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Rope Access results in savings for PGS

When Platte Generation Station (PGS), a municipality plant located in Grand Island, NE went forward with its planned maintenance outage to inspect and maintain equipment, Plant Superintendent Rodger Zawodinak, knew he had just a short time and a strict budget to perform the required work. So, he turned to something called Rope Access and called on the expertise of MHT Access Services Inc., a rope access company located in Houston, Texas. MHT Access Services prides itself on having an independent, highly efficient, integrated and multi-disciplined team that provides innovative solutions for industrial inspection, maintenance and repair.

Because the company’s personnel are multi-disciplined, the company can work cost effectively and with fewer workers, which means minimal disruption to other operators and crews, as well as less exposure to risks. Howard Wall, general manager of MHT, supplies PGS with a four-man team of technicians who utilized rope access techniques and procedures to complete the services, which include NDT methods to inspect equipment and insulation and perform maintenance.

According to Zawodinak, it took about two weeks for MHT to complete the project. When compared to scaffolding, which had been the traditional method used for inspecting the equipment at the power station, rope access far exceeded the competition. “Within our four week outage scope we could not have inspected all that we did in that time frame with scaffold,” said Zawodinak. “I don’t even want to guesstimate how long it would have taken to build scaffold in all of those areas. It would not have been done.” By utilizing rope access, Zawodinak was also able to see a significant cost-savings when compared to scaffolding, which had been deemed cost-prohibitive by the facility because of the high cost.

“By using rope access techniques, we were able to totally eliminate scaffolding requirements, thus eliminating the cost, time and labor required for transporting, building, rigging and dismantling conventional scaffolding.” Said Wall. With the assistance of an associate company, Plant Technical Services, MHT also inspected PGS’s high energy piping supports, clamps, struts, and anchors and many other items.

The company also preformed adjustments on 40 spring hangers and changed out six connecting rods. MHT Access supplied Platte Generation Station with a team of Technicians who utilized rope access techniques and procedures to complete the services. Prior to using MHT’s rope access techniques, PGS would have performed “abbreviated” hanger inspections, which Zawodinak said, which meant that inspectors would look at hangers from afar, many times using binoculars. And, for those hangers that weren’t visible, the data simply wasn’t recorded.”

I think [rope access] is the best way to inspect the hangers due to the fact that the inspectors can get up close and personal,” he said. “With rope access we are able to kill two birds with one stone because we can get up there to see where the setting is and, at the same time, make necessary adjustments or repairs.” MHT also accessed the inside of the station’s ash silos and coal bunkers. Using rope to go down into the bunkers and using magnets to help maneuver, MHT technicians were able to inspect the interior welds, which had never been done at PGS and is very seldom done with the industry because of the cost associated with building scaffold. “Rope Access is the most cost-effective way to inspect these items.” Zawodinak said. ” Because scaffolding is so cost prohibitive, many plants have never viewed these welds, and they really don’t know what they have. “MHT has brought a service to the market that enables plants inspect things that had never been inspected before.” At the conclusion of the project, MHT provides a formal report document and recording the status of the pipe support systems and other inspection findings.