The use of paraffin waxes as lubricants in rigid PVC was pioneered in the USA. The original work identifying paraffin waxes as outstanding lubricants for rigid PVC was performed by B. F. Goodrich more than 50 years ago. Today, Rheogistics is the leading developer of sophisticated, cost effective, multi-functional lubricant systems and mechanical stabilizers for rigid PVC based on the exceptional and complex performance of fully refined paraffin, Fischer-Tropsch (“FT”), and alpha olefin waxes. All our major raw materials, except for FT waxes, are sourced domestically. Each wax we utilize is from quality driven, well managed companies that continue to invest in large scale wax production, thus insuring adequate wax supplies across our product lines. Our raw materials are the finest quality, most consistent waxes available today. Our business, technology, and operations are boldly innovative and distinctively American.
Rheogistics recently completed a 36% warehouse expansion and a 40% production capacity expansion. A new 18,000 square foot warehouse, with three loading docks, was placed into service earlier this year. As a safeguard to severe weather events, the new warehouse was built to withstand winds in excess of 150 mph. The warehouse expansion provides additional space for solid raw material storage and surge inventory of finished products. The three new loading docks, with a large turnaround area for trucks, allows in-bound and out-bound traffic to unload and load more quickly. Rheogistics is known in trucking circles as a friendly place where pick-ups or deliveries are quick and easy.
Our 40% production capacity expansion was completed at the end of 2018. A fourth spray chill tower was added, along with new blending tanks, pumps, flow meters, refrigeration capacity and other necessary equipment. This additional capacity provides greater flexibility in production scheduling and improves our ability to respond quickly to customer requests. Rheogistics is capable of manufacturing 14,000 lbs./hour of solid, prilled lubricants for rigid PVC.
The fourth tower, which utilizes a fluidized bed spray chill process, was designed in-house and includes numerous process improvements invented by our process operators and production management. The tower was fabricated in Picayune under our supervision. Much of the process was installed by senior operators, technicians, and management.
Two new Trane chillers were installed in January to replace two units that had been in service for 15 years. The performance of the old chillers, which were always maintained by Trane, was still good, but we had concerns about their reliability over the next few years. Thus, this capital investment was made to improve the reliability of our process, overall operation, and customer service during peak demand periods when a chiller failure might impact our ability supply products required by our customers on a timely basis. Our Picayune plant operates multiple chillers and multiple boilers.
This year, another small building addition is being built to house our maintenance area. This addition will increase factory space under roof to just over 71,000 square feet and will allow us to improve housekeeping, plant appearance, and product flow through our facility. In addition, new process equipment is being installed to automate and improve handling of an important raw material that is dusty and difficult to handle.
Finally, plans are underway to build a new 1,500 square foot extrusion pilot plant designed to improve our understanding of the rigid PVC fusion process and identify opportunities to make PVC stronger. The new lab will include PVC blending equipment, industrial scale extrusion equipment, and physical property testing capabilities.
Rheogistics is committed to supplying the lubrication needs of the North American rigid PVC industry and to making rigid PVC stronger, more cost effective, and more useful.