Wash rack helping D F Hammonds run lean in Memphis
Mar 1, 2010 2:54 PM, By Charles E Wilson
D F Hammonds continued...
Developed in the 1960s, the 2.2-acre location served as a terminal for a number of truck fleets, including tank truck carriers. An existing building on the property contained offices and a small maintenance shop and what had been a one-bay chemical wash rack.
The facility got a thorough makeover before the D F Hammonds operation moved in. The offices were refurbished and repainted. Construction workers completely gutted the existing shop and wash bay and replaced them with a two-bay foodgrade wash rack.
An environmental company cleaned out sumps and drains to remove chemical residues. Workers replaced the existing piping and waterlines with stainless pipes and poured new concrete flooring. They installed new galvanized mezzanines and rewired the wash bays.
Most importantly, D F Hammonds installed a new Peacock high-pressure, low-volume wash unit. “We bought the largest Peacock unit that was available at the time,” Denny says. “It has a 2.5-million Btu capacity and is more than enough for our operation.”
Denny adds that the wash rack project was overseen by Ben Kelley, who was instrumental in designing the original tank wash system that is currently manufactured and marketed by The Peacock Company Inc.
“Ben Kelley is the only person I've ever dealt with for tank wash equipment,” he says. “I chose his Kelton wash unit for my first wash rack in Wynne after seeing an ad in Bulk Transporter.
“I wanted a single-pass wash system because it is less complicated and less expensive to operate than a recirculating vat unit. In addition, vat units offer more potential for contamination. As a foodgrade carrier, we are very concerned about ensuring food safety.”
The Peacock unit serves both bays at the D F Hammonds wash rack, but only one trailer at a time can be cleaned. Spinners from Spraying Systems Inc do a good job of removing product from the tanks.
The cleaning rack averages 18 tank washes a day and is operated by a four-man crew. Depending on shipment volumes, cleaning operations can be conducted virtually around the clock at D F Hammonds.
Workers follow a rigorous cleaning procedure. The process starts with verification of the security seals when a tank trailer arrives at the wash rack. Virtually the only time a D F Hammonds trailer is without security seals is when it is being cleaned.
The domelid is opened, and the gasket and vent are removed for cleaning. The rear cabinet is opened, the pump face is unbolted, and outlet fittings are removed. Product hoses are pulled out of the tubes and are connected to the wash system.
Most trailers can be cleaned in 35 to 45 minutes. However, some of the more viscous corn syrup blends can require up to two hours of cleaning, according to Mardell Davis, D F Hammonds director of operations.
Only hot water (at a minimum of 180 F) is used to clean sweeteners from the tank trailers. Clean hot water enters the tank trailer at about 200 F. Cleaning water circulates through the soaking tanks where trailer and pump hardware are cleaned. A chlorine sanitizer is used in the hardware cleaning process.
Once the cleaning is complete, the tank will be dried by a forced-air for about nine minutes. The blower includes a HEPA filter that helps protect against contamination. One drying is complete, the trailer is resealed. While the trailer is being dried, wash operations begin on another tank trailer in the adjacent bay.
The wash rack, which is dedicated to the D F Hammonds fleet, fully meets Cargill requirements for sweeteners. In addition, the D F Hammonds wash rack and the fleet have qualified for the Cargill top loading program, which means a trailer does not need recleaning between multiple loads for 72 hours as long as the same exact product is transported in each load and the loads go to the same customer.
“The top loading program has been good for us and our customers,” says H L “Hank” Hammonds, D F Hammonds co-owner and general manager. “It saves energy in tank cleaning — which is an energy-intensive operation — and improves our equipment utilization and efficiency.”
Sweetener hauling keeps the regional carrier busy. Trips average 300 to 350 miles, and tractor-trailer rigs typically haul four loads a week. Equipment assigned to local operations may haul four loads a day. The carrier preloads and pre-stages some equipment for greater efficiency.
Operations are directed by a lean management team consisting of the two Hammonds and Davis. They oversee 32 truck drivers and two mechanics responsible for routine vehicle maintenance, including oil changes and tire replacements.
“We don't have any excess personnel,” Denny says. “We even contract out safety oversight to US Safety. They manage our driver records, drug testing, and such. They conduct the twice-a-year safety meetings that are mandatory for all of our employees.”
Drivers are a focal point for the tank truck carrier, which was able to keep its driver team intact with no layoffs over the past year. When openings occur, the carrier hires experienced truck drivers, preferable with tank experience.
Newly hired drivers receive detailed training on product handling. “We tell drivers — and wash rack workers — that we do not and cannot cut corners or take chances with food safety,” Denny says. “We treat every shipment as something that our own families will consume.”
Communication is important, and D F Hammonds relies on cellular telephones to stay in touch with its drivers. Drivers buy the phones, and D F Hammonds reimburses them for all work-related calls. Phones must have hands-free capability to be used in the truck.
“We believe cell phones are better than cab-mounted communication systems, because a driver can carry the cell phone wherever he goes,” Denny says. “While we allow voice communication with a hands-free system in the truck, we prohibited texting even before the federal ban. I think texting should be against the law for anyone operating any moving vehicle.”
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