Sustainable production requires a different design of a factory

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Nico Pleeging, director of engineering region south, sees an important role for Bilfinger Tebodin when it comes to energy conversion. The company draws large factories and delivers the drawings, calculations and plans that a contractor can subsequently realize the construction with. “Our customers are primarily large industrial companies. They need engineers to, for example, calculate plans for new or existing factories and to make drawings of processes. From that perspective, we can help them go from oil and gas to renewable energy sources, ”says Pleeging. The use of sustainable energy and greener raw materials results in a different design of factories. “These companies need to reinvent themselves,” he says.

Nico Pleeging
Nico Pleeging

The engineering company Tebodin was founded right after World War II to rebuild the industry in the Netherlands. Since 2012, it has been part of the German company Bilfinger. “The idea with Bilfinger is to be able to support customers through it all life cycle of an investment. From the first idea and design to the realization to even the later dismantling or renovation of a factory, ”says Pleeging. “We are ideally suited to fulfill this role in terms of new technologies, such as high voltage, hydrogen and CO capture and storage.2† With such a development, the cards are shuffled so that we can also look at a new or more comprehensive role for us. ”

3D models

Digitization has quickly become very important in the design process of new factories. “Today we work exclusively with 3D design. It makes it easier for us to integrate different disciplines, ”he says. The customer can then go through the 3D design with VR glasses. “It gives people a much better idea of ​​the plans. For many people, it’s very difficult to imagine a building from a drawing on paper. In 3D, it really comes to life and you see how the design eventually becomes a reality. ”

The 3D models are increasingly integrated with other data models such as GIS and photo, video or systems such as Google View. “Then we project a new project, such as a heating network, onto an existing environment,” explains Pleeging. That way, local residents can instantly see what’s going to happen and what the end result is going to look like. “It is very important to create support. We can make complex designs and drawings easily visible to a wider audience. ”

Better expectation

It is also a good development for the construction sector itself. “By working in 3D, we can in the design process anticipate things that we would otherwise only encounter during realization,” he says. He gives as an example the construction of a large factory where various cranes and scaffolding are used. “In the 3D model, it became clear that the crane could not be placed at the planned location because a scaffolding would be in the way during the lifting work. If we had only figured it out during construction, we would have been a few days late. Now we saw it come in the digital design, so we could come up with a different plan in advance. ”

In details

Also in the design itself, different engineers can easily work together from different offices. “You all work in the same model. That way you immediately see what everyone is working on,” he says. He cites an example: “A door and a pipe must be installed in a room. It is possible that the building engineer “and the mechanical engineer had the door and the pipe in the same place in mind. But of course you can not place a pipe to open a door. Now we find out very quickly and can coordinate it all at once.”

Digitization has radically changed the design process for engineers. “When we were still working on paper, we always made a rough sketch first. It was then further developed in stages, ”he says. “Now that everyone is working digitally, a step-by-step approach is more difficult because everything is immediately visible in the model. As a result, details are considered earlier in the design process. It benefits, according to Pleeging, the quality of the work. “If all parties involved work together in the same program, then there will be more overview.”

An open attitude

According to Pleeging, these two developments – digitalisation and sustainability – mean that competitors no longer exist. “In the past, everyone kept the cards to their chests. Now different parties are more open about their ideas and plans. This ultimately leads to the best result. Collaboration between chain partners is crucial to achieve a major social challenge such as the energy transition. That’s also why Bilfinger Tebodin settled on Brightland’s Chemelot Campus in Geleen last year. “Campus ensures people find each other and go together,” Pleeging says.

He will help the start-ups on campus scale up to a pilot plant and eventually to a complete factory. “These young companies have new ideas and invent new technologies and processes in the laboratory. We can not, but we can help these companies scale up. Over the past decades, we have gained a lot of knowledge and experience in various markets and sectors. In this way, we can create cross-connections between sectors to stimulate innovation even more. ”

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