This picture taken inside the tank shows the newly-fitted agitator and double heating coil.

Putting fabrication on the fast-track

Suppose you need a custom-built stainless steel tank for your process, and have specific requirements as regards inlet ports, internal heating coils, agitators, etc. How long would that take to have that built? Weeks, months? Well, one Belgian company has developed a fast-track approach with delivery times that might surprise you.
^ This picture taken inside the tank shows the newly-fitted agitator and double heating coil.

Article by David Sear

To this editor, the Staes’ website resembles nothing more than an Aladdin’s Cave, packed with shiny stainless steel tanks in all shapes and sizes. And the word ‘packed’ really does not do justice to the incredible number of tanks on offer. In fact, a counter indicates the current stock quantity, which at the time of writing numbers 2271(!) individual tanks. Some of these are built in materials such as polyester, plastic, steel and aluminium, but by far the greater number are indeed available in stainless steel.

The total stock comprises both new and second-hand tanks, indicates co-owner Karel Staes. “Our business includes buying and refurbishing second-hand stainless steel tanks, as well as the manufacture of new tanks. Product categories include storage tanks, mixing tanks, mobile tanks and transport IBC tanks. We also supply tanks that are designed for use in specific sectors, such as beer tanks, chocolate tanks, fertilizer tanks, pharmacy tanks and pressure tanks.”

However, a key feature of Staes’ business model is their ability to modify tanks to meet specific customer needs. Mr. Staes: “so for example we can change the location of the inlet and outlet ports, integrate coils for heating or cooling, fit agitators, etc, so that the client gets a tank that is 100% customized to fit his process.”

Moreover, this route keeps delivery times to an absolute minimum, states Mr. Staes. “Most of the tanks we offer are ones which we have built and placed in stock so that we can provide fast deliveries. With the manufacturing documents and the material certificates readily at hand these tanks can be quickly customized. This is something that we have been doing for clients on a daily basis ever since our company was established in 2004.”

Asked to give an example, Mr. Staes discusses a recent project involving a standard storage tank taken from stock and adapted to customer requirements in their own workshop. “The starting point was a brand-new vertical mixing tank. Made of stainless steel AISI316L this had a capacity of 8,100 litres. As per the customer’s requests we fitted this with an agitator as well as a double heating coil inside the tank. Finally we insulated the tank with 150mm of Rockwool and aluminium cladding.”

To ensure flexibility Staes has complemented its own production team by building up a network of trusted partners, including companies in the Netherlands and Germany who can provide qualified welders and fabricators. An independent welding engineer is also commissioned to follow up on projects and the welding procedures.

Concludes Mr. Staes: “modifying existing equipment is a fast and reliable way for process facilities to obtain the stainless steel tanks they need. Our strength is in delivering a tank that can be immediately integrated into existing process facilities, so we have high expectations looking forward.”

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