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  • Dear Readers!

    There is a political stalemate in Germany at the moment. With four of the six parties elected to Germany’s new Parliament failing to find a compromise so that they can form a government, the country’s political future – at the time we went to print – is more uncertain than ever. A so-called Jamaica coalition, which gets its name from the colours of the different parties: black for the two Conservative coalition partners CDU and CSU, yellow for the Liberals FDP, and green for the Bündnis90/Die Grünen (the colours of the Jamaican flag), would appear to no longer be an option after the parties’ exploratory talks broke down on 19 November. At the same time, the Social Democrats seem to be sticking to their decision not to form another ‘grand coalition’ with their Conservative counterparts. There are certainly some huge political hurdles to overcome. Whilst some would prefer more state control, others are looking to follow a more typically liberal course with greater freedom for businesses. The Green’s desire to speed up the move towards an energy sector without fossil fuels (including shutting down coal-fired power stations and getting rid of internal combustion engines earlier than planned) is proving to be an obstacle for those with more conservative political interests. And, whilst the Liberals are finally fighting to expand digital networks in rural areas, the Conservatives would appear to be merely paying digital lip service to this subject.

    And yet there is no time to lose. The economy is already going through a structural change as a result of the next industrial revolution and this revolution is both digital and electrical. It has come at a time when the world is facing the huge challenges of climate change and a growing number of environmental problems which, in the end, will make it difficult to meet the global population’s needs.

    Even sand – a substance we would seem to be surrounded by – is becoming scarce. And, once again, it is our industry that has come up with a solution. If we are to curb global warming, move away from fossil fuels and conserve our planet’s raw materials, then setting up a genuine circular economy must be at the very centre of a government’s policy. If Germany, a country with so few natural resources of its own, is to remain an important industrial location in the future as supplies of raw materials become ever scarcer, then the spotlight must be turned on recycling. Recycling must be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, especially of product designers. The foundations were created for this when the Packaging Law was introduced during the last legislative period as this lays down product responsibility and market-based measures to promote recycling. What is needed now is to transfer these standards so that they apply to all products.
     
    There is always much to celebrate at the end of the year. REMONDIS is, for example, celebrating sixty years of plastics recycling at RE PLANO and, of course, that you – our custom-ers, friends, partners and employees – have remained loyal to us throughout the year. Together, day by day, we can help make the world that little bit more sustainable.
     
    We would like to thank you for your great support and collab-oration over the last twelve months and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year.

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Projects in Austria and Germany

  • XERVON and BUCHEN played a key role in two major refinery turnarounds this year – in Schwechat near Vienna and in Lingen, a town situated in the German state of Lower Saxony. Having meticulously prepared both projects beforehand, the two companies deployed over a thousand operatives to ensure both shutdowns were carried out smoothly.

Refinery turnaround in Schwechat

  • If such large-scale turnarounds are to be a success, then it is essential that all the different specialist jobs are scheduled so they fit together perfectly. Being part of the REMONDIS Group, XERVON and BUCHEN know all about successful collaboration work and delivering uncomplicated solutions. It is also a huge advantage that the group’s maintenance experts, industrial cleaners and catalyst specialists regularly work together on a variety of projects.

    Meticulous planning work has to be carried out in advance to ensure the tight schedules can be met.

    The OMV refinery in the Austrian city of Schwechat is one of the largest inland refineries in Europe. One of its most important facilities – its ethylene cracker unit – had to be shut down between the end of April and the end of May so that it could be serviced and inspected. All in all, around 75 percent of the refinery came to a standstill for a period of four weeks while it was being overhauled. XERVON sent a team of around 400 people who were responsible for the mechanical work, i.e. dismantling a whole range of plant sections and equipment and putting them back together again. The mechanics played a key role here in making sure all the other specialists were able to perform their tasks as planned.

    The pipes leading to the crude oil distillation facility in Lingen

  • “We received much praise from our client for the professional way we executed our tasks.”

    Thomas Kramel, Managing Director XERVON Instandhaltung GmbH

Complex tasks

  • One of the main challenges they had to cope with in Schwechat – besides the very tight schedule – was dealing with the actual layout of the refinery: some of the refinery’s facilities have been built upwards to make up for the lack of area available. More often than not, cranes could not be used as there was not enough space for them. In many cases, XERVON had to work with chain lifts – also for moving really large parts weighing between two and three tonnes. These were then transported to a section of the refinery where they could be lifted out by crane.

    BUCHEN-ICS was also part of the shutdown team in Schwechat. This firm, which specialises in reactor and catalyst handling services, replaced the catalyst in 15 vessels and reactors with the majority of this work being performed in a nitrogen environment. All in all, they used their specialist processes to unload and load around 400 cubic metres of material.

    The vacuum distillation unit in Lingen

     

Large-scale shutdown at BP in Lingen

BUCHEN and XERVON also worked hand in hand for a major turnaround at BP’s refinery in Lingen which lasted from the middle of April to the beginning of June. During this project, BUCHEN UmweltService was responsible for the industrial cleaning work whilst BUCHEN-ICS worked on the reactors and XERVON Instandhaltung took on the extensive piping and mechanical tasks. This work also included them installing all the pipes in a new 45-metre-high column for distilling crude oil. XERVON produced and installed several thousand metres of piping for BP, set up trace heating systems and manufactured several thousand flange joints. The company had begun producing these parts back in the middle of 2016.

New system put into practice

  • Both XERVON and BUCHEN have been delivering services to this BP refinery for many years now. During this year’s turnaround, BUCHEN UmweltService had to clean numerous heat exchangers, vessels, columns, reactors, air coolers and pipes. A whole range of cleaning methods was deployed here – from eco-friendly vacuuming processes, to blasting technology using high pressure jets, dry ice and modified sodium hydrogen carbonate, all the way through to setting up dedicated washing areas. The BUCHEN-ICS experts were in charge of over 30 reactors, working on up to five facilities at any one time. This was also the first time that they were able to use their newly developed DPC technology – a weatherproof catalyst-loading system that does not need a crane – to load the hydrocracker plant.

    BP had set up an excellent infrastructure to enable their contractors to take their staff and equipment to the site.

    XERVON Instandhaltung had up to 700 operatives at the refinery during the shutdown; BUCHEN had 240 people on site during the busiest periods. Both teams agree that meticulous planning work is vital if the tight schedules are to be met. The close collaboration work between the different team members on site, however, is equally important as they have to be able to react flexibly to tasks or situations that crop up unexpectedly.

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