American Refining Group Inc. (ARG) leadership and key community contributors and stakeholders gathered Sept. 9 to break ground on the historic refinery’s new, $3 million Quality Lab.
“During the past year we’ve been spending a lot of money on what we are committed to, the things that are very important to us,” said ARG Chief Executive Officer Tim Brown. “This is just another extension of that because quality is one of our pillars. Quality 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.”
ARG has two Quality Labs (a main lab and a minilab in the refinery’s Blending Plant) with a staff of 17 employees who, between them, support refinery operations around the clock; 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 Quality Lab chemist. A powerful Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) application is used to schedule, manage and report results for all samples processed in ARG’s labs.
The minilab at ARG’s Blending Plant services its lubricants blending and packaging operations. Basic testing conducted there 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.
The main Quality Lab provides all other 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.
The new building, at 6,400 square feet, will replace the main Quality Lab currently in use. ARG worked with laboratory design firm LCS Constructors Inc. of Irvine, Calif., for planning. The general contractor is Poole Anderson Construction of State College.
Shifting the lab’s operations will be done in phases as instrumentation will have to be carefully disassembled, moved and reassembled before being calibrated for use. The facility will include a general test lab, a gas chromatography and distillation lab, a water/environmental lab and a thermal-test lab. The building will also comprise offices, storage, utility rooms, restrooms, and a lunchroom that will also be used as a training area.
Brown said of the project, “It’s 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.”
American Refining Group, Inc.’s unique, privately owned facility 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.