On a Louisiana river, an E-Crane off-loads barges filled with petroleum coke, coal and limestone. The bulk material is dropped into a hopper that feeds a ‘pipe-belt’ conveyor that can go around curves or over obstacles. That conveyor stretches over a mile and a half to its final destination, delivering the materials to a CLECO power plant.

This unique system of conveyance was meant to be highly efficient, but unforeseen issues were driving up costs. The newly installed E-Crane was loading at a seemingly low rate of 900 tons per hour (TPH) – significantly below what was expected. In addition, regular maintenance of the crane was having to be performed at an accelerated rate, increasing the maintenance costs significantly with increased inspections, oversight and repairs to the crane.

CLECO enlisted Acensium to come in and assess the situation, leveraging our industry-leading experience and cutting-edge 3D scanning and analysis techniques to analyze and optimize the transfer system performance. CLECO had 3 clear goals:

1) Improve the current 900TPH operating level of the E-Crane to the expected 1500TPH.

2) Minimize spillage and waste of bulk materials that cost not only the waste materials but also citations and fines for river pollution.

3) Minimize the rising maintenance costs of the E-Crane.

We applied our standard process: Creating a ‘Functional and Operating Requirements Document’ (F&OR) that acts as a foundation for your project and allows us to help our clients stay on schedule and defining the critical path at the start of the project by creating a plan for  design review meetings, critical material delivery dates and outage milestones. The F&OR document also accounts for design parameters including material characteristics, minimum, nominal, and maximum tonnages and a manufactured equipment list. In addition, Acensium manages 3rd-party considerations with insights into fabrication techniques and standards, project access and defining QA/QC for fieldwork.

After defining the problem and the plan we created a comprehensive virtual representation of the E-Crane transfer point using laser scanning and ‘stitching’ techniques. This process uses many discrete laser scans to assemble a virtual environment that can be used for analysis and design purposes. After collecting these scans and assembling the environment Acensium was able to confirm the suspicions of CLECO on-site personnel – the E-Crane had a problem with out of spec operation.

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Careful analysis revealed that the E-Crane was forced to operate at an inefficient angle because of the arrangement of the hopper. Our analysis detailed, using both visuals and data, that the E-Crane was %12.5 over rated capacity for each scoop because of the operation angle. This operation above rated capacity was leading to the increased maintenance costs and significantly reduced efficiency.

After identifying the issue we also provided the CLECO team with a number of solutions options, with various benefits and capital costs. Each solution provided increased transfer point efficiency and reduced the excessive wear on the E-Crane that were the roots of CLECO’s difficulties. In addition, the provided solutions had graduated capital costs, providing a range of costs and efficiencies for CLECO decision makers to consider.

CLECO is a great example of the process Acensium undertakes and the value we provide. Leveraging experience with cutting-edge technology, Acensium is able to analyze complex situations in 3D and detail possible difficulties, process improvements or equipment risks. Digitizing an environment not only provides insight into issues but gives engineers and decision makes a digital canvas to plan renovations or new installations in minute detail, lowering or eliminating the risk of conflicts or unnecessary stoppages.