Representatives from Huntsman International and Heniff Transportation Systems participated earlier this year in a demonstration of the equipment used for interplant shipments of propylene oxide

Huntsman, Heniff team up with technology to load the maximum volume of PO on tank trailers

Dec. 7, 2016
MORE productivity, more efficiency, and greater safety. These are shared objectives for many chemical haulers and the shippers they serve.

MORE productivity, more efficiency, and greater safety. These are shared objectives for many chemical haulers and the shippers they serve.

A good example comes from a recent bid project undertaken by Huntsman Corporation’s Truck Transportation Group and awarded to Heniff Transportation Systems LLC. The goal of the project was to boost payloads for interplant tank trailer shipments of propylene oxide (PO) by 7%.

Higher payloads mean fewer shipments over time, which reduces Huntsman’s transportation costs and lowers the risk of an accident. “We believe increased payload is a win for everyone,” says Josh A Nordgulen, Huntsman manager of truck transportation and logistics. 

Propylene oxide is an internal feedstock produced by Huntsman’s Port Neches Operations in Port Neches, Texas. The chemical product is hauled to other Huntsman plants in Conroe and Dayton, Texas, and Geismar, Louisiana.

Huntsman ships materials to its plants in the Gulf Coast region. Propylene oxide is primarily used to make polyurethane foam materials, glycols, and amines for use in the automotive, construction, consumer, and other sectors.

Heniff role

Heniff Transportation was selected to handle the interplant shipments of propylene oxide in June 2015 and was up and running with multiple tractors and tank trailers daily by the beginning of September. The tank truck carrier also handles shipments of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), polyol, and various other petrochemical products from Huntsman’s Gulf Coast plants.

“We chose Heniff Transportation because the carrier has made a strong commitment to cutting-edge fleet management and logistics technology, Nordgulen says. “Heniff Transportation also offered more robust supply chain management, including staged trailers to help ensure more timely shipments.”

Robert J Heniff, Heniff Transportation president and chief executive officer, says his company uses some of the most sophisticated information management technology in the industry to tie together a liquid bulk transport operation that is designed to provide customers with a broad range of end-to-end transportation solutions.

“We believe that our in-house information technology capability is second to none and sets us apart from competitors,” he says. “Our technology platform combines satellite communications with GPS tracking for near real-time monitoring of all rolling stock and operations. Our IT capabilities are critical for time-sensitive shipments.”

Tech role

Technology plays a big role in the system that Heniff Transportation and Huntsman put into place to enable tank trailers used in the propylene oxide operation to haul higher payloads to the Conroe and Dayton plants without exceeding an 80,000-lb gross combination weight. Trailers serving the Geismar plant also carry larger payloads. In the past, the maximum payload was 52,000 pounds.

Key technology elements on the trailers include Dixon Bayco’s FlowTech overfill protection and Scully’s loading rack monitor at the Huntsman plant in Port Neches. Loading is controlled by a Micromotion automated meter system that is set for a pumping rate of 160 gallons per minute.

“This system gives us the ability to load tank trailers in propylene oxide service to 95% to 97% full,” Heniff says. “Product temperature and thermal expansion become a greater concern. Pressure monitoring is critical for shipments in transit.

“We have the newest generation of Skybitz satellite communication units on our trailers to monitor tank temperature and product temperature. The information is reported every five minutes.”

Tare weight

While technology has been a critical factor in achieving a higher maximum payload, it was also important to trim tractor-trailer tare weight as much as possible. Combined tare weight of the newest tanker transports in propylene oxide service is 26,000 pounds.

“We have removed 2,600 pounds of tare weight by using aluminum components wherever we can,” Heniff says. “We’ve taken out passenger seats. We’re using widebase single tires and composite trailer suspension springs.”

Heniff Transportation chose Peterbilt Model 579 daycabs for the operation. The tractors are specified with PACCAR MX-13 engines rated at 455 horsepower and Eaton Fuller UltraShift Plus automated transmissions. PeopleNet on-board computers make it possible to monitor vehicle status at all times.

Heniff Transportation runs natural gas-fueled Peterbilt tractors in some of its other operations, and that was an initial consideration for the propylene oxide account. Currently, however, all of the tractors in that operation are diesel fueled.

“We’ve just started running a few liquefied natural gas-fueled trucks in our fleet, and we still have more work to do,” Heniff says. “We still see potential for natural gas fueled trucks in the propylene oxide business.

SAF Holland aluminum fifthwheels help hold down tare weight. Running gear includes Bendix air disc brakes, Alcoa aluminum disc wheels, and Michelin X One tires.

Tank trailers used to transport the propylene oxide are manufactured by Polar Tank Trailer. The DOT407 stainless steel trailers incorporated some DOT412 features to be able to handle a 35 psig rating. Enhancements include two additional bolster rings around the cargo tank, resulting in an 8,500-gallon stainless steel tank trailer with an 11,000-lb tare weight.

Polar’s engineering team designed the uninsulated tanks with a 10-gauge shell and eight-gauge heads. While trailers previously used were constructed of 316 stainless steel, Heniff Transportation had the newest trailers constructed using lean duplex technology.

The trailers are configured for dedicated propylene oxide service with closed loop loading and unloading. The Polar domelid is bolted down, and the tank is fitted with a remote operated vapor recovery system from Girard Equipment and OPW Kamvalok dry disconnect hardware for loading and unloading.

The trailers have a stainless steel subframe for long life and low maintenance. Running gear includes Hendrickson’s Intraax suspension with Meritor WABCO roll stability, Stemco’ Aeris tire inflation system, Michelin X One tires, and aluminum disc wheels.

Busy fleet

Tractors and trailers in the propylene oxide are kept busy meeting the needs of Huntsman’s Conroe and Geismer plants. The transports are handling multiple loads a week for Huntsman’s Conroe and Geismar plants. Heniff Transportation operations are coordinated by Briana McCranie, a transportation coordinator for the fleet who is based Huntsman’s administrative headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas.

All trailer loading and unloading is handled by Huntsman plant workers. Drivers stay with their rigs during loading and unloading, and they must complete site-specific training before being allowed in the Huntsman plants.

Storage capacity for propylene oxide is at a premium at the Geismar plant. Heniff Transportation and Huntsman are addressing that issue by staging more pre-loaded trailers at Heniff’s Geismar terminal location.

“Space is tight, and it is very costly to add more plant storage,” Nordgulen says. “Pre-loaded staged trailers make a lot of sense, and Heniff Transportation has shown that it has the expertise to make it work.”

The carrier now maintains loaded trailers at all times at its terminal in Geismar. “We can deliver a load of propylene oxide to the Huntsman plant in Geismar at a quicker rate than before. Before the staged trailers, it could take all day to get a load to them from our two source points.”  ♦

About the Author

Charles Wilson

Charles E. Wilson has spent 20 years covering the tank truck, tank container, and storage terminal industries throughout North, South, and Central America. He has been editor of Bulk Transporter since 1989. Prior to that, Wilson was managing editor of Bulk Transporter and Refrigerated Transporter and associate editor of Trailer/Body Builders. Before joining the three publications in Houston TX, he wrote for various food industry trade publications in other parts of the country. Wilson has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and served three years in the U.S. Army.