Railcar ethanol unloading facility in Dacula, GA

Wilson & Company was brought on board to observe the operations and provide feedback on ways to improve the unloading operation’s efficiency, automation, and life cycle at WBS Services’ railcar ethanol unloading facility in Dacula, GA.

The facility consists of a 20-railcar unloading track that unloads 10 railcars at a time. The facility must move an 80-railcar unit train within a 24-hour period. Currently, that requires eight spots of 10 cars. The original unloading operation had pumps that were aggressively sized and held the unloading header under partial vacuum for portions of the unloading operation. While this expedited the unloading process, it limited the operator’s ability to control the slow-down/shut-down, and it was putting the pumps under additional stress.

The improvements being implemented included increasing the quantity of railcars that can be unloaded at one time to 20 railcars. This reduces the number of spots/re-spots as well as allows the unloading pumps to match the unloading rate of the railcars more closely. The improvements also included adding variable frequency drives to the pumps to allow speed control and automating the unloading operation by providing a level control scheme that enables the pumps to stage on/off and slow down based on the level remaining in the unloading suction header and railcars.