There is currently a lot of talk about mega-trends, such as globalisation. Our look at the trends will not centre on these headline issues. Read here what is on the mind of the process industry at this year’s ACHEMA.
Mega-plants: The world of plant engineering and construction is at the moment vacillating between the extremes: in China, India and on the Arabian peninsula, world-scale plants are springing up everywhere, and in Europe process engineers are trying out ideas for chemical containers and modular plant concepts.
Manufacturers of bulk chemicals (commodities) such as fertilisers or primary plastics, including the basic film materials polyethylene and polypropylene, are attracted to regions with raw material sources, such as the Middle East, where huge chemicals complexes are being built at this moment. For example: Saudi Arabia, location Jubail. Here, for US$ 20 billion, in a joint venture with Saudi-Aramco, Dow is conjuring up a factory out of the desert sand, with the intention of churning out three million tonnes of chemical products per year from 2016 on.
Modular plant construction: Bigger, higher, further is the motto in major plant engineering and construction, which is increasingly moving its base to the emerging markets. Faster, cheaper and more flexible, in contrast, are the watch-words when the subject is fine and speciality chemicals. If modular plant construction and chemicals containers are really going to be the answer to everything will come out in the wash. At the moment, at least, everyone with a name and reputation in the sector is looking into ideas intended to get the German and European chemicals industries back into top shape. All of this is running under the catch-word 50 Percent Idea and connects projects such as F3 Copiride or the Evotrainer by Evonik
The digital plant: Another facet of the 50 Percent Idea is the digital plant. Jürgen S. Kussi, Head of Plant Layout and Piping at Bayer Technology Services, is one of those convinced that this will switch on a turbine capable of reducing project development times, from the idea to the completed plant, by half. The trend-setter here is the chemicals giant BASF, which in 2010 launched an ambitious project with the self-introducing name Digital Plant @ BASF2020. The aim behind it: for every real plant, a digital plant should also exist. What is needed are standards and object-orientated integrated CAE systems which network 2D and 3D planning on an inter-tool and inter-disciplinary level. In addition: software which makes it possible to commission and maintain a plant on the basis of the planning data.
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