INLAND Technologies got its start in Canada, where federal laws require aircraft de-icing fluid (ADF)—a glycol-based product used to de-ice aircraft—to be removed from airport apron areas.
While ADF is used for safety reasons, it breaks down very quickly in the environment, using up oxygen in lakes and streams, which can impact fish and other aquatic life. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a regulated industrial process wastewater under the NPDES 40 CFR Part 122.
In 2010—when it appeared that the EPA was going to adopt effluent guidelines that would require airports to remove 99% of the glycol in their recovered storm water before it is discharged—Inland Technologies began manufacturing its own custom bodies as it began seeing demand increase for its service of recovering waste ADF off tarmacs of airports around the world.
Inland Technologies was using a vehicle that was being built by another manufacturer. Richard Johnson, Inland Technologies’ manager of product development, says that when that company “backed out of the market altogether with their unit, we thought we’d take it on ourselves, so we’d have our own engineering and own inventory control, because their leads times were very long. We basically developed the product because what we wanted didn’t exist in the marketplace.”
The EPA never did follow through with the expected mandate, but Inland Technologies still found that its purpose-built Glyvac vehicle was in greater demand, because airport operations departments started asking Inland Technologies to build the units for them.
Johnson says his company does have competition, but most of other units are vacuum trucks or street sweepers that have been retrofitted.
“So they try and do a different job with a truck that was actually engineered to do something else originally,” he says. “We are a purpose-built vehicle for exactly what we do—recover waste de-icing fluid off tarmacs of airports around the world.”
Inland Technologies now is building about one per month, with half going to airport operations departments.
“Overall, we were lucky that the first prototype and design worked as well as it did,” Johnson says.
“We basically were able to jump right into production. We’re in a continual evolution, trying to increase productivity and make the unit more user-friendly as well as trying to increase its overall lifespan. We want to get down to fewer moving parts—something simple for operators to use, yet be able to hang around for eight to 10 winters of heavy use.”
The units are built at Inland Technologies’ manufacturing facility in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Engineering manager David Morneau describes the manufacturing process for the Glyvac recovery bodies, featuring an 1800-gallon tank: “We start with raw steel, then cut and bend it into parts that are welded into components, whether it’s the tank or subframe. From there we assemble everything in what we call a ‘dry fit.’ The unit is then painted, and we run hydraulics and electrical and do the finishing. Most of our painting and final assembly is subbed out to a finishing shop at a specialty vehicle company; the core competencies of our shop are welding and fabrication.
“Any trucks we build in the UK are built under license with a bodybuilder in Newcastle—an independent company with which we have a non-competitive, non-disclosure agreement. They manufacture the parts, put them on and do all the hydraulics. We have demand from airports in the UK. They have to have a European chassis with a right-hand drive, so it was easier to hire them to do the work rather than move the chassis here, fabricate them, and ship them back.”
Inland Technologies began work with Kenworth in 2013 when it mounted six of its Glyvac recovery bodies on the Kenworth K370 cabover chassis. It chose a 200-inch wheelbase, which allows room for 1800-gallon tank mounts. The K370s are powered by the PACCAR PX-7 engine rated at 260 hp, and driven through automatic transmissions.
Johnson says the K370 has become the standard chassis for Inland, and the company plans to spec the unit when replacement or additional vehicles are needed by the company. The K370s are purchased through Bayview Kenworth in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Inland Technologies currently runs a total of 70 glycol recovery vehicles.
The recovery system features a wash bar under the truck that directs water spray (at 725 psi) down on the tarmac. The water and ADF is then vacuumed up with a vacuum system so powerful that it could completely fill the 1800-gallon tanker within five minutes, if it were suctioning off a pool of fluid.
Each vehicle features a three-stage fluid separation system that removes over 99% of the glycol from the air stream. Once the tank is full, it’s off-loaded at a nearby airport collection site, where the fluids are recycled.
Inland Technologies is contracted to work at major airports such as Toronto Pearson, Calgary International, and Dulles and Reagan airports in Washington, DC, to collect the ADF, and then recycle the fluids for industrial market re-use.
“We have recycling operations set up at most of the airports where we collect ADF, while others serve as regional processing facilities,” Johnson says. “Some airports where we provide environmental services have sophisticated drainage systems that collect all ADF runoff passively. Denver, for example, has all its ADF collected through runoff drains that are directed into tanks at our recycling plant for processing. But many airports don’t have this drainage infrastructure. That’s where our fleet of trucks comes in.”
He says the amount of ADF collected is totally weather-dependent: it could be 50 liters during a frost break, hundreds of liters in a freezing rain and tens of thousands of liters in a bad storm.
“Our job is to collect as much of it as hits the ground as possible,” Johnson says. “That’s where our truck shows its efficiency over street sweepers or vacuum trucks. With our patented technology in fluid separation and technology of air flow in the pickup head, we’re capable of collecting all standing fluids on the ground. So in one pass—the pickup head is eight feet wide—we can collect whatever fluid is on the ground, whether its 50 liters or 500 or 5000. De-icing fluid goes everywhere, so you have to be able to drive and collect in an efficient pattern—get it off the ground as fast as you can and get out of the way so the rest of the airport traffic can utilize that space.
“It’s designed to offload in 10 minutes or less. The storage vessel could be a tanker truck, frac tank, or tank facility at the airport. You have to be able to get to it and offload in a quick manner.”
Johnson says the Kenworth K370 is an ideal truck for Inland’s operation.
“We were looking for a strong truck that was durable and reliable,” he says. “Our bodies are very complex pieces of equipment, so we need the truck to last as long as the mounted equipment—well beyond 10 years. What’s more, we can’t afford any down time, since these units are a mainstay for airport operations.”
He says a cabover was also the best choice because “we work in very tight areas—with very expensive airplanes and ground equipment in the same space—so being able to see directly in front of us, without a hood, is very important. The great visibility and excellent turning radius that the Kenworth K370 offers really enables us to do our work well.”
To keep its commitment to airports, Johnson said he has the support of Kenworth dealers that are all located close to the airports served by Inland Technologies.
“They are critical to our success,” Johnson said. “We can’t take our trucks to Kenworth for service. They have to come to us. And they must have parts readily available so if we need something fast, we can get serviced and back up and running. It’s been a big difference maker for us, enabling us to deliver a higher quality of service to our customers.”
Since Inland’s recovery vehicles are specialized for winter work—on standby for four to six months of the year, depending upon the airport—its core of drivers typically come from the construction industry.
“It works well,” he says. “The drivers often run construction equipment in the spring, summer and fall, and then come work for us in the winter. They’ve told us they really like driving the Kenworths. In some cases, they’ll be pulling up to 12-hour shifts in very challenging weather. So they appreciate the comfortable seat and the driving environment the K370 offers.” ♦