Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (EPCO), the leading North American provider of midstream energy services, processes rail cars filled with expensive raw materials used in the petroleum industry. In an effort to validate the weights of incoming goods without slowing down the business, company leaders sought a new rail scale that would do much more than just weigh. They found a new scale that met all of their criteria; not only is it able to keep up with traffic flow, but it also manages all critical data.
EPCO operates propylene fractionation facilities in Texas and Louisiana. Propylene is a chemical compound used to make everything from fiber for carpets to molded plastic parts for various products. EPCO weighs the raw material when it enters its facility and then feeds the compound to fractionation facilities through its nearly 680 miles of propylene pipeline systems.
For EPCO, scales act as a sort of cash register, providing critical incoming and out going raw material data on which charges are based. Obtaining that information is very important to the business because the raw materials are rather expensive. A static rail weighing system requires positioning and uncoupling each rail car, costing valuable time. With its new rail scale with Coupled In-Motion (CIM) technology, EPCO is meeting the demands of its customers and the needs of its business.
EPCO's CIM rail weighing system from METTLER TOLEDO allows rail cars to be weighed as they are moving across the scale at speeds up to 8 km/h (5 mph). As a quality measure, operators then take a sample from each rail car that enters the Mont Belvieu, Texas facility to determine the product mix in the car. Finally, a serial tag is applied for tracking and routing the material to the appropriate location based on the sample.
Before installing its new CIM rail scale, EPCO assumed that supplier invoices were accurate. However, company leaders determined it was necessary to validate the weights on those invoices to ensure accurate weight information is used for transactions and operations. EPCO now has reliable data to challenge bills of lading based on the weight of the mix.
When selecting a new rail road scale, EPCO had several critical data integration requirements in mind. Although EPCO Terminal Automation Manager Jerry Buckman says he was skeptical that a solution existed to meet them all, he was pleased to find that METTLER TOLEDO would customize its existing solution to meet EPCO's criteria. Some of those criteria included the ability to view transactions remotely and watch the scale capture weight information in real time.
"The ability to manage weighing data is really important to us. This solution offered customized data management capabilities and so much more," he says. It's made all the difference."
Once weighed, each incoming rail car takes 8 hours to be emptied. "It is a slow process to get all of the materials out. That is why we didn't want a static weighing solution that would slow things down even more," he says. Though multiple cars can be processed at once, the lengthy unloading process means time is valuable. Buckman says that that thanks to the speed of CIM technology, EPCO effectively processes about 40 rail cars a day. METTLER TOLEDO's in-motion weighing system now helps EPCO avoid delays while effectively managing critical data.
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About Mettler Toledo:
METTLER TOLEDO specializes in the area of precision instruments for professional use. METTLER TOLEDO laboratory instruments are used in research, scientific, drug discovery, and quality control labs, amongst many others in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and cosmetics industries. METTLER TOLEDO comprehensive industrial solutions cover the various steps in a host of manufacturing processes at many of the same customers that laboratory serves. Solutions range from receiving raw materials through various manufacturing processes, in-line process control and end-of-line packaging control, to logistics and shipping. Increasingly, these solutions are fully integrated into the customer's IT environment, helping automate their workflows. In food retail, our offering for fresh food management ranges from receiving and pre-packaging, to in-store solutions for self-service departments, deli counters, and checkout terminals.
Mettler-Toledo International Inc.
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