By Kirk Stelsel, CAE
Wisconsin is known for many things: The Green Bay Packers, a rich history of beer production and native son Frank Lloyd Wright. What the state is perhaps most famous for, though, is its status as America’s Dairyland – and in particular, the cheese that results from all that milk.
The state’s dairy numbers are staggering. Close to 150 cheese plants in the state manufacture more than 3 million pounds of product every year, totaling 26.2% of all cheese production in the U.S. (1) One such plant, Grande Cheese, is among the top 20 natural cheese producers in the U.S. and has seven locations in southern Wisconsin.
At its plant in Juda, Wis., an expansion created the need for new wastewater infrastructure, but the manufacturing byproduct is anything but typical. The tanks needed to be capable of withstanding wastewater with a high temperature and acidity level, and the time frame was short. All pieces had to be delivered in a three-week construction window, leaving very little opportunity to conceptualize and fabricate a solution.
Dalmaray Precast Concrete Products in Janesville, Wis., was up to the challenge. The company immediately went to work creating a long-lasting solution to meet the needs of Grande and the contractor.
Outlining the solution
Bryan Kranig, president of Kranig Excavating in Albany, Wis., made the decision to use precast tanks. His company has been doing outside excavating, utility work and plumbing for about 15 years at that location.
“All the projects get thrown to me,” he said. “They leave it up to my discretion and really value my opinion, and with the circumstances of the site and what we were going to be doing, it was obvious precast was what we needed for the job. With the terrain of the job site, there really wasn’t a way to pour anything in place, and with the ability of Dalmaray to design the precast, it was a no-brainer.”
Prior to the project, the team at Dalmaray had never installed a product with a sheet liner in the field. However, Aaron Ausen, vice president at Dalmaray, had created a relationship with Seaman Corporation and the team had conducted a series of tests at the plant to prepare for the moment. Although Ausen said the market for sheet liners is not strong in his area, the promise of a liner that was cheaper and easier than a hand-applied coating was appealing.
“We are trying to set ourselves apart from the competition and offer something else,” Ausen said. “The way the liner had been presented to us as easy-to-use and cost-effective was very attractive. To my knowledge, I didn’t think there was any kind of liner for a square structure.
“When somebody tells me they can do something faster and cheaper, I’m going to look at it.”
In partnership with Seaman, Dalmaray manufactured three major structures – an 8,000-gallon cooling tank, a 6-foot-diameter wet well manhole and a 5-foot-diameter process manhole. In addition, Dalmaray delivered six other 4-foot-diameter manholes.
As specified by the engineer of record, each structure needed to withstand 180-degree F, 10% acidic wastewater produced while making cheese. The precast tanks provided the desirable, durable housing and the Seaman XR5 PVC liner system is rated to handle the water specified.
“The liners are very important in the tank and the manhole,” Kranig said. “First, the hot water is running through them constantly, and they also have high-strength waste going through them. The liners were new to me, so as soon as I saw they needed liners I called Dalmaray and asked them to work their magic.”
Unique needs, simple solution
Although the products were right in Dalmaray’s wheelhouse, the accelerated timeline, along with some changes during the job and the first in-the-field application of the lining, made the project anything but ordinary.
The time crunch was due to the project getting fast-tracked. In addition, midway through production the customer had some changes in the order and they wanted the products sooner. Dalmaray met those needs.
“The tank and manhole we were all pretty comfortable with, but the liner is what threw a wrench in the system,” Ausen said. “We don’t work with liners often up here. We’ve done model fits and testing and we’ve done coatings, which are pretty common.”
The liners are premade to the exact dimensions of the product and shipped to the precaster. There, they are laid out and then stretched over the form with the PVC side facing the interior of the structure prior to placement of reinforcement and concrete. The back side is fibrous, which allows the concrete to bond to the liner. The experience went smoothly, with only minor adjustments needed.
“The installation was very good,” Kranig said. “Dalmaray was on time with everything and explained everything very well. It was a breeze.”
With a successful job under its belt, Dalmaray sees other opportunities for liners in its market.
“We are going to test it with grease interceptors and farm applications where there’s acidity and high temperatures such as milk house wash water and manure pits,” Ausen said. “We think there are a few different markets where we can use it.”
Kirk Stelsel, CAE, is NPCA’s director of communication.