SA Calcium Carbide improves safety measures with IntelliPERMIT
SACC Aerial View

​SA Calcium Carbide (SACC), the local manufacturer of calcium carbide, carbide based desulphuriser mixtures, acetylene and acetylene carbon black, has tightened the safety standards on site with the rollout of the IntelliPERMIT computerised permit-to-work system.

Permits-to-work are essential to safeguard those working in hazardous operations and ensure responsible and sustainable operations.  Designed and implemented by process manufacturing software specialist ApplyIT, the IntelliPERMIT system sees to the preparation, authorisation, issuing and management of permits-to-work in an operating plant, ensuring all levels of operation at SACC are governed by safe working procedures.

Situated in Newcastle, SACC forms part of the Andina Group, global leader in the manufacture and supply of calcium carbide, calcium silicon, ferrosilicon 75% and its derivatives, re-carburisers with low nitrogen content, desulphurisation mixtures, acetylene, acetylene carbon black, micro-silica and silicon metal.

Calcium carbide is manufactured by the introduction of lime and anthracite in an arc furnace at 2 300˚C. The product is tapped from the furnaces as a hot liquid, cooled and crushed. Like most pyrometalurgical processes the manufacture of calcium carbide has hazards such as high temperatures, high voltages and currents and furnace reaction gases. The work environment at the facility therefore requires stringent occupational controls to ensure safety on the plants.

IntelliPERMIT has replaced a manual permit system at SACC. Being paper-based, the old system was cumbersome, unreliable, inefficient and allowed for ambiguities and anomalies in procedures that threatened a safe working environment.

In 2007 the computerised permit-to-work system was implemented at SACC and over the past two years more than 8 000 permits have been issued on the site.

“IntelliPERMIT has delivered numerous benefits at all levels, improving the quality of operations from plant to back office,” says SACC technical manager Tony Stalberg.

With the tightening up of the permit issuing process, electronic copies of every permit are available to line managers for monitoring purposes and to ensure that high safety standards are maintained. If at any time a manager is not satisfied with the quality of the process, the job can be interrupted and checked.  The electronic permits provide specific detail of the job to be carried out and what precautions are in place in each area, making it easy to see how many permits are open across the plant.

“IntelliPERMIT provides managers with more control, not only over safety procedures but also the monitoring of the maintenance work process. The system enables managers to see all current jobs, be alerted to potential problem areas, and act immediately,” says Stalberg.

The permits are password-protected and have to be physically accepted by the artisan, technician or contractor carrying out the job, which ensures greater control and full accountability. Stalberg says that the system provides the additional advantage of constant modification and improvement. “The software is designed to be flexible for continuous adaptation and improvement to the permit system. For example, any unforeseen shortcomings in a specific job can be covered by an authorised person adjusting the rules on the permit. The permit cannot then be issued until the new rules have been accepted. This ensures that protective measures on-site can continuously be upgraded,” says Stalberg.

ApplyIT application consultant Shirley Breytenbach says IntelliPERMIT is built on a foundation of specific business rules and is configured to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate any number of site requirements.

“IntelliPERMIT’s flexibility is one of its many strengths – it can be tweaked at any time to suit the client’s unique needs. The application is structured by rules designed to eliminate human error – the hazards of each area of the plant and the required personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used are preconfigured to ensure safety. The rules exist not only to protect those working in hazardous environments, but to teach safety procedures and how best to prepare for the job,” says Breytenbach.

Shirley Breytenbach, ApplyIT, (031) 275-8080, 082 963 8907, breytenbachs@applyit.com
Tony Stalberg, SACC, (034) 370-1101, 083 635 1932, tonys@sacarbide.com
Lisa Cooper, Predictive Communications, (011) 452-2923, lisa@predictive.co.za