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Loading Arms for Oil & Gas Operations: Which Style is Best?

Loading Arms for Oil & Gas Operations: Which Style is Best?

The oil and gas industry encounters many challenges during loading and unloading operations as it must adhere to several safety, industry, and environmental regulations. This can make determining the best possible loading system for your operations challenging. Fortunately, with over twenty years of experience providing Canadian companies with top-quality access and loading solutions, Northern Platforms is here to help.

Below, we will compare hoses and loading arms and then walk you through the three main styles of loading arms, helping you determine which would be best for your oil and gas operations. Continue reading to learn more. 

Hoses vs. Loading Arms: Some Considerations

You have several options when searching for the correct loading solution for your operations. However, you must first decide whether you will utilize hoses or loading arms. While loading arms tends to be the industry standard for oil and gas operations, many companies do opt to use hoses for a number of reasons.

Before looking further into one or the other, let’s look at a few things you should consider before deciding that hoses or loading arms are your best choice. 


  • Requires regular annual pressure tests
  • Can be difficult to stow when not in use
  • Can be driven over or dropped
  • May be very heavy to use if fitted with a valve at the tanker connection point
  • Faces challenges when heated or features a vent/purge valve
  • May be prone to catastrophic failure

Loading Arms:

  • Provides balanced and easy movement for various loading applications
  • Designed not to hit the ground, protecting the valves and couplers
  • Can be operated by one person
  • May be fitted with manual or actuated liquid valves and optional purge/vent components
  • May be moved into position with ease and left hanging in the air while the operator prepares the tanker connection
  • Can easily be stowed away when not in use

At Northern Platforms, we strongly recommend that oil and gas operations stick with the obvious and safer choice–loading arms. As a trusted distributor of OPW Engineered Systems products, we carry a wide range of loading arms that are perfect for oil and gas loading/unloading applications. 

Next, we will provide a short overview of the three main styles of oil and gas loading arms Northern Platforms carries. That way, you can determine which would be best for your operations. 

Top Loading Arms

Top loading arms provide tanker truck and railcar loading operations with an efficient and cost-effective means of handling oil and gas liquid products. A top loading arm system from Northern Platforms can provide your operations the protection your workers need to complete their duties efficiently without worrying about potential hazards like spills.

When selecting the right top loading arm for your oil and gas operations, our team will consider vehicle heights, required reach, vehicle spotting, material compatibility and more. At Northern Platforms, we can outfit your top loading arms for tight-fill, vapour recovery, marine, oil and gas, and other applications, ensuring your loading/unloading operations are safe and efficient. 

Bottom Loading Arms

Bottom loading arms are the industry’s top choice when explicitly searching for loading arms for oil and gas applications. This is because bottom loading arms from Northern Platforms aid in reducing vapours and the risk of static electricity as they produce less turbulence in the tanker during loading.

Additionally, our bottom loading arms can be outfitted with vapour recovery components and quick-connect fittings to help speed up your loading/unloading times. With their improved ergonomics and enhanced safety, it’s no wonder Northern Platforms’ bottom loading arms are the industry standard for oil and gas operations. 

Specialty/Custom Loading Arms

As the oil and gas industry has evolved to include biofuels and great environmental awareness, your loading system may require stringent features to ensure enhanced safety and eco-friendly fluid transfer practices.

At Northern Platforms, we can create specialty/custom loading arms for your oil and gas operations. From hatch plates and plugs to electric heat trace with insulation blankets, steam jacketing, or ContoTrace, we can ensure your loading system meets strict health/safety and environmental regulations. 

Your Canadian Source for Safe Loading Solutions

While bottom-loading arms are often the best option for the oil and gas industry, other options may be better suited depending on your unique applications and facility requirements. Northern Platforms’ team is here to help you determine the best loading system solutions for your oil and gas operations. So, don’t hesitate to contact us, and let our team walk you through your options. 

Together, we can ensure your loading/unloading operations are safe, efficient, and meet strict regulations.

How Prefabricated Platforms Make Valve Access Simple

How Prefabricated Platforms Make Valve Access Simple

Throughout various industries such as oil and gas, manufacturing, pulp and paper, and beyond, having access to shutoff valves, navigating over conveyors, and moving throughout warehousing spaces requires specialized access solutions. Since 2002, Northern Platforms has provided companies of all sizes with the safe access solutions they need to maintain productivity, efficiency, and safety.

Below, we will tell you more about our offering of ErectaStep prefabricated platforms and how they can benefit valve access applications. Keep reading to find out more. 

