KONECRANES KCI has halved the usual time for a major upgrade of a crucial Western Australian alumina plant crane even though the custom-made parts for the modification work had to be airfreighted halfway around the world.
In upgrading one of its calciner plants, Worsley Alumina- a joint venture with resources and mining giant BHP Billiton- set tenderers a daunting challenge: A major modification to an existing circular monorail crane had to be completed in only eight weeks.
The conventional time for a project like this is 16 weeks, but unless the eight week deadline was met the company stood to lose as much as $50,000 an hour in lost production.
The changes to the custom-built crane were necessary to give the hoist extended reach so that it could better service the vital calciner plant; the final stage in the processing of bauxite to alumina.
Konecranes quickly provided drawings and specifications for the work together with a written quotation but only by tapping into Konecranes' international network could Worsley's time constraints be met.
John Jackman, chief of WA Sales for KCI Konecranes, got in touch with Harri Makkonen, the head of Konecranes component factory in Finland to explain the problem.
He says that within hours, Finland confirmed it could meet his tight delivery schedule provided that the fabricated components could be flown the 13,000 kilometres from Helsinki to Perth. He adds that they could even fit a newly-required overload warning system.
Impressed by their ability to meet the unusually tight deadline and special requirements, Worsley's Project Manager, Dean Huizinga, awarded Konecranes the contract.
Before the ultimate design was finalised, John Jackman and Konecranes' Project Manager in Sydney, Ron Wilson, drew up a plan that provided key indicators that the project was on track and that the delivery deadline would be met.
Installation took only a week and on 19 April, when the refurbished crane was scheduled to make its all-important first lift after the total shutdown of the calciner plant, it was successfully commissioned right on time.