LOCATED just a few miles southeast of Los Angeles, California, LA Wash Rack Inc has been servicing the tank transport industry for nearly 34 years with a primary focus on chemical tank cleaning. Over those decades, the company has worked hard to keep pace with steadily changing customer needs.
The most recent additions to the operation include construction of a stand-alone foodgrade tank cleaning facility adjacent to the chemical wash rack. The company also added a trailer maintenance shop.
The tank wash sits in the center of the city of Vernon which is known for being “exclusively industrial.” The surrounding manufacturing businesses and close proximity to several major interstates have aided in the success of the non-foodgrade and chemical wash rack since the operation opened its doors in 1985.
The facility at 4317 S Downey Road in Vernon operates Monday-Friday 6 am to 9:30 pm, and Saturday by appointment. Driver amenities include showers and snack machines as well as a variety of food delivery available in the area. Product heating is available in addition to drop and hook services.
Two 50-hp boilers provide steam for product heating and chemical cleaning. The boilers provide 125-psi steam and can heat product to 250° F.
A 10-person cleaning crew operates the foodgrade wash rack, while the chemical wash rack employs a five-person team. Foodgrade products cleaned include edible oils and vinegar, and juices will be added after LA Wash Rack receives Juice Processor Association certification, probably in April, according to Aron Gustafson, LA Wash Rack manager. LA Wash Rack is Kosher approved under the supervision of the North American Kosher Society and is International Society of Beverage Technologists certified.
While three chemical wash bays were keeping the tank cleaning crew plenty busy, management decided to take advantage of their nearly three-acre lot to expand operations. Phase one began in 2013 when they broke ground on the four-bay tank trailer repair shop. Upon completion of the repair facility in 2015, construction began on a stand-alone, three-bay foodgrade wash building. After withstanding countless delays, the foodgrade wash officially opened for business in January 2019.
The decision to enter into the foodgrade cleaning market was an easy one to make seeing as LA Wash Rack’s parent company, Coast Packing Company, is no stranger to the food industry. Coast Packing was established in 1922 and is a multi-generation family owned and closely held corporation that is known for their line of quality shortenings and oils. Coast Packing is the number one supplier of animal fat shortenings in the Western United States.
“This decision to add foodgrade cleaning was definitely mutually beneficial,” says Gustafson, fourth generation member of the family that started the company. “Coast is less than a mile down the road and they use foodgrade tankers to move product in and out of their facility.”
Coast Packing Company used their knowledge of sanitary design and commitment to quality to influence the design of the foodgrade wash building at LA Wash Rack, and it shows. The 12,000 square foot building is constructed of poured-in-place concrete and nearly everything inside of the building is stainless steel, including all plumbing, electrical conduit, fasteners, catwalks, tank cleaning equipment, and even the door jambs.
Aron Gustafson said: “It’s a foodgrade wash, so we never want rust or chipping paint to become a problem. We’ve done everything we could to prevent the possibility of contamination in clean tank trailers.”
A sanitary welder by trade, Gustafson worked side-by-side with the fabricator’s welders to design and build the mezzanines and all of the stainless steel fixtures in the wash bays. The building also has restrooms, an office area, electrical room, and sunken equipment room. Two of the three wash bays are currently in operation with hopes to put the third bay to use soon.
When given the task to chose what kind of wash equipment to use, Gustafson researched and toured other wash facilities. He decided to outfit the new wash bays with two Peacock Model 660’s. The Peacock Model 660 is a skid-mounted, turn-key wash system.
The high-pressure, low-volume system enables foodgrade washes at 600 psi with water exceeding 200° F. “I really liked that this equipment doesn’t re-use water during any of the wash cycle,” Gustafson says. “It takes away the risk of cross contamination.”
LA Wash Rack was the first Peacock customer to order a 660 with a stainless-steel frame. Robby Day of The Peacock Company said: “It was the first time a customer had asked for a complete stainless-steel frame. We customized the units to meet Aron’s request and we were as happy with the outcome as he was. This is now a standard option that we offer, so we appreciated the challenge.”
Each wash bay has the capability to wash with two spinners simultaneously for multiple compartment tanks. Tanks are dried with Peacock blowers with stainless-steel filters. Each bay is also equipped with 5,000-psi Hydro Tek pressure washers. All wash cycles are digitally recorded with a print out to show prior products, time, seal numbers, and temperature charts.
“Our goal from the beginning of this project has been to set a new standard for food grade tank washes,” Gustafson says. With how we have built the building and the attention we put into the equipment, I think we are off to a pretty good start.”
To support both the foodgrade and chemical wash bays, all wash water is pre-treated on site before being sent to the municipal water treatment plant in Vernon. Pre-treatment equipment includes a water collection system, an eight-stage clarifier, and pH adjustment system.
Miranda McMas is special projects manager for the Peacock Company Inc, Hutchins, Texas.