Warrington, UK - BASF has joined with change management company Reliable Manufacturing to increase capacity as part of an operational excellence programme at its Antwerp plant.
The initiative has the potential to save the organisation tens of millions of Euros as part of its drive for world-class performance, BASF said in a 5 Aug announcement.
The announcement noted that BASF Antwerp is a successful operation, but that BASF has identified the potential for further substantial capacity gains through improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Polyurethanes products BASF makes at Antwerp include MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and propylene oxide (in a joint venture with Dow Chemical).
Herman Baets, technical governance manager at the Antwerp plant said a cultural shift was critical for the gains to be realised.
He said, "We have always operated at a very high level technically and instinctively we look for a technical solution to problems. Despite this our asset reliability and asset utilisation were still only 'better than average' and we wanted world class."
Baets added that the company realised it needed to change behaviours and procedures, which is the area of Reliable Manufacturing's expertise.
The change programme began in May with a series of master class workshops focused on transforming leadership and culture. As a result BASF said it has set clear targets for both plant slowdown and asset utilisation, with two senior executives assigned specific responsibility for these.
The German chemical company said it has already started to see results from some of the early process improvements it has been making, citing as an example the level of unexpected loss from a cooling unit, which has been reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent through the introduction of a few simple measures.
BASF Antwerp is setting ambitious targets for the future; with the help of the Reliable Manufacturing programme, it is aiming to reduce unexpected losses and optimise plant shutdowns by the end of 2012 and thus increase capacity by better asset utilisation performance.