SEVERAL years ago, Brian Brady began searching for a location to open a foodgrade tank cleaning facility and by November 2003 Totally Tanker Interiors Inc was up and running in Tulare, California.
“During the planning stage, we talked to manufacturers, government agencies, tanker companies, and rabbis before we began the project,” Brady says.
Brady chose Industrial Design and Fabrication to develop the two-bay, state-of-the-art sanitary wash system to his specifications and Phillips Construction to build the facility on the 1.75-acre property.
Today, the tank wash, located just off Highway 99 at the Paige exit, cleans about 450 tank trailers per month and has the capacity to handle 30 per day.
“In order to provide a washout that is 100% JPA (Juice Products Association) compliant, our system has been constructed using both JPA and 3A guidelines,” Brady says. “All of our piping is 3A-approved sanitary piping, as are the hoses, spinners, pumps, boiler, storage tanks, and frame.
“Our spinner is self-rinsing and is certified by the USDA. All of the cleaning products used in the washout process have been approved by the USDA and are Kosher certified. Last but not least, we chart all of our washouts and perform a swab test to insure proper sanitization.”
Brady's planning involved the company's two other owners, his wife, Jenean Brady, secretary/treasurer, and her father, Marty LaGue, vice-president.
“Our goal was to exceed what everyone else was doing,” Brady says. “Food processors are increasing their standards, so we are dedicated to meeting their current requirements and being ready to comply with future ones.”
Among the companies that certify the tank wash are Coca Cola, Nestle, Arrowhead, Calistoga, Juicy Juice, Minute Maid, Ocean Spray, Odwalla, Vittel, Cargill Juice, and Sunkist.
In addition Totally Tanker Interiors is the only facility in the San Joaquin Valley to be certified by the FCPA (Florida Citrus Processors Association), Brady says.
Sitting in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the agriculture centers of the United States, the tank wash has plenty of opportunity for cleaning foodgrade tank trailers.
Typical products hauled in the tanks cleaned at the tank wash include juices, milk, chocolate, cooking oils, eggs, yeast, and alcohols.
The tank wash provides most cleaning without appointments and is open Monday-Saturday from 6 am until 10 pm. Sunday hours are 10 am until 6 pm.
Brady believes the appearance of a facility is a direct reflection upon the quality of the service it provides. “You can't show your customers the actual washout process while a tank is being cleaned, but it is still possible to demonstrate to your customers the quality you are providing them.
“One of the ways we have done this is by making our system visible to customers so they can easily see the quality of the components. We also chose to put the system in a building complete with a comfortable waiting area.”
The waiting area includes a pool table, computer with internet access, snack and drink machines, a big-screen TV, massage chairs, wireless internet access, and showers. Brady says that despite creating a place that many of his customers don't want to leave, he has not forgotten the importance of returning vehicles to the road as soon as possible.
“My customers don't make money when a truck is sitting,” he says. “We understand this and do everything we can to reduce a driver's wait time.”
In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, efficiency comes from having wash rack employees who are properly trained, he says. They receive their training from Manuel Hernandez, the facility manager.
The training program includes written and visual instruction in a wide range of topics, including confined-space entry, although workers are not often required to enter tanks, Brady says.
Hernandez also conducts training for equipment maintenance and repairs.
“We handle most of our own repairs and maintenance and seldom have to outsource,” Brady says. “Our rack employees know how to calibrate the equipment. Having our people trained to handle the repairs is just one more example of our efficiency. We don't have lengthy shutdowns awaiting help from the outside.”
When outside help is needed for repairs, a local company, California Controls, steps in, he says.
Personnel also study JPA guidelines, kosher requirements, material safety data sheets (MSDS), certification information, boiler operation, safety, and security.
Emphasis is placed on being sure that all visitors are logged in and out of the facility. “With food security concerns throughout the industry, as well as the requirements for sanitary operations, we have to be sure we know who is on the premises,” Brady adds.
One area in the building used to store security-sensitive supplies is fenced and gated.
