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Supporting an outage at Mt Piper

The project

EnergyAustralia is investing more than $80 million to upgrade two 700MW-capacity turbines at Mt Piper power station near Lithgow, NSW. One turbine was taken offline for maintenance and upgrade works from September to December last year, with the second turbine due to be upgraded in Q4 2021. The upgrade means Mt Piper will be able to power an extra 55,000 homes without having to burn more coal.

Coates Hire was engaged to deliver an on-site tool store to manage tooling and equipment hire, as well as all consumables such as gloves and safety glasses which were purchased by EnergyAustralia. Coates Hire also provided large equipment, including boom lifts, scissor lifts, telehandlers, forklifts, generators, compressors and temporary site accommodation.

The challenge

Managing any power plant outage is extremely complex, but the sheer scale of this project made it unique. “The upgrade is one of the biggest in the history of the 25-year-old station,” says Shane Lee, Resource Administrator at EnergyAustralia.

“It’s dynamic – you think you’re going to need more lighting, for example, and then all of a sudden that changes. The next day brings a different challenge, so we have to adapt quickly and get the equipment in that we need to make the project work,” he says.

Jimmy Cergovski, Coates Hire’s Onsite and Shutdown Manager, agrees. “Because it’s a dynamic process, one minute you’re cruising and the next minute someone says we need another 100 grinders or more 100-ft boom lifts. What they ask for, we go and source,” he says.

With the second turbine remaining operational throughout the maintenance works and around 1,000 extra contractors on site each day, coordinating traffic flow and stock at the tool store was a key challenge, especially with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

“In the morning, we could have up to 100 people hit us at once to pick up consumables, radios and gas monitors,” says Jimmy. “If I don’t have Shane’s equipment to distribute, the place becomes a parking lot of people and you don’t want that.”

The solution

Coates Hire operated the tool store 24/7 to meet demand, including operating thermal testing and UV cabinets for sterilising equipment in response to COVID-19 safety protocols. An ample forecourt, two large service counters and separate entry and exits enabled social distancing at the tool store, while temperature testing and hand washing stations were in place at the site entrance.

Hired tools and equipment, along with the customer-owned consumables, were managed via the proprietary CHASE asset management system. The customer received daily costing reports, as well as reports detailing lost and damaged items at the completion of the project.

Coates Hire also provided a large quantity of temporary site accommodation, including ablution blocks and a 48m x 12m building – one of the largest it has constructed.

The company was able to respond quickly to changing and unexpected demands for tools and equipment by tapping into its national branch network, says Account Manager Ant Tuit, who was part of the core project team of 12 people at Coates Hire.

“We were fortunate to have a great team behind us – not just in the Central West, but the entire branch network throughout NSW and the other states,” Ant says. “So really, no job is too big for us. We can deliver whatever the customer asks for, and if we haven’t got it, we’ll get it.”

According to Jimmy, a close partnership with the customer was also essential. “Shane and I both had a job to deliver, so I needed him as much as he needed me. You’ve got to help each other and understand each other’s needs,” he says.

The impact

The data provided by CHASE improved tool time efficiency by 80% and ensured greater accountability and traceability of tools, equipment and consumables. It also enables EnergyAustralia to make more informed equipment hire and purchasing decisions for the next phase of the project.

“We have exactly the same outage coming up in September so we’ll be more prepared,” says Shane. “With the data that Jimmy and the team bring to site we’ll be able to prepare and know exactly what we need before it becomes a challenge.”

The on-site tool store also resulted in cost savings for the customer, says Ant. “Normally, equipment and tools go on hire at the beginning of a job and they could be on that job for three months, being charged for every minute of the day.

“Here, the customer could off-hire tools and equipment on a daily basis and rehire them when they needed them, so they saved on both hire and transport costs,” he says.

“More importantly, we delivered a solution that allowed EnergyAustralia to engage hundreds of additional employees on a daily basis throughout this outage and work in an efficient manner to ensure the job was completed on time,” Ant added.

Find out how Coates Industrial Solutions can support your next shutdown or maintenance event. Call 13 15 52 today.

 

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