven orbital washheads capable of meeting cleaning pressures of up to 800 psi and flows of up to 300 gallons per minute. Colfax uses the equipment to maintain flow rates of 100 gallons per minute.
All foodgrade tanks are dried with a Spencer Turbine blower with heat. It is driven by a 25-horsepower motor.
Foodgrade wastewater is collected and routed into a 30,000-gallon tank by a 20-horsepower Hayes Pump. "We send everything into the tank," says Parrillo. "We don't use floor drains."
Grease separated from the water in the treatment process is collected and sold to processors. Wastewater is pH-neutralized with caustic soda, treated with a flocculant provided by Nalco, passed on through a Komline Sanderson dissolved air flotation process, and released into the Narragansett Bay Commission sewer system.
"Typically, we clean chocolate, juices, shortening, oils, and some flour," says Parrillo.
"We find very little heel in most tanks, but any leftover is sold to feed processors." Prior to cleaning at the chemical rack, product samples are taken from the tank trailer and analyzed in the Colfax laboratory. Commodities usually encountered are latex, lube oil, a variety of acids, and some resins, says Parrillo. Heels are discharged into a drum and disposal costs are billed to the customer. Cleaning personnel do not enter the tank unless requested by the carrier. Drummed heels are hauled away for disposal by a contractor that operates within EPA waste disposal requirements.
The Gamajet IV system is also used in the chemical wash bay. The tank is first rinsed and then washed with caustic or detergent added to the recirculated first rinse water. It is finished by rinsing with clean water. Water temperature is maintained at 200 F. If the carrier requests, tanks are forced-air dried.
The wastewater system used in the chemical bay has a Tyson Controls Inc electronic shutdown system that kicks in if the pH level fails to meet the standard required, or if wastewater rises too high in storage tanks. The object of the system is not only to maintain correct pH content, but to also keep wastewater in the tanks so there is no spillage onto the floor.
Wastewater from the cleaning process is routed by another Hayes Pump into a storage tank and then into another tank where it is pH neutralized before being sent into a final storage tank. Treated wastewater destined for the sewer undergoes analysis by Rhode Island Analytical Corp for fats, oils, greases, pH, metals, and organics. "It must meet acceptable ranges before it can be released," says Parrillo.
Colfax also has a wash bay for exterior cleaning. The leased L&A Company self-generated cleaning unit is maintained by Tri State Chemex. The unit heats water and mixes in detergent automatically. Wash water drains into the plant's water treatment system. The bay is scheduled to be adapted for foodgrade interior tank cleaning and opened next year.
Having had to meet strict environmental regulations that have been in force because of the proximity to Narragansett Bay, Colfax managers emphasize training for employees who work in the wash bays. "We explain the importance of environmental concerns, and go through rigorous safety and product handling training throughout the year," says Parrillo.
Five employees are assigned to tank cleaning operations. They, along with company drivers, are familiarized with product content, confined-space tank entry, hazardous materials precautions, government regulations, and use of safety harnesses and other safety devices. "The combined team effort of all Colfax employees to improve safety has resulted in the company receiving several safety awards from several insurance carriers," says Gary Dressler.
"Almost all of our employees have been with us for a long time," says Parrillo. "They are very experienced. We hired our last driver 18 years ago. We don't have a problem with driver retention."
Colfax employs 12 drivers who are qualified for both tank trailers and LTL. They transport company products to food processors in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. "They are the people who interact with our customers," says Parrillo. "Drivers are highly skilled professionals who can be relied upon to do their jobs safely, efficiently, and reliably."
The company leases Freightliner tractors from Ryder and a regional company, Edhart, a policy begun in 1980. Maintenance contracts provide for the vehicles to be serviced every 15,000 miles. Tractors are powered by Cummins engines rated at 370 horsepower. The drivetrain includes a 10-speed Fuller RTX-1471OC transmission and Rockwell tandem-drive axles. PTO-driven Roper pumps are mounted on the tractors.
Company-owned tank trailers are provided by Heil Trailer International, Tremcar Inc, and Polar Tank Trailers Inc. Equipment varies from trailer to trailer, but includes Betts and Allegheny valves, and Polar and Betts dome lids.
Suspensions come from Hendrickson and Neway. Axles are supplied by Eaton and Rockwell. The trailers have Stemco Inc wheels and Anchorlok and Rockwell brakes. Colfax specifies Goodyear tires.
The Colfax mechanic and three welders provide minor trailer maintenance, such as checking brakes and lights. Major repairs are sent out to Bay State Inc in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Because Colfax chose maintenance contracts for tractors and does few trailer repairs, the mechanics' primary duties are related to the manufacturing division.
It was the manufacturing side of the business that brought the cogeneration project to Colfax, and prompted the diversification into commercial tank cleaning. That service will be expanded even further as the company sets up to clean intermediate bulk containers (IBC), says Parrillo. "We know the tote industry is growing and we have begun to use them and clean them in our own operations."
With the experience gained from cleaning Colfax totes and availability of steam and hot water from the cogeneration plant, it follows that the company will apply the expertise commercially just as it did for tank trailers. As Abbott Dressler, company president, notes, "We at Colfax specialize in being versatile."