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Reducing Transit Time: Bringing Barite to Denver

When a wholesale supplier of drilling fluid was losing business due to excessive transit times, UPDS provided transit certainty.

Released April 5, 2017 Case Study


Recently, barite became the latest product on the UPDS shipping roster. What is barite, you might ask? Barite is a mineral used as a weighting agent in drilling muds (also called “drilling fluids"), which are used to ensure safe and effective drilling of oil and natural gas wells.

In the drilling world, drilling muds have to arrive on time, or the show can’t go on. So if a supplier misses delivery windows, you can bet the driller will find someone else to supply their fluid. In other words, for drilling mud suppliers, late delivery means lost business.

Shipper Challenges

Our customer, a wholesale supplier of drilling fluids, was facing this very challenge. Due to excessive transit times, they weren’t receiving barite, a key product ingredient, on time. That meant they were also having trouble delivering drilling mud on time and were losing business as a result.

Barite is transferred pneumatically from a storage pig at the Denver Railport.
Barite is transferred pneumatically from a storage pig at the Denver Railport.

The UPDS Solution

Reducing transit times and ensuring on-time delivery of barite were our key goals on this project. Fortunately, with reliable rail service, transloading and storage at our Denver Railport, we knew we could achieve them.

The UPDS team created a plan to ship barite from Nevada to our railport in Denver via Union Pacific Railroad. In Denver, we stored the barite in a number of 200-ton storage pigs, where it could be transloaded to trucks for final delivery as needed.

Our Results

UPDS was able to reduce rail transit times from 10-14 days to just 6 days on Union Pacific. And, with on-site storage and transfer to truck for final delivery, barite could be delivered on-demand, ensuring on-time delivery every time.

With this solution in place, our customer could plan shipments better, ensure customer satisfaction and retain business. By storing the product at our railport rather than paying a premium to store it on tracks in rail cars, they are able to reduce their costs as well.

Our customer also saw another benefit. Prior to working with UPDS, their sales office was located at the same site as their rail station. The company had plans to move the sales office, but wasn’t sure what to do about rail access. Because of their UPDS solution, they didn’t have to choose a site with rail access, nor did they have to make a capital investment to install track at the new office location. Our customer saved hassle, too. Because UPDS already has trained and capable transloading staff on site at the Denver Railport, they didn’t have to worry about finding their own transload provider. Instead, UPDS receives the product by rail and handles transloading and final delivery, taking this worry off their plate.

Would you like to resolve your transit-time woes?

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