The success of a major maintenance project has served to highlight the depth of engineering expertise at Wedge Group Galvanizing.
Work to change the largest bath in Europe, containing more than 600 tonnes of zinc, was completed in less than two weeks.
And engineers who carried out the work at Worksop Galvanizing have been praised for their expertise.
Warren Bulger, Engineering Director at Wedge Group, which owns the Worksop plant, said: “Changing such a large bath posed a number of technical problems that required highly specialised solutions, so to complete the project so quickly was an amazing feat.
“The work was finished well ahead of schedule which enabled the site to resume production much earlier than anticipated.
“Safety is our top priority, but we’re always keen to minimise disruption as much as we can so this was an outstanding achievement.”
Existing zinc in the bath was pumped into a holding kettle, held in a temporary furnace more than 15 metres away and outside the main building.
The project was the latest in a string of substantial developments led by the company’s in-house engineering team across the UK in recent months.
Plants in Manchester and Humberside were significantly expanded earlier this year while work to develop new headquarters in the West Midlands was completed in October, 2018.
Warren believes the completion of such complicated assignments illustrates the knowledge and skill of his professional team which also includes Roy Ansell (Group Engineer Development Manager) and Dan Greenwood (Project Engineer).
He said: “There have been a number of substantial developments within the group over the last few years and several have been carried out in the last few months.
“A couple of projects were particularly complicated from an engineering aspect so their success illustrates the quality and depth of our engineering prowess.
“It’s something we’re extremely proud of and that means our plants suffer less disruption, which is obviously good news for customers.
“We’re always careful to communicate with clients about any engineering plans and will always use other plants within the group to ensure they receive an uninterrupted service.
“But the team keeps all sites maintained to extremely high standards and that helps to keep downtime to a bare minimum.
“It’s the kind of commitment and investment by the company that ensures the highest level of continued service and quality.”
The site at Manchester Galvanizing was more than doubled to create extra yard space, while a new, longer bath was installed at Humber Galvanizing as part of an improvement scheme that also involved a phased yard extension and the fitment of other new tanks and equipment.
Warren added: “The expansion of the Manchester plant threw up a number of issues and it really was quite a feat of engineering in the end.
“Before any expansion work started, there was a 55m deep mine shaft that had to be stabilised using a specialist contractor by pumping 78 tonnes of grout into the vent shaft, then capping it with concrete.
“The site then had to be graded to meet existing levels so we had to remove around 7,000 tonnes of spoil.
“We also had to build a large retaining wall and install drainage and attenuation – and we had to plan the works carefully to minimise noise and disruption for neighbouring businesses and residents, which was possibly the most challenging aspect.
“The Humber expansion was another intricate project, which put us under a lot of time pressure because the work involved shutting down the factory for a period of time.
“The schedule had to be carefully planned and phased to minimise the effect on production with a lot of construction work and installations to carry out at the same time in order to hit the proposed deadline.
“It was a massive challenge that took up a lot of time and resources and it was a real all-round effort by the engineering team, onsite maintenance and specialist contractors.”
The bath change at Worksop was the latest part of the general maintenance programme that takes place at all 14 plants on an ongoing basis.
Warren said: “The company is very busy and is growing all the time, so we’re always facing challenges and it’s incredibly rewarding to see them completed.
“Engineering and maintenance operations often seem to go under the radar somehow, but I have a great team of experienced people who always find a way to get the job done.
“I’m very proud of my direct team and also the maintenance teams at our sites, who always give their upmost support to the company’s ever-expanding capability and operations.
“Looking forward, there are a number of other major projects in the pipeline across the group, so while we can look back with a certain amount of pride, there’s certainly no time to relax.”
Warren spent six years in the Royal Navy, then a further three years as a welder before joining Wedge Group as a trainee engineer in 1998.
He completed an ONC & HNC, gained an Engineering degree in Mechatronics and later, having been promoted to Group Engineer, a Masters degree in Construction Project Management.
Having overseen the development of galvanizing plants East Anglian, South East and Acrow, he became Director of Engineering in 2013 and joined the Wedge Group Board as Engineering Director in 2016.
He looks back on his career so far with a real sense of accomplishment and lists the development of the company’s new headquarters as one of his proudest achievements.
He said: “I was involved in the project from start to finish, including working closely with the design team, overall project management, budget control and many other things, so to see it come together so well in the end was fantastic.
“We’re a company with a rich heritage and our headquarters is a building that provides the base for an exciting future too.”
Caption: Warren Bulger (Engineering Director), Roy Ansell (Group Engineer, Training & Development Manager) and Daniel Greenwood (Project Engineer)
By Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd