New nerve centre for Huntsman

The migration of the control and safety system for nine lines took place over ten days. It was a project that delved deep into the nerve centre of Huntsman, a chemical company in Rotterdam. Project Manager Ruïz Knobel takes you behind the scenes of this operation..

Botlek, Rotterdam.

Home to one of the dozens of plants worldwide owned by the American company Huntsman. Here, Huntsman manufactures semi-finished goods for the automotive sector and more. “The control system in this plant was over 40 years old”, says Ruïz, to provide a little background. “That meant it was
becoming increasingly difficult to integrate new components. What’s more, Huntsman also wanted to invest more in cybersecurity. The migration to a
new control and safety system was a necessity.” To make sure the switch ran smoothly, Huntsman brought the original integrator on board: Emerson.
“Such a large-scale migration, however, involves more than just software. You also have to replace sensors, work on cables, and make changes to the control panels. You need to assess what can still be used and what has to be replaced. In short, it was a complete project. Huntsman’s plant manager summed it up nicely: If this were an operation and the factory were the patient, we’d be carrying out a brain transplant. We’d take the old brain out and put a new one in.”

Twenty-two engineers, two weeks, two shifts

“Emerson engaged our services for everything that wasn’t related to software. After all, this sort of migration is our field of expertise. We have the know-how in the field of construction and engineering for control panels. When you combine that with our experience in carrying out on-site installations, you can be sure that we know how  to bring this sort of complex assignment to a successful conclusion. Emerson dealt with the
software while we handled everything else – including arranging the prefab concrete units so they could accommodate certain panels.” “To start with, our engineers mapped everything out. The Huntsman factory has nine lines in total, but no two lines are the same. They started with number one, and worked their way across the lines. We first had to establish a few basics: What do we need to do with this line? What are we trying to achieve?  And which electrotechnical and mechanical activities do we need for the job? This meant we were well prepared.” “We drew up the planning in the next step. Huntsman told us when each line could be shut down. It was then up to us to translate that information into an efficient schedule for the work”, says Ruïz. “Our staff did an unbelievable job. We were on site for two weeks, and twenty-two engineers worked almost 24/7 across two shifts. Including Sundays.”

A boat trip as a thank-you

“We did a good job. We received compliments for our flexibility, expertise and determination. I also felt a lot of gratitude. To bring the project to a close, we and the Emerson team were invited on a boat trip around the port. It was great fun! The project had a few tense moments, but we all managed to do our jobs well. I’d like to thank all my colleagues for their efforts, as we really did it as a team.””

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