As an innovative supplier of waste-to-energy technology, we are constantly working on a range of worldwide projects, including turnkey projects. Over the course of this four-part series, we'd like to provide some insight into how these turnkey projects work. In Part 1, we zoomed in on the proposal stage. The second blog post was about project management during a waste-to-energy project. This third segment takes a closer look at site & construction management.
1st phase: Preparation
Given our contractual responsibilities, there are always several colleagues on site. Depending on the exact scope and the size of the waste-to-energy plant, the "regular" team can consist of two to five colleagues, ranging from a Site Manager, a Deputy Project Manager, and a Site Engineer, to a Boiler Specialist. During the entire construction process, our team is reinforced with fellow engineers: Process or Project Engineers, Automation Engineers, Mechanical Designers, E&I engineers, and others. This depends mainly on the execution stage of the project.
The site manager plays a key role in this complex interplay. Of course, he does not come unprepared. Before starting out, he studies manuals and drawings of the entire plant, the equipment, and the scope of our contract.
2nd phase: Erection
About one month before work starts in earnest, a member of our team arrives on site. Among other things, this enables us to conduct "open package inspections", checking to make sure equipment is complete. We then store it temporarily. For these "open package inspections", the site manager utilizes detailed packing lists drawn up by the logistics team at head office. At that point in time, nothing further happens to that equipment.
We usually get started on a site once the civil engineering work is done and construction begins on the waste-to-energy installation proper. That begins with the so-called erection of the steel structure. This is the skeleton of the plant, into which the equipment will be installed. As soon as the structure is built up high enough, installation begins on one of the core elements of a waste-to-energy facility: the combustion grate.
In most cases this grate is manufactured by one of our European partners. Next, the feeding grate—from where the household waste is dumped—is installed and connected to the combustion grate.
A second key piece of equipment in a waste-to-energy plant is the boiler
. That converts the heat from the flue gases during combustion to hot water or saturated steam. Either we install the boiler first and then build the steel structure up around it, or we work the other way around and place the boiler parts into the steel structure using large cranes.
Depending on the scope of our contract, other parts of the installation are also delivered by Keppel Seghers and installed under our supervision. These could be: the steam circuit (which converts boiler steam into electricity or process heat), the electrical installation, the flue gas cleaning system, or the ash processing system.
That means the site manager also coordinates—depending on the project's scope—the construction of ignition burners, transport systems, hydraulic drives, electrical signs, boiler cleaning systems, flue gas scrubbing systems, ash processing systems, and so on. Some of those components are developed in-house. Detailed assembly instructions are available, of course, but the site team can also talk to the designer of the device—which usually yields interesting and informative discussions.
This way, the site team provides feedback to the designer, contributing immensely to the continued improvement of our technology. Other components, purchased from specialized suppliers, are installed according to their instructions. If necessary, specialized technicians from the supplier side will oversee correct assembly on site. The site manager coordinates the deployment of these specialized technicians and ensures they don't get in each other's way.
This erection phase takes a minimum of one year but may take longer depending on the project. Exceptionally, this stage can take several years in large-scale turnkey projects.
3e fase: Commissioning
After the erection phase, the next crucial step takes place. All the equipment and the entire process must be tested before it is put into use definitively. At that point in time, the different suppliers arrive on site to commission their equipment.
We're then responsible for coordinating the proceedings, making sure everything goes according to plan. Of course, problems and discussions do arise sometimes. The aim is then to proceed diplomatically and come up with constructive solutions, ensuring activities do continue according to plan.
The site team is in constant contact with our team in Belgium. We are in touch with the project manager on a daily basis, who is always involved when commercial issues arise. They are responsible for maintaining an overview and getting the contract manager involved where required.
Issues relating to specific pieces of equipment are followed up on by the project engineer involved. Questions about process engineering are, of course, relayed to the process engineers.
In any event, people from our engineering team regularly spend some weeks or months on site to provide assistance during specific stages. Especially for the inspection and testing of electrical systems, instrumentation, and automation, head office provides on-site assistance by sending in specialized engineers. At this stage, the electromechanical components (transport systems, fans, pumps, and so forth) are submitted to cold testing in unloaded condition.
4e fase: finetunen en opstarten
Once commissioning is taken care of, we proceed to the final stage: fine-tuning and start-up.
We do this by igniting waste for the first time. Afterwards, we keep modifying the process and controls until we achieve the optimal process and return. Then, we maximize process automation. The process could be fully automatic or semi-automatic.
Process engineers have a key part to play in fine-tuning and start-up. Usually, one or more of them are on site to adjust process parameters. Assistance is also provided by head office via a remote connection. The regular site team is crucial for both the systematic transfer of the installation to the customer, and for the required training of the future operators and maintenance personnel.
Would you also like to find out more about waste-to-energy, our projects, and our technology? Then be sure to check out the 20 fascinating questions and answers in our Ingenieurs op de Rooster quiz.