The specialised demolition services of demolition contractor Jet Demolition are ideally suited to the distinctive challenges of any furnace demolition, particularly those in mining operations, owing to the specialised machines and equipment modified to work in such a confined space, says Jet Demolition contracts manager Kate Bester.
“These specialised machines offer us the best chance of improving on project schedules, resulting in decreased downtime for clients,” she states.
Jet Demolition has reduced the size of plant items and equipment so that they fit and operate in confined spaces. The company lifted modified mini excavators onto engineered scaffolding on a large furnace reline project in 2015, allowing it to demolish refractory lining at height, which Bester states had only ever been done by hand at this specific facility.
“We use specialised lances and tubes, affording us a better burn-rate through solidified iron, and have applied metallurgical research into developing unique wire-packs suited specifically to the base metals within the furnace to be demolished.”
Jet Demolition also presents a unique solution through the company’s teams being able to transition seamlessly from stave-jacking to lancing, and to the mechanised removal of large blocks of solidified iron.
Furnace shutdowns are often done during winter, and are usually on a 24-hour schedule to reduce downtime.
Elements that require demolition depend on the extent of the maintenance or repair work required. Smaller shutdowns usually require only the burden and solidified product from within the furnace to be removed to allow for localised repairs to the refractory or insulation lining.
More extensive repairs might require the demolition and removal of the refractory lining, sections of the shell plate, or entire furnaces to allow for modernised installations.
These types of operations requiring more extensive repairs often necessitate various methods, ranging from the hydraulic jacking and removal of staves to the lancing of solidified iron a few metres thick.
It is also common for different service providers to share a space, where various contractors work alongside one another. This makes implementing a detailed and consistent plan more important, as it helps to ensure the safety of all persons during large and complex projects.
Further, fatigue management and contractor integration are the major challenges associated with work of this nature, as furnace shutdowns normally require extended working hours – including nightshifts – under extreme conditions such as a wet environment during quenching and cooling, and working in a hot environment with restricted visibility during lancing activities.
“Just about every element of a furnace structure is large and heavy, and has the potential to cause harm. Therefore, it is imperative that there is no slip in focus or our attention throughout all the phases,” says Bester.
Mining Demolition Development
Owing to the company’s commitment to safety and productivity, Jet Demolition is ideally suited to complicated and time-sensitive projects in the mining industry.
Bester notes that the company is active in all the main mining sectors. “Most mining sectors have some form of heavy infrastructure, which will eventually be either wholly redundant or require upgrades in optimisation strategies.”
Certain mining operations require significant rehabilitation after years of mining for the mine site to be made suitable for public use.
She highlights the reduction in safety risks and costs provided by the company’s turnkey solutions, as it offers the benefit of a one-stop service provider that can decontaminate, safely demolish, and recycle aged infrastructure, as well as rehabilitate the resulting footprint of a mine.
The development of new technologies, infrastructure development techniques, and the increasing integration of mechanisation have also placed an increased importance on improving safety measures.
“We believe that a consistent review of operational processes and international developments will result in optimised and efficient strategic growth in the industry,” points out Bester.
Subsequently, Jet Demolition places a priority on improving and developing its own operational processes and systems. The majority of the company’s research and development is done in-house, which includes the modification and development of suitable tools.
Bester explains that demolition operations on furnaces generally require the use of smaller machines that can carry and use larger work tools. New methods of demolition, such as hot relines, also require innovative thinking. She reiterates that this results in an organic development and redevelopment of specialised work tools.
Bester also emphasises that the safety of personnel requires increased emphasis on using appropriate skills sets and experience. Jet Demolition retains its permanent personnel through all phases of a project, and does not employ ad-hoc labour to undertake demolition activities.The company also maintains its own fleet of specialised demolition equipment.
“We are striving to extend our footprint across Africa, and have worked in a dozen African countries to date. We are also keen on expanding our underground demolition portfolio, but are always open to accept challenging projects that demand the highest safety and production performance,” she says.
“As with all aspects of our business, we take a long-term and cautiously optimistic approach to our expansion. The most effective approach to marketing and expansion will always be through positive proven experience. By completing projects safely, on time, and within budget, we ensure that our services are sought after beyond our own borders. We would ultimately like to grow our cross-border project profile to represent 30% of our annual revenue, but also appreciate that global markets may affect the best-laid plans,” Bester concludes.