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ACHEMA 2012: Trend Report Plant Engineering

Plant Engineering Between Individual Solutions and Container Modules

| Author / Editor: Dechema / Matthias Back

...During the course of project activities in recent years, companies like Bayer Technology Services have developed engineering resources in Asia and have carried out plant design work there based on German standards. Jürgen Hinderer provided the following explanation of the Bayer strategy: “We continue to develop our engineering expertise in close proximity to our customer’s production sites, so that we can provide optimal system availability and turnaround management. Owner’s engineering is a lifecycle concept which is directed at sustained value creation for both partners.”

Chemical Plants of the Future – Modular or One of a Kind

One trend which has been predicted on a number of occasions has not yet materialized in the chemical industry, namely world-scale plants made up of standard modules. At large plants, users customize the technological solutions to gain a competitive advantage. In the future, the integrated material flows discussed above will become increasingly important beyond the boundaries of the existing local units at a chemical production site. Integrated structures shared by multiple chemical companies at the chemical parks of the future will create synergies which contribute to the business success of the individual firms.

In the recent past, new developments in a number of conventional large-scale processes including chlorine electrolysis, ethylene oxide production and chlorine recycling have resulted in significant improvements in raw material and energy consumption, selectivity and yield. “There will continue to be quantum leaps in innovation at world-scale plants in the plastics and rubber industry and even in conventional sulfuric acid production. However, batch mode production is still widespread in the pharmaceutical industry and there is still plenty of room for innovation,” said Jürgen Hinderer.

"Flexible Fast Future Factory" With Modular Conception

In contrast, new trends are appearing in multi-product and fine chemical production. For special products which are produced in small volumes, time to market is vital along with a reduction of the market risks that exist between the product development phase and start of production. Small, versatile production operations based on standard modules including containerized modules appears to offer significant future potential, and a number of re-search projects are underway. The Flexible Fast Future Factory (F3 Factory) concept is based on container-size modules which can be put together to create a production line. Investigations are now in progress at the Invite research center which recently opened at the Leverkusen Chemical Park in Germany.

Special chemicals producer Evonik is taking a similar approach. The company is developing small-scale production systems in a sea freight container which could be used for running the process at different locations. All of the process steps needed for production are housed in the container. If demand proves to be higher than expected,...

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