What is a Loading Arm?

Loading arms are self-supporting structures, generally composed of three rigid pipes, called respectively; internal arm, external arm and drip tube, connected by rotating joints that allow flexibility of movement in the different axes.
Due to the weight of the pipes a balancing is necessary, which is done by means of a counterweight or a gas or spring cylinder.
Loading arms are used for the transfer of fluids or gases from storage tanks to mobile tanks, by road, rail or sea.

What Loading arms are used to

Depending on the fluids to be transferred, the design specifications of the loading arms vary; material, painting, sensors and valves.
They are normally used in the industries of:

  • Agriculture
  • Avietion
  • Construction
  • Solvent wastes
  • Fertilizers
  • Food & drink
  • Oil
  • Gas
  • Pretrochemicals
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Treatments Water
  • Chemicals & Chemical produts

Types of loading arms

There are different types of loading arms:

  • Top loading arms
  • Bottom loading arms
  • Marine loading arms

Loading arms standards

The loading arms are designed according to different standards, such as: 94/9/EC Directive (ATEX), 2006/42/EC Directive (Machinery), 97/23/EC Directive (PED), API - ASTM - ANSI - TTMA standards, which modify their structure to make it as safe as possible.

Top loading arms

Top loading arm

Loading arms from above are still the most popular method of filling tank vehicles in the world.
They differ from the others in that they are transferred via the manhole on the top of the tanker.

Depending on the need, there are different types:

  • Top Loading Arm - Short Range

    The short-range loading arm is used when the vehicle can be positioned accurately.
  • Top Loading Arm - Variable radius

    Variable radius version allows greater coverage of load points.
  • Top Loading Arm - Long Range

    The long-range version allows maximum coverage of the loading points; in addition, the version with vapour recovery allows the return of the same to the shelter, through a dedicated pipe.

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Bottom loading arms

Bottom loading arm

The bottom loading arms differ from the others in that they are transferred via the valves located at the bottom of the tank, often via an API RP 1004 valve.
The lower loading arms have a long load-bearing capacity and are suitable for applications where the tanker connection flange cannot be positioned precisely.

  • Bottom Loading Arm

    The bottom loading version allows tankers or portable tanks to be loaded or unloaded while remaining on the ground, often via API RP 1004 coupler.
  • Bottom Loading Station

    This type of loading arm is specially designed to transfer liquids and gases where steam return is required. It is suitable for the loading/unloading from the bottom of road or rail tankers with flanges or by coupling.

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Marine loading arms

Marine loading arm

The marine loading arms are used to load or unload almost all liquid products and gases compressed by sea in tankers, with manual or hydraulic controls has the same functionality as the other arms but need a more complex design, to ensure safety.

The design allows the arm to be assembled so that it follows the movement of the sea, taking into account changes in current, wind, tide and other factors than land-based. This ensures that it is always paired with the boat without damage and ensures safe transfer.

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