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XERVON has two key responsibilities at the Cologne-Merkenich Chemical Park: to ensure it runs smoothly and to provide maintenance services as and when they are needed. One of its current projects involves renovating the site’s pipe bridges bit by bit – a network of pipes stretching over three kilometres. What might seem, at first glance, to be an uncomplicated task is, in fact, extremely complex. Several years will be needed to complete the project. A period of time that is by no means long considering the extensive and challenging steps that need to be performed.
Pipe bridges are essential lifelines for many manufacturers across a whole range of industrial sectors. Built to support pipes, they make it possible for different substances to be transported above the ground and can often cover great distances. At the Cologne-Merkenich Chemical Park, for example, the pipe bridge network supplies almost everything that the different companies need – from compressed air and steam, to ethylene and vinyl chloride, all the way through to nitrogen, to name just a few.
XERVON carries out regular checks to ensure that the system is working properly. These include visual inspections, measuring the thickness of the pipe walls and checking for leaks using ultrasound technology. From time to time, these bridges must also be completely overhauled. A complex task – not only because this important infrastructure has to be renewed and renovated while the park’s operations continue as normal but also because many different specialists are needed. What’s more, stringent safety measures have to be in place as the material used in the past to protect pipes from corrosion is now classified as hazardous.
The renovation of the pipe bridge has been planned, controlled and coordinated by XERVON Instandhaltung, the long-standing mainten- ance service provider and operator of the Cologne- Merkenich Chemical Park.
The renovation of the pipe bridge network at the Cologne-Merkenich Chemical Park began around five years ago. Since then, it has gradually been repaired and renewed section by section. 20 different kinds of services will have been needed to complete the project, from the moment the concept was drawn up all the way through to the final inspection. And most of these services have been required for each section of pipe bridge being repaired. The first step is always erecting the scaffolding around the relevant section. Once this has been done, the whole of this area – from above the pipe bridge all the way down to the ground – is then enclosed with a cover. The result: an enclosed space which is a good five metres wide, ten metres high and up to 100 metres in length.
This enclosed workspace is a world in itself. To ensure that these areas meet all required safety standards, XERVON has equipped them with stationary gas detectors, a fire extinguishing system and emergency entrances including a fire escape consisting of stairs three metres wide. Decontamination areas separate the inside from the outside; access is only possible through double-door systems. All operatives entering the area must wear protective overalls and masks. They have mobile gas detectors with them and can radio through to the security officer whenever they need to, who, in turn, can contact the plant’s fire brigade.
The more services that are required, the more advantageous it is to work with a business that can cover all the tasks.
Regular safety inspections are part of the project as are inspections carried out together with the customers. A further service provided by the company involves them dealing with all the various authorities – from ensuring the permits and approvals have been issued, all the way through to drawing up any documentation that may be needed.
Several months are needed to finish each section and many different experts have to be called in to perform their specialist tasks. This work must, of course, be dovetailed perfectly so that there is no unnecessary downtime – a complex task for the project management team. Managed by XERVON Instandhaltung, the various services required to renovate the pipe bridge are being delivered exclusively by experts from the REMONDIS Group. Together, they are able to perform all the work needed. This is, in fact, crucial for the project to run smoothly. Having immediate access to all the different specialists – and to specialists who are used to working together – creates two key advantages for the businesses based at the chemical park: the knowledge that top quality work will be delivered and a reduction in time and costs.
A wide range of carefully dovetailed services are needed to renovate pipe bridges. These are provided by eight of the REMONDIS Group’s highly specialised divisions.