When a tank trailer arrives at the wash rack, the tractor is positioned on a ramp so that the front of the trailer is lifted, providing better tank drainage.
Wash rack equipment is fully automated with the ability to chart time, temperature, and pH concentration. The caustic, degreaser, and sanitizer used in the process are approved by the USDA and are certified for use in Kosher washouts.
A prerinse runs until all heel is removed, then 75°-80°F ambient water is applied to insure the removal of the heels. This process, as well as all of the washout cycles, are performed at 120 gallons per minute and 170 psi.
Depending on the JPA washout cycle, caustic may be introduced for 15-20 minutes at 160-185° F.
A degreasing cycle also will be run for JPA Type III and JPA Type IV washouts. The Type III cycle is for tanks that previously hauled water/oil or oil-based food products. Type IV is slated for tanks in which previous loads carried foods with potential allergenic risks. In addition to other requirements, the Type III calls for the tank to be sanitized with a no-rinse foodgrade chemical sanitizer solution. Water at 185° F for a minimum of 10 continuous minutes may be used as an alternative to a foodgrade sanitizer, if specifically requested by the customer. In addition, a Type IV sequence also calls for a rinse with potable water at 185° F for 22 minutes.
When performing a kosher maintenance or upgrade washout, additional requirements must be added to each JPA washout cycle. The main difference is that only fresh potable water may be used for the prerinse. For kosher upgrades, two five-minute 208° F potable water cycles are also included in the process.
Wash cycles vary from about one hour 45 minutes to less than one hour, depending on the requirements that must be met.
The final steps involve conducting a swab test with a BioTrace International Luminometer that prints out the results for the truck driver and the food processor. Then, workers attach TydenBrammall seals to tank openings.
All of this is handled automatically by the skid-mounted wash system equipped with an Allen-Bradley CPU and Sellers spinners. Other equipment includes a Clayton Industries boiler designed for sanitary wash racks, with an output of 125 psi of steam pressure. Fristam Pumps USA supplied 3A stainless steel pumps, and the water softener came from Valley Pure. The Allen-Bradley system monitors the time over temperature and pH.
The stainless steel wash solution tanks range in capacity from 400-500 gallons and are 3A sanitary certified, as are all of the systems pipes. The tanks were constructed by West-Mark Inc with Fort Vale domelids. Brady specifies the use of Purple Harvest and Page International sanitary hoses.
To handle wastewater from the cleaning bays, Brady designed and built a system that captures the water in floor drains before using a Teel pump to transfer it to two 2,000-gallon holding tanks.
Wastewater flows from one tank to the other, which allows some settling, but is primarily cooled in the process.
The next step involves five 6,000-gallon tanks where solids can settle and are later disposed of, as necessary. “Our process doesn't leave us with a significant amount of heel to dispose of,” says Brady.
The wastewater is tested once per week before being filtered and released into the sewer.
Another part of maintaining a pristine facility for foodgrade requirements calls for controlling pests such as birds. To prevent them from entering the wash bays, netting is used to cover the roof of the building as well as its doors.
Part of the success of the wash facility comes from having experience with a family-owned truck wash, Truck Tub, Brady says.
Truck Tub, a mobile vehicle wash service, was founded in 1965 by Brady's parents, Darrel and Judy Brady. In 2000 Truck Tub became Truck Tub International and is currently owned by Brian and Jenean.
By 1980, customers' needs and environmental requirements were changing, so Truck Tub made the transition from mobile washing to stationary facilities.
“We currently have four facilities,” says Brady. “They are in Kingman, Arizona, and in California at Mira Loma, Stockton, and Tulare.
“Our future plans for the truck wash division include expansion into Utah. We also plan to offer franchising opportunities. The care we show to all of our customers' vehicles has become well-known in the trucking industry, and customers make it a point to come to us before competing in trucking shows.
“We've applied that background of customer service to our tank cleaning facility, and we think that gives us an edge in customer satisfaction at Totally Tanker Interiors.”
With the company's history, state-of-the-art equipment at the ready, and an active management team, that edge seems to be paying dividends.