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Products and solutions, 2008-04-18, 11:02 AM

A 24-hour job

The intricate, 50 meter tall scaffold structure recently enclosing the gas offtake pipes of the ThyssenKrupp Hamborn blast furnace in Duisburg had a volume of some 2,000 cubic meters. This was a job calling for the utmost in meticulous planning and organization. The scaffold erectors were allowed just 24 hours to scaffold the final and most exacting twenty meters of height.

A thorough inspection of the state of the four gas offtake pipes (diameter about 3 meters) and their subsequent repair made the elaborate complete scaffold enclosure necessary to give the workers safe access for measurements of materials and welding work. The scaffold erectors from ThyssenKrupp Xervon had a total of four weeks to scaffold these steel giants from the initial height of 40 meters at the base of the pipes to a height of 70 meters – while iron making continued. At the same time, they prepared as far as possible the scaffolding of the remaining 20 meters above the rope pulley platforms that carry coke.

When the day arrived, everything had to move swiftly. At the start of the morning shift, the blast furnace was shut down for a few shifts. All the moving platforms and conveyor belts around the blast furnace came to a standstill. Within 24 hours or three shifts, the scaffold erectors now completed the still missing and most difficult part of the scaffolding. Almost 25 meters had to be spanned with lattice girders and a 300 square meter suspended scaffold in order to afford access to the gas offtake pipes up to their final height of 90 meters. The 11-strong team couldn't afford to make any mistakes. And this depended on immaculate advance planning and organization, tasks shared by the scaffolding department of ThyssenKrupp Steel under Manfred Buchholz's management and ThyssenKrupp Xervon's local project management under Klaus Nitkowski.

Safety first

In view of the size of the offtake pipes and the tight scheduling, the erection of this full-scale scaffold was a by no means everyday task for the scaffold erection team. Nevertheless, Xervon site manager Nitkowski was sure that everything would run smoothly. "We're constantly working here under a master agreement and everyone involved knows what's expected of him." This includes not only scaffold erection skills, but also extremely pronounced safety awareness. During scaffold erection against the hot gas pipes, every employee had to have respiratory protection equipment with him. "Occupational safety has absolute priority in all projects," Ralf Jucknischke also stresses. Together with two other colleagues, he had been responsible for management of the huge pipe scaffolding project – from planning and the organization of manpower and materials through to the supervision of the assembly process.

Immaculate advance planning

The preparatory measures also included, for example, bringing sufficient materials to the right height early on so that the scaffold erectors had enough materials at all times within the tightly scheduled erection period. This applied particularly to the last 24 hours in which no hold-ups could be allowed during assembly. All the same, the scaffolding work was completed "without a hitch" and even ahead of time. "Some areas of the scaffold were released before we finished work at the top. This meant that measurements and subsequent rehabilitation work could get going earlier than originally planned," says Nitkowski, underlining the successful completion of scaffold erection.

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