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Fat Splitter Tower Access Modifications

Client: Akzo Nobel Chemicals Ltd., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

ENGCOMP was commissioned by Akzo Nobel Chemicals Limited (Akzo Nobel) to develop an access solution for their High Pressure Fat Splitter Tower located at their Saskatoon facility. The stack originally had three access platforms accessible via a ladder. These platforms provided access for workers to adjust valves, take readings and perform routine maintenance tasks. However these tasks were inhibited because of size and space restraints of the platforms. Additionally, some elements of the platforms needed adjusting in order to meet current construction and safety codes.

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By the client's request, ENGCOMP was asked to design a ladder that would be located on the outside of each platform rather than passing through each platform. This also involved either modifying or replacing each platform. These modifications required the use of existing connections to the tower and no alterations made to the tower itself. This provided an engineering challenge to ENGCOMP, because the ideal design of each platform would have to be based on existing connection points, which weren't necessarily in the most ideal location.


  1. Akzo Nobel currently has a high-pressure fat splitter tower. This tower has various valves and gauges that need to be accessed by Akzo Nobel employees on a regular basis.
  2. These components were accessible by three existing platforms that started at the roof of the plant and went up to the top of the tower (approximately 49 feet off of the ground). These platforms were accessible by a ladder.
  3. Some characteristics of the platforms did not meet current construction code requirements, and access to some components were limited by the size and space offered by the platforms.

The Project

  1. The client planed to modify the existing access platforms for the tower. The concern was for safety of the workers when working on the platforms with limited space on which to work.
  2. The client wanted to relocate the ladder to the outside of the top platform and fill in the grating where the ladder went through the platform. This provided a continuous walkway/platform around the tower.

Design Criteria

  1. Follow all relevant codes described in the current National Building Code of Canada.
  2. Design all new structural steel to be integrated with current connection points.


  1. Project was awarded to ENGCOMP in September of 2005.
  2. Project was completed in January 2006.


  1. Akzo Nobel was satisfied with ENGCOMP's participation of this project.
  2. Even though the project scope changed throughout the process, Akzo Nobel ended up with a suitable solution to their initial problem, which now meets current construction codes.


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