Industrial rope access specialist Skyriders Access Specialists is providing rope access services for State-owned power utility Eskom at its Kendal power station, located about 40 km southwest of Witbank, in Mpumalanga.
Skyriders marketing manager Mike Zinn tells Engineering News that the company started work in early January and completed the first scope of work in mid-February. Skyriders is preparing for another major shutdown of one of the units in July.
Skyriders’ scope of work for the project to date included conducting boiler-safe access inspections, installation of safe work nets, and nondestructive testing (NDT) inspections (which include visual, magnetic particle inspection (MPI) and ultrasonic (UT) wall thickness inspections) on the boiler pressure parts of the boiler, precip hoppers, coal bunkers and pipes. Safety nets and lifelines were also installed.
Skyriders has been providing assistance to this station since 2002 and, as such, is well equipped as a service provider to Eskom, Zinn avers. This is also in line with the company’s scope of work in providing such services to Eskom, having done so for most of Eskom’s coal-fired fleet, he adds.
Zinn says the biggest challenge for this project is striking the right balance between meeting project deadlines while ensuring a high quality of work. Skyriders is drawing on the resources of its experienced technicians and a strong management team and has conducted in-house training to mitigate this.
He highlights the company’s not receiving any negative comebacks on inspection quality and no incidents having been recorded during the scope of work provided as notable achievements for this project.
Moreover, Skyriders is striving to ensure that this is constantly improved upon, and that it meets Eskom’s requirements, in line with its ethos of securing this level of quality for all clients. Zinn indicates that this will assist in guaranteeing that Skyriders continues to be the preferred rope access service provider for Eskom.
“That we have the right team and the right skills set means we are very optimistic about this work and all future work,” enthuses Zinn.
Using rope access services enables Eskom to spend less of its budget on access costs, he adds. Subsequently, positive excess can then be used for other important facets in the construction process such as inspections and maintenance.
Further, the use of Skyriders’ services increases productivity, as more work is done during the “incredibly small window of opportunity,” Zinn espouses.
He notes that when the cost of access is disproportionate to the scope of work or when time is of the essence, Skyriders rope access offers a solution.
This project is one of a series of ongoing project services for Eskom for its coal-fired fleet of stations. Zinn informs that teams are stationed permanently at some power stations while crews are on standby to provide assistance where and when needed at others.
Skyriders’ scope of work for this series of other projects is extensive. The company is conducting inspections and repairs for concrete and compensators, and is also providing maintenance for sheeting, lagging and cladding. Surveys are being undertaken for the hanger and pipes.
Skyriders is also providing cleaning services in areas in the various power stations that are inaccessible to the general cleaning service providers. The company is also providing bunker lashing, protective coating, high-pressure washing and grit blasting. Work at height audits are also being administered.