The pressure on the teams from project managers Sven-Arne Satre and Johan Söderlund is huge. The steam cracker, a giant and highly complex production facility belonging to customer Borealis in Stenungsund, Sweden, must function without interruption 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The task at hand is the responsibility of maintenance specialists from Bilfinger Industrial Services Sweden. "Bilfinger is key to keeping this plant running", says Pal Theie from Borealis. As Vice President Plant Availability & Turnarounds, he is responsible for plant availability at the chemical company.
The Swedish subsidiary with around 1,000 employees is part of the Continental Europe region, primarily supporting customers in the core industries of chemicals & petrochem, metallurgy and energy & utilities in the Maintenance, Modifications & Operations segment. The subsidiary also works with companies in the paper industry.
Borealis and Bilfinger have a longstanding partnership. "Bilfinger is by far our largest contract partner", says Theie. Together, employees are developed, improvements are identified, performance is assessed and maintenance work is planned and implemented.
A lot is expected from Bilfinger, but confidence in its performance is also high, which is why the Swedish subsidiary is responsible for maintaining the heart of the plant, the steam cracker. "And we are the heart surgeons", says Per-Olov Zakrisson, Managing Director of Bilfinger Industrial Services Sweden.
Borealis plant in Stenungsund
The meter-high production plant with a surface area the size of several soccer pitches produces a range of important chemical components for production at the site. With the help of steam, petroleum (naptha), which is made up of long hydrocarbon chains, is cracked. This creates shorter molecules, the components for further production. The process consists of multiple steps. In one process step, 2800 bar of pressure is built up by the plant.
Bilfinger maintains the compressors required for this. "There is no room for error in high-tech maintenance. Tolerances in the processing of parts are extremely small", says Zakrisson, pointing out an €80,000 compressor cylinder, which is currently being processed on a mobile lathe with diamond paste.
Bilfinger is the only company in Scandinavia which is able to to carry out this work. The longstanding experience in this area is a key competitive advantage for Zakrisson. "We were able to save the customer money and increase efficiency with our preventive maintenance."
Borealis' steam cracker