by Frederike Berg
You want to assemble a scaffold in an LNG-tank? These are the challenges you might face.
Whether oil platforms, refineries, mining, bridges, or shipyards, scaffoldings’ possible fields of application are almost limitless. Each location has its own challenges and pitfalls. In shipbuilding and ship maintenance in particular, scaffolding must not only be versatile and adaptable to the individual shape of a ship, but also be particularly resistant and easy to handle. Small material supply possibilities, harsh weather conditions and cramped or angled working spaces are just some of the challenges faced by scaffolding in the maritime industry. But how do you implement a scaffolding project in shipbuilding and ship maintenance? The project of the Spanish company GABADI S.L. in cooperation with Scafom-rux España shows how the challenges of scaffolding in the maritime industry can be solved.
How to cope with little space and sensitive material?
The task: the complete tank membrane of a 215-metre-long LNG carrier was to be replaced. To prevent leaks in the renewed tank, the replacement of the membrane required the highest precision from the GABADI team. Even before the start of the project, the necessary work steps were therefore rehearsed for 3 months in order to minimise possible sources of error in advance.
The tank of an LNG carrier consists of a membrane made of the iron-nickel alloy Invar, which has to withstand large temperature fluctuations. This is because LNG must be cooled down to its boiling point at 162 °C during transport in order to maintain its density, which is 600 times lower than in its gaseous state. However, when the LNG carrier is in the shipyard without cargo, the temperatures inside the tank reach up to 40 °C and higher. In order to ensure the greatest safety at all times despite these extreme temperature fluctuations inside the tank, the primary and secondary membranes of the tank must be renewed regularly. This is not an easy task: Not only is space scarce when replacing the membrane, but also the utmost care must be taken as the material can be contaminated easily.
The project required a safe and efficient working platform that allowed the team to get as close as possible to the tank walls without damaging the material. GABADI hired 800 tonnes of material from Scafom-rux's modular scaffolding system RINGSCAFF for this purpose. To avoid contamination by dirt during the membrane replacement, Scafom-rux rented out completely new scaffolding material for the project.
To find out how the scaffolders from GABADI S.L. managed to erect a stable and safe working platform despite the difficult material supply, the octagonal shape of the tank and the sensitive membrane material, stay tuned for part two next week!
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