TIME CRUNCH Skyriders was allocated three days for each phase while the cooling towers were off to ensure safe conditions for those working in the towers
Rope access specialist Skyriders has completed a rope access project for a petrochemicals producer in South Africa.
The project was divided into two phases, with the first phase being completed before the petrochemicals plant was shut down at the end of August and the second phase being completed after the shutdown last month.
The project required support to a specialist civil engineering firm to determine the structural integrity and provide life-cycle planning for two cooling towers.
“The engineers needed to obtain information to conduct their analyses and, considering the cooling towers are about 150 m tall, we were tasked to provide rope access services inside the cooling towers so that we could provide the engineers with detailed feedback,” says Skyriders marketing manager Mike Zinn.
Skyriders was allocated three days for each phase while the cooling towers were off to ensure safe conditions for those working in the towers.
While inside the cooling towers, Skyriders personnel conducted nondestructive testing on the concrete such as visual inspections, cover meter surveys – using a ground penetrating radar – and hammer testing.
To prepare for the project, the company’s team underwent training according to the specifications set out by the consulting engineering firm to ensure that the relevant data would be captured during the project.
To ensure the team aligned its practices with those set out by the firm, a trial run was held a week prior to the start of the project.
Further, there being two towers required that the programmes conducted on both had to align and be done concurrently as Skyriders only deployed one specialist team for the project.
“This short window of time placed us under tremendous pressure as we had to conduct a good-quality inspection to provide the engineers with solid data to conduct the analysis. The main challenge was making sure we could, within half the time, still provide relevant data,” says Zinn.
While Skyriders did not use its drone technology for this project, the company did use a ground-penetrating radar machine, imported from Europe, to identify reinforced steel hidden by concrete to assist the engineers with obtaining relevant information.
However, owing to logistical issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, Zinn notes that the fabrication of the machine was delayed, causing the technology to arrive only a week prior to the start of the project.
Despite challenges, he says Skyriders delivered quality data in limited time without incident and within budget.
Once the second phase was complete, the company provided an in-depth analysis for the engineering firm.
Skyriders expects to conduct three similar projects for the petrochemicals producer throughout October, November and December.
The company also embarked on a project at a power station for a client, in Indonesia, where it is conducting inspections and repairs on a smokestack.
Zinn is excited about the project, as Skyriders has not worked with the client in years, owing to the scope of work being performed only every few years and Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
“It was a great opportunity to tender for the work and provide our services for clients in the country. Our main aim now is to wrap up the projects we are working on and ensuring that they are completed on time, safely and within budget,” he concludes.