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Case Study – Automated Frac Tank Cleaning

Situation

Atlantic Industrial Cleaners (AIC) offers a wide range of industrial services through our core business, and an even greater scope when leveraging services from other Envirosystems companies. One of the services we offer is portable storage options, through large double walled tanks referred to as ‘frac tanks’. These are often utilized to temporarily store product from other permanent tanks at a customers’ site while they are being cleaned for inspection and repair, allowing the product to be re-introduced when the work is complete. Product that is often stored in these frac tanks range from contaminated water, oils, acids, caustics, micro-organisms used in treatment ponds, etc. and often contaminate the frac tank such that after its use it requires extensive cleaning. Historically, the cleaning process required a crew of men to make a confined space entry into the frac tank and pressure wash the inside surfaces, then vacuum out the contaminated wash water as well as any residual sludge left behind. During a large shutdown the frac tank requirement can be significant; in 2014 alone AIC supplied 140 frac tanks for just two shutdowns.

Cost Saving Services Which Enhance Safety Through Automation

With the challenge of cleaning such a large number frac tanks on the horizon, AIC recognized that a new approach was required. The amount of confined space man-hours this would entail as well as a significant cost for our clients motivated AIC to leverage technologies from other Envirosystems companies to develop an automated solution. A team from our operations group worked alongside our sister company, Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) to change the way we clean frac tanks.
AIS has a drive through wash bay located at our Envirosystems facility in Saint John, NB. This bay is used to perform automated steam cleaning on the inside of various sized vacuum and tanker trucks through a large rotary steam nozzle that is lowered into the tanks top hatchway on the truck. The combined operation team from AIC and AIS performed some minor changes in the nozzles design, developed a repeatable procedure and through a number of trials and were able to develop a
process where frac tanks can be towed into the wash bay, cleaned internally without any confined space entries, then moved on to the next job. Although there is some manual steam lancing
required to ensure the values are clean, frac tank confined space entries are a thing of the past.

The Results

Most importantly we have eliminated confined space entry to clean the inside of these tanks. In
doing so, we were able to offer substantial savings to our clients: manual frac tank cleaning would take a crew of three men, a wash truck and sometimes a vacuum truck to clean properly. Significant cost savings resulted from eliminating 3000 confined space man hours.

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