In the world of backyard barbecues, propane is America’s top fuel choice and 20lb propane cylinders dominate the retail marketplace. The empty cylinders are frequently exchanged for refilled replacements at local grocery stores, gas stations and big box retailers. These tank exchanges take place by the millions every year, and the numbers keep going up.
In Jurupa Valley, Calif., Pick Up Propane says it is advancing its customer service position by building a new state-of-the-art filling system that relies on automation to increase productivity and quality.
“The market demand for propane tank exchange is tremendous,” says John Kamps, founder of Kamps Propane and Pick Up Propane. “We invested in this new facility to demonstrate leadership to our customers because they need a reliable supplier who can help them maintain inventory.”
Product quality is driven by a variety of factors but the refilling process is time consuming and labor intensive. Exchanged cylinders must be inspected, washed or painted and then carefully refilled before they are sleeved with a plastic cover.
The new process will increase production dramatically without requiring additional employees. The difference is that computers and sensors will now precisely monitor and regulate production. Each step of the process is connected so that when fully operational, a tank can enter the system dirty and empty only to come out clean, refilled and ready for delivery.
The efficiency of automation fits right into the operation at Pick Up Propane and Kamps Propane. “We look very carefully at the data underneath every process,” said company President Terry Ayres. “Whether it’s GPS on delivery vehicles or production rates on a refill system, understanding and improving on performance is one of our highest priorities.”
The new facility has been in the works for nearly six years. It started with a vision for a Southern California facility. That followed with a real estate deal for the Jurupa Valley property. From there, the process required planning, design and permitting before the first shovel went into the dirt back in 2015. “I’ve been here from the beginning and I can’t believe it’s finished,” remarked project foreman Greg Martinsen of Propane Construction and Meter Services. “It’s been a tremendous project and we’re really proud of how it turned out.”
The facility will serve as Pick Up Propane’s Southern California production facility and Kamps Propane’s newest local office. Pick Up Propane provides propane BBQ tank exchange services to local and regional retailers throughout California. Kamps Propane provides bulk propane delivery service to domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers from 13 offices around California.