In order to keep such downtimes as short as possible, Bilfinger has developed its own in-house concept for executing turnarounds. “How we go about it exactly is a trade secret,” says Braune and laughs: “But I can say this much: Efficient scheduling and work planning are essential. Another factor is that our workforce is highly qualified and very familiar with the routines involved in such interventions. What’s more, we’re using digital solutions to an increasing degree.” The results speak for themselves: Every year, Bilfinger performs around 30 comprehensive turnarounds of industrial plants across Europe. The service field responsible for turnarounds has expended 4.5 million man-hours of work in recent years – and this without a single accident entailing lost working days.
This hopefully will hold true also for the turnaround of the TOTAL refinery Mitteldeutschland. Bilfinger acts as general contractor for a number of the plant’s systems, including the POX methanol facility. The maintenance services, which have been planned far in advance, must be completed within four to six weeks. This will involve opening, inspecting and cleaning innumerable containers and pipes – and of course also repairing them if needed. Subsequently, the individual components will be inspected and certified by the German Technical Supervision Association (TÜV). Braune sums up: “What counts here is experience, familiarity with the routines, and keeping a cool head: Every move has to be executed perfectly and the relevant work steps have to be clear to all involved.”
To ensure that this is the case, giant workflow diagrams wallpaper have been hung up where everyone can see them. These depict the individual work steps and work packages, which can then be checked off as they are completed. Thus, everyone will be able to keep an eye on the big picture. As Braune puts it, “A turnaround is a like a vast mosaic composed of many small tiles representing work packages, one that has been painstakingly planned two years in advance.” In fact, a planning period this long is indispensable: Certain portions of the plant will be turned into huge construction sites for short periods of time, where many people will be expected to work in coordination at very close quarters. It goes without saying that, despite the intense time pressure involved, occupational safety and diligence will always have top priority.
With these two projects, Bilfinger will support the TOTAL refinery in further boosting its competitiveness. The complete replacement of the reactors will form part of the “Leuna 2020+” catalogue of measures intended to make the refinery viable for the future. By ramping up its production of methanol, the refinery is reacting to declining demand for heavy fuel products. The TOTAL refinery compound in Leuna is set to see a lot of activity in the near future!