A Behind the Scenes Look: Röhm’s Scheduled Turnaround at the Worms Production Plant
For Röhm, conducting annual production plant maintenance are standard operating procedures where the company typically stops production in selected units while others continue operation. This year’s turnaround in Worms was far more strategically important and complex. The site fully stopped production for an extended time in order to ensure the highest compliance standards and be the most reliable partner for its customers, now and in the future.
This was not just any planned maintenance, but included a full electrical shutdown for one week in order to renew and upgrade the vital organs of the utility infrastructure. This only happens every 5 years and only by fully stopping production can such essential equipment be exchanged.
Besides the overhaul and improvement of the utility systems, the sulfur recycling plant was a focus of the maintenance activities. Bernd, a plant engineer of the sulfur recycling plan commented, “Our plant is operating under harsh process conditions. Due to the high temperatures and corrosive conditions, it is even more important to keep this sulfur recycling plant in good shape to guarantee a reliable operation. Therefore, it is important to replace equipment before it reaches the end of lifetime. We mostly do not replace just one by one, but try to make improvements e.g. with material upgrades or optimized design.”
The most spectacular part of the shutdown? Röhm used one of the largest cranes in Europe to replace a tank in the sulfur recycling plant unit and lifted the new unit into the designated position with a precision requirement of just 3 mm. Huge pipelines were moved in the process as well. To even manage to get this crane to Worms was a logistical challenge. When any massive moving and lifting is planned, the safety of all team members remains of top importance.
The entire infrastructure was checked, reviewed and evaluated prior to the shutdown to catch all items requiring attention while minimizing the downtime. As one of the key European players for the production of methyl methacrylate (MMA), Röhm must ensure that the production plan is fully functional to avoid any disruptions to the supply chain. Worms is the largest production facility for Röhm, until it completes the newest MMA production plant in the USA.
What were the key areas of importance during this complex maintenance?
- Replacement of power supply equipment
- Replacement of key elements in the brine, chiller and other utility systems
- Replacement of a buffer tank for the sulfur recycling unit
- Renewal and optimization of the refractory lining in the sulfur recycling reactors
- Replacement of a cartridge filter with state-of-the-art materials in a welded design
- Replacement and optimization of large diameter gas piping of the sulfuric acid scrubbers
The upgrades of the essential equipment are key to Röhm in order to ensure that all upcoming sustainability updates can be completed on time and as planned.