Dakota Gasification Company earns valuable certification

Tyson Schumacher, Dakota Gas operations coordinator; Aaron Marquardt, Dakota Gas fertilizer section manager; Brandon Hicks, Dakota Gas chemical production section manager; Chris Breiner, Dakota Gas compliance program supervisor; Amy Garman, Dakota Gas laboratory superintendent; and Jeff Graney, Dakota Gas compliance, safety, and industrial hygiene superintendent. 

A few years ago, the team at Dakota Gasification Company was tasked with obtaining what’s called ISO 9001 certification, a metric that ensures products are being produced to acceptable quality standards. In this case the product is cresylic acid, a product extracted from the gas liquor stream produced during the coal gasification process. 

Once produced, cresylic acid is then used to create a wire enamel insulation varnish, which Dakota Gas sells to its customers in the construction and automotive sectors. On average, the plant produces 21 million pounds per year, which is then sold globally into the wire enamel market. Recently, the demand for cresylic acid has increased as the emerging electric vehicle (EV) market grows at an accelerated pace. 

The three-year journey to receive certification began in September 2019 when Dakota Gas' largest cresylic acid customer mandated that in order to continue sales to the automotive industry, Dakota Gas must have ISO 9001 certification.

Andrew Jones.

“The initiative was driven by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), which is a consortium of automotive manufacturers who aim at providing improved quality products to automotive customers worldwide,” says Andrew Jones, Dakota Gas account manager and sales executive. “The IATF requires each supplier to be able to show their raw materials risk.” This refers to risks associated with supply, product availability, quality, and any other risk that could negatively impact supporting the end customer. 

The certification required a series of audits conducted by LRQA, a global assurance provider. The audits identified quality improvement opportunities for the Great Plains Synfuels Plant’s cresylic acid manufacturing process. Two LRQA auditors completed a readiness review in March 2022 and subsequently conducted a full quality management system audit in September 2022. “LRQA approved action plans developed by Dakota Gas to address seven minor nonconformities identified by the auditors,” says Chris Breiner, Dakota Gas compliance program supervisor. “The approval of those plans led to a recommendation to certify Dakota Gas as ISO 9001 compliant.” Dakota Gas earned ISO 9001 certification on Dec. 1, 2022. The LRQA auditor will review the corrective actions taken on the seven minor nonconformities in March 2023.

"Obtaining ISO 9001 certification is critical. It demonstrates to our cresylic acid customers that Dakota Gas is committed to delivering quality products and focusing on customer satisfaction. The process was very long and protracted, requiring hundreds of hours to complete. It’s a significant achievement that was realized through active involvement from staff in process operations, maintenance, chemical lab, sales and marketing, product logistics, purchasing, contract administration, and internal auditing," Breiner says.

The efforts of all involved ensures that Dakota Gas will reap the benefits of the emerging EV market as well as construction markets and will drive continued profitability relative to this product line.

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