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Tips For Transloading Crude Oil From Tanker Trucks To Rail Cars

The Carbis Team | May 16, 2013 8:02:00 AM

Transloading is the term used for the process that takes place when a shipment must be transferred from one mode of transportation to another. Transloading is often used in the oil industry because the pipelines to the refineries are in the south so if the well head is somewhere else in the country, the oil has to travel there. Transloading takes place when one type of transportation can’t make the entire journey or it may be more cost effective to transfer the shipment from one mode to another. Usually product (in this scenario it’s crude oil) is transloaded from tank trucks into about 120 connected railcars. Using railcars to carry product may sound old fashioned but it’s still the most consistently effective way to transport lots of products including crude oil.

A tank truck terminal transloading to railcars will have a rail spur off the main train track. This way, the railcars can pull in and be loaded. Once loading is complete the cars continue back to the main railway for the journey to the pipeline.

Transloading can be a dangerous process for workers and the environment but if your company is prepared with the proper safety equipment and the knowledge to use it properly, the process should go quite smoothly.

The transloading process happens at the terminal. In order to transload the crude oil, a terminal is constructed and stocked with the proper equipment to do the job quickly and efficiently while taking employees’ safety into account. The main danger here is falls from heights because workers climb around on large pieces of equipment. Experienced engineers should be hired to build the terminal to OSHA safety guidelines. This way your workers are safe at all times with a properly integrated terminal.

While transloading, there’s always the possibility of a spill, which can damage the environment and your business’s profits. That’s why you need a company whose area of expertise is building terminals specifically for transloading. The correct equipment will keep you, your workers and the environment safe from the inherent dangers of this type of work.

Following is a list of equipment that can create a safe and productive terminal. This, of course, is not a complete list and will vary according to each companies needs:

  • Single or double-sided loading racks for safe access to different trucks and rail cars.
  • Crude oil loading racks with fixed platforms that allow simultaneous access to multiple vehicles or multiple hatches.
  • Transloading portable access platforms and carts.
  • Handrail systems for safe access to the tops of railcars.
  • Rail enclosures that surround the crash box rail and full rail car enclosures.
  • Portable tank track access system with fall prevention cage.
  • Mobile dual vehicle access systems with gangways and safety cages help workers access the tops of vehicles. Then hoses can be connected safely and correctly to both vehicles for transloading product.
  • Loading and unloading skid systems with pumps, meters, valves, grounding, filtration, instrumentation, high-level shut off and ticket printer systems.
  • Bottom loading arms wherever possible because they are considered safer than top loaders. The worker stays on the ground preventing a fall. Connections are quicker and tanks are filled faster. However, a worker still needs access to the top of the rail car for venting.

Crude oil loading racks are built as high as a rail car so all the worker needs to do is fold out the gangway in order to gain safe access from the fixed platform across the gangway to the top of the rail car. The pipe is run to the platform for the top loading arm or runs along the ground for the bottom loading arm. This pipe acts as a hose to draw the product from the tanker truck and deposit it into the railcar.

Spill containment needs to be in place in your terminal before a railcar ever enters. Most spills occur when a seal fails during loading or unloading. Spill containment track pans catch drips, leaks and spills plus they meet the required environmental spill contamination regulations.

Once the crude oil has been transloaded onto the group of rail cars, it’s ready to begin the trip to Texas, Louisiana or another southern state where it will be transloaded once again near the refinery.

If your company moves crude oil or any other fuel or liquids contact Carbis Fluid Handling today. We specialize in building transloading terminals. Our engineers are well versed in OSHA regulations and can determine exactly what you need to keep your employees and the environment safe which will in turn create less worry and expense for your company as a whole. Save lives, time and added expense, call Carbis Fluid Handling today – in the US 1.800.823.0163 and International (+1) 843.656.1318.

Learn how to keep your workplace moving efficiently while meeting OSHA standards by downloading this free industry guide from Carbis Solutions. 

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