BASF: Optimizing Reactor Yield
BASF is the world’s largest producer of chemicals and related products with over 112,000 employees on five continents. Innovation, science, social responsibility, and environmental protection are all key to BASF’s business strategy.
BASF purchased a new high-capacity chemical reactor to produce a specific chemical with a wide variety of uses in fuels, plastics, and adhesives. When the reactor arrived and was tested, management became concerned by the apparent lack of stability they observed. Although the product quality was acceptable, the desired output could not be produced on a reliable and consistent basis. BASF partnered with QualPro to optimize the yield of the reaction system without additional capital investment.
QualPro consultants conducted interviews with project managers and key personnel to thoroughly understand the production process. After evaluating BASF’s measurement system and historical data, our consultants helped BASF form a team consisting of management, mechanics, and operators. Together, the team brainstormed improvement ideas designed to optimize production rates and recycling processes. Our consultants helped the team narrow the list to seven ideas that were practical, fast, and cost-free. Some of these ideas included cooling time, acid ratio, and reaction temperature.
QualPro designed the experiments for BASF personnel to perform. A screening experiment revealed that three of the ideas had a significant impact and were worthy of further exploration. A refining experiment confirmed the effects of two factors and revealed the precise strength of their influence. After analyzing the results, our consultants created recommendations for BASF to implement in order to improve product quality.
In accordance with our commitment to driving continuous improvement, our consultants worked closely with operators to guide process changes and motivate project team members to exceed goals.
After implementing the two helpful factors, BASF achieved a 0.7 percent increase in yield, which translated into annual savings of $2.6 million. The changes also decreased the extraction of tower washes, which saved BASF another $1.5 million annually. Altogether, QualPro’s recommendations saved the company $4.1 million per year.