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Operation’s expansion project stimulates steady growth

By |  December 23, 2015

Two loadout lanes and an expanding customer base meant the line of trucks at Tyler, Texas-based NBR Sand kept growing.

An increasing numbers of customers is a good problem to have, though. To mitigate customer wait times and improve customer experiences, NBR Sand implemented a multi-million dollar expansion project in 2014. The project was completed in 2015 with one of the biggest changes being an expansion from two lanes to five in the loadout area.

“Moving over to the new loadout system has definitely alleviated the wait time for customers,” says Rick Bailey, senior vice president of NBR Sand. “The additional loadout lanes mean we can load trucks faster.”

On top of the additional lanes, NBR Sand expanded its loadout storage capacity from 2,000 tons to more than 10,000. As part of the expansion, Bailey says the company switched from storing sand in an enclosed building with bins to silos.

NBR Sand now has 12 silos in all.

“Increased storage means we can meet higher demands and sell more product,” Bailey says. “Both of these gains are key items for us to continue to grow as a company. We will be able to load more trucks per hour than we have before, and that’s a great benefit to us and our customers.”

Hole-in-one discovery

NBR Sand, whose parent company is New Birmingham Inc., launched in 2008. Rural wooded areas and farmland surround the 1,400-acre NBR Sand facility. NBR Sand currently has the capacity to produce 2 million tons of frac sand per year.

Today, frac sand is the only product NBR Sand produces. Its site was originally purchased to produce golf course sand. But after some testing of the site’s product, the company realized its sand could be produced and sold as frac sand.

“Golf sand doesn’t have strict specifications that it has to fall within like frac sand does,” Bailey says. “Some changes had to be made to the plant processes because of that discovery in order to screen the sand to proper sizing and specs. After further repeat testing and plant changes, we were able to start selling frac sand by late 2008.”

Frac sand is a little harder to find in the east Texas region, Bailey says, so the company was fortunate to find the product at its Tyler site. NBR Sand currently produces two types of frac sand: 100 mesh and 40/70 mesh.

Although most frac sand operations are based in northern states, Bailey says its Texas location offers some benefits. While northern frac sand operations have limited production time in winter, NBR Sand can operate 24/7 year-round because of Texas’ warmer weather.

“In the north, they are limited to production times that aren’t freezing,” he says. “Our location has benefitted us well over our northern competitors.”

Bailey adds that NBR Sand can also offer slightly lower prices than some competitors because of the location. He says much of NBR Sand’s product ships to nearby locations, such as the shale basin in south Texas and the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana.

Advancing equipment, manpower

Although the loadout and storage expansions were among the largest undertakings at NBR Sand in 2015, the company has also taken steps to advance its equipment.

Mike Paye, mine operations manager for NBR Sand, says the company updated its line of excavators last fall to the Hitachi ZX670LC-5 to boost productivity.

“We were using a different brand of excavator,” Paye says. “It was taking seven to eight loads per truck, and we were running five trucks. Now, we’re doing about four passes to load the trucks.”

According to Paye, expansion has been the norm for NBR Sand in Tyler, Texas. Paye says the company has continuously expanded different aspects of the business – be it equipment, area or processes – since it launched in 2008. He adds that the number of employees has also increased significantly the past seven years. “We went from a seven-man operation to a 71-man operation,” Paye says.

Even with all the growth, Paye and Bailey agree the company has remained a family-oriented business. Both say many of the workers at the Tyler facility grew up together and are at similar stages in life. They say the facility has a tight-knit community.

“We’re all at similar stages in life, so we relate to each other well,” Paye says. “That encourages us to promote safety since everyone here seems to have each other’s back. We’re more likely to watch out to see if best safety practices are being used because we’re close.”


Take note

NBR Sand recently updated its line of excavators to the Hitachi ZX670LC-5 to boost productivity.

About the Author:

Megan Smalley is the associate editor of Pit & Quarry. Contact her at msmalley@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7930.

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