Quala Savannah facility

Quala’s Savannah wash rack ranks as largest built in past 10 years, boosts foodgrade cleaning capacity

April 6, 2016
OPENED in early 2015, Quala’s Savannah, Georgia, wash rack is an impressive facility. For starters, it has a prime southeastern location and it is the largest facility built by Quala in the past 10 years.

OPENED in early 2015, Quala’s Savannah, Georgia, wash rack is an impressive facility. For starters, it has a prime southeastern location and it is the largest facility built by Quala in the past 10 years.

Built on 9.5 acres, the 36,290-sq-ft facility offers a broad range of capabilities, including chemical and foodgrade cleaning, cargo tank code repairs, and tank container depot services. More than 6,900 square feet of office space is under lease or available.

“The Savannah location has been well received by our customer base in so many ways,” says Terry O’Brien, president of Quala. “With the addition of Savannah, Quala now has tank cleaning facilities in nine of the top 10 container ports in the United States.

“It expands our foodgrade cleaning network and answers customer calls for more tank cleaning options in the Savannah area. The facility clearly is meeting expectations at this time, and there is room for expansion to meet future customer needs.”

Controlled access

The facility is fully fenced with controlled access for security. The layout of the T-shaped metal building has offices, a training/conference room, and 2,152 square feet of truck drivers’ lounge, break room, and rest rooms/showers at the top of the T.

“We try to make the drivers as comfortable as possible while they are waiting for trailers to be cleaned,” says Michael Hudgins, Quala-Savannah facility manager. “The break room is open seven days a week, and we have had some drivers stay through a weekend.”

Bays one to four are occupied by a Polar Service Center that offers tank trailer and tractor maintenance, code tank inspections and tests, and tank trailer repairs.

Quala provides foodgrade tank cleaning in Bays five and six. A vat-style wash system contains foodgrade caustic and detergent cleaning solutions. Three workers are assigned to foodgrade cleaning each shift.

Chemical cleaning

Separating the foodgrade wash bays from the chemical cleaning operation are the offices for Quala’s facility managers.

Four bays are dedicated to chemical cleaning, and the wash rack can handle a wide range of chemical products. Three shifts of wash workers can clean roughly 60 tanks a day.

“We clean a lot of polymers, latex, and resins,” Hudgins says. “We also have systems in place to deal with acrylates.”

A series of 1,020-gallon vats built to Quala specifications contain the caustic, detergent, booster/stripper, and hot and cold water to handle even the toughest tank cleaning projects. Tank cleaning can be done simultaneously in all four of the chemical bays.

A series of Gorman Rupp pumps send the cleaning solutions from the recirculating vats to spinners dropped into the tank trailers being cleaned. Additional pumps return the cleaning solutions to the vats.

Pressure washers

KMI Cleaning Systems pressure washers are used for exterior cleaning of tank trailers and tank containers.

Water from the final rinse in the cleaning process is treated in-house and recycled for use as a pre-rinse. Other wastewater generated in the cleaning process is routed to equipment in the bay next to the chemical cleaning area.

“We route the wastewater through an oil/water separator and then to an equalization tank for pH adjustment,” Hudgins says. “From there the wastewater goes to a dissolved air floatation (DAF) tank where a coagulant is added to collect solids that are skimmed off. The solids go into a 30-yard dewatering tank.”

Non-hazardous solid waste is shipped to a landfill for disposal. Wastewater collected in the dewatering tank is discharged to a public treatment plant.

Compressed air for the DAF unit and for other uses in the Quala operation is provided by a 138 psi Ingersoll Rand air compressor.

Steam technology

Steam and hot water for the chemical and foodgrade cleaning operations are provided by a 150-horsepower Cleaver Brooks boiler. The boiler also generates steam to heat tank trailers and containers.

Quala Savannah can steam eight tanks at a time at the steam panel at the far end of the facility. Last year, Quala added a sophisticated system using wireless probes placed in tanks to precisely determine temperature and time in the steaming process.

With demand for tank container depot services growing steadily, Quala now has two lifts in operation at the Savannah facility. One is a loaded lift, the other is an empty lift. The facility has room to store about 300 tank containers.

Cleaning team

It takes a skilled, well-trained staff to keep the facility running smoothly. Hudgins explains that it takes the right kind of person to handle the job.

“We look for someone who is motivated to learn and pays attention to detail,” he says. “Applicants must show initiative and drive, and they need to be in decent physical shape. It takes about a week to determine whether a new hire will fit our operation.

“New employees find out immediately that this is a serious business. We have a daily meeting to discuss operations, and we require a lot of documentation. They are constantly moving during a work shift. In addition to tank cleaning, they are involved in confined space entry, heel removal and management, and wastewater treatment.”

Training program

New hires begin with a week of training that includes a discussion of safety procedures and materials handling requirements. Training is a combination of hand-on and online.

Quala Savannah starts new workers on the first shift for at least 90 days. “We want to keep an eye on them,” Hudgins says. “We’re looking at the consistency of their performance and their desire to learn. We gradually involve them in more complicated cleans during that time.

New hires learn the cleaning procedures for the products handled at the wash and how to operate the wide range of equipment at the facility. They learn maintenance procedures, including how to repair the spinners.

With its proven program in place to developing a capable, skilled workforce, Quala plans to continue growing through acquisitions and by developing brand new locations like Quala Savannah. With its newest facility in Dallas Texas, Quala now has more than 60 locations across North America.   ♦