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The One–Stop Solution: Engineering Experts for Any Challenge

| Author: Dr. Jörg Kempf

The polycarbonate plant in Ningbo/China was successfully taken into operation in 2015. It uses EPC Groups patented phosgene-free polycarbonate technology.
The polycarbonate plant in Ningbo/China was successfully taken into operation in 2015. It uses EPC Groups patented phosgene-free polycarbonate technology. (Source: EPC Group)

Plant construction without annoying interfaces — There are not many technology and plant construction firms who can cover the full range of engineering services. But the EPC Group can! PROCESS visited the traditional — yet highly innovative — company from Thüringen/Germany.

More than 1000 projects in over 40 countries: these numbers speak for themselves. Not only this, they also tell the story of an unrivaled history of success, which started with the foundation of EPC Engineering & Technologies some 23 years ago. Today, with over 300 qualified employees across eight sites in Germany, the EPC Group plans and realizes infrastructure projects and turnkey industrial plants all around the world and is holding its ground in a fiercely competitive international competition.

The recipe for success is founded on a strategy that has been pursued single-mindedly from the outset: Always with one ear close to the market and close to the customer, the company diversified from an early stage, responded constantly and flexibly to challenges — and had the vision to make sure the company always attracted the right competences to meet the current demands of the market, whether in terms of process design, pipe construction, measurement and control technology, chemical process engineering or infrastructure construction. In keeping with the motto: for every engineering service the right engineer in-house.

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Engineering Experts with Long Tradition

“At the end of the 1990s, our competitors still laughed at us for this,” remembers Jens Henkel, who runs the business of the family company together with Ulf, Tim and Nadine Henkel. “They used to mock us and our ‘general store approach’ — but today, our aspiration to be able to offer everything from a one-stop source has long proved itself. With us, customers do not have any interface problems, and as unbelievable as it sounds: we have never yet told anybody that were unable to help them.”

Evolution: Engineering Experts becomes Technology Provider

The profit and loss accounts have no doubt also benefited from the fact that the EPC Group has evolved in the last 20 years from a pure engineering services provider to a plant constructor and technology provider. At present, the company from Thüringen in Germany is the proud owner of more than 70 proprietary technologies that have been and are currently being developed together with institutes, universities and smaller companies. “This is a major key to our success,” emphasizes Jens Henkel.

He adds that this growth has only been achievable thanks to this large number of technologies — but also emphasizes that the company is still relaxed despite the low current demand in international large-scale plant construction.

In the process, he says that it is important not to keep technology in a drawer and just get it out when required and sell it as often as possible, but instead to constantly push further developments — which is what happens in special competence centers (among other places) within the EPC Group. Jens Henkel believes that, particularly when it comes to new developments, every individual process stage should be tested at least once in the technology test center. He also adds that they are constantly on the look-out for new partners, encouraging innovative start-ups in particular to get in touch.

Worldwide Plant Engineering: A Growing Market – With Growing Challenges

Achema Trend Report Plant Engineering

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03/27/2018 - Chemical companies are filling up plant order books: Between 2005 and 2015, global investment in the sector increased by nearly a factor of three and currently stands at more than $ 200 billion. Most of these plants are based on conventional design and construction, but the engineering departments at chemical companies and EPC contractors are about to make major changes to the engineering process. read...

New Requirements for Plant Engineering

TheEPC technologies include e.g. phosgene-free production of polycarbonate, where the byproducts that are created can almost completely be reused for the production of raw materials. As another example, the CreaSolv process enables recycling of all types of polystyrene waste — no matter how badly contaminated the material is, for example with the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). In the past, this type of polystyrene waste needed to be burned in special, certified treatment facilities at great expense.

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Tim Henkel knows: “With the combination of engineering services and technology competence, we can take a completely different approach and set ourselves apart from other providers.” Accordingly, he also does not feel that the company is in direct competition with large Asian or US turnkey plant builders. Quite the opposite — as a technology provider, they are in demand as a partner. Jens Henkel adds: “What makes us special is that we sell technology with engineering, but we do not over-develop the engineering to the point where we cease to be cost-effective. That is the difference!”

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