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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.

Make Your Fuel Tanker Loading Systems Safer and More Efficient Today! 

Make Your Fuel Tanker Loading Systems Safer and More Efficient Today! 

Loading a fuel tanker comes with significant risks due to the flammability of the liquid and its vapours. That’s why having a safe and efficient fuel tanker loading system is critical for your operations. If your current tanker truck loading system is showing its age or is no longer working to its full potential due to a change in your operations’ scale or scope, Northern Platforms is here to help! 

Next, we will discuss tanker truck loading systems and how our team can help you design a system that enhances your operation’s safety and efficiency. Keep reading to find out more! 

Understanding Tanker Truck Loading Systems

When loading or unloading tanker trucks, it’s essential to understand how these systems work first. That way, you can better understand your operation’s needs. 

Whether you’re loading a fuel tanker, water truck, or sulfur tanker truck, the system components used follow the same basic principles:

  • Reduce the risk of environmental contamination.
  • Ensure operators’ safety.
  • Maintain a controlled loading/unloading process.

To achieve the above, tanker truck loading systems utilize top or bottom loading arms, loading platforms, gangways, safety cages, and hoses. Depending on the fuels, chemicals, or liquids you’re transporting, the system components you will use will vary as material compatibility, splash loading, and environmental and safety regulations will impact your options. 

Additionally, the scope and scale of your tanker truck loading operations, the size of trucks you’re working with, and the environment your facility is in will also impact your tanker loading systems. For instance, if you have a bulk water dispensing station up in the freezing North, you’ll need loading system components that can withstand below-zero temperatures.

Fortunately, Northern Platforms is here to help! As a family-owned and operated business with more than two decades of experience in safe access and loading solutions, our team can help you find the right components and equipment for your fuel tanker loading systems. Whether you’re transporting water, biodiesel, or hydrogen as ammonia, we have the expertise and equipment to help you outfit your entire operations! 

Tailored Solutions for Enhanced Operations

Regardless of the types of liquids or chemicals your operations are loading and unloading, Northern Platforms has all your safe access and loading equipment needs covered! As Western Canada’s leading safe access equipment, loading rack, and loading arm distributor, we have a comprehensive inventory of fuel tanker loading systems from trusted manufacturers like SafeRack, OPW Engineered Systems, Ultratech and more. 

When you need a new fuel tanker loading system, our team can ensure you get a tailored solution by visiting your work site and working closely with you and your team. That way, we can better understand your operations’ current challenges, goals, and scope. From there, Northern Platforms will draft a fuel tanker loading system that will not only ensure the safety and functionality of your operations but also aid in increasing productivity.

With Northern Platforms’ professional turnkey solutions, we can guarantee that your loading systems are installed and maintained in optimal condition. So, if you need a system that will make loading or unloading water, fuel, or chemicals safer and more efficient, turn to the experts at Northern Platforms! 

Get a Quote Today! 

At Northern Platforms, we are committed to providing our customers with superior quality products, on-time delivery, and outstanding service. Contact us today to get a quote on your fuel tanker loading system or to learn more about our loading arms, loading racks, gangways, and more!

How Bottom Loading Makes Your Fuel Tanker Loading System Safer

How Bottom Loading Makes Your Fuel Tanker Loading System Safer

Fuel tanker trucks are used across North America to transport large volumes of liquids and gases. With a rise in demand for biofuels especially, your fuel tanker system must have the right components to ensure smooth and safe operations.

As your source for safe access solutions, loading arms, and fall protection systems, Northern Platforms is here to help you make your tanker loading and unloading processes as safe as possible. Continue reading to learn more about how our bottom loading arms, in particular, can enhance the safety and efficiency of your operations.  

Understanding Fuel Tanker Loading Systems

The systems and equipment required for fuel tanker loading operations encompass a range of components. From gangways and loading racks to loading arms and spill containment, fuel tanker loading systems are complex, especially for larger facilities dealing with numerous tankers.

One of the essential components of a fuel tanker loading system is loading arms. Loading arm systems are crucial as they provide a safe means of accessing the content of the tanker trucks. These components connect to the tanker and the loading dock to provide a secure connection point for loading and unloading operations. Northern Platforms offers a range of top and bottom-loading arm configurations from trusted manufacturers like OPW Engineered Systems.

Next, we will explain why bottom-loading arms are often the safest option for fuel tanker loading systems. 

