Industry & Real Estate

Friday, 15 August 2008 19:28

Consol secures new power supply in record time

{pp}The municipal power supply to the Consol Bellville, Cape Town, factory was recently upgraded in record time in a complex logistical operation that depended on optimal collaboration of all involved – Besamandla (Western Cape), the electricity services of Cape Town municipality, Consol and the engineers and project managers Electrical Engineering Solutions (EES).

The installation of the 4 x 825m 11kV XLPE cable that crossed five erven, including the properties of three private companies, and a railway line was practially completed in three weeks from getting on site and was functionally completed within another month. Planning the operation took three months.

Bradley Hemphill, managing director of EES, says a project of this complexity would usually have taken at least twice as long.

“The pressure was on to install the new cable as quickly as possible because the
main electricity cables supplying the Consol site were more than 30 years old. Each time a cable failed a significant portion of load needed to be shed for the duration of the repair to minimise further deterioration of the remaining stressed cables.

“The cables were failing to deliver uninterrupted power to the glass furnaces, potentially impacting production output and turnover.  This was becoming risky, particulary in the climate of load shedding.”

Hemphill said that all those involved in the project immediately appreciated its urgency and opted to collaborate in the most productive way possible.

“Processes were streamlined and everyone worked beyond the call of duty. It was a superb example of how a public/private partnership, given the right incentives and leadership, can excell.”

The old cables were left operational and in place while new trenches were dug in which to lay a sleeve network for the new cables.  This meant that the disruption caused to Consol’s neighbours was minimised because the basic laying down of the infrastrucuture could proceed quickly and be covered over, and the cable pulling could happen later with minimum impact by accessing the buried sleeve through dedicated manholes.

But digging the new trenches had considerable challenges as existing power and telephone cable neworks, water and sewerage pipes, stormwater drains, a railway line and minor roads along the route needed to be identified and worked around.

Hemphill says there was also a “ element of relationship management involved in the project, specifically with the enterprises whose land we traversed. We had to ensure the security of the property of both the companies and their employees during the entire operation.

“We were acutely aware that the project was disrupting their environment and operations and we worked hard to mimimise the inconvenience to them of having their parking lots dug up, having strangers on their property and the noise.”

He believes that thorough preparation together with extensive knowledge of all the logistical, legal and bureaucratic hurdles inevitable in a project this size ensured efficient management and prompt completion of the installation.

Consol Bellville’s technical manager Craig Findlay says that the rapid installation of the new power cables was a high priority for the company.

“With the older cables we were concerned that power to our furnaces could be disrupted.  We are .now secure in the reliability of our power supply and are able to more confidently deliver beyond our customers’ expectations.”           

Contact Information:
Issued on behalf of Electrical Engineering Solutions by WebWords
Bradley Hemphill, CEO:
Tel: 021-701-9020, 082-375-5900
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Marian Shinn, Web Words:
Tel: 021-788-5011/082-831-2429
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