The development of a new tool at Arvida Works’ garage 230 has significantly improved the safety and efficiency of the inspection and replacement of cables on the Marie-Louise, a unique pot replacement vehicle. This innovation is the result of an impressive team effort by the Operational and Maintenance Services team (SOPE).
Every two weeks, the cables of the Marie-Louise are inspected visually and then manually. This involves completely unwinding the cables, removing them from the hoists and rewinding them. The cables are replaced every month.
Until recently, these operations were carried out by workers who, despite wearing protective gloves and following a procedure, were at risk of hand injuries and falls from height. It was also virtually impossible to maintain constant tension on the cables when they were being reinstalled.
“Finding a solution to this problem was a matter of safety. We found that the cables were often badly wound and, since you had to hold them with your hands, it was hard to keep the right level of tension. They were not tight enough, which also caused the cables to wear out prematurely,” explains Gino Blouin, Technician at garage 230.
As a result, a multidisciplinary team was set up to find solutions to this problem. The team was successful and identified some potential leads.
Mechanic Claude Savard, known among his colleagues for his ingenuity, came up with a new piece of equipment that could solve the issues. In just three weeks, his idea became a reality. “As soon as I knew what we needed, I discussed it with my colleagues, and everything fell into place very quickly. I thought about it day and night. I made sketches until I came up with the final design,” he explains.
Made of durable Teflon, the tool opens and closes on the cables like a large clamp. The equipment is held by a strap that clamps around the cable to give it constant tension.
“We now do the work on the floor or on a stable and safe workshop staircase. Workers can even step away from the cable on the floor, which was not possible before. We’ve eliminated a lot of risks,” adds Blouin.
“The tool has been in place for about two months now, but we can already see the improvements in terms of safety, quality and productivity. About 15 people were involved in the roll-out. Our contracting partners, who operate and maintain the equipment, were amazed at how quickly everything was set up, which shows the strength of our teamwork,” concludes Martin Simard, Supervisor at garage 230.