Out of the many tractor trailers that travel down the highways and byways of Michigan, chances are, more than a few are carrying cargo tanks from Burch Tank & Truck Inc. Burch has been in the tank industry for nearly 30 years, manufacturing custom-built cargo tanks for the agricultural, chemical, crude oil, aviation, petroleum, sanitary and industrial gas industries.
Founded in 1990 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., by Ken Harrison, the company started as a three-bay operation that grew into a facility that today is equipped with approximately 60,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space in six buildings for tank fabrication, manufacturing and repair. Its operations, which span 25 acres of enclosed land, also include a fully stocked Burch Tank parts store.
The company is truly a multi-generational family business. In 2000, Ken’s son Jeff Harrison, current CEO, joined the company, and in 2007, Jeff’s son Jason Harrison came on board. Over the years, the business has steadily grown, serving the tank industry from two locations in Mt. Pleasant and Midland, Mich., employing about 100 people.
Being a manufacturer of bulk transport tanks for the chemical, sanitary and petroleum industries requires Burch Tank to be an “R” Stamp Holder for repairs on pressure vessels and a “U” Stamp Holder for manufacturing pressure vessels. It’s also a 3-A Symbol Holder of 05-16 as well as a Designated Approval Agency (DAA).
Burch Tank’s mission statement is clear and concise: To provide the best possible service with the highest quality of workmanship. To accomplish this, the company relies on its innovative designs along with the best machines and equipment to carry out the job. Its promise to customers is one that the company takes seriously, and recently, that commitment led Burch Tank to invest in a new fiber laser cutter.
The new fiber laser cutter, a CyLaser CY2D L6025, has an 8-ft.-by-20-ft. double bed for cutting large and small, intricate pieces from carbon steel up to 3/4 in. thick and stainless steel up to 7/16 in. thick. And, thanks to the capabilities afforded by fiber laser technology for reflective metals, aluminum alloys up to 7/16 in. thick can be processed as well as brass up to 1/4 in. thick.
Fiber lasers are known to provide highly accurate cutting while operating more efficiently with lower costs and reduced maintenance when compared to CO2 laser systems. They can also cut thin metals much faster with higher accuracy. Fiber laser technology also allows materials that are difficult to cut, such as reflective metals, to be quickly and precisely cut.
These are some of the reasons why Burch added the fiber laser cutter to their list of current available equipment.
“This is one of the largest fiber cutters in the Midwest,” says CEO Jeff Harrison. “In addition to our press brake and plate roll machine, our new laser cutter allows us to produce precise parts for all of our equipment, helping to make the highest quality tanks possible. We are excited for the new opportunities; Burch Tank is now able to produce high-quality custom cutting and fabrication parts for not only Burch Tank but other businesses, as well.”
But, Burch Tank isn’t just leveraging its new equipment and expanded cutting capabilities for its own needs. The company wants to help support other businesses by offering them laser cutting services.
Burch Tank’s other integral manufacturing equipment includes a 325-ton press brake with a large collection of custom dies. It also has a state-of-the-art backgauge and can handle material up to 12 ft. long. These features allow jobs to be customized to a variety of specific in-house and customer needs.
The company’s rolling machine can process stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel to produce large pipe and other conical products measuring between 2 ft. and 12 ft. in diameter. It can handle material up to 16 ft. 1/2 in. long with thicknesses up to 3/8 in. Adjoining the plate roll is a 16-ft.-1/2 in.-long seam welder capable of MIG and TIG welding of aluminum, stainless steel or carbon steel.
Finally, the company’s head forming machine can form precise tank heads in round or elliptical shapes. It is capable of dished and flanging using stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel with a 2-ft. to 12-ft. diameter and a maximum thickness of 5/8 in.
“Due to the fact that each tank is custom made, this piece of machinery is invaluable,” Harrison says. “We can truly customize all tanks to the exact size the customer wants and needs.”