José Pycke already works twenty years for Jan De Nul and is responsible for the workshop in Aalst. The workshop has 70 employees, spread over several departments, almost half are welders but we also have plenty of machine operators, electricians and painters. The workshop manufactures and services all kinds of equipment and parts that are tested here in Belgium before being shipped.

For Takoradi, we had to make a lot of specific equipment. Every site has containers, used as local workshops and usually these workshop containers are transported from other sites.

However, for Takoradi, the number of available containers did not suffice. Thus, we fitted out about a dozen new twenty feet long containers with lighting etc. and shelves for storing tools such as drills and grinding machines. Each container fit out takes about one week.

To prevent workers from having to work under the blazing sun, the workshop also made a customised tent. The tent frame – with a tarpaulin over it – is placed on wheels so that it can be easily moved.

José Pycke’s team also made lifting keys, a long T-shaped rod that is inserted into the hole of such 50 tonnes concrete block and then turned 90 degrees to lift the block and bring it into the right position Such key or rod measures 3.5 metres and has a diameter of 15 cm. We had these steel rods in stock but still had to mill, paint and test them. That takes 3 days to make and in all, we made 13 such keys for Takoradi.

We also had to make lifting beams able to lift a weight of 60 tonnes. It took 200 man-hours to manufacture six lifting beams. The beams were then inspected and certified by an external inspection body, who tested for a weight of up to 72 tonnes.

We also made some underwater sinker pipelines and special connecting pieces. These pipes are  lowered from the vessel and laid under water across the port and up to the bank, where the sand is pumped.

The sweep beam or ‘plough’ is the levelling equipment that is affixed to the back of a pontoon to level the seabed after dredging works. This piece of equipment was already available but our welders had to make some adjustments. This took us three weeks.

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