Critical Factors in Valve Access 

Whether you’re working in manufacturing, oil and gas, or the pulp and paper industry, you need access solutions that enable your employees to safely reach your facility’s tools, equipment, valves, and other key areas. The oil and gas industry often faces challenges in valve access fall protection as many temporary solutions, such as scaffolding, can be costly in the long run, easily break down, offer limited working space, and cannot be reused in other applications.

Additionally, regardless of your industry, your maintenance personnel must have safe access to critical shutoffs and valves to provide adequate service and ensure your facility continues to operate at a high standard. 

If your facility is considering updating your valve access platforms or installing a new system, consider the following:

  • Can a worker access the shutoff valve safely and rapidly?
  • If there are access platforms on the valve, are they rigid and safe?
  • Are there safety gates and industrial-strength handrails on the access platform?
  • Does your current access system provide adequate fall protection and instant OSHA/OH&S compliance?
  • Are the current crossovers/access platforms older or in need of repair or replacement?

Depending on your answers, it may be time to replace or update your current valve access solutions. Fortunately, Northern Platforms has a cost-effective, ready-to-ship option that not only outperforms temporary access solutions but is also built to last–ErectaStep prefabricated platforms.

Benefits of ErectaStep Prefabricated Platforms

Northern Platforms’ offering of ErectaStep prefabricated platforms are OHSA/OH&S compliant, precision manufactured and ready to be shipped to your facility in an instant. Designed to bolt together without any specialty tools or welding, our prefabricated platforms are the perfect versatile access solution.

Critical shutoffs and valves are often used infrequently and tend to be located in hard-to-reach areas to maintain clear facility space for other operational demands. Accessing them poses potential fall and accident risks. However, ErectaStep prefabricated platforms offer a solution to mitigate this risk.

ErectaStep prefabricated platforms provide a simple way of reaching necessary valves, controls and equipment without interfering with other operations. That means, with the help of Northern Platforms and ErectaStep, your maintenance personnel can easily traverse your facility, perform repairs, and avoid obstacles without worrying about slips, trips, falls, or disruptions in production. 

Custom Access Problems Require Custom Solutions

At Northern Platforms, our highly experienced team can assist you with your prefabricated platform needs. Whether you require a straightforward access platform or a custom solution, we have the tools, stock, and expertise to help you. 

When it comes to outfitting your facility with a custom valve access solution, our team will visit your worksite, identify potential issues, and design a custom prefabricated platform solution to suit your facility and needs. We can even ensure the installation process is completely safe and efficient. With our innovative custom configuration tool, our team can even show you detailed schematics and an accurate quote so you can see your new valve access solution in a matter of minutes. 

So, whether your facility needs a new prefabricated platform valve access solution, a modular catwalk, or a set of crossover stairs for crossing a containment berm, Northern Platforms has the custom access solutions you need! 

Make Valve Access a Breeze Today!

Northern Platforms’ ErectaStep prefabricated platforms are in stock and ready to ship. So, if you’ve been looking for a rugged, modular, and easy-to-install valve access solution, contact us today and let our team help make your facility safer. 

Make Rooftop Access Effortless with Crossover Stairs

Make Rooftop Access Effortless with Crossover Stairs

Whether you have a manufacturing facility, oil and gas loading operation, or an e-commerce warehouse, your facility needs a secure rooftop access system. At Northern Platforms, we understand the importance of access and fall protection; that’s why we carry industry-leading safe access, loading, and fall protection systems from manufacturers like SafeRack and ErectaStep.

Below, we will explain why your facility needs a rooftop crossover stair system and how our ErectaStep products can help. Continue reading to find out more! 

Why Rooftop Crossover Systems are Necessary 

Your maintenance personnel need safe access to your facility’s rooftop to service HVAC, ducting, piping, and AC unit systems. However, every rooftop is different, presenting unique challenges for your workers. Pipes, cables, changes in elevation, and parapets can be challenging to navigate around while at a height and even more complicated when carrying tools and equipment. 

