Timed to Perfection
Meticulous planning supports manufacturing expansion
Companies planning a major expansion need to know that key components will be delivered and installed at exactly the right time.
When a long-term customer and mineral manufacturer asked Mitchell Dryers to design and manufacture a calciner and Thermo-Venturi dryer for an extension to an existing site in Holland, we knew the timescales would be extremely strict.
“Our components are nearly always on the critical path of a programme and so everything we do has to dovetail with the customer’s schedule,” confirms Jamie Donaldson, operations manager at Mitchell Dryers.
In this instance, the calciner and dryer were going in on the first floor of the extension and virtually everything else would be built around them.
“The machine build spanned 30 weeks and the installation three months. We would complete one part of the installation, leave site, and then reappear for the next part. We installed a lot of ducting and ancillaries as well as the dryers, and over a five-floor building you need a very carefully co-ordinated operation.”
Engineers visited the site prior to the installation but there was a good deal of remote working. “It can be very cost-effective and it’s something we were used to doing before the pandemic took hold, when it became a necessity,” says Jamie. “What’s often more important than physically working alongside someone is adapting to another culture and respecting how other engineers work.”
It was the third major project completed for the customer in quick succession. Another was an energy efficiency upgrade that entailed supplying a replacement shell for a calciner installed 30 years earlier. Working in an older area of the site with the challenge of very restricted access, we designed and fitted a safer and more efficient heat recovery system in place of the original.
James Douglas, technical director at Mitchell Dryers, agrees with Jamie that establishing a rapport with the customer’s engineers is key to the success of a project. “We’ve a long-standing relationship with this client and we’re very in tune with their way of working. And of course we all share the same ultimate objective: to get the plant up and running as efficiently as possible.”