Neolen Pillay

A day in the life of a Piping Engineer

I am a piping engineer and the Babcock site engineer at an Eskom power station site. My role involves a great deal of customer interaction as I bridge the gap between customer requirements and service delivery of Babcock’s technical engineering department. Our team performs boiler repair and modification work at the power plant, and our technical expertise ensures that we are trusted to deliver a safe, cost-effective and durable engineering solution. Babcock was the original equipment manufacturer of the 6 x 600 megawatt boilers commissioned in the 1980’s and we have been maintaining these boilers ever since.

Neolen Pillay

The power station supplies a large portion of electricity to South Africa’s national grid and therefore must always be online - no matter what. As a result, we treat every job as critical, giving it our immediate attention and are available 24 hours, 365 days of the year via an onsite office and team.

A recent critical project in which we excelled in terms of delivery and safety was a mammoth half-station shut-down to allow for the refurbishment of the cooling water circuit at the plant. Over a period of four months, Babcock effectively managed more than 2 000 people on site and totalled 2.2 million incident-free man hours. At the same time we also successfully completed an economiser modular replacement and turbine loop piping replacement.

I believe much of this success has to do with Babcock’s strict compliance with national and international safety standards, while our advanced technology, such as 3D scanning, helps us meet and exceed our customers’ technical requirements. This technology gives me great pride as I can confidently explain and demonstrate exactly how the customer’s project will come together, well in advance of material even arriving on site.

I have a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Engineering Management, so I find it fascinating to watch a design go from theoretical concept to a physical manifestation that works as intended from the get-go. I am proud to consider myself and my colleagues engineering experts, especially in the power plant environment, well equipped to provide engineering services to customers requiring innovative and safe, long-term solutions.