Practical’s High-Tech Chimney Sweeps

Practical Engineering prides itself on having a qualified engineering workforce that is unafraid of getting their hands dirty. However, a recent boiler stack assessment required the attending team to get a lot more than their hands dirty.

Practical’s Mechanical Engineers Jai Rice, Ed Butcher and Scott Cox recently travelled to New South Wales at short notice to perform an integrity assessment of the 33m high stack during a plant shutdown. Due to the design of the structure, external inspection was deemed prohibitively costly and unnecessary. The solution…lower a person into the stack using a 90t crane and a Bosun’s chair.

After many years of service, entry into the stack posed several significant challenges that were successfully overcome throughout the five-day project. In particular great care was taken in the planning process to mitigate the risks posed by simultaneously working in a confined space, at significant height and while using a crane and 40m EWP (elevated work platform).

As can be imagined, the inside of a large industrial chimney is covered by a thick layer of build up which first needed to be water blasted clean. While not exactly channelling the chimney sweeps of old, the work proved to be almost as messy.

Following cleaning, our team performed a 100% visual inspection and detailed NDT (non-destructive testing) of the steel plate and welded connections using ultrasonic and MPI (magnetic particle inspection) methods. Upon returning to the office the team completed a full review of the results and prepared a condition report and recommendations for our client.

“The innovative approach we took to this project provided our client with a low-cost means of accurately understanding the condition of their asset. Our approach to planning and safety allowed the project to run smoothly throughout. It was certainly hard work however it was also an amazing project to be a part of” – Scott Cox