In times of flexible production and small batch sizes, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are using modular construction. Also Bilfinger CEO Tom Blades wishes to grow further with pharmaceutical projects and pre-assembled systems and is investing in new production capacity for this purpose. Can a plant from the modular system reverse the fortunes of the foundering maintenance specialists?
Small. Multi-product capable. Quick and easy to retrofit - the production plant of the future has to be a real all-rounder. This brings plant system concepts to their limits: Existing production environments can only meet these flexibilisation requirements to a limited extent, experts say.
Therefore, modular plant construction from pre-assembled building blocks should render assistance: Built from off-the-shelf modules, cleverly integrated in existing value chains, delivered pre-assembled and tested to the construction site, the new plant generation should help to make production processes flexible and adaptable.
In fact, even the German engineering association VDI concluded in a study that modularization is one of the dominant trends in the chemical industry. In the future, the association believes, the manufacturing or processing of end products could be done locally with production modules directly at the customer’s site.
If it were up to the industrial services specialists from Bilfinger, the modular system are ripe for their breakthrough in the pharmaceutical industry. The trend to biosimilars and personalised medicine requires a rethinking of the production beyond world-scale blockbuster manufacturing: Cost pressure and small batches mean that manufacturers are increasingly outsourcing services and are making use of ever smaller compact systems.
Bilfinger already designs, plans and manufactures such plants in so-called skid designs at its subsidiary Bilfinger Industrietechnik Salzburg (BIS) in Austria. The company, with 500 employees, has excelled in the past few years with sales growth of almost 100%.
Bilfinger - A Specialist for Pharma Projects?
But hang on a second: A leading maintenance specialist and industrial service provider as a pharmaceutical plant builder? In fact, the present BIS began 1954 as Rohr- und Heizungsbau Gesellschaft (tube and heating manufacturing company) (from 1955 Österreichische Rohrbau and part of Mannesmann). Just ten years later, the first projects for the Austrian pharmaceutical industry were taken on by Mannesmann Anlagenbau Austria (later MAB).
Since 2009, the Salzburg-based company has been part of Bilfinger and has contributed to the business field of engineering & technologies with tailor-made skid equipment and piping pools for biotechnology, pharmaceutical processes and also semi-conductor manufacturing and energy supply.
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