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Sasol Nitro Substation

Proconics has completed the installation of a new base substation for Sasol Nitro, a project that has provided the client with enhanced safety, improved tracking and business analysis capabilities, and has allowed for operational expansion.

Sasol Nitro wanted to install a new base substation on one of its existing nitro explosive bulk plants and approached Proconics to conduct a substation and switch gear replacement. The existing substation presented a number of operational risks, as it had been built as a temporary installation 30 years previously. As such, the container environment did not allow for expansion or the placement of additional equipment. This hindered plant and operational growth, despite the availability of additional lines within the bulk plant. Further, Sasol Nitro wished to add more safety features such as an enhanced control room and automation capabilities. “Not only did we want to expand the substation, we also wanted to move from a mechanically operated plant to a more automated environment that provided tracking, business analysis and fault finding capabilities,” says Gary Austin, at Sasol Nitro. This required the incorporation of new IT infrastructure into the system and engineering design. Sasol Nitro provided Proconics with an initial basic engineering design to establish the impact, timeline and costing of the project.

Sasol Nitro and Proconics then worked together to evaluate and modify the project to everyone’s requirements. During this project definition phase a number of activities were identified by the Proconics team. The first of these related to the mechanical requirements, necessary to accommodate the new lines and automation of the plant. Second was the upgrade and replacement of instrumentation in the field, as well as the wiring and software. Next were the physical requirements which included the creation of the new substation and control room and the changeover of all loads and motors to the new system. A new supply from the upstream substation was initiated so that the entire system could be started independent of the existing processes to allow testing to be conducted prior to switch-over.

There were so many different elements to this project, with various subcontractors and parties involved, meticulous project management by Proconics was essential to its success. This was done almost effortlessly by the team and once again reinforced the company’s reputation as an adroit manager of a skilled workforce. In addition, the project’s switchover and commissioning period was limited to four days, making it essential for Proconics and Sasol Nitro to work in close partnership. The short time-frames involved were one of the greatest challenges of the project and made necessary the development of strong working relationships.

The entire project took eight months from breaking ground to having an operational substation. Considering the challenges of this project, Proconics is proud to have met Sasol Nitro’s very high standards within the limited time-frame available. It is especially satisfying to know that Proconics did so with no recordable safety incidents occurring. “The training and handover process took place at the same time as the switchover and commissioning. Proconics worked with us every step of the way. They made sure that the plant was up, running, and stable – and remained stable – before they retracted themselves from the project. That kind of commitment and service delivery are what made us choose Proconics in the first place,” concludes Sasol Nitro’s Austin.


  • Petrochemical


  • Electrical Engineering