Building the Factory of the Future

INVITE Aug13Over the past 4 years, major European companies and research organisations have been working to define and demonstrate the factory of the future.  Based on the Bayer Technology Services (BTS) site in Leverkusen, Germany, and with €30m ($40m) of European Union and other funding, they have now developed radically new ‘plug and play’ modular technology capable of being implemented widely across the chemical industry.  The picture above shows the result, which enables:

  • Capex reduction up to 40%
  • Opex reduction up to 20%
  • Reduction in energy consumption up to 30%
  • Solvent reduction up to 100%
  • Footprint reduction up to 50%

Even more important than these hard facts is the ability of the new factory concept to increase investment flexibility and deliver faster time to market.  One unit can manufacture up to 2kt of product.  And the modular design makes it easy to scale this output in multiples of 2kt as required.  Equally, if customer needs change, one or more units can simply be moved to another customer’s site.

The work has included a variety of case studies, focused on real market needs:

  • Rhodia-Solvay and BASF designed and built a pilot plant for solution polymers
  • AstraZeneca developed a proof of principle concept for pharmaceutical development
  • Evonik demonstrated flexible continuous production concepts for intermediate chemicals
  • Arkema demonstrated the technical/economic viability of producing high volume intermediate chemicals
  • Procter & Gamble achieved step-change process intensification for anionic surfactant production
  • BTS investigated transferring a multi-step batch process to fully continuous manufacturing
  • BASF and BTS developed multi-product, solvent-free, small-to-medium scale production of high viscous polymers

These 7 case studies span a broad range of process industry sectors including pharma, chemical intermediates, specialty polymers and consumer products.  And as INVITE director Dr Thomas Bieringer notes, “the project has successfully proved the fast, flexible production concept“.

Any company looking to reduce its capital costs by 40%, and its operating costs by 20%, whilst achieving major environmental benefits, should waste no time in contacting Dr Bieringer by clicking here.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.