New solution for safe descaling in preheater towers
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The new Brokk Descaler is a specially designed solution for breaking out refractory, coating and build-up in a number of areas in preheater towers, primarily in cement and alumina plants. With a telescopic boom for excellent reach and remote-controlled manoeuvring, the machine is expected to revolutionise the working method for tearing out overhead material in preheater towers.

Health and safety are a constant challenge and an important issue for cement plants around the world. The hazardous work of tearing out refractory and build-up in cement kilns and coolers has previously put many workers in danger and by using remote-controlled Brokk robots, safety has improved immensely. However, similar issues with overhead refractory and coating has reportedly been the case in preheater towers for years, but with no safe and efficient solution.

Brokk explained that conventional methods often involve manual pre-inspection before sending workers in on scaffoldings with handheld tools, making the work both critical and time consuming. The company highlighted the advantages of using a Brokk Descaler. For one, with a quick installation, faster demolition and no need to install scaffolding, the shut down time is notably reduced. And since the Brokk Descaler does not require people to go inside the vessel, work can also commence at 80°C.

Today, workers are not only exposed to the risk of falling debris but also the silica dust that gets into the body and skin. Furthermore, the vibration from handheld tools is a known problem and causes ‘white fingers’. The Brokk Descaler places the operators outside of the vessel and therefore, risks like this have either been eliminated or significantly reduced.

“Brokk robots have been removing people from overhead coating and refractory in cement kilns around the world for ages. With this solution we can also protect the workers in the preheater tower, where the risk of falling debris is as obvious as in a kiln,” said Joakim Furtenback, international sales director at Brokk AB.

According to Brokk, the Brokk Descaler evolved from a standard Brokk robot and is modified to fit the application in preheater towers without compromising on power. The telescopic boom is extendable by one or two sections that allows for descaling in vessels up to 9.5 m in diameter.

As preheater towers feature different designs and the build-up appears in various locations depending on the design, raw material and other factors, a flexible solution is required, said Brokk. The company added that Brokk Descaler has been carefully developed to be used for a variety of vessels and is easy to mobilise to any location in the tower, as it can be transported in most passenger lifts. Installation can be completed in less than three hours and once installed, the operator can safely overview the work from outside of the vessel through hatches, which enables precise and controlled demolition.

“Once you’ve seen the benefits of using the Brokk Descaler, there is no going back to the hazardous methods previously used,” said Mr Furtenback.

Hundreds of tons of overhead refractory can be removed with zero physical contact and at a much faster pace than doing the same task manually. This ensures high productivity as well as safety for the workers, and ultimately, a safer and more efficient worksite.