PSC develops new terminal facilities for carrier customers
Nov 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Mary Davis
It's not always easy for a carrier to find property for a terminal location, but when Schneider National Inc, M C Tank Transport Inc, and Enterprise Transportation Inc needed to expand in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, PSC Container Services Group found a solution.
PSC acquired adjoining land on a hill above its Coraopolis tank cleaning and terminal facility and built a 5,000-square-foot building and accompanying parking area for Schneider, a 10,000-plus-square-foot office and three-bay shop, as well as parking space, for M C Tank, and terminal office and another shop bay for Enterprise.
And PSC isn't finished. Plans are to build a third terminal for another client yet to be announced.
“PSC delivers a wide range of container services, and this is one more way we are adding value for our clients,” says Greg Winters, container group vice-president, sales.
The PSC division operates 21 locations, mostly in the eastern and mid-western United States, and 17 of those locations offer domicile facilities for carriers. Providing terminal space for client carriers has proven successful for PSC, as it adds a brick and mortar terminal presence at a low cost and flexible lease basis, and as a complement to its tank cleaning facilities.
The Coraopolis facility (near Pittsburgh) is one example of that success. The original tank wash was quickly outgrowing its terminal space while at the same time its carrier customers' business also began expanding. Schneider, M C Tank, and Enterprise all lease terminal offices at the location. The parking area and the wash bays were becoming more and more crowded with tank trailers and tractors, and maneuverability was limited. To facilitate an interim short-term solution to eliminate some of the logistics issues on the yard, two of the eight cleaning bays were dedicated to drive-up customers, which added quicker turn times on the non-domiciled clients and easy-to-clean trailers.
“We needed more room to handle the tank cleaning customers' trailers and to provide improved terminal space,” says John May, Coraopolis facility manager.
The company already had added new office space at the eight-bay chemical tank wash after the buildings were flooded when Hurricane Ivan took a swat at the area in 2004. “We had four feet of water here,” recalls Steve Shook, area manager. “There was a foot of water on top of the desks in the office.”
After recovering from the flood, getting the tank wash back online, and serving customers at 100% efficiency within four days while only compromising 22 hours of scheduled operating hours, management decided that the time had come to build the new office complex. Having already expanded the tank wash from four to eight bays in 2001, the facility had a capacity of 85-90 tank trailers each day, with a typical day's activity adding up to about 60-65.
All of this means that the tank cleaning facility had what was essentially a gradual face lift over the last 11 years that included, in addition to the new office space, the installation of new vats, piping, and pumps. A new wastewater system that processes about 50,000 gallons of effluent per day also was installed during that time to meet the needs of the expanding business. In 2007, a third-party shop was added onsite.
“We specialize in difficult to clean chemistries,” says Winters. “The shippers and chemical producers in this area provide the kind of work for us that is difficult and takes a long time to complete. Approximately 30% of the tank trailers typically are hauling basic formulations for paints and related products. As the manufacturers introduce more long-lasting and durable products, the harder the tank trailers are to clean.
“Despite all of that, we had room for about 130 trailers and 30 tractors on the original property. We were getting busier while our carriers' businesses were expanding, too. We could not expand any further with our current footprint. We were at capacity.”
As the facility grew more crowded, managers feared they would begin to lose customers due to turn-around time for drive-up business, due in part, to the congestion on the lot. “Drivers choose where they want to go,” says May. “We wanted to change the culture of this business to improve the situation for drivers, especially in light of the additional pressure presented by the changes in the hours-of-service requirements.”
Even when the decision was made to build the new 10-acre complex, the project wasn't accomplished overnight. During lease negotiations for the property, the owner died, which delayed the project. Then after the estate was settled, the project got back on track. However, several local civic entities' boundaries, no less than one city and two water authorities, governed the property so that obtaining permits and satisfying other legal requirements proved a bit more complicated than originally anticipated.
Getting water to the site required an engineering solution to lift the water 890 feet. In order to meet fire codes, PSC will be installing a 30,000-gallon storage tank as an additional water source for fire protection.
Shook points out that to satisfy highway infrastructure prerequisites mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, a turn lane had to be constructed on the highway leading to the property to accommodate tractor/trailer rigs and provide safe access and egress.
Perseverance pays off
With all of this, PSC persevered so that in the summer of 2007 after more than five years of planning, negotiations, and construction, Schneider National, Enterprise Transportation, and M C Tank have plans to be fully operational in their new terminals before the end of 2007.
Schneider National uses its space for dispatch, driver training, driver lounge, food preparation area, laundry, and truck parking. Drivers based in the area operate out of the terminal and have abundant room for parking.
In addition to space for dispatching and other terminal business, M C tank has enough room for three third-party maintenance bays, as well as office space and driver lounge. The shop provides service for the carrier's vehicles as well as for other trucking companies.
PSC also provided the one-bay shop and terminal offices on the hill for Enterprise Transportation.
In addition to the Coraopolis project, Winters points out that PSC is standardizing operations throughout its network of service centers. “The cleaning equipment and our information technology, providing front- and back-office support, is being updated at all tank cleaning facilities,” he says. “We have begun the implementation of an electronic commodity data-base driven workorder system, which will directly attach an MSDS and wash protocol for each chemical to be cleaned. This uploads an entry permit, any authorizations required, and ultimately to the creation of the invoice. Carriers and their drivers will know to expect the same excellent service and consistency of invoicing from each PSC location.”
The company is in the process of reconditioning its tanks washes with new equipment that will include all stainless steel piping and vats and the incorporation of foodgrade service at several service centers. The company is using a four-bay wash rack model with offices as its plan that allows for larger schemes. A minimum of six acres will be required for all future facilities.
“We're developing an ISO container model that will allow us to clean four to eight containers on stands at a time,” says Winters. “This is being incorporated at our new depot currently under construction in Charleston, South Carolina.”
A big part of the standardizing program involves tank wash employee training. Each facility presents sessions, including use of tools, confined space entry, fall prevention, personal protective equipment, and handling material safety data sheets. Emphasis is placed on air monitoring equipment and nitrogen blanket awareness. Personnel from other areas of the company, such as administration, sales, safety, and environmental also take part in the training.
The program involves PSC sales personnel who are responsible to audit tank cleaning facilities and their safety programs along with the operations staff. “Salespeople become more familiar with facility day-to-day operations and that enables them to better understand and respond appropriately on client service questions and issues,” says Winters.
PSC also is increasing its efforts to improve driver services for customers. The company has increased its promotional activities, focusing on drawings for drivers and dispatchers and offering coffee cups and hats in other promotions. “We want our driver accommodations to be a comfortable and convenient area and help ease some of the stress of their day,” says May. “We want to eliminate that industrial look in their lounges and provide them with areas where they can relax while they are with us.”
PSC also is emphasizing its good neighbor policy at its tank washes by, among other things, using contemporary chemistries in their process and vapor scrubbers to avoid unpleasant odors escaping the service center and migrating into nearby areas.
At some facilities, including the Coraopolis tank wash, some product residual is captured in the tank wash and returned to manufacturers for recycling, which is a plus for the environment.
In short, the PSC Coraopolis service center with its latest property development is a plus all the way round and demonstrates PSC's commitment to the industry, its clients, and community. While it wasn't an easy development project, the company more than met the challenge. This location will serve as one of PSC's flagship locations for years to come.
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
Acceptable Use Policy blog comments powered by Disqus