Advantages of Bottom Loading in Tanker Truck Operations

Northern Platforms’ inventory of OPW bottom-loading arms is available in a wide range of configurations. They offer operations many benefits that not only protect their workers but also enhance efficiency. These advantages include the following:

Fire Prevention

Top loading a fuel tanker often involves the splashing of flammable liquids, which can result in a build-up of electrical charge within the tanker itself. Electrical discharge can happen for several reasons, and the opportunity to generate a spark is increased by moving workers and equipment above the truck. Using a bottom-loading arm can reduce this risk, as they create less turbulence in the tank and often feature grounding systems. 

Spill/ Leak Prevention

Even minor petrochemical spills can be severe, from damage to the environment, creating the potential for a fire, pollution control, and loss of product perspectives. Bottom loading arms can reduce or eliminate the possibility of spills and leaks at loading terminals and service stations, especially when paired with a dry disconnect

Vapour Recovery

As many within the industry know, transferring fuels and chemical products can significantly contribute to local pollution and environmental damage. Bottom loading can make petrochemical vapour recovery easier than top loading. OPW’s bottom loading arms can be adapted to recover displaced vapours, making your operations safer and more environmentally friendly. 

Operator Safety

Top loading a fuel tanker requires your employees to be off the ground above the truck, creating a potential fall risk. At the same time, many fuel tanker loading systems are outside, making loading/unloading more dangerous during poor conditions at an elevated height. By using bottom-loading arms, your operators remain on the ground throughout the loading process, making it easier to react in an emergency and keeping them safe. 


Compared to top-loading islands or racks, bottom-loading islands are often less expensive to build and maintain. Without the need to maintain or replace walkways, gangways, or overhead loading structures associated with top-loading, your operations can enhance your bottom line and invest that money elsewhere. 

Your Source for Loading Arms and More!

At Northern Platforms, we proudly carry a comprehensive inventory of OPW top and bottom loading arms, quick & dry disconnects, and more. Our team is well-versed in fuel tanker loading systems, so if you’re looking for a custom solution for your operations, Northern Platforms is here to help!

Contact us today to learn more about our OPW bottom-loading arms or to speak with one of our safe access solution experts regarding your fuel tanker loading systems.

Ensure Leak-Free Biofuel and Chemical Transfers with Northern Platforms

Ensure Leak-Free Biofuel and Chemical Transfers with Northern Platforms

Handling hazardous chemicals demands precision, expertise, and unwavering commitment to safety. At Northern Platforms, we understand the critical importance of safe chemical transfers, which is why we stock high-quality and reliable loading arm systems. These systems are not only designed to facilitate the secure and efficient transfer of chemicals but also to minimize the risk to workers and the environment. Continue reading to learn more about our top loading arms, dry disconnects, and how Northern Platforms can ensure you have the right equipment for the job. 

An Emerging Industry: Biofuels

Before getting into the details of top chemical loading arms, let’s take a moment to understand biofuels. Biofuels, like biodiesel and renewable diesel, have gained prominence as environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. These fuels are derived from renewable sources like animal fats, vegetable oil, and waste restaurant grease. While they offer numerous benefits, including reduced carbon emissions, they come with their own set of challenges. Safe and efficient handling of biofuels is crucial to maximize their advantages; fortunately, Northern Platforms is here to help!

The Role of Loading Arms

When handling biofuels or other chemicals, loading arms plays a pivotal role. These arms act as a bridge between fixed loading facilities and chemical tankers, ensuring the smooth and safe transfer of liquids and gases. Essentially, they are the unsung heroes of many industrial processes as they are designed to withstand harsh chemicals while still upholding stringent safety standards.

Additionally, chemical loading arms from Northern Platforms are available in various configurations to cater to specific loading requirements. Among these, top loading arms are designed for filling road or rail tankers from above. They use a manhole or fixed connections, like couplers, to establish a secure link between the loading facility and the tanker. High-quality swivel joints and precise loading arm balancing are the cornerstones of these arms’ design, enabling them to transfer chemicals safely and efficiently. 

Dry Disconnects and Loading Arms: The Perfect Pair

While chemical top loading arms provide exceptional safety and efficiency during fluid transfers, it’s important also to highlight the dry disconnect products that enable the transfer process to happen. At Northern Platforms, we stock a range of OPW Engineered Systems dry disconnects specifically engineered to enhance the safety and reliability of hazardous liquid transfers. Within our inventory, you’ll find four exceptional dry disconnect couplings, each with unique features and benefits. Below is a brief overview of how these couplings provide a shield against potential hazards during chemical transfers.

