Since 2008, Shanahan Engineering has had an ongoing relationship with Rotek, the dedicated maintainence arm of Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned electricity provider. In late 2012, Shanahan Engineering’smaintenance solutions division won a competitive contract to supply turbine supervisors, senior supervisors and turbine artisans to various Eskom power stations across South Africa including Camden, Lethabo, Kendal, Matimba, Kriel, Duvha and Komati.
As winter approaches in the southern hemisphere, the crucial challenge facing Rotek and Eskom is to ‘keep the lights on’ to ensure consistency of electricity supply during South Africa’s coldest months and to avoid the worst case scenario of wholescale blackouts as experienced in 2008. With power generation running at spare capacity supply of between half to two per cent above demand, a policy of Integrated demand management has been implemented to minimise outages from mid-May to end-August.
Finding the skills locally to ensure effective power station maintenance and repair is a huge challenge. South Africa has a skills gap between a new generation of young apprentices coming into the power generation industry and the older, highly qualified workforce. Rotek selected Shanahan Engineering to help fill this gap providing expert hands on supervision and advice to the existing workforce.
Rotek has in place a stringent training program and trade skills test for all prospective employees and specialist contractors to be employed on site operations. Very much aware that time was of the essence Shanahan Engineering quickly established its own ‘pre-Rotek training centre’, based in Johannesburg, to ensure maximum test pass rates. Potential supervisors and fitters, largely from the UK and Ireland, were put through a rigorous Shanahan Engineering pre-training and coaching programme before commencing Rotek’s five day training and trade skills test.
Thanks to Shanahan Engineering’s thorough sourcing, interviewing and training processes, the maintenance solutions division was able to mobilise over 70 supervisors and fitters for Rotek to a very tight deadline – with a 96 per cent test pass success rate. Men are deployed at individual power stations to suit the Rotek Outage Programme which extends to March 2014.
A hardcore of 12 men are also deployed on Standby duties to respond to unplanned outages. Shanahan Engineering are confident that they will continue to expand the range of skills and services provided to Rotek.