Industrial Fill Plant Proves
Good Things Can Come
in Small Packages
A 1200-square-foot building is all Oxarc Head of Operations Randy McBride had to work with when he embarked on a mission to design and outfit an industrial fill plant in the Portland, OR area in 2012. McBride’s mission was to develop a plant, with mix capabilities for the area’s metal fabricators, as well as support the area’s diverse needs for medical and research gases. Today, the carefully and cleverly designed plant fills cylinders with CO2-helium welding mixes, cutting gases, medical gases and more.
Fabrication accounts for 80 percent of the new plant’s business, with its biggest seller being 75 Ar-25 CO2. It’s no wonder, since Oregon ranks second in the United States when comparing manufacturing’s percentage of state GDP. Oregon manufacturing is on the move, and while the sector is helping to quicken the new Oxarc fill plant’s return on investment, McBride notes that the plant is experiencing steady growth across the board.
Weldcoa Helps with the Tight Fit
It’s all McBride and Oxarc’s management could have wished for and more, when it set its sights on entering the Portland market. Headquartered in Spokane, WA, and with locations throughout eastern Oregon and western Idaho, the family-owned company had serviced the Portland area through a fill plant in Pasco, WA. While that facility still sends specialty gases into the Portland market, McBride’s newest fill plant, in Gresham, OR and just a handful of miles to the east of Portland, has been serving the area’s manufacturing companies and other customers since it opened early in 2014.
The small fill plant resides in an 80,000-square-foot building on just under an acre of land; it also houses a retail operation, noted for supplying safety products as well as welding supplies. Describing the challenge of working within such a small space McBride said, “we didn’t have room for fixed manifolds, like we have in Pasco. So we went with a traversing pallet fill setup, from Weldcoa. We bring the pallets in ready to fill, bring the fill head down to it, fill it and take it back out. The setup works very well.” McBride is quick to credit Weldcoa sales engineer Mark Daniels for helping to fine-tune his plant design and layout to optimize efficiency and use of floor space. And, he thanks Daniels for convincing him to eschew his preference for fixed manifolds, as he has installed in Pasco, for the pallet-fill setup.
In the end, Weldcoa provided Oxarc and McBride with three fill heads—one for oxygen and two for inert gases (argon or nitrogen) or for mixes—each capable of filling 20 cylinders. The new facility also houses two liquid fill stations, with automation to control the valves based on cylinder weight, and two CO2 fill stations. McBride secured the facility, in March 2013, and the plant entered production less than one year later.
Pallet Racking Earns Praise
Key to the success of the project is the use of Weldcoa’s pallet-racking system, stored just outside the fill plant and using Weldcoa Sur-Loc four-point locking pallets.