Steel fabricator Genrec, which is part of the Murray & Roberts group, has fabricated nearly 50% of the 220 000 t of steel required for the erection of boiler units at State-owned power utility Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile power plants.
The company has been working on these projects since 2009 and says its work on the multibillion-rand projects is progressing according to schedule.
About 18 500 t of steel is required for each of the 12 boilers being built at Medupi and Kusile.
“We have used mostly South African fabricators and local content but, because of the urgency of this project, offshore fabricators have also been used to assist in meeting critical demands,” says Genrec MD Laurence Savage.
“This is a huge logistical task; each boiler unit comprises 30 000 parts, ranging from 80 t for a single part to items that weigh less than 5 kg,” he adds.
As a result of the enormity of the power station projects, Genrec uses its self- developed Track and Trace program, which interfaces with its main operating system, allowing anyone who works with the steel to identify it within a 3 m proximity.
This has been up and running at Medupi, heralding great success, and is in the process of being implemented at Kusile.
Every item, including nuts and bots, is tracked from its origin to final sign-off as an erected item forming part of the boiler unit, ensuring the highest level of quality control and traceability.
“Further, Genrec is doing everything possible to keep costs in check, and where Genrec is involved in the project, the company will continue to reduce costs and contribute to efficiency. The nature of these projects does result in changes in work being done and, as Genrec is a contributor to the projects, this requires fast and efficient incorporation. Slow reaction times and delays just cost everyone money in the end,” he says.
The company operates 24 hours a day and its in-house engineers are able to make judgement calls immediately; this also contributes to efficiency in the fabrication works.
“Our in-house engineers add conve- nience, intellectual capital and capability to the projects and this gives us a head start as a key contributor to the project,” says Savage.
Genrec reports that it is on its way to achieving a two-million-hour injury- free milestone, with safety being at the forefront of everybody’s minds.
The power plants, each of which has the capacity to produce 4 800 MW of electricity, will be the two biggest power plants in South Africa once completed. They will also be among the ten largest producing coal-fired power plants in the world.
Genrec established an in-house training facility on the back of these projects to develop further South Africa’s capability of producing world-class skills in a productive environment. The training facility also upskills people recruited from the Unemployment Insurance Fund database with appropriate basic skills.
This is done under stringent control from mentors who range from highly skilled artisans and engineers to technicians.
“The candidates go through a rigid screening process and are trained in a work environment by a mentor up to production level,” says Savage.
Meanwhile, Genrec has started to open its doors for more varied opportunities, as steel fabrication is not as critical as it was a year ago.
“We are openly reintroducing Genrec to the mining, petrochemicals and alternative power markets,” he says.