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Products and solutions, 2006-10-12, 10:00 AM

Maintenance-costs down, plant-availability up

For years now, ThyssenKrupp Xervon has been working as a full-services maintenance provider at the specialty refinery in Salzbergen, Germany. And since the beginning of the year, the finishing touch has been applied. The plant operator H&R ChemPharm has transferred all responsibilities in terms of maintenance to Xervon - including the contractually agreed target of a "significant cost reduction."

The new extended skeleton contract that Xervon has concluded with the globally oldest yet still producing lubricant refinery (founded in 1860), not only includes the entire maintenance of the plant. Technical project planning, too, parts management, financial responsibility for the parts depot, purchase and coordination of all subcontractors as well as portrayal of the organization and warehousing management through Xervon's SAP system are among the scope of services. All contracts with third-party suppliers having to do with repair work in any way are handled via the general maintenance company Xervon. Thus, the operator has only one person to contact in all maintenance-related matters.

Availability at 98 percent

Whether new buildings or reconstruction work, repairs, shutdowns or preventive maintenance of plant through modern monitoring processes (Condition Monitoring), all maintenance tasks are carried out by specially trained Xervon employees. Plant availability is at a very high 98 percent, thanks to a workforce of 60 with 46 maintenance persons skilled in various trades, as well as 14 engineers and technicians coping with the engineering work.

For labor-intensive jobs, the Salzbergen maintenance staff closely cooperates with their Lingen colleagues only 30 km away, also attending to a refinery there. "In this way, we can very flexibly resort to a large pool of personnel with refinery experience," adds Ruping, appreciating the cooperation. After all, on a refinery site, countless industrial safety directives, environmental and other regulations need to be observed. So, it's good to work with experienced colleagues!

Cost optimization

With the takeover of budget responsibility, Xervon has assured the operator a long-term cost reduction. "Within the next six years, we will reduce the maintenance costs by around 16 percent while maintaining plant availability at its present level," promises Ruping. However, he doesn't talk about the recipe for this - understandably. Only this much: "Such high availability is only possible by being constantly on site, having well trained, highly motivated specialists and reacting flexibly. Moreover, important plant components are designed for standby operation. Therefore you have to look ahead, so that as little unexpected happens as possible."

The heart of maintenance

The necessary know-how is bundled at the three former workshops which have been working economically independent as far back as 1995. The Instrumentation workshop attends to all the controls, actuators, measurements and electrical components. Among the Machine workshop's areas of activity are pumps, compressors as well as vehicle engineering. The Pipe workshop takes on pipe laying tasks and other jobs related to process equipment. Meanwhile, also the trade-spanning tasks such as insulation, corrosion protection and scaffolding are carried out by Xervon's own employees. "We are among the very few industrial services providers able to offer such diversified trades and know-how from a single source," Ruping adds. He emphasizes: "And here in Salzbergen we prove day for day that our concept works."

The mastermind

Even the organization, the work scheduling, i.e. maintenance engineering, has been Xervon's specialty since the start of the year. To this end, the services provider has taken over the refinery's engineering unit. Fourteen engineers, technicians and master craftsmen from a wide variety of branches in electrical and mechanical engineering provide for project planning, quality assurance, parts management, IT integration, etc.

The scheduling of the individual maintenance and repair jobs is the responsibility of the executing trades. In this way, a fast and fluid information flow takes place between the operator and the maintenance company at all levels. Should, for instance, a pump fail due to leakage, the head of production enters this as a malfunction into ThyssenKrupp Xervon's EDP system and all further measures are implemented and coordinated by ThyssenKrupp Xervon.

Although flexible and fast action is in demand, nothing works without "paperwork." The EDP system enforces it: first, the cost estimate, then the approval and release of the job number. Otherwise, the parts store won't release a single item.

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