T & C Stainless playing major role in the battle against COVID

Steve Chapman

Some of the tanks manufactured by T & C that will be used to produce the vaccines for combating the pandemic.

President Joe Biden stands in front of one of the tanks T & C manufactured for Pfizer during his Pfizer press conference in February. (Photos submitted)

On Friday, March 19, the Biden administration reached its goal of seeing 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in the United States. A major contributor in reaching that goal was T & C Stainless, a Mt. Vernon company that manufacturers the tanks pharmaceutical companies—like Pfizer—use for COVID-19 vaccines.
In fact, T & C makes their tanks almost exclusively for pharmaceutical companies.
“If you watch on TV and a pharmaceutical commercial comes on for certain (medical) drugs … we’ve done work for them,” said Terry Cook, president of T & C.
The tanks are made using a high-end grade of steel called AL-6XN. Cook said the steel’s quality is important, as some medicines would actually destroy a tank made with an inferior grade of metal.
“Some medicine will corrode just regular stainless steel,” he said.
The process of manufacturing a tank from the time T & C receives a purchase order to the time it is ready to be shipped to a customer is about 20 weeks, with the first 14 weeks spent securing the materials for the tanks. Also, the company will spend about two weeks designing the tank their customer wants. Mark Golterman, project manager, said a company like Pfizer will give T & C a data sheet of what fittings they want on the tank. Then T & C’s in-house engineer designs it and then sends it to the company for review. The company will look at the design and make the changes they want. They’ll then send it back either approved, or marked to make changes and send back for review again.
“In this first phase, when we were working things out, we were having drawings going back daily,” Golterman said, “because the design changed about three times because they scaled up and they scaled down, different sizes. And it was fast-tracked, because they needed to get the vaccine on the market, so it was a lot of changes and a lot of work going back and forth, Webex meetings and all that stuff to get things worked out.”
It requires a special level of skill to build the tanks pharmaceutical companies use.
“It takes really good welders, fabricators and grinders,” Cook said.
“Not just anybody can build those vessels, and not just anybody can build the quality that’s required,” added Guy Renshaw, T & C vice-president. “So, we are really proud of that.”
When the tanks are actually manufactured, it is important that they are kept completely sanitary. If bacteria find a place to live inside a tank, the result could be the destruction of millions of dollars worth of a vaccine. Cook said, “You don’t want to be the one who caused that.”
“If it’s got voids, holes, cracks, pits; anything that can harbor a microscopic bug in there, it can grow, (and) it infects their product,” he said.
For that reason, the tanks are put through a process called Clean in Place (CIP) after being manufactured.
“Every tank has to be CIP cleaned,” Cook said, “because we’re working with microscopic bugs. So, it’s got to be very, very sanitary, so when they’re making their product, the microscopic bug won’t grow in there and kill their product.”
Building tanks for use in making medicines is nothing new for T & C; they have made tanks that were used to manufacture treatments for cancer, diabetes and muscular dystrophy, as well as tanks that were used to double the production of insulin in Puerto Rico.
“I was sitting with my wife when all this started hitting,” Golterman said, “and I go, ‘Honey, is this going to be my shining moment in life when we got this big project to help save the world from this pandemic?’ And she goes,’ Until the next project comes along.’”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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