Production has started at Cemex UK's South Ferriby cement plant after significant work by its 150 workforce and over 400 contractors during the past year, following the flooding in December 2013.
Just over a year ago high tides, strong winds and low atmospheric pressure resulted in the River Humber breaching flood defences and deluging the cement plant and surrounding community with water 2m high.
This week, one of the two cement kilns has been commissioned and has restarted clinker production. To fulfil customers’ orders, cement has been supplied out of Cemex's Tilbury and Rugby plants.
Over the last 12 months considerable work has gone into the plant to reinstate production but more than this, establish a production plant of the future."South Ferriby plant had grown organically through the site for the last 80 years, the flood gave us the opportunity to rebuild it in a logical way to today’s standards with tomorrow’s production in mind," comments Philip Baynes-Clarke, plant director.
Key challenges immediately after the flood were to secure and clean the site and establish welfare facilities for the small 'army' of people who would be needed to rebuild the plant. Soon 160 portacabins were secured, some from as far away as Scotland, to provide accommodation for administration, laboratories, canteen and welfare facilities.
The flood had swept through the site cutting off the 11,000 volt electric supply and destroying 30 switch rooms and two substations. Today over 6.4km of high voltage cable has been laid to create a new infrastructure of cables to supply the various operations throughout the site. These cables lead to one electrical substation, which houses modern electrical switchgear.
In addition 30 switchrooms have been rebuilt along with the vast majority of the site’s electrical systems, a huge undertaking. Other efficiencies such as LED lighting have been built in to the systems to provide savings in electricity.
With the failure of the electric supply when the flood hit, one of the kilns stopped in mid-production with hot material still in it. This caused the kiln shell to bend due to the high thermal load. Months of work have been spent replacing a 22m section of the 65m long kiln.
All elements of the cement production process are now controlled from a centralised computer providing immediate response and allowing for improved optimisation, Cemex stated. The state-of-the-art control system replaces five control rooms which are all marked for demolition in the coming months.
Mr Baynes-Clarke commented: "Hundreds of thousands of parts have been replaced with expertise from colleagues and specialist companies from around the world. Cemex colleagues from the plant have worked tirelessly and the last year has been a learning curve for everyone with new systems and procedures to adopt.
"Rebuilding the plant in 12 months has been no mean feat and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved. The refurbished plant will allow us to continue our heritage of producing quality cement, sustainably, safely and efficiently now and for many years to come."