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Fly Ash Recycler Stands Tall with Custom-Designed Portable Platform

August 29, 2012

Fly ash is one of the most widely used construction materials in the U.S. with over 100 million tons of fly ash produced in the U.S. annually — the majority of which comes from the combustion of coal in power plants. Approximately 43 percent of that fly ash stored is recycled and reused as a replacement for Portland cement, which is the most common type of cement in general use around the world. The recycled cement enhances the quality of concrete structures, decreases the need for virgin raw materials and reduces carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption.
    The process of handling and storing fly ash is complicated, including the extraction process from the bulk tank trucks. Headwaters Inc., South Jordan, UT, is quite familiar with these challenges. Headwaters is the leading manager of coal combustion products in the heavy construction materials industry, and for years had been searching for the most efficient and cost-effective platform that would allow them to not only get on top of those bulk tank trucks easily, but protect their employees and customers.

Headwaters had previously used permanent platforms, but these structures created numerous challenges, starting with high costs. Headwaters would typically pay between $10,000 and $15,000 for a permanent platform. These platforms had pedestal foundations, which required drilling into the ground. Many times, the installation of these type of platforms would cost Headwaters as much as the platform itself.
    The second challenge they encountered with their permanent platforms involved underground infrastructure. When Headwaters would have to install the permanent platforms, they would have to make sure they didn’t damage the utilities underground. In some cases, they would have to move the utilities, which proved to be extremely costly.
    The final challenge revolved around the mobility of the permanent units, or rather, the immobility. In power plants, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are constantly changing, forcing operations within these plants to shift and, as a result, forcing Headwaters to move as well. There was also the issue of when the job would be over. For example, once Headwaters would complete a six-month contract, they would leave but their permanent platform would remain.

The Perfect Solution
In 2010, Mark Ryan, area operations manager with Headwaters, knew he needed to make the switch to a portable platform, but understood that a traditional portable platform wouldn’t meet his unique needs.
    “I had a need for specialized platforms. The other portable units that are available are usually wheeled units that are either too lightweight or flimsy,” said Ryan. “That’s where Green Access & Fall Protection came in and helped.”
    For more than 50 years, Green Access & Fall Protection, located in Sheffield Village, OH, has been designing and building the industry’s leading access and fall protection equipment for tank trucks and rail cars. Headwaters had worked with Green Access & Fall Protection in the past, installing its Insta-Rack permanent platform, as well as its Pal 100 portable platforms. However this time, Headwaters’ unique needs required a special solution, which meant a custom-designed platform that Headwaters and Green Access & Fall Protection Systems would have to design together.
    “We gave them an idea and told them we needed something that was movable and has no set, permanent in-ground foundation. They drew something up and it fit the bill,” said Ryan.
    Ryan drove 45 minutes from his office in East Lake, OH, to meet with the engineers at Green Access & Fall Protection’s state-of-the-art, 54,000-sq-ft facility. The challenge was designing a portable unit that allowed Headwaters to get on top of the trucks easier — the key area where other portable units had failed. Working together, Ryan and the experts at Green Access & Fall Protection came up with a counter-weighted system that met Ryan’s needs.
    “We came up with the removable platform that doesn’t require a foundation,” said Doug Ingram, general manager with Green Access & Fall Protection Systems. “It’s basically counter-weighted. It’s a four-legged platform that gets them up to the height they need, which is 12 ft high. It has a fold-down aluminum gangway with a safety enclosure, which gives them good fall protection.”
    One of the key advantages of the one-of-a-kind platform is the mobility. If plant operations change and the company needs to move the platform to a silo, they simply use an extended reach forklift, pick it up by its fork pockets and easily move it to the new location. Another key advantage is the substantial money savings.
    “We’re probably saving a minimum of $8000 to $15,000 when you consider union labor and installation costs,” said Ryan. “The maintenance is also cut down quite a bit as opposed to other portable units.”

An Innovative Partner
Headwaters was so pleased with the original design that they have ordered additional platforms for facilities in Mississippi, California, Michigan, and Indiana, and Ryan plans on ordering more custom-designed platforms in the future.
    “The guys at Green Access & Fall Protection hit one out of the park on this one,” said Ryan. “I needed these things pretty quickly and they bumped up their schedule and got them to me before the anticipated delivery time.”
    The success of this project followed the same blueprint that inventor John Benko, president of Green Access & Fall Protection, used when he built his first company in 1983: listen to the customer.
    “If a customer has a problem, we want to listen to them and come up with a solution. In the case of Headwaters, we came up with a cost-effective solution by listening to the customer’s needs,” said Ingram.
    Green Access and Fall Protection’s product line includes a complete selection of safety solutions, such as safety stairs, gangways, loading racks with and without canopies, stationary platforms, portable platforms, large tank truck and railcar loading systems, horizontal lifeline systems, and caged ladders. The G-RAFF elevating tank truck platform is also part of the Green family of safety solutions.
    For more information on Green Access & Fall Protection, visit www.green-mfg.com.

Green Access & Fall Protection