New Tremcar farm pick-up trailer keeps drivers and other workers at ground level

Oct. 5, 2015
FALLS from milk tankers occur far too frequently, and Daniel Tremblay and Robert Gilchrist decided to do something about it. The innovative farm pickup trailer they developed could offer a template for milk haulers across North America.

FALLS from milk tankers occur far too frequently, and Daniel Tremblay and Robert Gilchrist decided to do something about it. The innovative farm pickup trailer they developed could offer a template for milk haulers across North America.

Twelve of the new farm pickup trailers are now in operation with Agri-Mark Inc, and other milk haulers and dairies are looking at the trailer. Testing will go on for at least a year, according to Tremblay.

Tremblay is president of Tremcar Inc, a tank trailer manufacturer based in St Jean sur Richelieu PQ, Canada, with facilities in Canada and the United States. Gilchrist is with Agri-Mark Inc, a federated milk cooperative that represents 80% of New England’s milk industry.

Tremblay says participation in the Cargo Tank Risk management Committee (CTRMC) had made him increasingly concerned about falls off tank trailers and tank trucks. “Falls are a constant problem, and the calls to get workers off the tops of cargo tanks grow stronger by the day,” he says.

Working conditions are precarious when workers have to climb up in difficult weather conditions such as snow, rain and strong winds by the road side for example. Such conditions are perfect storms for disaster. No wonder insurance costs for employers are so high. Customized catwalks and hand rail systems are costly, and the fall-protection hardware is heavy and bulky, meaning lost payload and reduced tank aerodynamics.

Field trip

Members of the dairy industry also are concerned about the number of truck drivers and maintenance workers having accidents from falling off the milk tanks. Those concerns brought Tremblay and Gilchrist together to work on a solution.

The collaboration started with research and included a trip to Europe to examine the equipment used to transport milk in that region. In parts of Europe, they saw that the milk tanks had manholes positioned near the bottom of the tank versus the tank top.

Tremblay and Gilchrist took a closer look on how these innovative tanks functioned. Inspired by the European model and understanding Agri-mark’s needs, Tremblay and a young technical engineer, designed an all-new ground-level-operating milk tank.

“We spent eight months on the development part of the project,” Tremblay says. “We chose to position the manways at five o’clock, which makes inspection of an empty tank much easier. We’re using the same sort of elliptical manways that are found on milk silos at the processing plants. This is a very efficient manway that has served the dairy industry well over the years.”

Milk sampling

To meet milk sampling requirements, Gilchrist recommended the sort of small sampling port found on milk silos. A three-inch nipple in the manhole cover allows a worker to insert a syringe through a leak-proof membrane to collect a milk sample. To ensure leak-tightness, the membrane is replaced every six months.

Tremcar used milk silo-type manways on the new trailer.

With the exception of an atmospheric vent on top of the tank, all valves and other hardware are at ground level. Tank cleaning is accomplished with a clean-in-place system.

The cleaning arrangement may be the biggest dairy industry challenge, according to Tremblay. Milk plants will need a ground-level tank wash capability.

In tandem-axle, the milk pick-up trailer is constructed of Type 304 stainless steel and in capacities ranging from 6,000 to 7,800 gallons. The trailer is built to 3A standards and meets all but one requirement.

“3A currently requires the manway at the top of the tank,” Tremblay says. “We are working with them to change that. We have pointed out that the milk silo manway is at the bottom.”

The positive aspects of the new tank design; the number one priority—safety—was satisfied, no one on top of the tank, no ladders. Washing and inspecting the interior of the tank is much easier at ground level. The tank design was accepted by State Regulatory Agencies in all states where inspection was executed.

Tremcar successfully designed a cargo tank where all access points were grouped together: milk sampling, temperature recorder, probe system, pumping system, etc and conformed to USDA inspection procedures for a quality product. Performing work functions are now easier, safer, and faster.

Faster loading

In addition to developing a milk pick-up trailer that offers the ultimate fall protection, Tremcar and Agri-Mark wanted to optimize milk loading time and modernize the technological system of the tank. For example, the partners needed to improve the pumping system, develop new technology to keep track of the temperature for each compartment (72-hour recorder at least), improve the probe system; and have a warning level and a shut off level.

The standard farm pick-up trailer is loaded with 65,000 pounds of milk from seven farms with a pumping rate of 1,000 lbs/min which equals to 65 minutes of pumping. Measuring and sampling takes 12 minutes per farm (x 7 farms) adding 84 minutes to the pickup process for a total of 149 minutes of milk pick up in one road trip.

The new farm pickup handles 65,000 pounds of milk from seven different farms with a pumping rate of 2,000 lbs/min which equals to 32.5 minutes of pumping and 3.5 min/farm for measuring and sampling (x 7 farms) which adds 24.5 minutes for a total of 57 minutes. That is a time savings of 92 minutes. Over four years, the operator can save $54,750.

Both Agri-Mark and Tremcar officials are satisfied with the product. Maintenance workers and truck drivers can now operate safely. Not having the hassle of climbing the tank reduces the risk of falling thus permitting safer working conditions. The time saving is also a great factor to the equation of investing in this new product. ♦