PART V: 23 TONS IN 2.5 MINUTES
Frac sand delivery companies earn their keep by making as many daily trips between us and the well. So it’s important for us to get them in, loaded and on their way as fast as possible.
Efficiency starts from the moment the truck arrives. On their first visit, every driver is given a card with a unique code that includes their name, company, truck capacity, type of sand (40-70 or 100 mesh) and everything else we need to know about them.
Most drivers are repeat customers so they simply scan their card at the kiosk at the entrance, they hit “Enter PO” on the touchscreen display and enter the last four digits of their PO (Purchase Order). The computer then assigns them to proceed to one of our eight loading lanes.
When their turn comes, the driver approaches one of the silos that we have open and scans their card again. That alerts the operator (often that’s me) as to what mesh to load onto that truck.
At The Silo
We have 16 silos to fill those eight lanes—eight silos with 40-70 mesh (on the front side) and the other eight with 100 mesh (on the back side). We load each truck from whichever silo they need. We’re sending out about equal amounts of each most days.
To get the truck properly positioned under the loading spout we use traffic signals, with a little different meaning than you’ll see on the street. For us, green does mean go forward and red means stop, but yellow means to back up, the truck is just a bit too far ahead.
When it comes to a complete stop in position, we weigh the empty truck to get the tare weight.
Loading 23 Tons in 2.5 Minutes
Once they’re in place and weighed we drop the spout onto the loading hatch and press Start. All loads are automated and 23 tons is the average of what these trucks are rated for.
We store our sand in 2000-ton silos. These silos use the force of the gravity of the sand they store to fill our customers’ trucks when the automated gates are actuated.
This all works really smoothly, so I always appreciate the people who designed the system. The only time we have to shut down is when there’s lightning within five miles of the plant or when there are winds of 50 mph or more—both of which are really rare.
Upon finishing the load (in most cases 2.5 minutes later), the driver will pull the truck into the outbound lane and step inside the building to receive the printout of their loading ticket.
Watch the loading process here:
On a typical day we’ll load about 475 trucks. Most of those come through on the day shift, which is 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., which is my shift.
In the background, we have a hard-working crew that keeps those silos loaded, to stay ahead of the workflow. It takes all of us working together to keep loading those trucks and sending them on their way.
To ensure high quality frac sand we thoroughly wash the product before its processed. What kind of resources does that take? Next month, read about how we source and recycle the water at our facilities. We’ll highlight how much we use, permits and regulations we follow, and even a few hiccups we’ve learned from along the way.
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This Month’s Contributor
Lead Load-Out Operator, Vest Facility
Kenneth’s job requires an understanding of all equipment, job duties, and personnel involved in ensuring proper loading of sand from the silo to the trucks. Kenneth oversees a team of four to help ensure that Black Mountain Sand provides fast and efficient customer service while maintaining a high level of safety. They strive daily to be the fastest crew of all the mines (which they are!). Kenneth hails from Wortham, Texas; population a little over 1000. “Black Mountain has opened up many opportunities for me and is honestly my favorite job I’ve ever had. I’m hoping to retire with Black Mountain.”