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Why water tank design matters

By |  March 8, 2019
The box-shaped structure of some water tanks increases capacity by about 20 percent and lowers the load’s overall center of gravity, enhancing stability and safety. Photo courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

The box-shaped structure of some water tanks increases capacity by about 20 percent and lowers the load’s overall center of gravity, enhancing stability and safety. Photo courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

Site safety and efficiency are two of the main reasons why spraying haul roads is common practice.

Ironically, though, the equipment many operations use to wet roads is neither the safest nor most efficient option. A secret to finding the ideal solution lies within the water tank’s design and spraying system.

Don’t cut corners

Square tanks haul about 20 percent more water than rounded tanks with the same basic exterior dimensions. They also improve safety by creating a lower center of gravity.

Curved sides raise the water’s center of gravity, reducing stability. Rounded sides also contribute to water churning since there aren’t corners to slow the water’s momentum. This sloshing can shift the center of gravity, making the truck unstable and unsafe.

Drivers who can feel water surging often mitigate the problem by not filling the tank completely, in turn, wasting time and fuel on unnecessary trips to refill. And at the end of the day, each truck covers far less ground.

Spray smarter

Providing drivers with precise control of the tank’s water output increases efficiency. Individually-controlled spray heads make it easier for drivers to optimize water use while reducing the risk of oversaturating roads. Operators can turn on the individual spray heads and, with some systems, program a spraying interval to cover a greater surface area without making the roads too slick.

Water-metering controls also increase safety by allowing drivers to focus more on the surroundings and less on water output. Remote controls can further improve safety by keeping drivers out of harm’s way – especially when battling fires.

Traditional systems require the operator to use a joystick and monitor in the cab, but some remote-control systems allow control of a water cannon from as far away as a half mile.

Bafflingly safe

A tank’s baffling system affects both safety and efficiency, as it prevents water from surging side to side and front to back. Almost all water tanks feature baffles, but some designs are more effective than others.

Many baffles have large holes for maintenance personnel to access individual compartments through which water can also move freely, resulting in surging. While baffles require holes for water to flow throughout the tank, they should be small enough to prevent surging.

Some tanks feature baffling from floor to ceiling, as well as along the complete length and width of the tank, for more complete compartmentalization. Others take it even further with side-surge stabilizers along interior walls to prevent water from churning within individual sections. These added measures go a long way toward improving tank stability and overall safety.

Anytime safety and efficiency are the main objectives, using equipment that falls short in either category doesn’t add up. When evaluating future tank purchases, take a close look at how design lends itself to accomplishing these goals.


Josh Swank is vice president of sales and marketing at Philippi-Hagenbuch.


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