ARG opens new quality lab
BRADFORD, Pa. – Just more than a year after breaking ground, American Refining Group Inc. (ARG) has completed construction of the new multimillion-dollar quality lab at its historic refinery.
Formerly housed just inside the facility’s main gates, the lab now adjoins the research and development building roughly one-quarter of a mile away from the original location. The massive project required considerable collaboration and planning to ensure the lab’s services to the refinery and its customers continued without interruption throughout the move.
Shifting the lab’s operations was accomplished in phases as instrumentation had to be carefully disassembled, moved and reassembled before being calibrated for use. The facility includes a general test lab, a gas chromatography and distillation lab, a water/environmental lab and a thermal-test lab. The building also comprises offices, storage, utility rooms, restrooms and a lunchroom that will also be used as a training area.
ARG communicated diligently with customers and truck drivers to ensure everyone was aware of the new route needed to drop off samples prior to departing the facility.
“Although the transition was difficult, we had planned for months,” explained ARG Director of Quality Charlotte Layton. “The relocation was well executed.”
ARG’s quality lab has a staff of 16 employees who, between them, support refinery operations around the clock, ensuring top-quality fuels, base oils, resins, solvents, waxes and blended lubes. These in-house chemists and technicians process 5,500 to 6,500 samples per month (totaling approximately 30,000 tests) in addition to managing equipment, performing verifications, calibrations and troubleshooting or repairing instruments. All lab instruments are verified and/or calibrated to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable standards; the majority of these services are done on site by a lab chemist. A powerful Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) application is used to schedule, manage and report results for all samples processed.
ARG Chief Executive Officer Tim Brown said, “We’ve been investing a lot of money in the things that are very important and this is an extension of that because quality is one of our pillars. Our lab personnel are essential to all aspects of ARG; they’re supporting not just operations, but our customers, our suppliers, our sales team, our logistics, the environmental side; they are absolutely key to what we do and how we do our jobs.”
The lab provides myriad services, including approximately 70 different oil, wax and fuels tests; water, wastewater and process cooling tower water testing as well as tests to support the facility’s desulfurization process. Additional lab activities include in-process inspection of charge material, products and byproducts from each process unit at the refinery, certification of finished-product tanks, blend recommendations of gasoline and specialty products, incoming inspection of raw materials used in branded lubricant blending, branded lubricant blend analysis, packaged lubricant product analysis, final inspection of all bulk shipments, providing certificates of analysis to customers for both bulk and packaged products, long-term sample storage and complete product recycling.
In service to its blending and packaging operations, basic testing the lab conducts includes viscosity, x-ray analysis for additive metals, pour points, moisture analysis and cold-cranking simulation testing. More-specialized testing includes particle counts, demulsibility tests, foaming characteristics and dielectric testing, while technicians there also monitor labeling and date coding of packaged products.
At 6,400 square feet, the new building was designed by LCS Constructors Inc. of Irvine, Calif. The general contractor was Poole Anderson Construction of State College.
Brown said of the project, “It was a group commitment, not only to our past or our heritage and celebrating that, but also to what we’re looking forward to in the future.”
Layton added, “Having a state-of-the-art facility provides us with a great opportunity to effectively serve our customers and expand our operation, and we are very excited about that.”
ARG’s unique, privately owned refinery is situated on approximately 131 acres in Bradford, Pa., the heart of McKean County and the birthplace of the U.S. domestic oil industry more than 100 years ago. The refinery has a rated capacity of 11,000 barrels per day and processes light, sweet, paraffinic crude. This type of crude is available domestically, and ARG purchases the majority of its crude from sources in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. It is also the oldest continuously operated lube oil refinery in North America. We strive to supply our customers with consistent, quality products and flexibility in working together to succeed with service that is second to none. For more information, visit www.amref.com.
Kinematic viscosity baths can be seen in the foreground of American Refining Group’s (ARG) recently opened quality lab. Having broken ground on the facility just more than a year ago, ARG invested millions to upgrade its now state-of-the-art lab at the Bradford, Pa., refinery.
Instruments used to test the boiling range of distillates are seen at left within American Refining Group’s (ARG) recently opened quality lab. At right is a gas chromatograph, used to test the boiling range and volatility of certain base oils. Having broken ground on the facility just more than a year ago, ARG invested millions to upgrade its now state-of-the-art lab at the Bradford, Pa., refinery.
Executive Communications Coordinator
American Refining Group Inc.
77 N. Kendall Ave.
Bradford, PA 16701