Additionally, adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, or strong winds can increase fall risks, creating slippery or obstructed surfaces and dangerous working conditions. Without the proper safe access solutions in place, you’re putting your employees at risk and not complying with strict OH&S/OSHA standards. While simple measures such as rooftop guardrails and swing gates can provide some fall protection, these measures aren’t enough on their own for many facilities. Fortunately, Northern Platforms has a better safe access solution–ErectaStep rooftop crossover stairs

Meet ErectaStep Crossover Stairs

When you need a safe access solution for your facility’s rooftop, trust Northern Platforms’ offering of ErectaStep crossover stairs. These incredibly versatile and customizable safe access solutions enable you to quickly clear obstacles without compromising safety. With numerous configurations available and ErectaStep’s ease of installation (no welding or specialty tools required), ensuring the safety of your maintenance personnel is a breeze. Here are a few other benefits of ErectaStep rooftop crossover stairs from Northern Platforms:

  • OSHA and OH&S Compliant: No matter the configuration, ErectaStep crossover stairs are built to comply with both OHSA and OH&S safety standards. 
  • Durable: Manufactured with heavy-duty aluminum (also available in galvanized, 304 stainless, or steel), these crossover stairs are built to last even the most challenging Canadian winters. At the same time, the reduced number of weld points adds additional strength to the entire unit. 
  • Modular Design: Each modular component can easily be reconfigured, enabling you to reuse these crossover stairs throughout your facility. This modular design also eliminates the need for custom fabrication, reducing overall costs.
  • Slip Resistant: The walking surface of these modular crossover stairs is stamped and features an aggressive serrated edge for better grip. Your staff can feel sure-footed even when working at a height. 

At Northern Platforms, our expert team can even help you design your custom rooftop crossover stairs. Using our digital real-time configuration tool, we can map out your crossover stairs, provide you with an accurate shop drawing and pad layout, and quote all within minutes. That way, we can be sure your rooftop crossover stairs will provide your personnel with the safe access they need to service your HVAC units, piping, and more!

Your Experts in Safe Access Equipment

Since 2002, Northern Platforms has been helping companies, both big and small, ensure their facilities and loading operations are as safe and efficient as possible. With our ErectaStep rooftop crossover stairs, we can ensure the safety of your workers even during routine maintenance services in the dead of winter. 

For our team to start designing a rooftop crossover stair that perfectly fits your facility, we need to visit your site. Contact us today to schedule your site assessment with one of Northern Platforms’ highly experienced team members or to learn more about our ErectaStep offering! 

The 3 Best Top Loading Arms for Chemical Transfer Applications 

The 3 Best Top Loading Arms for Chemical Transfer Applications 

From the petrochemical and biofuel industry to pharmaceutical manufacturing, the ability to easily and safely load and unload chemicals quickly and accurately is crucial. At Northern Platforms, we understand that efficient loading processes not only minimize downtime but also reduce the risk of spills and accidents.

However, enabling your operations to achieve the safest, most efficient, and compliant loading process possible means investing in equipment that’s engineered to handle the unique needs of chemical transfer applications. This is where our inventory of OPW Engineered Systems‘ top loading arms can help. Let us explain more below… 

Types of Top Loading Arms for Chemical Loading

Top loading arms are critical for railcar and tanker truck chemical loading operations as they offer a range of benefits, including precise fluid control, adaptability, and reliability. At Northern Platforms, our OPW top loading arms inventory is engineered to provide the horizontal and vertical movement necessary to reach various compartments of railcars and trucks without the need for re-spotting. 

When looking specifically at top loading arms for chemical loading applications, there are three main types Northern Platforms highly recommends: 

1) Fixed Reach Style

OPW fixed reach top loading arms are popular for their simplicity and reliability. Designed for operations where the load vehicle parks at a specific distance from the riser pipe, this style of chemical top loading arm features swivel planes of rotation that facilitate smooth movement throughout the loading process. With options for valve placement and the ability to adapt these arms to tight-fill or close system loading, fixed reach chemical top loading arms offer a straightforward yet effective chemical loading solution. 

Additional Features: 

  • Available in 2″, 3″ and 4″ sizes
  • Available in carbon steel, stainless steel or aluminum
  • Choice of flanged, threaded or all-welded construction

2) Unsupported Boom Style

For chemical loading operations that require variable reach capabilities, the OPW unsupported boom style top loading arm from Northern Platforms should be your top choice. These loading arms’ medium reach capabilities and moderate flexibility make them a good option for applications where moving the load vehicle for accurate fluid transfer is possible. While unsupported boom style chemical top loading arms may be a bit limited in their capabilities, they are simple to operate and fold back for compact storage. 

Additional Features: 

  • Available in 2″, 3″, 4″ and 6″ sizes
  • Available in stainless steel, carbon steel or aluminum 
  • Choice of flanged, threaded or all-welded construction 

3) Supported Boom Style

Like its unsupported counterpart, the supported boom style top loading arm offers excellent reach. By incorporating support sections, this chemical top loading arm maximizes its reach and weight handling capabilities, making it an excellent choice for demanding chemical loading operations. Whether transferring sulfur, propane, or even asphalt, the OPW supported boom top loading arm offers unbeatable flexibility and performance. 

