Skip Navigation

Products and solutions, 2005-12-30, 10:01 AM

Multi-trade skills: from specialists to generalists

Industrial maintenance tasks can be accomplished extra-smoothly by combining several trades - a fact demonstrated by the boiler overhaul at the RWE Niederaussem lignite power plant. For scaffold erection, blast-cleaning and insulation work on the boiler funnel, E.ON Anlagenservice GmbH contracted power plant multi-trade services provider ThyssenKrupp Xervon. This interdisciplinary Gelsenkirchen-based company offers its all-in industrial maintenance services to power plants, also.

The advantages of having a multi-trade provider supply all-in maintenance services are evident: the customer has just one point of contact; his own coordination work is limited to the administration of the overall project. On-site multi-trade supervisors ensure smooth, on-time completion of the individual jobs. In fact, there supervisors are both specialists and generalists in one person. Specialists in their own learned trades (like corrosion protection) and generalists in all the other trades required on the site such as insulation and scaffold erection. These are skills with which they are familiar enough in order to expertly supervise and coordinate the laborers performing the tasks. The site supervisor is the sole point of contact with the customer and provides the preconditions for smooth implementation of the maintenance and inspection plan.

The 20 x 10 m funnel newly supplied and installed at Niederaussem is situated beneath the combustion chamber of the boiler fired with lignite. It is here that the generated slag is collected and discharged centrally by wet slag removal. So that the heat in the funnel is not wasted, its walls are not made of simple metal plate but of tubes in which steam is generated. "In only eight weeks we gradually scaffolded the huge metal-plate structure on the inside and outside. In the transitional areas between old and new, we also stripped about 900 square meters of insulation. Then, the slag and old refractory linings were removed from these surfaces by blasting with granulated blast-furnace slag. And finally, we fitted a new layer of insulation," says multi-trade supervisor Michael Klönne of ThyssenKrupp Xervon, describing the task. During the project, it was his job to supervise the up to 60 scaffolders, blasters and insulators and coordinate their respective tasks with those of the E.ON staff on site.

Exploiting synergies

Essential for the success of such a complex maintenance project is, however, the ability of all employees, from the manager down to the industrial laborer, to pool their talents. And this starts with utterly trivial things. "In our company, the trades work together right from the start," explains Dr. Rainer Gwosdek, responsible for funnel overhaul management. The blast cleaners carry scaffold tubes if need be, and the scaffolders help the insulators in return. "We have eliminated strict demarcations between trades. We are a team in which everyone looks beyond their immediate horizons. And because we take an interdisciplinary approach in our work, the client can see that things are running smoothly," Gwosdek stresses.

The synergies resulting from consistently practiced "multi-trading" were also clearly visible at Niederaussem. Instead of the many site containers for the team and equipment of every single trade, ThyssenKrupp Xervon installed a single cluster of site facilities for all. And the equipment required for repairs and maintenance was available to everyone. Skillful coordination by multi-trade supervisor Michael Klönne made this possible. "Why should scaffold erectors and insulators each bring their own forklift trucks? Or set up their own lighting and dismantle it after work, leaving the next trade to start again from scratch?" asks Klönne, highlighting the potential for economies.

No interim acceptance inspections

The client´s coordination effort declines markedly. Interim acceptance inspections - for scaffold modifications, for instance - are now a thing of the past. "Otherwise the customer has to inspect and approve every erected scaffold on site so that other trades can use it," says Klönne, explaining the usual procedure. "We as multi-trade contractors don´t need to." In fact, the suitably trained blasters have even made professional minor modifications to scaffolds in Niederaussem themselves. That´s what "multi-trade" skills are all about," Rainer Gwosdek emphasizes. He´s pleased with every multi-trade job awarded to them, because these services are still in their infancy, particularly in the power plant sector. "The customer first has to be aware of the possibility of contracting multi-trade service providers," Gwosdek adds. The word still needs to be spread, he claims. "We´ve got all the prerequisites. We have complete mastery of all the trades. And to demonstrate our high standards of quality and safety, we´ve obtained certification to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and SCC [Safety Certificate Contractors], for example."

To the top