Higher, faster, further

Thanks to digitalization, midsized companies such as Münzing Chemie are becoming even more efficient

Successful athletes owe their success mainly to the fact that they are never satisfied with what they’ve already achieved. The situation is similar for many of our customers. The additives manufacturer Münzing Chemie is a good example of that. In 2017, this midsized company partnered with Bilfinger to launch a pilot project focusing on digitalization at its site in Heilbronn. The clear goal is the enhancement of effectiveness.

First, a “digital twin” was created for the existing powder facility. This virtual digital plant brings together all of the plant’s relevant technical data and information and makes it digitally accessible with just a few clicks. “This process greatly enhances the quality and timeliness of the data and decreases the complexity of the documentation,” says plant manager Dr. Andreas Heidbreder. Two new chemical reactors were digitally planned right from the start.

In parallel, Bilfinger created a cloud-based data pool that included the technical plant details and data from current operations and maintenance activities. In addition, wireless sensors were installed in order to enable continuous smart real-time monitoring. According to Andreas Heidbreder, “The sensors not only work well but also are easy to integrate.”

Improved monitoring

Through the use of these new technologies, the status monitoring was significantly improved. Analysis of the collected data clearly indicated the areas where efficiency could potentially be boosted. For example, the analyses indicated that before a certain malfunction happens there are already clear indications of the potential for it to occur. With growing experience, problems of this kind become more and more predictable. Heidbreder says that this makes his work easier. “In times when companies like Münzing sometimes have to wait many weeks for certain replacement parts, this system is worth its weight in gold.”

3 questions for Franz Braun

Mr. Braun, are midsized companies already digitalized?

When it comes to digitalization, many midsized companies still have some way to go. In many cases, a crucial factor is the companies’ inability to assess whether the digitalization process would be successful. This hesitation can have fatal effects for the companies, because digitalization offers opportunities for boosting the efficiency of production and maintenance. Companies have to see this competitive advantage and seize the opportunity.

Can you give us an example?

Data from engineering, operations, and maintenance are already being collected in a variety of systems today. If these data are brought together in a cloudbased database, intelligent analyses can identify potential that has previously been invisible. For example, think of increasing the predictability of potential outages at a plant. This new digital intelligence saves companies time and money.

What can midsized companies do?

Many midsized companies are afraid of the investments that the introduction of new digital technologies requires. They lack IT experience. Midsized companies need a strong partner who is familiar with the process industry’s special requirements and offers the digital solutions that are necessary. They need a partner who also thinks in economic terms and is oriented toward practical operations and results. Midsized enterprises, like all companies, should keep in mind that those who take advantage of digitalization early on will boost their competitiveness. With Bilfinger, that will happen in just six months!

Franz Braun has been the Chief Digital Officer at Bilfinger since March 2017. Prior to that he worked for many years in the maintenance business at Bilfinger, most recently as Managing Director at the company’s maintenance branch in Germany.

published in issue 01.2018

Further articles from issue 01.2018