High in the Andes, the power distribution center (PDC) provides direct power supply support to an enormous state-owned copper mine in the Antofagasta region in northern Chile. The mine employs approximately 4,000 workers.
The challenge: A volatile region necessitates superior preparation
Millions of years ago, the techno-volcanic forces that formed the Andes mountain range traversing Chile created vast copper deposits in the country’s northern region. Today, Chile is the world’s largest producer and exporter of copper.
The forces that brought these riches to Chile however, come with a price -- ongoing volcanic activity and earthquakes that continue to this day. In fact, the 8.8 magnitude quake that rumbled off the coast of central Chile in February 2010 was the sixth largest earthquake ever recorded.
Naturally, both the volatile environment and the robustness of the PDC’s construction were of utmost concern to the mine operator and Trachte’s teaming partner, Tunning Ingeneria, who represented the site electrical installation. With these concerns in mind, site preparation included virtual modeling for foundation design integrity and advanced-level civil engineering necessary for earthquake-prone zones.
The right attributes for delivering on a complex project
The project commenced in December 2010 involving a 14' x 60' control building, which was designed and built at both Trachte plants (Wisconsin and Georgia). The building was then disassembled and shipped in eight units via ocean transport container ship to Tunning Ingeneria in Santiago, Chile.
A critical component of T-RAMS capability is its Quick Ship Program which offers accelerated global delivery of PDC’s and control rooms on site in as little as three weeks, based on standard module offerings. Electrical equipment installed prior to shipping further compresses valuable project lead-time.
T-RAMS products are manufactured and delivered in sub-sections optimized for transporting by all modes of common carrier -- truck and rail for ground service and ocean vessel or air cargo for shipping overseas. Buildings are designed to ship within specially engineered racks with wall and roof sections firmly secured ensuring factory-level quality upon site arrival. Shipping units are designed to fit inside ISO containers and air cargo space bound for international destinations.
Tunning Ingeneria reassembled the PDC and installed interior components including switchgear, motor controls and other automation valued in excess of $3 million. With the mine owner on hand, full system witness testing was performed. The building was then transported in two sections up the mountain to the mine site. A Trachte technical representative was there to advise on technical issues as the building was powered up.
The mine operator was confident that the control building’s robust construction ensured that it had the resiliency to withstand the structural demands of a seismic event similar to that of 2010.The building is built to a global design standard that meets all environmental and structural parameters observed worldwide. These include resistance to wind, snow load and temperature extremes as well as seismic durability.
Partnering success brings a record-sized order
Trachte has performed numerous installations with Tunning Ingeneria to date, and has recently received a new order for the copper mine. This a power distribution center, at 145 feet in length, will be the largest ever built by Trachte. The unit will be shipped in 72 sections from the Wisconsin facility, fully reassembled, then transported to site in three separate fully pre-assembled modules. A Trachte technical advisor will be present for an estimated two weeks.
Suffice it to say, demanding installations in remote areas like the Antofagasta mine require tight coordination and committed partnerships. Global teaming partners like Tunning Ingeneria who understand the nuances of a customer’s state culture can be as important to installation success as a well-engineered building. It’s no coincidence that Trachte’s T-RAMS strategy looks to expand such relationships as a foundation for continued success.
Assembly of a T-RAMS building can be seen here.