Refuge chambers are a significant but much-needed investment. With the growth of safety requirements, refuge chambers have become commonplace for the safe retreat of personnel engaged in tunnelling and underground construction. As these are finite projects, what happens to a chamber upon completion?
Extending the life of refuge chambers, through remanufacture and upgrades, is both safe and cost-effective. The process generates added value, however, to ensure high safety standards remain, adhering to proper specifications is crucial.
Recently, global tunnelling leader Herrenknecht remanufactured and extended several TunnelSAFE chambers in their fleet to use in new endeavours.
The remanufacture process can be applied to any refuge chamber. The method involves the transformation of an older, used chamber, to a newer, fit for purpose model. Ensuring it meets the safety standards of the organisation is a significant consideration, as are government guidelines and MineARC Systems quality assurance.
Initially, used chambers are returned from site to be assessed and stripped to determine the full extent of restoration and updates required to bring the chamber back to a high safety standard. For this project, Herrenknecht, in collaboration with MineARC Systems, worked to determine the appropriate upgrades and parts required for the individual chamber. Once a chamber is cleaned, blasted, and freshly painted the next stage is to install all the new components, followed by final inspection and sign-off.
A unique addition to the Herrenknecht project was the chamber extension project. Due to different safety regulations across different countries, several chambers required an extension to comply with new safety standards. MineARC Australia’s team of engineers collaborated with the Rebuild Services in Germany to complete the project. The extension model was fabricated on site in the Perth and shipped to Germany, along with additional spare parts.
Commissioning and CE certification, performed by a qualified MineARC team member, is the final stage. A quality-focused process is necessary to ensure the chamber meets the safety requirements of the site and contributes to an effective emergency response plan. The process involves bringing the safe refuge into working condition, following delivery and installation. This includes assuring all components and systems of the chamber are installed, tested, operated, and maintained according to the operational requirements.
Ensuring remanufactured chambers are safe to continue to be used in a hazardous situation is a priority. Rigorous inspections and tests are executed at all stages of the process. Technical standards are set out to ensure the safety of personnel and the integrity of the equipment.
Remanufacturing guarantees the chambers adhere to safety guidelines and are fitted with the latest in refuge technology; extending the investment beyond a project’s lifetime.