Mueller Academy

4 Amazing Field Operation Case Studies

Posted by Joe Mitchell on Oct 17, 2016 2:26:45 PM

  Storage tank field construction overview

Since 1998 our customers have been challenging us with complicated tank installation and repair jobs.  And we love it!

Here are some stories of  projects that went beyond routine construction and let us showcase across the board solutions of conceptual design, engineering, onsite labor, process piping, modular installation, erection, and project and safety management.  

Maybe your company will be the next story we tell?

Solvay - Baytown, Texas 

Onsite tank construction
Setting the shop built inner core in a field build outer tank

The Solvay project was one of the most challenging jobs Paul Mueller Company Field Operations completed, because of the tight time schedule.  Demolition and new construction of a tank and stair tower, duct work, and structural work were all included in the scope of this Texas project. 

The tank weighed more than 1 million pounds, was 75 feet tall and 33 feet in diameter. It had another shop constructed tank, a complex shelf system, and shell-in-tube heat exchangers inside of it.  Due to the complexity of the project, the tank was built conventionally on a temporary foundation.  The tolerance for this project was too small for the tank to be fabricated using a jack system.  

Demolition of the old duct work and tank occurred during a month long shutdown period in which the new tank and duct work also needed to be installed.  An hour by hour work schedule was created as part of the project bid for the duration of the shutdown to ensure the plant could reopen on schedule.

The welds for this job were thoroughly inspected with both dye pen and x-ray.  Out of the 16,000 feet of welds inspected, only two inches needed to be repaired because of the thoroughness of the new welding procedure used by Paul Mueller Company called "Back Purging"

New Tank Stairway Construction onsite tank duct work install Night demolition of tank during plant shutdown
Partially constructed stair tower adjacent to the original tank MFO field technicians guiding duct work into the proper place Demolition of the original tank during the plant shutdown 

Pacific Ethanol - Stockton, California

Completed Pacific Ethanol Tank Construction Job Site
Overview of the completed facility in October 2008 

When the field operations crew arrived at the Stockton, California site in the summer of 2007, the only thing on-site was dirt.  A year later standing in the same spot, is an entire ethanol facility.   Paul Mueller Company Field Operations was in charge of fabricating 17 large tanks for the operation.  Ten of those were built using a jack system in a top-down manner, the remaining seven tanks were built conventionally. 

Labor day weekend, a month before the grand opening, one of the tanks imploded due to a sudden change in temperature within the tank from CIP-ing (clean in place). Within a week, a Mueller Field Operations crew was in California ready to begin the repairs.  When they arrived, they discovered the possibility that the tank would buckle in on itself when repairs started, because the material was crumpled and out of round. In order to make the repair safely, I-Beams were attached to the collapsed material for extra support.  The head of the tank was salvageable, so it was detached and transported by two semi-trucks and a crane to a nearby parking lot to keep it out of the way during the tank rebuild. Mueller had the tank repaired and operating in time for the grand opening less than a month later.

At the grand opening, the team was presented a contractor award from the customer for “Build & Rebuild.”

Jack system field tank construction Transporting storage tank head

Three tanks at different progress levels during top-down erection

Transporting the salvageable tank head from the imploded tank

United Ethanol - Milton, Wisconsin 

The environment of a repair can determine the difficulty level of the job.  In this case the job was challenging because of the tight space where the repair was completed and because a plant shutdown needed to be avoided.

The other bidders for this project were able to fix the tank, but they needed to remove the roof of the building to do so because of the tight spacing around the tank.  Paul Mueller Company Field Operations won this bid because we could demolish the old tank and build a new tank without removing the roof by using our jack system.  The original tank was lowered one level at a time, allowing field workers to cut out sections of the tank from the safety of the ground.  The new tank was built in a similar manner using top-down construction.  Each level would be constructed and then raised to make room for the next level beneath it, which permitted workers to continue constructing from the ground.

Not only was the customer impressed with the rigging used for this job, they were also impressed by Mueller's ability to adapt to higher safety standards at United Ethanol because of the product that’s processed in their facility.



Anheuser Busch - Van Nuys, California 

Extending a tank at Anheuser Busch
Existing tank that needed to be extended

Mueller Field Operations won the bid for this challenging project, which included a new fermenter, a drop receiver, and modifications to existing tanks for Anheuser Busch in 2004. 

The job was difficult because of the close proximity of the tanks to their surroundings and the weight of the tanks.  In some situations, there was less than two inches of clearance between the tank and the next piece of equipment.  That and the weight made rigging the tanks for fabrication problematic.

Despite the tight quarters, the field team was able to use our proprietary "Mad-Dog" jack system to fabricate the new tanks while maintaining a high standard of quality and safety.

Anheuser Busch has been a returning customer not just for Mueller Field Operations, but for several other product lines within the Paul Mueller Company for several decades.

Preparing the new fermenter shell Installing the new drop receiver
Preparing the new fermenter shell Installing the new drop receiver 

If you are staring at a project that you are unsure on how to start then let us help you.  We can consult you on what steps you can take to get your operation back to 100% with as little downtime as possible.

Claim a FREE phone consultation  about your tank repair needs

Topics: Tank Repair, Field Fabrication

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Teaching and sharing ideas has long been part of the rich heritage at Paul Mueller Company.  We have almost a century of quality craftsmanship guiding the way we apply new learnings. Paul Mueller Company Academy is a collection point for those learnings, so we can collaborate and grow more successful together. You will find articles, blogs, guides, infographics and more dedicated to furthering knowledge for all, in the world of stainless steel processing equipment solutions. 

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