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  • Dear Readers!

    There is good cause for celebration! 30 years of a unified Germany. Or perhaps we should say: ‘30 years of working on a unified Germany’? Seen from a historical perspective, it is certainly true to say that the reunification process has not yet been completed. In fact, looking at Germany’s history, you might well be excused for thinking that this process will never be completed. Each individual region has its own cultural peculiarities, its own dialect, its own sensibilities, its own breed of people. And, of course, their traditional dishes are worlds apart from each other. But that’s the way it should be as it is the differences that create a strong dynamic for change and enrich our culture and economy. Having said all that, we are still quite a young nation. Germany really hasn’t been around that long. Our country – as a federation of states – did not come into being until almost 100 years after the United States of America was founded. And we are all well aware that they are still working hard on unifying their nation.

    We are very grateful that our family-run business has been able to play a constructive role in shaping the reunification process from the start. While criticism continues to be directed towards the Treuhand (the agency responsible for privatising the former East German enterprises) for the way it acted – its focus was often on processing rather than developing – our aim has always been on finding robust, future-oriented solutions by working closely on the ground with the different city and regional authorities. The results speak for themselves – whether it be in the Lausitz region where our public private joint venture WAL Betrieb provides water management services and has kept fees and charges stable and jobs secure for decades now despite the region’s declining population; or in Schwerin, where the public private partnership between the city and REMONDIS has been hugely successful at delivering key services cost effectively. And these are just two examples of many. It was – and continues to be – the amazing personal dedication of the company’s employees in the regions that made it possible for REMONDIS to become a local east German family-run business in these new areas after the wall fell. What’s more, some of the family moved from the Westphalian town of Selm to make their home in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – but this just as a side note. Unity requires active commitment, as does sustainable development. REMONDIS is dedicated to both, always working with the future in mind.

    One thing is certain: there are a lot of things still – or once again – to be done. The recession brought on by Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on the finances of local authorities. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the cities and districts faced a shortfall of 9.7 billion euros in the first six months of this year. As a comparison: the deficit amounted to just 0.3 billion euros a year ago. The reason for this negative trend was the drastic fall in revenue received by local governments in the second quarter of 2020. The German economy nosedived by 9.7% between April and June – the first time it has ever had to face such a huge drop. Yet another reason then for thinking about how the pressure can be taken off local governments in the future. They don’t have to do everything by themselves – the private sector is happy to help. Public private partnerships are a robust solution for delivering cost-intensive essential services, such as waste management and water management tasks. I and Professor Michael Schäfer, retired professor of public sector economics at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, illustrate this very clearly with the help of many examples in one of the books we co-authored – and we don’t forget to mention the negative examples either. As everyone knows, people learn from their mistakes so they can do a better job in the future. And this is precisely what we are doing together with our friends and partners in the not so new states in the east of Germany, in Europe and across the world.

    We hope you enjoy reading this latest issue. Stay safe!

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Overhauling a pipe bridge network

  • 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.

Keeping the materials flowing is key

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.

Ongoing monitoring & comprehensive renovation work

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.

Working in a high security area

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.

Tried & tested teamwork

  • 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 chain of services with a whole number of interfaces

  • 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.

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