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The 8-Day Vessel…An Industry Record?

The Challenge: Build and install a new 84-inch by 30-foot long pressure vessel in just 10 days to allow the customer to take advantage of a three-day shutdown over Memorial Day weekend.

The Solution: “We received the call on May 14 that they needed to replace the tank,” said Mike Buss, vice president of refrigeration at Thermatech’s sister company Bassett Mechanical, a manufacturer specializing in industrial refrigeration and ventilation, HVAC, metal fabrication, plumbing and piping, laser cutting, testing and balancing, and proactive preventive maintenance. “They were looking for budgets and solutions to make it happen and make it happen quickly.”

So Buss and Greg Geiger, the Bassett Mechanical site superintendent for this project, flew out to do field measurements and verifications on Sunday, May 17.

“Thermatech did the calculations and drawings based on the heads in stock, then found the shell plate,” said Don Bredbeck, operations manager for Thermatech, which produces ASME certified vessels and tanks in accordance with ASME Section VIII, Division I and PVHO Division I standards. “We determined we had sufficient materials, or could quickly order more, and that we could make the commitment to meet the tight deadline.”

How did we do it?

“We had the pressure vessel heads in stock, which is one of our distinctions in the industry,” Bredbeck added. “It cuts down lead time so that we can build our vessels in three or four days, versus weeks like other companies.”

On Monday, May 18, the steel plate arrived. Crews worked around the clock through Wednesday, May 20, to construct the pressure vessel.

“It went pretty smoothly,” Bredbeck said. “We’ve got a great team here at Thermatech and everyone knows what they have to do to get the job done. The main challenge was the time frame, which required that everything would go smoothly and that there would be no missteps or waiting time. It was definitely a world-class performance.”

Once construction was complete, the pressure vessel was put on a flatbed truck and taken to Steelwind Industries in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, for heat treating and painting.

“The heat treat process typically takes 24 to 48 hours, and we needed to be flexible with our manpower to meet the deadline,” said Jason Geiger of Steelwind Industries. “We had to get it in the oven on Thursday. Then, when it came out of the oven we put it in the blast bay to remove the rust and scale from the process.” After that, it was painted and put on a truck Friday evening.

“Typically there’s a three-to-five-day turnaround, but we managed it in 36 hours,” Geiger said. “Our niche in the industry is our ability to work around other people’s schedules and respond to customers without jeopardizing our other customers’ projects.”

The vessel arrived at the customer’s facility on Saturday, May 23. Crews worked around the clock to remove the existing tank from the facility and install the new piece. The system was back online and operational by 8 pm on May 24.

As with any project of this scope, there were some challenges, but they were relatively minor. The design of the tank was modified slightly to be able to use the materials that were in stock, Buss said, and there was the issue of coordinating workers and local contractors in the customer’s hometown over the holiday, as well as arranging for a crane on site. But, in the end, everything worked out well.

“To their credit, Bassett Mechanical and Thermatech were able to react in a very quick fashion to organize the removal of the existing tank and build a new tank for us, basically in a handful of days,” the customer said. “They took turnkey responsibility and were extremely effective.”

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