Syncrude Conveyor Truss Assembly


Fort McMurray, AB


Structural Steel Fabrication


$5-9.9 M


500 Tons

Structural Steel Fabrication Project for Syncrude

Syncrude is one of the largest producers of crude oil from Canada’s oil sands. They operate a large oil sand mine, utilities plant, bitumen extraction plant and upgrading facility that processes bitumen and produces value-added light, sweet crude oil for domestic consumption and export.

Syncrude required a Head Truss, Tail Truss and six bents all from Cat 4 steel to be designed, supplied, fabricated, assembled and delivered at a total weight of 350 tons. Almost nothing on the assembly project was typical and Saskarc had to source and test steel from multiple suppliers and engineer a solution. Since the project used HSS steel our engineering team had to reference numerous different codes and practices to complete the design and get engineering approval from our client. The project called for 100% material traceability on all purchased material with every piece heat number stamped in two locations. Finally walkways, trailing pulleys and mounting brackets had to be installed.

In addition to the structure’s unique materials and high requirements for traceability:

  • The design of the assembly was somewhat complicated because the entire structure was built with HSS tubing and conventional structural design codes did not cover all aspects for a tubular structure.
  • The main HSS structural supports, braces and diagonals were 350 WT Cat 4 HSS cold weather steel which are not standard stock items.
  • All the purchased materials for this assembly required 100% material traceability.
  • There were 3 main components for the project, the 6 Bents (which were the structural support frames for the conveyor) the Tail Truss and the Head Truss. Each component had its own set of fabrication complications. The Bents could not be shop test fitted so the fabrication accuracy was extremely important. The connection pads had to be exact dimensionally so they would mate up with the Tail and Head Truss’s. The Tail Truss and Head Truss also had critical dimensions that had to be maintained because both assemblies had to be shop fit together. The assemblies were very large and heavy. Half way through the project our client was concerned that the assemblies would cause them problems during onsite installation so the shop fit up was added to our scope of work. The shop fit was critical to meet our client’s requirement and we were responsible to come up with a plan. Our client also requested that we shop install the trailing pulleys, mounting brackets, ladders, stairs, platforms and handrails.
  • The fabrications were very large and heavy which created a challenge for shipping the items from Saskarc to the oil sands construction site in northern Alberta.
  • Our engineer referenced numerous different codes and practices to complete the design and get engineering approval from our client.
  • There was only one steel mill in North America that agreed to supply this material but when the mill rolled the material it did not pass the Cat 4 Charpy impact values. As a result the mill refused to do another mill run.  We had to outsource another steel mill and a fabrication company to fabricate the tubes using 350WT Cat 4 plate, formed and sub arc welded seams with complete joint penetration. Spot NDE, Radiography had to be performed on all the C.P. welded seams. The material procurement proved to be very exhausting and what should have only taken 1 week actually took 6 weeks.
  • Each item that was cut had to have the heat numbers stamped onto the part in 2 locations, and the information had to be documented for each item. Weld maps also had to be developed showing each part number for each item along with the heat number recorded on the map.
  • The vast majority of assemblies were shop fit to minimize onsite labour costs saving Syncrude thousands of dollars.
  • Saskarc selected a freight company to initiate a shipping plan and route survey to determine the best way to get these assemblies to the construction site. With the height and length being an issue the travel route had to avoid certain bridges and numerous tight corners. SaskPower was also involved with the route survey to schedule power line lifting during the move.

The clients was saved tens of thousands of dollars thanks to Saskarc’s ability to shop fit all assemblies avoiding in filed labour. Relentless pursuit of materials and commitment to standards resulted in a fully custom solution. This complicated project was completed successfully and Saskarc took pride in offering the client a complete value added product.