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CRANES: JCH Facilitates Sasol’s Maintenance Shutdown


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Scheduled maintenance shutdowns are crucial, however it is essential that these be conducted as safely and efficiently as possible. Sasol Secunda’s decision to contract Johnson Crane Hire to supply 90 mobile cranes for the largest maintenance shutdown in its history was an obvious one. The company has the necessary depth within its fleet to accommodate the numbers and sizes of cranes required to facilitate the huge range of lifting capacity during the shutdown.

The shutdown at Sasol Secunda West Plant, which took place from the beginning of August to the end of September, was a 24/7 operation involving some 21 000 manhours by Johnson Crane Hire personnel alone. A team of Johnson Crane Hire support personnel including service technicians, auto electricians and dedicated safety personnel were also on site. In total more than 309 rigging teams were involved and over 14 500 rigging tasks were successfully completed.

Cedric Froneman, Johnson Crane Hire regional manager responsible for work undertaken at Sasol Secunda, says that the relationship is based on confidence and trust and stretches back to the early 1980’s when Sasol first hired machines from Johnson Crane Hire. “We also bring an intimate understanding of working within a petrochemical environment to the table, particularly where the exacting demands of safety are at issue.”

“This was the largest volume of cranes supplied at any one time to Sasol by Johnson Crane Hire with the majority of cranes being 80 t and 120 t machines,” Froneman says. The smallest crane was an 8 t unit and the largest a 550 t machine. The cranes were used both for statutory maintenance tasks as well as plant repairs and also handled project tie-ins which were planned to dovetail with the shutdown. Several of the mobile cranes were also used for running plant maintenance on the East Plant.

In addition to the mobile cranes, Johnson Crane Hire also provided specialised transport services to facilitate moving large equipment within the plant infrastructure itself.

Critical to the success of all the lifting applications were the MK 100 and MK 110 construction cranes as these machines offer both reach and efficient lifting capability allowing these units to handle lifting tasks that would normally have necessitated two or more cranes. “This translated into time and cost savings without compromising on the safety factor,” Froneman says.

“Logistically, this type of crane hire contract requires extensive planning and co-ordination to ensure that all the appropriate machines are available on time at the requisite site,” Froneman says. Equipment was taken to the Johnson Crane Hire Trichardt branch from as far afield its Port Elizabeth operation.

Johnson Crane Hire’s Trichardt branch was opened in 1978 during the construction of Sasol II as part of the company’s commitment to not only Sasol Secunda but also its other customers in the region including collieries, power stations and plants. Today the branch is home to a range of mobile cranes and one of the latest upgrades to the facility was its new washbay which meets the latest environmental specifications. The branch also provides accommodation for its operators and this facilitates optimum service to customers when required.

Prior to the shutdown commencing 140 Johnson Crane Hire employees underwent a series of inductions and other processes to ensure that all requisite statutory requirements were met and risk mitigation would be optimised during the maintenance operation.

Daily toolbox talks which form the cornerstone for all work undertaken by Johnson Crane Hire operators and other personnel were held daily during the shutdown operation. “This involved discussions around potential risks as well the reinforcing of safe behaviours,” Froneman says. “Our operators hold competency certification with all training being done at our own in-house training academy in Vanderbijlpark.” Significantly, Johnson Crane Hire is registered to provide accredited training.

As the largest mobile crane fleet operator in Africa, Johnson Crane Hire differentiates itself from other operators with its SMART strategy: Safety, Maintenance, Availability, Reliability and Total Cost Effectiveness, with Safety occupying top priority.

“Every aspect of our work, from operations to operators, from maintenance to performance, from cost to quality is subjected to those predominating principles,” Froneman stresses. “We implement a total lifting solution approach ensuring that we supply equipment which is precisely suited to the job in hand, ensuring both safety and quality and a lift which is completed on time and within budget.”

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