March 4, 2019

CASE STUDY: Mobile Railcar Cleaning - Canola Oil Tank Cars


Disclaimer: The following story is based loosely on actual events and results. The parties involved are not disclosed. Always make sure you do your due diligence on any mobile maintenance program to make sure it is the right fit for your company.


Why does this matter to you? If you manage a rail fleet you've probably considered mobile maintenance strategies to stay competitive. Whether you manage hazardous tank cars, a fleet of box cars, or covered hoppers there might be ways to improve your supply chain by bringing the repair shop to you, and not the other way around.


Our story begins on a cold winter day in Winnipeg, MB where our friend, "Pete" learns he is now responsible for managing his company's 100 leased rail cars dedicated to food-grade Canola Oil service. As an experienced rail fleet manager, Pete knows that each commodity has it's own challenges and Canola Oil is no different. His main concern is this:

  • Food-grade Canola Cars need to be cleaned annually and sending them to a repair shop for cleaning can mean not seeing them for 60 days, or more!

For a while Pete gets himself acquainted with his new responsibilities and business continues as usual until one day he made a call that sent him in a new direction.

"We can't get to your car for at least another week," the manager of his favorite repair shop told him. "We've got quite the backlog!"

Not the news he was looking for when he called for a status update on his overdue car.

Luckily for Pete, while attending a recent trade show Pete had heard about Mobile Railcar Cleaning and took to Google to find a local service provider near his Western Canadian loading site.

He found a company that had experience with Food Grade rail car washing that claimed they could come to site and wash and dry a Canola Oil rail car in a couple hours. They could even oil the inside of the car to prevent flash rust from occurring and contaminating a load. The best part was their quote was in-line with industry rates!


Re: Mobile Railcar Cleaning

Many of the features of rail car cleaning facilities can be replicated at your facility using oil field equipment such as steam trucks, vacuum trucks, and other depending on the commodity and cleaning method used. Often, professional rail car cleaning companies bring trailers that are custom designed and offer a variety of functions. Such is the case in this 100-car case study, with a trailer custom designed for cleaning and oiling Canola Oil tank cars.


Pete, our Fleet Manager, was thrilled with the results and the feed back from the loading facilities were positive. Even the safety folks were happy - particularly due to the fact that the process required no confined space entry. The crew drove alongside the cars, hooked up to the cars, cleaned and oiled, and cars were spotted for loading shortly after. This process was repeated again and again over time eventually more than 1,000 cars in total were cleaned on-site over the course of a few years.

Cost Savings:

  • By eliminating the out-of-service time, this Agriculture Co. was able to reduce this canola fleet by 15% from 100 cars to 85 cars, which saved them approx. $90,000 per year in lease expense while shipping the same amount of product.
  • Empty freight moves to and from shops were eliminated, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in freight and out-of service related costs.

Other Benefits:

  • Greater flexibility and a more nimble rail fleet.
  • Shipper does their part in reducing Class 1 congestion with shop-bound traffic.

Are you interested in incorporating similar strategies for your own repair fleet? If so, let's chat about how we can deliver this value for you. We've made it easier than ever to offer turn key mobile solutions to you anywhere in North America. Want to discuss Canola Oil cleaning or any other idea you may have, please contact me on my cell phone 306-270-3589 or email [email protected]


I absolutely encourage you to reply with your thoughts: Do you agree or disagree with me? I would love to hear similar success stories!


As always, thanks for reading - take care.


About MGH Railcar Services Limited

Based in Saskatchewan, Canada, MGH Railcar was established to provide regional services for railcar fleets. The company specializes in freight car management, repair, and quality, as well waste management, and metal recycling; providing a wide range of services from railcar repair management, mobile and drop off scrapping, inspection services, acquisition support services, training, and railcar storage management. For more information please visit

Media Contacts

Robert Skarzynski
VP, Business Development
[email protected]