Find Products by Markets



Oil & Gas






Find Products by Manifacturers





OPW Engineered Systems



Emco Wheaton

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.

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! 

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.

4 Top-Loading Arms for LPG and SULFUR Loading Applications

4 Top-Loading Arms for LPG and SULFUR Loading Applications

Top-loading arms are commonly used for loading railcars and trucks with LPG and sulfur. At Northern Platforms, we are proud to be industry leaders in distributing top-loading arms across Western Canada. Below, we will introduce you to four popular top-loading arm options from OPW Engineered Systems and a loading arm accessory that can make temperature-sensitive loading applications easier. Keep reading to find out more! 

Supported and Unsupported Boom-Style Loading Arms

Northern Platforms’ OPW Boom-Style top-loading arms are a great option for facilities with variable reach applications. The Supported and Unsupported styles offer unparalleled flexibility, long-reach capabilities, and ease of operation, making them a popular choice in sulfur and LPG loading applications. Aside from their ease of use, the Supported and Unsupported Boom-style loading arms can both be folded back against your loading platform for convenient and compact storage. 

Some other features and benefits of these top-loading arms include:

  • Available in 2”, 3”, 4” and 6” sizes
  • Available in stainless steel, carbon steel, or aluminum 
  • The support section can be added to maximize both reach and weight limit capabilities
  • Your choice of flanged, threaded, or all-welded construction 
  • Adaptable for tight-fill or closed-system loading when equipped with additional components available at Northern Platforms 

Scissor Style Top-Loading Arm

The OPW Scissor Style top loading arms at Northern Platforms are primarily used in tanker truck loading and unloading operations where the reach is less than 120”. This loading arm is designed explicitly for top-loading applications requiring a variable operating range. One of the significant advantages of this top-loading arm is that its secondary arm can rotate 360° in the horizontal plane, providing your operators with a spotting allowance almost twice its length, making this top-loading arm a versatile loading solution. 

Here are a few other benefits and features of the OPW Scissor Style top loading arm:

  • Available in 2”, 3”, and 4” sizes
  • Available in carbon steel, stainless steel or aluminum
  • Your choice of flanged, threaded or all-welded construction
  • With additional components, it can be adapted for tight-fill or closed-system loading applications

Fixed Reach Style Top Loading Arm

The final top loading arm style that is a popular choice for LPG and sulfur loading applications is the OPW Fixed Reach Style loader. This simple loading arm encompasses only three swivel planes of rotation. The two swivel planes permit both up and down and side-to-side movement, while the third swivel plane ensures the drop pipe stays vertical, making operations simple. If you’re looking to reduce leaks and drips of viscous products after loading, the team at Northern Platforms can ensure that this style of top-loading arm features a valve within the outboard.

Below are a few other stand-out features and benefits of this top-loading arm:

  • Available in 2”, 3” and 4” sizes
  • Available in carbon steel, stainless steel, or aluminum
  • Your choice of flanged, threaded or all-welded construction
  • Can be adapted for tight-fill or closed-system loading when equipped with additional components from Northern Platforms

Custom Insulation Packages for Temperature Sensitive Loading

When loading molten sulfur or other temperature-sensitive chemicals or materials, your operations need custom insulation packages. At Northern Platforms, we have the OPW Custom Insulation Packages, which offer superior heat retention, safety and outstanding range of motion. Compared to field-applied insulation, these custom insulation packages are fully removable and reusable. 

Northern Platforms offers these packages in top and bottom designs, carbon steel or stainless steel and 2”, 3”, 4” and 6” sizes. So if your facility is loading or unloading molten sulfur or other temperature-sensitive materials, Northern Platforms is here to help. 

Find the Loading Arms You Need at Northern Platforms

With our large inventory of OPW Engineered Systems products, including replacement parts, Northern Platforms is your source for all your loading and unloading equipment needs. Let our team work with you to find the right loading arms for your applications.

Contact us today to learn more about our OPW top-loading arms and Custom Insulation Packages.

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.