Laying 10 million bricks: KAEFER Oman’s record-breaking refractory project

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Imagine being at the forefront of one of the region’s most ambitious construction projects, meticulously laying 80,000 tonnes of refractory material – the equivalent of 10 million bricks – under Oman’s blazing sun. This colossal task is the largest refractory project ever undertaken by the KAEFER Group.

KAEFER Oman has secured a major contract with Sanvira Tech for the construction of the refractory structures at the Sohar plant. The new baked anode plant – with a capacity of 300,000 metric tons per year – is a key facility for the production of calcined petroleum coke (CPC), which plays a vital role in industries such as aluminium smelting, steel recarburisation and graphite electrode production.

Transforming industrial solutions in Sohar

Strategically located near the port of Sohar, the Sanvira plant features both vertical and rotary kiln technologies, increasing production efficiency and flexibility. It is the first site to use dual technologies and has the capability to offer tailored, pre-blended products.

From June 2024 to December 2025, KAEFER will manage the installation and quality assurance of the refractory materials, employing more than 550 people at peak times. The scope of the project includes two main tasks: the vertical shaft kiln, with a timeframe of 6 to 8 months, and the anode baking furnace, with a timeframe of 10 to 12 months. This project follows on from KAEFER’s successful delivery of 24,000 tonnes of refractory for Sanvira in 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project approach and overcoming challenges

The scale of this project, especially coordinating 24-hour operations for 18 months, presents significant challenges. However, KAEFER Oman is well-prepared, using several techniques and previous experience to ensure successful execution.

A key element of the project approach is the implementation of InPact, KAEFER’s bespoke working methodology, with a focus on its logistics control tool. InPact involves the creation of a digital environment to manage logistics milestones and targets for auxiliary materials, PPE and refractories. This system is designed to streamline logistics, improve stock control and increase overall productivity. A dedicated workshop has been set up to support this digital solution, which will not only benefit the Sanvira project, but will also be implemented in other projects in Oman. Key benefits include optimised space utilisation, certainty of material availability and reduced lead times.

This implementation is a collaborative effort between the KAEFER InPact team in Spain and their colleagues in Oman. By sharing expertise and resources, they have developed a robust system that integrates seamlessly with the project’s logistics framework, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness from the outset. This partnership demonstrates the strength of KAEFER’s global network and the value of cross-border collaboration in achieving project excellence.

In addition to InPact, KAEFER applies LEAN principles, including Training Within Industry (TWI), a Workforce Scheduling System (WSS) and other optimisation techniques to ensure continuous improvement and increase productivity. These tools are essential to manage the complexity of such a large project, improve operational efficiency and ensure timely project delivery.

Celebrating success and looking ahead

The dedication and teamwork of the KAEFER workforce has been instrumental in the progress of the project. Training local workers in bricklaying has resulted in a remarkable 60% increase in productivity from the outset, demonstrating the success of our TWI sessions and comprehensive training programme. As the project continues, we will maintain our commitment to on-the-job training with a strong emphasis on health and safety.

Reflecting on the project’s achievements, Priyank Davies, General Manager of KAEFER Oman, says: “Our project stars are our team of workers and support staff. Their dedication, expertise and teamwork inspire everyone, keep the project moving forward and create a collaborative, motivated environment. We are delighted to be working with Sanvira on this significant project. Handling 80,000 tonnes of refractories with over 550 people is a testament to the capabilities of our team and the trust of our customers. This project is crucial for our business as it drives innovation, improves efficiency and positions us competitively to ensure sustainable growth and long-term success.

As KAEFER Oman continues to deliver excellence on the Sanvira project, we are reminded of the strength and potential of our global workforce. This project not only underlines our ability to tackle complex industrial challenges, but also highlights the power of collaboration and shared expertise across our global network. Together we are setting new standards in industrial solutions and reinforcing KAEFER’s reputation as a global player in excellence and innovation.

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