Customized Equipment Without Delay
When Sam Carbis designed the first aluminum ladder in 1930—and subsequently founded the Aluminum Ladder Company—the impacts on fire departments were profound. Perhaps most notably, it allowed firefighters to more safely perform their jobs. Fast-forward 90 years, and the Carbis family still oversees the company, and its expertise in industrial manufacturing has expanded exponentially, with safety continuing to be central business pillar.
Sam Carbis Solutions Group provides customized bulk loading equipment and turkey systems for truck, rail and marine applications across all industries—expertise that has advanced since the company assisted in U.S. industrial manufacturing during WWII. “We evolved from there,” explains Jason Shannon, Carbis director of sales and marketing. “We’ve been in the industrial sector since the late ‘40s, and we’ve been doing it since.”
That work has expanded into biofuels—in particular, the extremely momentous renewable diesel sector. Recently, the company partnered with Eldorado, Kansas-based Blackburn Construction Inc. to design and deliver key equipment for an Oklahoma renewable diesel loading and unloading system.
Triumph on a Tight Timeline
Being an industry leader in the design and manufacture of access equipment and loading arms wasn’t the only allure of Carbis—it was their track record, says Brad Clites, president of Blackburn Construction. “We have partnered with a management group that has experience with these types of facilities, and several times, Carbis had provided them with their loading and unloading arms, gangways and other components for projects,” Clites says. “We had all worked on a project together in North Dakota, and they did a great job.”
The Oklahoma project was the first time the companies did direct business together, however.
In the current biomass-based diesel industry, time is of the essence, Shannon says. “It’s very much ‘We need it now,’ so the timeline was crucial from their standpoint,” he says. “They knew we had this experience from prior projects, so they really wanted to lean on us and be able to tell us what they needed to do, and have us determine the type of equipment needed for them to achieve their goal.”
So, how does the process begin? Shannon says Carbis custom engineers all equipment, which stems from in-depth conversations with the client to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and what their needs are to do just that. “We tailor the solution to get their desired results,” he says. “Once we gain that thorough understanding of the operation and what’s required, we take it to our engineering team to talk about the parameters, footprint and desired results, and they will develop the solution that will meet or exceed that result.”
As for what the Oklahoma project entailed, it included a renewable diesel loading and unloading system consisting of a dual access platform, safety gangways and cages, loading arms and track pans for spill containment. “We worked with them on the access platform to allow operators to work at heights, and the access gangways and cages allow them to get out on top the railcars safely and have fall protection,” Shannon explains. “We also provided loading arms to connect to the railcars to pump product in and out as needed. The goal is twofold; keep operators safe and keep the product flowing efficiently.”
The project turnaround time was approximately six months, according to Shannon. “This was pretty aggressive for a project of this size,” he says.
Despite the time crunch, Cites says Carbis left nothing to be desired. “They provided an excellent product,” he says. “Their management group worked closely with us on the schedule. It was a very fast-paced project, and we were pulling no stops at all on what we needed. We pushed them hard and they met expectations, so we feel very fortunate. Even for their warranty work—we recently had a little bit done—they were phenomenal. Carbis is a very down-to-Earth company with an outstanding business model. When we hear there is a Carbis project, we’re excited and happy to be working with them.”
As for ongoing business in biofuels space, Shannon says Carbis is active in numerous projects, all of which are renewable diesel. “We recently completed three very large project expansions,” he adds. “There are about a dozen large rail facilities being built right now, and we’re working on at least half of them. Our previous successful projects are keeping us busy.”