WHEN Chuck Verna and Michael Lynch established Brite Clean Inc in August 2001, the two men brought years of tank cleaning experience to the newly-formed company. With all that understanding in place, they acquired a wash rack and repair facility in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, formerly owned by Brite-Sol/Matlack Inc.
Verna, vice-president, operations, and Lynch, co-owner and general manager, were longtime employees of Matlack, and Lynch had been the Bensalem manager. Verna's father, Charlie Verna, also a former employee of Brite-Sol/Matlack, assisted the owners in their startup, and acted as an outside consultant. This placed them in an excellent position when the Matlack bankruptcy presented the opportunity to acquire the seven-acre site. Located near Philadelphia, the facility is convenient for companies moving bulk products north and south along the East Coast, and west to the Midwest.
Today, the four-bay wash rack and three-bay repair shop are busy serving customers. In addition to the bays dedicated to interior tank cleaning, Brite Clean has a drive-through bay for exterior cleaning. Currently, the facility is cleaning about 36 tank trailers every day, but the volume could be boosted to 60 units per day by adding more shifts, says Verna.
In addition to tank trailer cleaning and repair, the company offers tank container and intermediate bulk container services. Hours are Monday through Friday, 5 am until midnight, and employees are on call on weekends.
“Quality tank cleaning and repairs are paramount for us,” says Lynch. “In addition to the cleaning and maintenance services, we want this facility to be driver-friendly. We've renovated our driver waiting areas and installed showers and a lounge for their convenience. Food and coffee are provided daily.”
Experience pays off
The emphasis on quality cleaning and driver service comes from the owners' earlier experiences. Likewise, employees also bring experience to the company. The office administrator, Chris Rodriquez, is a longtime employee at the facility, and four tank cleaners have 20 years experience each — a fifth has been cleaning tank trailers for 30 years.
“We believe in doing the job right the first time,” says Lynch. “Having these experienced employees means we can fulfill that goal.”
The experience level pays off in the knowledge of the equipment and its capabilities. The wash unit, constructed in-house, has a 1,200-gallon cold-water vat, a 2,000-gallon hot-water vat, two 1,500-gallon caustic tanks, and one 1,500-gallon vat for detergent. The recirculation system provides high-volume, low-pressure cleaning with Gamajet spinners. While hot water is maintained at 180-degrees F in the vat unit, steam is generated by two 120-horsepower gas-fired Burnham boilers.
Adjacent to the interior cleaning bays is the drive-through bay for exterior washes. It is equipped with a Whiting Co system constructed with gantry slides on a rail that delivers prerinse, soap, and rinse cycles.
A closed-loop wastewater process is used for spent caustic solution and certain priority pollutants, such as solvents. Prerinse wastewater is collected inside the tank trailer, pumped into a holding tank trailer, and hauled to an approved waste-handling facility.
Wastewater from the cleaning of other products is pumped from collection drains in the bays to in-ground holding tanks, and is treated, and discharged into a municipal sewer. The treatment process begins with a liquid/solid separation that occurs in two, in-ground 20,000-gallon tanks. From there the partially clarified wastewater is pumped to a three-chamber SKF Inc system composed of a 1,000-gallon mixing vat for rapid mix, 1,500-gallon vat for flocculation, and 3,000-gallon settling vat where solids are removed. Sludge (filter cake) is collected, dried, and shipped to an approved disposal facility.
Tom McCurdy, a wastewater treatment consultant, redesigned the clarification equipment by changing out internal components to improve solids settling. The modifications meet new regulations recently prescribed by Bucks County, which dispatches inspectors to the site two or three times per week.
“The wastewater regulations are strict here; and we must meet them,” says Verna. “We have the waste effluent checked monthly by Analytic Labs, and we test the biological oxygen demand limits and suspended solids every day. A chemical oxygen demand test gives us an idea on how well the plant is performing so that we can adjust the process to meet the regulations.”
When heel has to be removed from the tank trailers, the customer is notified immediately of the added expense. If the residue is removed, it is placed in drums. Customers can pick up the heel and dispose of it, or Brite Clean will provide the disposal service.
While the wash rack generates 60% of the company's revenue, the shop holds a 40% share. “A lot of tank washes are just for cleaning,” says Lynch. “But, the shop service makes it very convenient for our customers, especially if their trailer must be cleaned before maintenance can begin.”
Cargo Tank Tests
Mechanics focus on various testing procedures as required by governmental regulations or company policies. These inspections include VIK (internal and external, lining, leakage, thickness, vapor recovery, and hydro), annual Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) inspections, company preventive maintenance, and Pennsylvania state inspections. The shop offers bottom-loading conversion and custom fabrication. Tractor repairs are available as well as those for tank trailers, including compressor and pump installations. “We specialize in equipping tractors that haul tank trailers,” says Verna.
In addition, shop mechanics are trained in tank cleaning and can be utilized when needed.
“Our employees must stay current with the safety issues in this industry,” Verna says. Training includes harness use, platform handling, hazardous materials familiarity, first-aid techniques, material safety data sheets (MSDS) comprehension, and confined space entry procedures.
“We have annual retraining in hazardous waste, tank entry, and use of respirators,” says Lynch. “Because of the dangers involved with the use of nitrogen blankets, we train workers to be ever-vigilant. They monitor oxygen levels in the tank with a metering device that we calibrate monthly.”
With training and equipment in place, what do the partners see for the future? As the business continues to grow, they anticipate an expansion into foodgrade services. The Bensalem site offers plenty of space for additional wash bays, and environmental permits are in place. Add the experience of the owners, and the company is set to move forward.