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Gems of Structural Engg - Hans Kelm - (Post-12)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:54 am    Post subject: Gems of Structural Engg - Hans Kelm - (Post-12) Reply with quote

Mr. Hans M. Kelm

‘Mr. Hans Kelm’ a renowned name in the profession of Civil and Structural Engineering, a Gem from Germany in Civil and Structural Engineering in the Industry. Asia Foundation Construction Company (AFCONS) was one of those fortunate companies in India who could associate with such a wizard in the field. He passed away in Yr. 2006 at the age of 86yrs. Present article briefly explains him as an engineer and as a person.

Early Life and Education :

Mr. Kelm started his career as an ordinary engineer during the Second World War, when he was a war prisoner. He was the soldier in the Army of Hitler. Hence apart from the engineering profession, Mr. Kelm could experience lots of diversities in life, which made him a stubborn person. He learnt ‘what is life’ in these ups-and-downs of the life. During those days the Engineering curriculum was such that mere completion of academic subjects was not considered to be sufficient to obtain a Graduate degree in engineering. Apart from the Academics, for a person to act as an ‘Engineer’ the field experience was also mandatory. Hence after academics Mr. Kelm had to struggle a lot for getting the field experience and hence for getting the ‘Engineering’ degree.
After graduation Mr. Kelm worked on many challenging projects in Germany. He got married to a girl who was also a Civil Engineer. At the pick of his carrier he joined M/s HOECTIF, through which he visited India. During this visit he got introduced to the Managing director of AFCONS Mr. Diwanji. Both of them were keen for the technology; hence a bond of friendship started growing between them. This made Mr. Kelm to establish close engineering association with AFCONS (previously known as M/s Rodio and Hazrat Company). Later Mr. Kelm joined another Engineering consultancy named M/s KODEMA and then started his own consulting firm knows as M/s TEBEBAU.

Engineering Career and achievements :

Mr. Kelm was thorough engineer with capability of delivering comprehensive practical solutions to various engineering problems. He could provide the services from planning construction methodology design and detailing till execution of the various Micro and Mega structures both; thus he was an agency to work from ‘Concept to commissioning’. His solutions were not just limited to overall concept but he used to provide the same with Detail-drawings and Quantity estimate also. Mr. Kelm used to generate all the drawings himself, and to the scale. His peculiar 'Edwardian Script type' handwriting style could differentiate his designs and drawings from other engineers.

Mr. Kelm did many land mark designs, a few are as listed below viz. -
A) Development of dredger using a Jack-up and excavator on the deck.
b) Development of ‘A’ frame mounted on a barge named ‘Aasad’, later he also mounted an ‘A’ frame on a barge called ‘Sharavathi’.
c) Design and development of a Derrick mounted on jack-up to handle 120T load at 5m radius (from concept till commissioning).
d) "A-frame" for handling 60T load at 8m radius.
e) The ‘Sahyadri barge’ formed the keystone to his contribution to AFCONS. About 2.0cr rupees were invested on this barge. The design of this barge was done in Yr 1986 for TCRB project, later it could be modified from 800T load lifting capacity to 1200T with the help of this ingenious engineer. The barge was later used at many projects and still it is in use (as on Yr 2009).
Mr. Abel was one his competent associates. Both these engineers completed the mammoth task of design of 55.5m Pre-cast Pre-stressed Box girder and 22.5 Pre-cats, pre-stressed ‘I’ girders for Thane Creak Railway Bridge project (TCRB), before Yr 1986. This assignment was completed in time including the design of enabling works (like casting yards, formwork, staging, caisson toeing, caisson sinking scheme). In TCRB project, Mr. Kelm and Mr. Abel were also closely involved into actual execution at site.
The other works like, pneumatic sinking method of caissons with the submersible dock barges, 72m long Bridge Launching girder, hanging frame for ToYo pump etc. were remembered a long. The designs, details produced by this talented engineer in the absence of infrastructure and electronic media are appreciable. Many senior and junior draughtsman and engineers could get a chance to learn the complex steel connection details. Mr. Hemant Deo was an associate designer for this work.
Mr. Hans Kelm (HK) was a fearless person on sites. In Yr 1979 a 14m x 21m and 7m deep RCC cellular caisson was cast as per his design and details at Mazgaon dock. The detailing was done so minutely that all the functional aspects were covered during the design itself. Hence during the casting of structure there were no problems. Later this caisson was towed from Mazgaon dock to Trombay. It was the unique design of its own kind. Hence people were not confident to stand on the barge; HK was alone standing on this barge floating on the rough sea waves, fearlessly. In this project when the caisson reached at Trombay guide walls were erected for alignment of this floating caisson.
He used to do all such kind of acrobatics on the site very comfortably, without an element of fear in his mind. In Mumbai the tidal variations are upto 5m ht. In such uncertain variations he used climb the floating vessels with just a piece of rope hanging from the vessel. This kind of confidence and courage and level of physical fitness at the age beyond 75yrs would put even the young engineers to awe.
There are many more such records added to his credits. His drawings were found to be very clear and lucid. There was an attempt to provide maximum information in minimum line-work / text. The clarity of thoughts could be easily observed from his drawings. The continuous lines, the line thickness, the dotted (hidden) lines, the center lines of the various objects (chain-dotted lines), the text, the arrows, dimensions lines, titles etc. were very precisely given in his drawings.
While making the details Mr. Kelm used to keep in mind that minimum wastage of the material has to be ensured i.e. while cutting the steel plate he used to arrange the shapes so that minimum cutting wastages are resulted from a single panel.

His personality :

Mr. Hans M. Kelm (HMK), was a blue eyed, tall, fare and huge personality; a well disciplined engineer. He was like a one-man army; he used to be prepared for any kind of diversity in the professional life. One of the subordinates wondered about his magic bag, which was weighing 10kg or so, and Kelm used to store all the engineering devices in this carry back, including calculator, measuring tape, screw driver etc.
Apart from the sound knowledge of Civil and Structural engineering, this genius person had good knowledge about electro-mechanical components also, which naturally reflected in his work and drawings. The persons who worked with Mr. Kelm had great respect and also a little fear towards him. Mr. Kelm exerted a lot for the better engineering in all the projects. He was multi faceted and could handle many projects simultaneously.
Mr. Kelm had very high level of concentration during the work. Many talented engineers learnt a lot from this genius and used to call him as Civil Engineering ‘Guru’. All those who came in contact with HMK got the benefits of sound engineering, but none of them had to suffer any problem.
Mr. Kelm worked in India for about 20 yrs or so. When any new work used to come up in India MHK used to visit the place and collect the details about it. He used to treat all the peoples equally from higher officials till the driver of his car. In those days his words were considered as final decision in his organization.

References :

1) Various discussions with the Engineers who have worked with Mr. Hans Kelm
2) The article published in AFCONIAN (a news bulletin of Afcons) about Mr. Kelm
3) Various Design, drawings and Letter of Mr. Kelm

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