Plant shutdowns are a significant cost to plant owners, due to the cost of the work done coupled with the loss of production.
To minimise these costs, plants are taken offline for minimal time and inspection and maintenance activities focus on providing efficient, high value results. However, when access limitations are added to equation, additional challenges are added to the equation.
Inspections and repairs rely on the ability to comprehensively access the asset throughout a shutdown, and this access is typically provided through either permanent entry points and platforms, or temporary scaffolding and access measures.
ALS has been working with our clients to innovate beyond from temporary facilities, and adopting rope access services can provide benefits over these temporary, traditional access techniques. We typically utilise this access solution where clear cost benefits are able to be demonstrated. Perhaps not so well known is that improvements in the quality of inspections undertaken are also often an outcome of rope access inspections.
A Brief History of Modern Rope Access
Rope access services trace their modern routes to the implementation of formal safe work methods in the 1970s and 1980s, culminating in the establishment of IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) in the late 1980s.
Rope access has been most commonly employed in the time since for external construction, maintenance and inspection activities.
A BETTER WAY: Rope Access for Boiler Internal Inspections
Whilst ALS frequently uses rope access for external applications, we have seen improved outcomes utilising rope access for internal inspection of critical plant boilers.
The key benefits include:
- The scaffolding of internal areas is removed, saving both time and money.
- The approach provides a lower cost and time saving alternative to swing stages since the inspection from ropes can be completed before a swing stage is able to be set up.
- Improved visual inspection outcomes are often achieved due to the greater ability to get up close visual access of critical areas.
IN THE FIELD: Rope Access for Boiler Water Wall Inspections
For one client, the internal inspection of one of their boilers had previously required a full internal scaffolding in order to facilitate the inspection. This inspection itself had identified issues with the boiler hangers and some points of leakage, however the nature of the scaffolding did not permit close up visual examination.
With these access restrictions known, ALS employed rope access to get closer to the key inspection areas, with the overall aim to achieve a better inspection outcome.
The inspections revealed that the hangers were degraded. However, by being able to access higher up on the hanger brackets, it was discovered that the brackets were in good condition. This allowed the client to continue to run the boiler with confidence.
The service provision by rope access also avoided the installation of scaffolding which was estimated to cost in excess of $100,000.
Our Rope Access Team
At ALS, we are an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) International member and work to the highest standards of rope access globally. Our team are available across the country to save you money through more effective solutions to gathering the key inspection information you need.