ENPAC is proud of the fact that its products are used around the world in a myriad of environments. From the frozen oil patches of Alaska, to the scorching deserts of the Middle East, our products are expected to perform. Since product failure in this case means fines, environmental damage, and lost work time, we take our quality control testing very seriously. Add to this mixture the fact that the properties of plastic change with temperature, and you can see why implementing testing procedures that mimic real world product usage lies at the core of our company’s strategy.
Enter the hot box. With summer in full swing it seemed an apropos time to explain this simple, yet critical weapon in our QC arsenal. This insulated room is used to test all of our load bearing products such as spill pallets, IBC containment units, and storage sheds. Recognizing that these items will most likely be exposed to extreme temperatures, our testing procedures are designed to imitate such conditions. Rather than using a fixed pressure arm to push down on a unit until it breaks, and calling that it’s load bearing capability, we choose to place a live load on the product. Furthermore, that live load is expected to remain on the pallet or other containment item for 7 days at 120° F (~49° C) without failure.
For example, let’s say we are testing a classic, a four-drum spill pallet. Our technical data states that this unit is capable of holding 6,000 lbs. (2,722 kg). In order to achieve this rating the pallet is loaded with four 55-gallon drums full of concrete and additional weight on top as necessary to reach the desired load. Then, it is placed in the hot box at the aforementioned temperature for 7 days. If the product fails or deforms to unacceptable levels, manufacturing processes are amended and the test is performed again. Doesn’t this take longer than a simple pressure arm test? Certainly, but we believe that our method provides more accurate results and verified performance.
So, next time you see a containment unit sitting in the sweltering heat, you can rest easy knowing that the plastic can take the heat. I would ask that you also take a minute to recognize and appreciate the dedication that went into creating that “simple” containment unit. For you, it may just be another plastic sump. For us, it represents 30+ years’ worth of work to create a proven product and the last line of defense should a spill occur. It is the culmination of our efforts to continuously improve upon our mission of protecting the environment, and your bottom line.