When the going gets tough, our Concepts Team gets going

The A-team was without a doubt one of the most popular TV series ever. The combination of tough guys, determination and a high degree of resourcefulness appealed to the imagination of countless people worldwide. At Selmers we have our own ‘C-team’ that shows some resemblance with the TV heroes, in a different but equally exciting way. Armed with a structured approach and a large dose of tenacity, they also know how to bring the most difficult jobs to a good end!

No standard solution

In our case, however, these ‘jobs’ are a lot less explosive and considerably more complex in nature, especially from the technical point of view. In many cases, the team takes action when a (potential) customer has a unique, one-off or other “problem” for which there is no standard solution available in the line of business involved. Their work method is best explained by the use of a recent assignment. Last winter, a pipe coater suffered from ice formation on many pipes that were stored outdoors in the yard. The ice formed on a firm layer on the coated twelve meter long pipes and needed to be removed prior to delivery.

De-icing factory

Because the pipeline construction company could only accept ice-free pipes in order to ensure smooth and safe handling, a proper solution had to be invented quickly. An attempt to manually remove the ice requiring a lot of labour proved unworkable. The pipe coater knocked on our door for a solution, which had to be operational within 16 weeks. Because we too had no “off-the-shelf” equipment and no direct experience in industrial ice-crushing, the concept team first gathered the knowledge skills and materials that were available in the company. This generated the great advantage of being able to look at the task from multiple perspectives with a multitude of in-house disciplines.

Task force

The disciplines ranged from engineers to operators and from mechatronics to robotics. Soon after, we expanded this internal task force with the customer himself, who, in turn, contributed all kinds of information. Because of the openness on both sides, we became, as it were, one with the customer. In this phase, the concept team had to map the customer’s process requirements, preferably in the form of KPI’s, and determine with which result the customer would be satisfied. One of the requirements was that the solution to be built would deliver an ice-free pipe every three minutes.

Concept design and scope description

Based on this input and various ideas of the customer, such as material preference and for example, the use of electricity or hydraulics, the concept team then drew up a concept design including a scope description. The solution consisted of a forklift truck lifting the pipes one by one on a wagon which then entered a ‘pop-up hall’ where they were first prerinsed to remove loose snow, after which the ice-layer was crushed by means of a chain system and eventually rinsed in a hot shower passage. After several ‘tests of principles’ with frozen gravel tiles and a homemade crusher, the customer gave the green light. Because the whole concept was crystalized from the start, the eventual commissioning took only one week delivering a system that worked as intended from day one.

Deployable in any industry

This example shows that through the combination of various internal expertise, techniques and technologies (both existing and new) on the one hand and a highly structured approach on the other, our Concepts Team can be deployed in all conceivable industries. So if you are facing a technically complex challenge for which there is no standard solution available, but which has to be taken up according to your specific requirements and wishes, why not just call your sales contact or send an email to sales@selmers.com

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