Furnaces in the steelmaking, glass or general manufacturing industries have a finite lifetime before requiring significant maintenance and repair work.
Industrial demolition works company Jet Demolition offers a myriad of specialised demolition services, easily adapted to suit the challenging conditions of a furnace demolition project.
The company owns a variety of specialised machines and equipment modified specifically to work within the confined space of a furnace structure.
“These specialised machines offer us the best chance of improving on project schedules, resulting in decreased downtime for our clients,” says Jet Demolition contracts manager Kate Bester.
While this particular service itself can be classified as niche or specialised, what makes Jet Demolition’s approach unique is the fact that its teams can transition seamlessly from stave-jacking to lancing as well as to mechanised removal of massive blocks of solidified iron.
“More often than not, furnace shutdowns are planned over the cold winter months, and will be on a 24-hour schedule so as to best minimise production downtime. It is thus the strength, commitment, and discipline of the team that results in a highly successful project completed within time and without incident,” she explains.
The elements that require demolition depend greatly on the extent of the maintenance or repair work to be undertaken. Smaller, less serious shutdowns often require only the burden and solidified product from within the furnace to be removed, so as to allow for localised repairs to the refractory and/or insulation lining.
Other extensive repairs may call for the demolition and removal of the refractory lining, sections of the shell-plate, or even entire furnace structures so as to facilitate modernised installations.
More often than not, a selection of different methods will come into play, ranging from the hydraulic jacking and removal of staves to the lancing of solidified iron a few metres thick.
It is also common to share a working space with other service providers, where various contractors are working alongside and over and above one another. Therefore, it is critical to implement a detailed and consistent plan of action, ensuring the safety of all persons during large, intricate and complicated projects.
Jet Demolition has modified various items of plant and equipment – significantly reducing their overall size – enabling them to fit and manoeuvre in incredibly confined spaces. It has also recently lifted modified mini excavators onto engineered scaffolding, enabling it to demolish refractory lining at height.
“This activity has historically only ever been done by hand at this specific facility. We use specialised lances and tubes, affording us a better burn rate through solidified iron, and have applied metallurgical research into developing unique wire packs suited specifically to the base metals within the furnace to be demolished,” she highlights.
Fatigue management and contractor integration are the major challenges associated with work of this nature. Furnace shutdowns typically require extended working hours under extreme conditions, and nearly always involve night-shift activities. It is thus critical to ensure that the teams are well rested, disciplined, experienced, and well looked after throughout the project.
Owing to the nature of the works, it is not uncommon to have a demolition contractor working alongside an installation contractor. As a result, it is imperative that all programmes are wholly integrated, with every person understanding where the risk activities are being executed.
In addition, it is inevitable that furnace demolition activities have an array of extreme conditions and circumstances associated thereto. These range from working in a wet environment during quenching and cooling to working in an extremely hot environment with restricted visibility during lancing activities.
“Just about every element of a furnace structure is large and heavy, and has the potential to cause harm. Thus, it is impera- tive that there is no slip in attention throughout all the phases of the works,” Bester concludes.