  • Drylok® – Exceptional Hazardous Liquid Transfer: Designed for the safe transfer of a wide range of hazardous and corrosive liquids, the Drylok® dry disconnect coupler excels in challenging loading-rack environments. Typical applications include handling acids, solvents and petrochemicals.
  • Kamvalok® – Virtually Eliminating Spillage: The OPW Kamvalok® Dry Disconnect stands out due to its unique poppet action, which virtually eliminates the spillage of residual liquid. Common applications include handling paint, inks, adhesives, petroleum products, and various chemicals. Kamvalok® offers a level of protection that is unmatched.
  • Epsilon™ – Unparalleled Efficiency: Epsilon™ Dry Disconnect Couplings are designed for efficiency and safety. Featuring an innovative double ball-valve system, Epsilon™ minimizes product loss while providing a reliable double shutoff mechanism. 
  • Twist-Lok™ – Easy and Efficient: OPW’s Twist-Lok™ is the latest addition to their range of Dry Disconnect Couplers. It offers user-friendly operation and simple handling, providing a quick, easy connection with minimal product loss. 

Installation and Maintenance Services

At Northern Platforms, our team doesn’t just stop at providing top-quality fall protection and access solutions. We also offer installation and routine maintenance services to ensure that your loading arm systems and gangways are operating in optimal condition. Moreover, our team is happy to visit your site or facility, assess your needs, and help you determine the best chemical top loading arm system for your specific application and facility. When you need expert support, Northern Platforms has you covered!

Your Source for Loading Arms and More!

The safe transfer of chemicals and biofuels is essential for protecting your workers, equipment, and the environment. Loading arms, especially chemical top loading arms, are instrumental in ensuring these transfers occur without incident. Northern Platforms provides top-of-the-line loading arms, fall protection, and safe access solutions prioritizing safety and efficiency. With our decades of experience and dedication to safety, our team ensures that you have the equipment you need to safely transfer chemicals with precision and care.

Contact Northern Platforms today and let our team help you determine the best possible loading arm system for your application. 

Loading Arms for the Growing Biofuel Sector: Safety, Sustainability, and Seamless Operations

Loading Arms for the Growing Biofuel Sector: Safety, Sustainability, and Seamless Operations

In the pursuit of a greener and more sustainable future, the biofuel industry has quickly grown, offering an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. As this sector continues to gain momentum, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation is vital. At Northern Platforms, we have the loading solutions your distribution network needs to ensure efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Next, we will delve into our inventory of loading arms and explain their benefits to the evergrowing biofuel sector. Continue reading to find out more.

Safety First: Protecting Workers and the Environment

Loading and unloading biofuels means handling potentially hazardous materials, making safety a top priority. Traditional fluid transfer methods often carried risks of spills, leaks, and accidents, posing threats to both workers and the environment. However, Northern Platforms’ selection of OPW and EMCO loading arms address these concerns head-on.

These advanced systems are designed with safety features that minimize the risk of spills, leaks, and emissions. Features such as precise control mechanisms and automated operations assist in reducing human errors and mitigating potential hazards during the loading and unloading process. Furthermore, Northern Platforms’ OPW and EMCO loading arms are equipped with emergency shutdown systems, allowing operators to swiftly respond to unforeseen incidents and prevent significant mishaps.

Driving Sustainability: Reducing Environmental Impact

At the core of the biofuel industry’s mission is to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability. To align with this objective, the transfer of biofuels must also adhere to eco-friendly standards. Loading arms play a vital role in achieving this balance by significantly reducing the environmental impact of transportation.

One fundamental way loading arms from Northern Platforms can reduce your operation’s environmental impact is by minimizing product loss during transfer. Our top, bottom, and marine loading arms inventory is engineered to maximize accuracy and reduce spillage, ensuring that every drop of valuable biofuel reaches its destination. This efficiency not only boosts profits but also contributes to a more sustainable distribution network.

Seamless Operations: Enhancing Efficiency

Efficiency is the cornerstone of successful biofuel production and distribution. Northern Platforms’ loading arms are designed to optimize operations by streamlining the loading and unloading processes, reducing downtime and increasing throughput.

The flexibility of our loading arms allows them to adapt to various vessel sizes and configurations, ensuring a seamless fluid transfer regardless of the specific requirements. This adaptability reduces the need for complex adjustments or numerous loading systems, saving time and resources.

