From Tank Wagons To Tank Trucks: A History

January 15, 2016

Liquid and gas transport is a huge industry, but that wasn’t always the case. In the early days of the oil industry, finding ways to transport oil from production sites to refineries was a challenge. Oil was contained in barrels and had to be pulled to its destination by horses. This method presented a variety of logistical and safety problems, so it limited the growth of the industry.

In the early 1880s, tank wagons emerged as a means to transport oil in bulk. These were horse-drawn wagons with large oil tanks affixed to them. Their greater hauling capacity meant that they could transport larger quantities of oil per trip, decreasing overall costs and bringing new life the market.

From Tank Wagons To Tank Trucks

Almost as soon as wagons came into common usage, they began to be replaced with machinery. Oil companies began to use pipelines and railroad tank cars to transport oil across large land distances. Shorter land distances were covered by tank trucks.

Fast forward and tank trucks are most often used to carry refined oil to gas stations. And that’s not all. Tank trucks are used to transport liquids such as petroleum, diesel fuel, and industrial chemicals. They are also often transported by railroad, so carefully designed for safety and easy transport.

Considered specialized pieces of equipment, they must have the proper linings, coatings, and pressure components in compliance with industry standards. Some tanks are divided into multiple sections, enabling the transportation of more than one type of oil at once. Certain types of tank trucks carry cargo besides oil, including food and liquid hydrogen.

Improving Safety Over Time

Since the days of horse-drawn tank wagons, new safety measures have continually been integrated into tank construction. Tanks today are specialized to the type of fuel they will contain, and the operators of transport vehicles receive special training. As environmental awareness and engineering capabilities improve, oil transportation methods continue to become safer and more efficient.