Rehabilitating an Iron Pellet Indurating Furnace

30 March, 2021 | Blog

Eric Moisan, P.Eng.

Expert, Mechanical

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In Canada, there are many mines with iron pellet hardening furnaces (indurating furnaces) that are aging and require upgrading. This type of rehabilitation requires careful planning and rigorous engineering to lower the impact on production and project costs for installations that are usually located in remote locations.

Local team presence is an asset

Indurating furnaces are rarely shut down, and when they are, it is for a very short time. So, it is a major asset to have a local team available for carrying out surveys required in the areas that need to be locked out. This also makes it possible to take advantage of both planned and unplanned shutdowns to perform these tasks.

Moreover, often enough, there are discovery works during the rebuild and problematic situations to solve, so the local team can then be dispatched quickly.

Designs that decrease site work

When it comes to rehabilitating indurating furnaces, health and safety along with work efficiency are often crucial. Technicians and engineers must put themselves in the shoes of workers and take care to simplify assemblies and avoiding hazardous installations. The need to work at heights can also be reduced by properly planning the pre-assembly of certain equipment during the design stage.

Here are a few ways to optimize the design on site:

  • Give priority to bolted flanges rather than welding.
  • Plan for adjustment parts for areas that cannot be accurately surveyed.
  • Plan for required materials, since availability in remote areas is a challenge.

This is why the design review with the general contractor is crucial.

Relying on 3D laser scanning

Experience has shown us that using 3D scanning is a real asset, because it makes it possible to:

  • minimize the need for high-level surveys.
  • acquire more information than with manual surveys.
  • work at the office as if you were on site.

For these types of projects, scanning should not be limited to the components that must be replaced, because additional work is frequently discovered during site work. So, it is strongly recommended to scan the entire installation. This extra work at the beginning of the project saves a lot of time during the furnace shutdown.

Virtual reality helps effectively compare new structures and mechanical equipment designed in a point cloud to lower the risk of interference during installation.

A concrete example

In 2019, BBA was mandated by a Canadian mining company to develop the mechanical and structural design to upgrade one of its iron pellet indurating furnaces. Given the quality of our engineering and support, the client also awarded us the work for a second differently designed furnace the following year, but with a tighter schedule. Our team excelled in delivering quality solutions, meeting deadlines and tackling the challenges that come with this type of project.

The mandate included:

  • Certifying existing monorails and designing new monorails.
  • Engineering chutes, the conveyor, platforms, access doors, housings and launders.
  • Engineering process fan dampers and their linkages assemblies.
  • Performing the constructability study for cooling fan replacement.
  • Inspecting the structure and performing the engineering required for damaged structure repair.
  • Providing technical support during the work.

BBA cut back on about two weeks of machine downtime after noticing the poor condition of the furnace roof structure. BBA questioned the client’s repair strategy and, as a result, significantly reduced the scope of work and impact on the project’s life cycle, while ensuring the machine’s longevity.

Feel free to contact our experts to plan and upgrade your installations.

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