MANUFACTURING: John Thompson Powers Ahead
Recent Western Cape Business News
PLAYING its part to mitigate the effects of the energy crisis in South Africa is Alstom John Thompson (AJT), which is halfway through a contract to upgrade Eskom’s boilers at the Arnot Power Station in Limpopo.
The multi-million rand contract, awarded by the state power utility, will use a combination of engineering input and change of components to increase boiler capacity and efficiency.
Along with other projects currently in progress, particularly in the areas of instrumentation control as well as work on the turbines themselves, this overhaul will result in a significant improvement in electricity generation.
The project was due to take eighteen months and completion is anticipated by year-end. It is the latest of several maintenance contracts on big power generators that John Thompson has.
The upgrade, which represents the first major capacity increase of an existing coal-fired power station, calls for a change in the configuration of boiler pressure parts. This entails specific welding techniques to be utilised on the high quality boiler tubing with the selection of the correct weld consumable paramount. John Thompson called on Alstom UK’s expertise to minimise the welding re-work and optimise the quality of the weld.
As a result of this co-operation, the company now has highly skilled welders in place for future contracts and 70 apprentices are currently in training to support further expansion in the power generation business.
Explained John Thompson’s, Theo Lotter, of the Bellville-based company, “The importance of ongoing, scheduled maintenance cannot be emphasized enough as this will minimise unplanned outages which cause a major disruption to the electricity supply and can, as has already been seen, impact so negatively on industry.”
“Planned maintenance and planned outages are essential”.
The current Eskom undertaking involves eight units, which will each be worked on systematically.
John Thompson, now a wholly owned South African company with its recent re-structuring, is well positioned for its major focus to provide on-going, long-term service on site for the power industry.
Probably the largest South African company to offer such a capability, it has a considerable infrastructure which includes a manufacturing facility (in the Cape) a skilled workforce (the company employs over 6 000 people) and an international technology agreement with Alstom.
The company is also gearing itself to provide optimum environmental solutions to coal-fired power stations with its supply and maintenance of gas clean-up equipment to reduce emissions.
Lotter concludes, “By improving combustion, efficiency and operation of the boiler acceptable emission levels can be assured. Each of these factors contribute”.
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