Issue Nov Dec 14
For more than 70 years, Chart Industries has built a worldwide reputation based on its ability to engineer and create unique solutions to its customers’ problems.
“We’ve always had a history for being innovative and investing in product development; we’re driven to provide solutions for difficult applications,” says Bill Haukoos, president of the Cleveland-based company’s distribution and storage group for the Americas. “We excel at developing novel solutions for customers and turning good ideas into products we can manufacture, then providing best-in-class delivery and service.
“We deliver value to customers by first solving a problem they have, which in many cases turns into a product line we can sell multiple copies of,” Haukoos adds. “A recent successful example of this is our new Bulklite 1400 gallon horizontal storage tank. Our customers asked us for the largest tank that we could build that would not require a crane at installation to keep the costs down. We worked with them and delivered a nice new product for long-term sustainability.”
Chart manufactures custom and standard engineered products and systems for a variety of cryogenic and gas-processing applications. The company operates three main product groups:
- > A distribution and storage group, which manufactures cryogenic equipment, systems and products used in the distribution and storage of nitrogen, argon, oxygen, carbon dioxide and natural gas for industrial, commercial, medical and scientific applications;
- > An energy and chemicals group, which supplies cryogenic gas processing systems and heat exchangers for applications such as nitrogen rejection natural gas liquefaction;
- > A BioMedical group, which supplies products for respiratory therapy and cryo-biological storage.
Chart maintains a global footprint, with more than 5,000 employees and multiple locations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Australia. The company serves a diverse range of markets and customers including energy providers, aerospace companies, electronics manufacturers, the food and beverage industry, automotive OEMs and medical research. “The common factor across all those industries is that our customers expect best-in-class value comprised of safety, performance, reliability, delivery and price,” Haukoos says. “All of those are important, so to our customers, our total value comes from optimizing those areas.”
The company designs its products to last for the long term. “Most of our customers define quality based on total cost of ownership, which includes not just the initial price, but what their experience will be over the next several years in terms of performance and reliability,” he adds. “We think we’re best in class when it comes to providing the best total cost of ownership for all the products we manufacture.”
Chart in recent years has applied its experience in manufacturing low-temperature gas storage equipment to the growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. “We’ve seen considerable growth potential in the LNG market over the past five years and invested in facility expansions in the United States and China that will improve our capacity to serve those markets,” Haukoos says.
The company’s LNG-related products include its proprietary brazed aluminum heat exchanger, which can covert gaseous methane into LNG. Chart also manufactures LNG fuel tanks; storage and loading systems used to transport LNG to trailers, railcars or other vessels; fueling stations and mobile regasification systems that can be used to power drill rigs and fracking spreads in the oil and gas industry.
“Chart provides all the equipment needed for a LNG-fueled fleet — from the liquefier to the on-board fueling system. We not only know how all the products work together in a complete system, we have designed many of the components, so we know they will work together,” it says. “Chart LNG’s expertise starts with its predecessor companies, which have a 50-plus-year history in cryogenics, including products used at hospitals, major research laboratories, universities, NASA, chemical plants and at major manufacturing plants around the world.”
The company applies a similar knack for vertical integration to its other markets. “Our products can be used in the creation of the liquefied product right down to the end-use application,” Haukoos notes.
Chart’s entry into the LNG and other new markets contributed to its financial health in recent years. “We weren’t immune to the last recession, but we weathered the storm and came through relatively unscathed,” he adds. “We’re financially stable, so we are able to weather some slow periods by flexing capacity and reducing costs. We came out of the last recession strong and are looking for growth opportunities, both organic and through acquisition.”
The company and its predecessors have operated in the United States for more than 50 years, and its European operations date back 70 years. “We’ve been through more than a few recessions,” Haukoos says. “The key for us has been to have flexible manufacturing and manage our capital and inventory effectively. Because our core businesses are cyclical, we’re accustomed to dialing production up and down as needed.”
A Dedication to Quality
Chart’s three product groups each operate regionally. Haukoos is responsible for the distribution and storage group’s Americas region, and has counterparts in Europe and Asia. The company operates 16 total manufacturing facilities in the United States, including facilities in New Prague, Minn., and Canton, Ga., where much of its distribution and storage products are produced. The majority of Chart’s U.S. facilities are ISO 9001 and IS 14001 certified, and the facility in Canton was recognized in Quality magazine’s “Quality Leadership 100.”The recognition notes the company’s dedication to training and continuous improvement. One of Chart’s main training areas is in welding, which is one of its core manufacturing competencies. The company has established welding schools in most of its sites worldwide to provide supplemental training. “Because of how high the welding standards are in the industries we serve, additional training is almost always required, even if we hire an experienced welder,” Haukoos says.
The most common regulations governing welding are American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Section 8 and U.S. Department of Transportation DOT 4L standards, both of which mandate the types of materials, welds and testing processes manufacturers need to perform.
Chart rolls and welds together the stainless steel pressure vessels that comprise the interior of the storage tanks it manufactures. Each vessel is inserted into a vacuum jacket, and the space between the two components is evacuated. Following this, Chart inserts valves, regulators and safety devices.
The company manufactures both standard and custom products. Custom systems are completed in separate areas from the standard lines.
Chart’s employees are at the center of all of the company’s efforts. “I’m most proud of our employees and their commitment to continuous improvement and meeting customer expectations,” Haukoos says.