Furthermore, many of Northern Platforms’ loading arm models are equipped with advanced monitoring and control systems. This real-time data collection enables operators to track transfer progress, detect potential issues, and make necessary adjustments quickly. The result? A well-orchestrated operation that maximizes efficiency and minimizes operational hiccups.

Your Source for Loading Arms and More!

As the biofuel industry continues to expand, the significance of efficient, safe, and sustainable transportation cannot be overstated. At Northern Platforms, we pride ourselves on our comprehensive inventory of loading arms from trusted manufacturers such as OPW and EMCO. We also provide replacement parts such as seal kits, grease nipples, and ball bearings. Moreover, Northern Platforms provide in-house or onsite loading arm services such as rebuilds, recertification, inspections, hydro-testing and more.

So when your distribution operations require loading arms, Northern Platforms has you covered. Contact us today to learn more about our loading arms and parts inventory!

Find the Bottom Loading Arms You Need at Northern Platforms!

Find the Bottom Loading Arms You Need at Northern Platforms!

Bottom loading arms are becoming an increasingly popular loading solution for numerous industries and loading applications as they boost safety and productivity. Regardless of your industry, Northern Platforms will surely have the innovative and high-performance bottom loading arms you need to manage whatever fluid-handling applications your operation is doing. Below, we’ll discuss some of the primary advantages of using bottom loading arms and some of Northern Platforms’ most popular bottom loading arm models. Keep reading to find out more!

Why Use Bottom Loading Arms

Bottom loading arms are incredible loading solutions, providing numerous advantages over conventional top-loading. One of the main advantages of bottom loading arms from Northern Platforms is that they ensure the operator’s safety. By using these loading arms, the operator remains safely on the ground; instead of on top of the truck or railcar. Another advantage of bottom loading arms is that connections can be made significantly faster, reducing the time spent loading. Moreover, bottom loading arms also reduce the amount of turbulence and vapours, lowering the chance of static electricity and environmental hazards. Overall, bottom loading arms from Northern Platforms are an excellent loading solution that can enhance your operations’ safety and efficiency.

Bottom Loading Arms at Northern Platforms

When it comes to bottom loading arms, there are numerous models and styles to suit almost any application. At Northern Platforms, we are proud to offer a range of OPW Engineered Systems bottom loading arms. Below we’ll cover some of the most common bottom loading arms from OPW that Northern Platforms offers:

Counterweight Bottom Hose Loader

Installation and operation are easy with Northern Platforms OPW counterweight bottom hose loaders. These hose loaders feature adjustable counterweights mounted on horizontal rails, so finding your desired balance point is simple! This easy maintenance design and carbon steel construction ensure efficient handling and coupling to tank adapters. Furthermore, the OPW counterweight bottom hose loader easily meets API envelope requirements.

Unsupported Boom Bottom Loader

OPW’s unsupported boom bottom loader is manufactured to provide both flexible long-range operation and heavy-duty configuration that is reliable and simple to use. This bottom loader offers maximum flexibility as it is adjustable and features swiveling capabilities making it an incredibly versatile bottom loading arm option. Moreover, the unsupported boom bottom loader can be equipped with dry-disconnect couplers, quick couplings, breakaway couplings or other end fittings, depending on your requirements. Overall this bottom loader is an excellent choice for operations that require a low-profile, easy-to-operate loading unit for their railcar loading applications.

A-Frame Loader

Northern Platforms’ OPW A-frame bottom loading arm, is one of the most popular loading arm configurations available on the market today and for a good reason! This compact loading arm is adjustable for various elevations and tilting during loading and unloading operations. The A-frame loader is also fully customizable to suit your unique applications and is available in carbon steel, stainless steel, or aluminum for guaranteed material compatibility. Furthermore, the A-frame bottom loading arm can be mounted on staggered risers next to one another for maximum loading/unloading efficiency of concurrent compartment trucks. If you’ve been searching for an easy to operate bottom loading arm that eliminates your need for hoses, Northern Platforms has you covered!

Your Trusted Source for Bottom Loading Arms and More!

At Northern Platforms, we proudly offer a comprehensive inventory of loading arms, including bottom and top loading arms, from OPW Engineered Systems. Our selection of bottom loading arms is an excellent loading solution for hydrogen loading, petrochemical, and liquefied gas applications. As Western Canada’s premier source for safe access and loading solutions, Northern Platforms is your trusted distributor of OPW bottom loading arms and more! Contact us today to learn more about our inventory of loading solutions.