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Canadian Boilermakers turn steel into storage

Boilermakers from L-146 and L-555 build two 245-foot-diameter tanks in six months.

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In the middle of Alberta’s industrial heartland, Boilermakers from Local 555 (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Local 146 (Edmonton, Alberta) turned 4,200 tons of steel into 1 million barrels worth of storage when they built two massive tanks for TIW Steel Platework Inc.

Each measuring at 245 feet in diameter by 70 feet tall, and each including an internal floating roof, the two tanks took six months to complete—two weeks ahead of TIW’s customer’s goal to have them finished safely within 26 weeks. To get the job done on time, safely and within budget, 36 Boilermakers split into three crews working 10-hour days, seven days a week, with a turnaround rotation of two weeks on and one week off.

“Teamwork was the vision the crew had at the start of the project, and Boilermakers came with the skill sets they had developed during their apprenticeships and careers,” said Mark Baxter, field superintendent/QC supervisor for TIW and L-555 member. “The Boilermaker crew was made up of tankies, shutdown and refinery Boilermakers. There was some training required for the automatic welding machines—such as the 3 O’Clock and vertical machines, but once the Boilermakers got the feeling for the machinery, they mastered it.”

To foster teamwork and ensure clear communication—elements needed to get the job done smoothly and efficiently—every day began with “toolbox talks.” This proved especially important as the crew faced unique challenges working within COVID-19 precautions and a harsh environmental situation. The location of the build, Hardisty, Alberta, has a well-earned nickname “Hard and Dusty” for its 70-85 kph wind gusts.

“We would be listening to the weather reports trying to determine if we had enough time to hang a whole course (a section “layer”) and have the course in place and secure before the winds would hit us,” Baxter said. “The crew recognized what they had to do and got it done when the windows of low or no wind would open up, and the Boilermakers could get a course up in under five hours.”

In addition to the wind, Boilermakers also worked through rain, and -40 Celsius weather in blowing snow.

“When TIW contacted us regarding the project, we knew Boilermakers would step up like they do all the time,” said Daniel Legere, L-146 business representative. “Boilermakers get the job done.”