Crevier opens massive new lubricants plant

by Carroll McCormick

LONGUEUIL, Que. – With twice the floor space of its old plant and a railway line to its back door, Crevier Lubricants’ new manufacturing plant and main warehouse in Longueuil, near Montreal, is better able to serve its expanding customer base in Quebec and Eastern Canada.

Inaugurated on Apr. 19, the 62,000 sq.-ft. plant has room to stock more than 3.6 million litres of bulk and packaged lubricants.

“This initiative is part of a long-term development plan that began three years ago with the signing of an exclusive Eastern Canada distribution agreement with Chevron,” says Guy Desaulniers, general manager, Crevier Lubricants. Company officials announced during the event its name change from Saint-Laurent Lubricants.

Among the suppliers and partners that attended the inauguration, which included diesel exhaust fluid manufacturer TerraCair and environmental services company Veolia, was Chicago-based BioBlend LLC. BioBlend provides finished products to Crevier for repackaging. They include greases, hydraulic oils, drilling fluids, chain and cable lubricants. BioBlend president Sam Burkett offers his view on what Crevier’s new plant means to his company, which manufacturers biodegradable lubricants: “This plant doubles Crevier’s ability to inventory, repackage and distribute lubricants, windshield washer fluid and diesel exhaust fluid for the new diesel engines. We can deliver more products to them and they can stock more products, and in different containers.”

Burkett also notes, “We are developing some products just for Crevier for Montreal and the east coast Canadian markets.”

The plant includes a bottling line and palletiser so Crevier can repackage products into different sizes. On the day of the inauguration, the line, which occupies roughly 1,000 sq.-ft., was configured to bottle Vuenet windshield washer fluid. Crevier can change the filling heads in just over an hour, giving it the flexibility to package products in containers ranging from 500 millilitres to 10 litres.

The railway spur is a welcome new transportation option. An important element in the choice of the new location, the rail access will lower transportation costs and help open new markets. Rail cars bring shipments of lubricants, such as motor oil, hydraulic oil and transmission oil, from Texas – a two-week journey. There is room to park three rail cars behind the plant and pump their bulk contents into tanks inside the building.

There is also room to park bulk trucks between the 92,000-litre capacity rail cars and the building. “This is a big plus for us. We want to build a loading rack here so we can load bulk trucks directly from the train tank cars, rather than transferring the fluid inside the plant and then back out again into the bulk trucks,” explains Peter Trepanier, sales manager, Crevier Lubricants.

Although Crevier supplies product to its commercial customers in 9.4-litre containers, 208-litre drum and 1,000-litre totes, many customers, including trucking companies, are taking advantage of Crevier’s ability to resupply consumables in bulk.
Crevier can deliver as much as 40,000 litres at a time to customers. Fleets like TransWest in Lachine, for example, are fully equipped for receiving bulk quantities of diesel exhaust fluid.

Among the brands Crevier represents – Irving, BioBlend and its private LSL brand – it distributes TerraCair diesel exhaust fluid. “We plan to install bulk capability for diesel exhaust fluid and bring in TerraCair in bulk and repackage it. Fleets are consuming more diesel exhaust fluid and they are beginning to buy it more in bulk,” Trepanier explains.

One hundred and ten storage tanks, ranging in capacity from 9,000 litres to 70,000 litres, occupy about half of the building’s floor space. One 11,500-litre tank, for example, holds base oil, to which additives from other tanks are blended to make products. There is equipment for heating additives, some of which are thicker than molasses, and mobile pumps and hoses for pumping ingredients into blending tanks.

Storage racks laden with packaged products soar toward the ceiling. This wealth of warehousing space makes it easier to maintain inventory levels, Trepanier notes. “Crevier lists over 3,000 SKUs. We may have five to seven products just to satisfy the transmission.”

Every bulk fluid that comes into the plant and every product that Crevier makes here is tested in a laboratory at the rear of the building. Among the equipment is an oven for testing greases and computers that let the company chemist compare the chemical signature of each incoming material with stored profiles. On one workbench is a Scanning Brookfield Plus Two machine that measures pour point. It can lower the temperature of fluids to -60 C. Trucking companies occasionally come to Crevier to have pour point tests done if they are having problems starting their trucks.

Crevier already has sub-warehouses in Baie-Comeau, Rimouski and Chicoutimi, and Trepanier comments “More are planned for Quebec City and Abitibi, with expansion into the Maritimes planned too.”

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