Stop and full speed ahead
On 27 November 2020, after 46 days and 8,000 activities with no accidents and not one single person being infected with COVID-19, a turnaround was completed at the Nynas refinery in Harburg.
During the shutdown, the refinery’s process units were closed down in order to enable all scheduled measures so that the equipment could be certified in accordance with current legal requirements.
The reason for the shutdown is that a refinery, like any other production facility, is subjected to wear and tear and needs regular maintenance. Government agencies also require a more comprehensive turnaround at regular intervals — every five years in Germany — so that plants can be opened up and inspected.
In connection with the turnaround, the opportunity was taken to carry out improvements that cannot be done during normal operation. These included the installation of a new column head — weighing 60 tonnes! — in the upper section of the central vacuum distillation column.
Another project that was recently completed in Harburg is the updating of the IT system for loading bitumen. Participants in the project, working remotely across several countries, followed a detailed schedule with ongoing activities and daily meetings on Teams. The entire update and implementation took place virtually. This is a good example of what can be achieved with joint efforts, collaboration and engagement combined with effective digital tools.