Additional Features: 

  • Available in 2″, 3″, 4″ and 6″ sizes
  • Available in aluminum, carbon steel or stainless steel
  • Choice of threaded, flanged, or all-welded construction 

Simple Solutions for Complex Industries

At Northern Platforms, we understand the complexities of chemical loading operations. That’s why we offer a complete range of top loading arms explicitly designed to meet your loading, safety, environmental, and industry requirements. From our OPW fixed reach and supported boom styles to our ability to create a specialty solution that seamlessly integrates into your current loading platform, our chemical top loading arms are engineered for efficiency, reliability, and safe loading practices.

Contact Northern Platforms today to explore our chemical loading arms further! 

How the FRT Gangway Can Benefit Your Railcar Loading System

How the FRT Gangway Can Benefit Your Railcar Loading System

Whether your operations handle NGL, refined fuel, ammonia, or gondola railcar loading applications, you need a railcar loading system that protects your workers, facility, productivity, and bottom line. As Canada’s leading distributor of SafeRack safe access solutions, Northern Platforms is here to help you design and build a railcar loading system that does all that and more!

Next, we will tell you about our personalized approach to designing railcar loading systems and how a particular SafeRack gangway can benefit your operations. Keep reading to learn more! 

A Personalized Approach to Railcar Loading Systems

While other safe access and loading solution distributors will take a cookie-cutter approach to your railcar loading needs, Northern Platforms does things a bit differently. At Northern Platforms, we commit seriously to building strong, life-long relationships with our customers. Our team won’t simply rely on emails or phone calls to understand your railcar loading operations. Instead, we take that extra step to ensure you receive personalized service. That means a dedicated sales team member will visit your site in person, see with their own eyes the challenges you may be facing, and take time to discuss the details of your particular applications.

By taking a personalized approach to designing, installing, and maintaining your railcar loading systems, Northern Platforms can provide a holistic understanding of how our safe access solutions, railcar loading platforms, and gangways can benefit your operations. 

Meet the Flat Ramp Telescoping (FRT) Access Gangway 

Northern Platforms’ comprehensive inventory of SafeRack safe access solutions includes various railcar loading platforms and gangways that are perfect for ensuring the safety and productivity of your operations. In particular, the Flat Ramp Telescoping (FRT) Access Gangway is a popular model for railcar loading because of its innovative design and durability.  

The FRT Gangway features a slip-resistant walkway and telescoping extension, perfect for eliminating narrow gaps between your loading platform and the railcar. FRT gangways have a 21″ telescoping extension that allows the gangway to accommodate various railcar configurations. These gangways are constructed with 1” stainless steel bearing quality pivot rods and machine-quality pivot points for greater durability, longevity, and safety. With the FRT Gangway’s rugged, oversized parts and counterbalanced adjustable springs for easy raising and lowering, this gangway is sure to stand the test of time. Self supporting with adjustable chain stops, a 500 LB load capacity and a spring counterbalance system that allows the gangway to be easily raised and lowered, the FRT gangway is up for any challenge. 

Available in 24″, 36″, 48″, 60″ and 72″ widths and various lengths, and aluminum, galvanized steel, or stainless steel, the Flat Ramp Telescoping Access Gangway is an excellent option for NGL, refined fuel, ammonia, and gondola railcar loading applications. Let the Northern Platforms team show you how the FRT Access Gangway can enhance your railcar loading systems! 

Turnkey Services that Won’t Interfere with Your Operations

At Northern Platforms, our top-notch service doesn’t stop at providing expert guidance and top-quality railcar loading platforms, gangways, and loading arms. We also offer turnkey installation and maintenance services. That way, you can rest assured that your railcar loading platforms and gangways are ready to go when you need them most. From scope development, conceptual layouts and cost estimates to project execution, installation, and yearly maintenance, Northern Platforms is your trusted partner for greater operational safety and efficiency! 

Your Source for Safe Access Solutions

Whether you need a new railcar loading platform, loading arms, gangways, or spill containment, Northern Platforms is your 100% Canadian source for safe access and loading solutions. 

Contact our team today to learn more about our turnkey services or to get a quote on the Saferack Flat Ramp Telescoping (FRT) Access Gangway. Let our team help you design a custom railcar loading solution that ensures the safety of your workers.