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Bottom Loading Arms: What You Need to Know

With their ability to reduce loading times and decrease tank turbulence, Northern Platforms bottom loading arms can boost safety and productivity in your loading system. We offer a wide selection of the most trusted ergonomic bottom loading arms on the market—and each is engineered to maximize productivity. No matter your application — trucks, drums or railcars — Northern Platforms can provide you with innovative bottom loading arms designed to handle any liquid application.

Below, we’ll highlight some of the main benefits of working with bottom loading arms, as well as touch on some of the most popular manufacturers. Read on to learn more!

About Bottom Loading Arms

Bottom loading arm systems offer numerous benefits over conventional top-loading, with the safety of the operator as the primary advantage. By utilizing a bottom loading arm system, the operator remains on the ground, not on top of the vehicle, a source at which falls commonly occur. Connections are made more quickly, thus reducing overall loading time. Bottom loading systems also create less turbulence in the tank, which reduces the danger of generating static electricity. Bottom loading also reduces vapours, which can be an environmental hazard and can be easily adapted to recover vapours displaced during loading. With speed as a crucial advantage of bottom loading, tanks are filled faster, and multiple compartments can be loaded simultaneously. Bottom loading islands are more straightforward and cheaper to build than top-loading racks. Whether your project is top-loading, bottom loading, or specialized loading applications, you can trust Northern Platforms to get the job done correctly.

Choosing the Right Fit

If you’ve read our previous piece on choosing between the top and bottom loading arms, you’ll know that before you make your selection, it’s important to know what kind of railcars and trucks you’ll be working with, as well as what methods of loading (top vs bottom) will be used. As the name suggests, bottom loads are typically used when loading from the bottom, and thus need to be paired with cars and trucks that are capable of accommodating a bottom loading configuration.

Types of Bottom Loading Arms

There a few different styles of bottom loading arms. We’ll touch on a couple of the most common:

  • Counterweight Bottom Hose Loader
    • Adjustable counterweights mounted on a pair of horizontal rails are simply moved until the desired balance point is located. This design provides for efficient handling and coupling to the tank adaptors.
  • Unsupported Boom Bottom Loader
    • Designed to provide flexible long-range operation, the heavy-duty configuration of an unsupported boom bottom loader is both reliable and easy to use. A minimum of five swivel planes of rotation offers maximum flexibility in loading/unloading railcars, tank trucks and servicing aviation refuelers when making tight connections. Both the outboard swivel and arm adjust for changes in elevation and/or tilting that may result as the vehicle is loaded or unloaded. The unsupported boom-type loader comes in many variations, making it extremely versatile. Equipped with dry-disconnect couplers, unions, quick couplings, breakaway couplings or other customer-specified end fittings allow easy connections on the side, rear, or underneath the vehicle. The intermediate swivel can be inverted to allow for the low profile and clearances needed to connect to the underside of railcars. Typically installed at or near ground level, arms of varying lengths can be mounted on staggered risers to achieve crossover and neat compact storage of multiple arms in a confined space.
  • A-Frame Bottom Loading Arm
    • The A-frame bottom loading arm is one of the more popular loading arm configurations, providing good flexibility, long reach, convenience, and ease of use. It adjusts for changes in the elevation or tilting of the vehicle during the loading/unloading process. The arm stores in an upright, near-vertical position. This allows it to swing around easily and be used for loading on either side of the island. The A-frame’s compact storage also allows the arms to be installed close together, often on risers that are approximately the same height as the vehicle connection. The A-frame loading arms can also be mounted on staggered risers next to one another to achieve arm crossover for concurrent loading of multiple compartment trucks. Commonly used for tank-truck bottom loading, A-frame arms also can be used in top-loading and unloading installations. Usually, they are equipped with a dry-disconnect coupling like an API coupler, a breakaway coupling, union, or other tight-fill fittings.

Start With a Strong Foundation

Bottom loading arms are often viewed as a preferred option where material transfer is concerned. This is because, as the name suggests, bottom loading arms transfer from the ground, allowing for greater stability and eliminating many of the risks associated with top-down loading. The spring counterbalance on the arm improves ergonomics which allows for a much faster loading time.

Bottom Loading Arms At Northern Platforms

Northern Platforms boasts a wide variety of loading options, including bottom loading arms from OPW Engineered Systems and EMCO Wheaton. Designed for optimal performance, these loading arm systems are perfect for loading and unloading petroleum products, chemicals and liquefied gases and offer benefits such as quicker connections and seamless integration with existing loading operations. Partnering with experienced loading solution providers like Northern Platforms makes it easy to find the right fit for your loading needs today.

As Western Canada’s leading source for platform and loading solutions, Northern Platforms is proud to supply numerous loading arm products to our clients from top industry producers. View our loading arm inventory here, or learn more by contacting us today!