For the first time in its history – the Morfa Coke Ovens team at Port Talbot has removed a ‘gargantuan buckstay’ in one piece!
These ‘buckstays’ are mountainous support structures that are crucial in maintaining oven integrity.
Engineering Manager, Steve Williams explained: “A coke oven wall breathes as intense heat used during the coking process causes it to expand and contract.”
“So as part of the oven bracing system, a huge beam called a buckstay is secured at the top of the battery by two tie rods and giant springs. This pushes a large plate onto the end of the oven wall which is tensioned, effectively holding the wall in place.
“Over time, the buckstay had deformed, which was causing failure in the ends of the oven walls and brickwork, which needed constant maintenance.”
The answer? A complete removal AND replacement of the colossal beam...
“This operation was carried out on a live battery for the first time ever in Morfa’s history, which meant that we had to balance the need to complete the work with maintaining stable operations,” said Steve.
“It was also the first time we’ve used a bespoke lifting rig design by our contractor partners JES Group to remove a buckstay in one piece.”
All the work was completed in and around production in 90-minute operating windows, to avoid any operating delays.
Steve added: “The project has secured the walls on two ovens, which can now be kept in service.”
This mammoth operation was part of an ‘Ops 1’ programme to improve oven availability and was carried out within days of the celebrating the team’s milestone event of 1.5 million push cycles. What a fantastic month it’s been for the team!