A partnership between engineering consultancy Hatch and furnace component engineering and production company Thos Begbie & Company will form an integral part of a China-based project to build the largest calcium carbide furnaces in the world.
The contract, which entailed three-staged delivery of the components, was completed in April.
The contract was awarded to the partnership in November 2010 and was followed by an order for 30 power clamps for delivery to China.
The lessons learned from the initial shipment of six power clamps were successfully applied to the remaining two shipments, which comprised 12 clamps each.
The power clamps are said to be a key component in the Hatch-designed electrode columns that will form part of the new calcium carbide furnaces.
The final shipment arrived in Malaysia at the start of May for integration into Hatch’s final client delivery of 30 electrode columns.
Hatch reports that this contract is a vast improvement in the type of work contracted to Thos Begbie. In past contracts, Thos Begbie would have only been a component supplier to Hatch; however, in this contract, the company was part of the planning, assembly and integration throughout the project, says Hatch technology regional director Renier Meyer.
The partnership worked well despite a few initial difficulties, such as the scale of the project and the quality assurance (QA) procedure. However, weekly coordination teleconferences were held throughout the project to ensure these difficulties were overcome.
In addition, Thos Begbie assigned dedicated project management personnel to oversee the production of the power clamps, while Hatch had an on-site QA presence – a South Africa-based third-party inspector – expediting nondestructive testing and engineering representation at key integrated transport plan points.
Thos Begbie also hired an industry expert to assist in the production planning and preparation of a test plan for QA conformance.
Meanwhile, the overall height of the power clamp proved challenging. As a result, Thos Begbie, Hatch and the industry expert had to design and approve a specific shipping method that would allow the item to lie horizontally, as opposed to its intended vertical orientation.
Through active discussion and cooperative design, the team successfully designed tilting protocol and fabricated a frame to enable horizontal transportation.
This success mitigated costly land transport fees in South Africa from Thos Begbie’s facilities in Middleburg, Mpuma-langa, to the port of Durban.
This contract was the biggest contract between Hatch and Thos Begbie, but the open communication, willingness and commitment of the team members involved were key to the successful outcome, says Meyer.