Skyriders anticipates deluge of maintenance work from petchem sector

A new benchmark for successful maintenance and repair work has been set by Skyriders Access Specialists (Pty) Ltd. when it replaced an entire deluge fire sprinkler system at a major petrochemical producer towards the end of last year.

A deluge fire sprinkler system is similar to a pre-action system, apart from the fact that the sprinkler heads are open and the pipes are not pressurised with air. These systems are connected to a water supply through a deluge valve that is opened by the operation of a smoke- or heat-detection system.

While Skyriders’ scope of work was to replace the system, it also had to coordinate its own operations with another contractor tasked to replace the insulation material around the petrochemical storage tank in question.

Skyriders Marketing Manager Mike Zinn points out that this was the first time the company had been requested to replace an entire system, which he likens to assembling an intricate piping puzzle, including ancillary components such as nozzles.

“Normally we are only responsible for sections, such as if a particular piece of pipe has a hole in it, or if it is blocked. However, production pressures over the year-end period resulted in our client requesting us to undertake the mammoth task of replacing the entire system,” Zinn explains.

The 28-day project was completed successfully by an eight-person rope-access team. Skyriders’ proactive approach to devising the necessary methodology for the project, while still being sufficiently flexible to adapt it to specific conditions on-site, was highly praised by the client.

“In the end, our approach worked perfectly. It was based entirely on rope access, and once again proved the suitability of this technique in technically-demanding and time-sensitive projects such as this,” Zinn adds. “In addition, our approach maximised the safety of all personnel, and guaranteed the quality of the work undertaken.”

Zinn concludes that the success of the project has not only boosted Skyriders’ own track record in deluge fire sprinkler systems, but has also presented major opportunities for future such work in the burgeoning petrochemical industry in Africa.

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