Songer Goes To Serbia: Collapsed Sinter Conveyor Puts Steelmaking Operation In Jeopardy.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016 seemed like just another chilly gray day at the Železara Smederevo steel plant in Radinac, Serbia. Because when a well-known southeast European producer of steel, tin plate and hot and cold rolled steel is running full tilt, cold, unforgiving weather matters very little to the task at hand.
All that changed in a fateful instant of failing gears and shrieking metal as the vital A-1 and A-2 sinter conveyor lines suddenly collapsed within the factory – taking with it a significant portion of the auxiliary P-51 sinter conveyor.
As the raw material lifeblood of the Železara steel plant, sinter is an additive used in the iron producing process. Iron is heat processed from a calculated mixture of various ores, ferrous materials and coke breeze – and if sinter can’t get from point A to point B in a steel plant – significant time and money are on the line. Such a collapse might mean well over a month of crushing plant downtime; hurting the company bottom line and the well-being of the workers.
But Železara knew exactly who to call. Even if they were about 5,000 miles away.
Songer Steel Responds Within 24 Hours to an Emergency Outage, An Ocean Away From Home.
Our project managers and team were wheels up within a single day – flying once again across the Atlantic Ocean to a steel manufacturer we already knew well.
“We have been fortunate enough to work with the team members from Serbia since 2010. Key Songer supervisors are recognized throughout the industry. For years, our team has been asked to assist with mission critical assets, and to us, it makes no difference if it is home or abroad. When a friend calls for help, we are there to respond.“ -- COO Gregg Preteroti
Having been to Železara in critical situations before, Songer was able to put together a demolition and reconstruction timeline that was ambitious – even slightly lunatic – given the time of year and inaccessibility of the sinter conveyor systems.
- On January 8th, Songer immediately implemented a demolition plan. Together with Zelezara management, a mechanical contractor was chosen, along with procurement of all needed cranes and machinery.
- On January 9th, Songer worked with Zelezara safety managers to implement a jobsite hazard analysis and all required safety equipment needs. All contractor training was done, and mobilization of the project began.
- On January 10th, Songer Services, working with central maintenance managers, crafted a plan to reconstruct the P-51 conveyor, along with incorporating a conveyor system to transfer the plant’s sinter into sinter line #1 and #2, becoming a de facto temporary replacement line for the collapsed A-1 and A-2 conveyor systems.
Along with all pre-planning, Songer created a schedule that accounted for the real possibility of inclement weather and less-than-ideal working conditions.
The job would require significant cleanout and removal of collapsed materials. On-site engineering inspections. On-demand fabrication of repair or replacement materials. Crane erection. Fall protection. Re-routed electrical systems. Even full-on painting of the completed new conveyors and equipment. And it was all scheduled to be completed in thirteen days, working 2, 12-hour shifts per day!
“In our line of work, equipment wears out. Emergencies occur. When developing timelines for a repair like this, or any industrial job, we take an honest approach, coupled with an aggressive boots on the ground attitude. Songer’s can-do spirit is what is best known in the industry. No matter where we work.” -- COO Gregg Preteroti
Just Another Day on the Job for Songer Services.
Despite persistent bad weather, including cold rainfall that turned to subfreezing throughout the outage, we successfully completed the temporary sinter supply line on schedule. The job was completed on January 18th 2016, a mere two weeks from the fateful January 5th conveyor collapse.
Our crew was accident free for the whole job – and Železara was able to restart the blast furnace five full days before the completion of the repairs to hit the ground running once Songer was finished.
Our goal is, and will always be, to finish on or ahead of schedule, completing a fully considered, well-executed repair with safety at a premium; in order to save time and money for an heavy industrial manufacturer. All while getting workers back on the job faster than they ever imagined.
Železara is now running at full production with the new temporary sinter line providing approximately 1,000 T of sinter per day. That’s a happy ending to this story, even if it is 5,000 miles away.