Majuba Power Station

Babcock to the rescue after silo collapse

Babcock is in the forefront of providing essential lifting expertise to some of the major manufacturing and strategic enterprises in the country.  As a leading supplier of engineering support services and plant to the energy process, mining and construction industries in Africa, our plant hire business has become the largest empowered mobile crane and plant service provider throughout South Africa.

Majuba Power Station

During the past few months, Babcock has participated in vital projects where expertise and capabilities have been tested to the full.  One such instance is the project at Majuba Power Station after the collapse of the coal silo.   Majuba Power Station is the youngest commercially operated power station in South Africa at the moment.   Built in 1994 the power station houses three silos, each holding 10 000 tons of coal.

It was originally thought that the cracks that had appeared on one unit and subsequently repaired would not present any problems but in November 2014 the structure collapsed.   Senior engineers and members of the power station’s management were quickly on site in order to assess the damage and call for remedial action.   A tender was issued and awarded within ten days of the incident.   Babcock was successful in the bid and was on site immediately upon receiving confirmation.

The crane selected for the job was a Liebherr LG 1550 mobile crane. “This was normal service to us, but was significant in that it gave us exposure on a major project in terms of seeing the capability of a crane that is not well known in the market,” explained Mike Hawkins - Heavy Lift Manager, Babcock.

The scope of work included assembling the crane on site, removing the first gantry, de-establishing the crane, moving it to the second position, re-assembly and take down of the second gantry.

Hawkins added, “In my opinion it was one of the best lifts we have done. It was not the heaviest but the most challenging in that there was no definite confirmation of the weight. The uncertainty of the weight made us lift in 5m intervals with assessments at each interval. It was also challenging in the sense that it is always more difficult to remove old plant than it is to install new. Nobody is sure how a bulky load like this will behave at 60m high when it finally comes free (the gantry weighed 56ton was 30m long, 7m wide and 3m high). Once the gantry was free from its supports, it hung 60m in the air with no means of pulling it back. Things did get a little tense at times, especially when the wind picked up to dangerous levels.”

“The confidence displayed by our personnel to ensure the successful conclusion of the project was indicative of the professionalism that Babcock employs on every job” ~ Michael Hawkins - Heavy Lift Manager, Babcock