Solving unique challenges during a fill plant upgrade.
Project: Oxarc Pasco Fill Facility
Decades of growth had segmented the dock high cylinder fill facility at Oxarc Pasco into partitioned fill spaces. Specific product fill rooms had organically evolved over time into a cobbled flow choking maze. Randy McBride, Oxarc’s Operations Manager, was charged with improving these cylinder flow issues. He knew transforming the existing facility, without disrupting business, would not be easy. He called Weldcoa.
Randy McBride and his Oxarc team had several out of the box ideas on how to improve cylinder flow, increase productivity and add new capabilities, but they were not sure if they were even possible. Weldcoa’s Mark Daniels worked with McBride and his team to explore various solutions. The challenge: to upgrade and streamline a traditional linear fill, dock-high, non-palletized plant, within the existing space, without interrupting the day to day business. The marriage of a well-designed process change and the development of a new generation of products was the answer.
Step 1: Remove the ClutterREAD MORE
The idea that solved the issue of cylinder clutter was a game changer for Oxarc. “We moved the cylinders outside onto Storage Racks except that here at Oxarc they aren’t ‘Storage Racks’ they are ‘Staging Racks,” stated Mark Daniels, Weldcoa’s Sales Engineer.
At Oxarc, there are 3 sections of Staging Racks.
- Unsorted Empty: Cylinder pallets straight from the trucks
- Sorted Empty: Ready for the filling process.
- Sorted Full: Go into the Third Rack and from here are sorted and staged for the outgoing Weldcoa pallet vehicles.
Step 2: Design and Install the New Cylinder Filling AreaREAD MORE
During that time the “Dock Area” had slowly become the cylinder storage/sorting area. Once Weldcoa had installed the Staging Racks, the Dock Area became the perfect site for the new next generation Weldcoa Linear Cylinder Fill Racks. “O2 is usually everyone’s highest volume of product. This is where we like to start our switch over process,” said Daniels. “We choose the old dock area as the new Fill Station Area because we were not going to fill on pallets, due to space limitations. We built a cylinder staging cut out area at the edge of the dock. The pallets are brought to the cut out area and roll a nominal distance to the fill stations,” continued Daniels.
“The Weldcoa linear fixed head fill stations installed quickly and are very efficient. We ordered the racks with the optional folding shelf for filling 20 & 40 CUFT cylinders. When the shelf folds away you can fill K, H and T type cylinders,” stated Randy McBride. “We ordered themwith quick connects on retractors and air tools for opening and closingvalves. The new fill racks make filling cylinders much easier than theold ones and the filler doesn’t have to work as hard to work the station.It makes them much more efficient,” continued McBride. Because the switch over from the old system to the new was in a different section of the facility, there were no business interruptions.
Step 3: 3000, 4500, 6000 Pressure FillingREAD MORE
“We thought that it could be done safely with proper planning, equipment and process,” said Bud Klotz, Vice President of Weldcoa. “Once we explored the options the idea became a new product category,” continued Klotz.
At Oxarc every cylinder fill station utilizes 6000 PSI pumps. At two of those fill stations they can fill 3000, 4500 and 6000 PSI cylinders. Due to the safeties that we have in place, you cannot, for example, accidently choose 3000 PSI and accidently start the 6000PSI cryogenic pump without having cylinder and manifold pressure protection. Oxarc has secondary pumps that are used to fill Medical, UHP and Spec Gas Products thereby freeing up the Industrial Gas Fillers to focus on their job (producing cylinders for the Full Sorted staging racks).
Step 4: Liquid FillingREAD MORE
Early on, this area had been called out for a complete overhaul. The new Liquid Fill Area is larger and more forklift accessible. It is fully automated and has 6 scales. The difference in product throughput is significant and the automation makes the process very orderly.
Step 5: Upgrading the LabREAD MORE
“Weldcoa’s Don Renner was brought in to update and upgrade the entire room. Physically there is no comparison from what we had to what we have today. The new Lab is something to be proud of,” stated McBride. “The equipment upgrades and the layout of the new space is much more conducive to future growth,” said Renner.
“Three years ago we worked with Weldcoa to palletize our distribution process. The relationship that was started with the Palletization project lead directly to Oxarc choosing Weldcoa for the Fill Plant Upgrades project. They were always very positive and open to outside ideas. Because we had worked closely with them before, we knew that they were the kind of company that stood behind their products. Coordinating the decommissioning and installing of the new equipment without interrupting the service level to the customers was very important to us, and when Weldcoa said it could be done, we trusted them to make it happen and they did,” said McBride.