A new solution to safe descaling in preheater towers

Published 29/6 at 16:30

Brokk, the leading manufacturer of remote controlled demolition robots has now introduced the ‘Brokk Descaler’, 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 long reach and remote controlled manoeuvring, the Brokk Descaler is said to revolutionise the working method for tearing out overhead material in such towers.

Health and safety is 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, although through the use of remote controlled Brokk robots, safety has improved immensely. However, similar issues arise with overhead refractory and coating as has been the case in the preheater towers for years, but with no safe and efficient solution.

Conventional methods often involve manual pre inspection before sending workers in on scaffoldings with handheld tools making the work both critical and time consuming. Thus there are many advantages for the productivity of the plant through the use of a Brokk Descaler. With quick installation, faster demolition and no need to install scaffolding, any shut down time is notably reduced. And since the Brokk Descaler does not require people to go inside, work can commence at 80°C.

Today, workers are not only exposed to the risk of falling debris, but also any silica dust that can get into the body and skin. Furthermore, the vibration from handheld tools is a known problem and can cause ‘white fingers’. The Brokk Descaler places the operators outside of the vessel and alleviates or significantly reduces risks like these. “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,” says Joakim Furtenback, international sales director at Brokk AB, Sweden.

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 9.5m in diameter. As preheater towers are of different designs and the build-up appears in various locations depending on design, raw material and other factors, a flexible solution is required. The Brokk Descaler is 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 allows for 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,” says Joakim Furtenback. Hundreds of tons of overhead refractory can be removed with zero physical contact at a much faster pace than doing the same task manually. This ensures high productivity as well as safety for the workers providing, ultimately, a safer and more efficient worksite.

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