Engineers, as well as rigging, crane, scaffolding and related companies, based in the Vaal Triangle, consolidated their skills earlier this month to support the Vanderbijlpark Rotary Club’s eighteenth yearly charity fundraising event, the Rotary River Festival, during which the world’s longest washing line over a body of water was constructed.
Spearheaded by structural engineering company Trinamics Structures MD Jannie Bosman, the team of engineers constructed the 5 km washing line, which would have cost up to R2-million to construct, free of charge. The team of professionals started working together three months ago to devise a system whereby the washing line, donated by fastener specialist Verbolt, was rigged in 50 m sections between two main 38 mm supporting steel cables, supplied by steel giant ArcelorMittal.
ArcelorMittal also supplied four 24 t steel blocks, which acted as counterweights, while Gauteng Rigging Services provided the necessary rigging requirements, taking on the technical challenge of transferring the main support cables across the river and supporting them 4 m above the water level, enabling boaters to navigate the water in the vicinity of the construction.
Further, local engineering company All-In-One Engineering manufactured the slides and provided general engineering expertise, while lifting solutions provider Delta Crane and Plant Hire helped with transport.
Other service providers included engineering and construction group Kentz, which assisted with the design, calculations, drawings and digi- tal project presentation; H&M Metals, which supplied the support towers for the main cables; Juno Enterprises, which provided the main barge that supported the cable in the centre of the river; SGB-Cape, which provided the steel scaffolding structure from which Rotary Club members hung the washing on the line; and Africa Safety Development, which provided the safety plan for the project.
With the cables weighing a collective 4.5 t, one of the main challenges for the team of engineers was getting the washing line across the river, which needed to be untangled once it was offloaded.
“Obviously, working over water is not an easy feat. We had to use boats and barges to help us get the job done,” says Bosman, adding, however, that one of the greatest feats of the project was that competitors in the area worked together, free of charge, for the sake of the community.
“There was never a problem in terms of rivalry and, considering all the time that the cranes and rigging services had to spend here, as well as the time that the engineers put in, it really was an achievement.”
Meanwhile, stationery manufacturer Waltons provided 15 000 bulldog clips to secure 6 708 school shirts to the washing line. More than 9 000 shirts were donated in total by businesses, schools and private individuals in the community, and will be distributed to needy children in the region.
Fast-moving consumer goods giant Unilever, which manufactures Omo washing powder, also partnered with the Vanderbijlpark Rotary Club to sponsor the washing-line initiative, donating R750 000 that will go towards community upliftment in the Vaal Triangle.
Moreover, local hotel and conference venue Stonehaven-on-Vaal, which hosts the Rotary River Festival each year, sponsored R95 000 to repair the Baddrift bridge, alongside which the festival is held.
Stonehaven MD Rosemary Cloete-Anderson tells Engineering News that, despite her best attempts, she could not persuade the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport to repair the concrete pillars before the world record attempt.
“We, therefore, took it upon ourselves to repair the bridge, with permission from the department,” she says.
Civil engineering companies Accord Engineering and Derek Arrow & Associates were appointed by the Vanderbijlpark Rotary Club as independent referees to authenticate the record-setting project.