Aurorium’s chamber of measurements: peace and order



Products used

Chemelot, Geleen, The Netherlands

Aurorium may be the smalles building at Chemelot, this doen’t reflect the complexity of the production place taking place there. Raw materials are converted into polymers of styrene maleic acid hydride (SMA) and derivatives. These plastics are transformed into the screens and print plates for phones and solar roofs, for example. The plastics are also used in adhesives and paint. Changing the recipe and process of the three raw materials changes the characteristics of the final product, allowing the derivatives to be applied for different purposes.

Managing, monitoring and adjusting

Aurorium’s control room manages all processes operated in the neighbouring plant. The processes are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The operator manages, monitors and adjusts. This not only involves the production process, but also subprocesses such as substance recovery. Due to the nature of the substances, it is very important that conditions in and around the plant are closely monitored. Raw material MEK (similar to ether or acetone) evaporates quickly and is extremely flammable. Styrene is another raw material used in the manufacturing process. Styrene has the feature that it can react on itself. When this happens, the liquid turns into a kind of gummy texture, clogging the pipes.

Using camera systems, the operator observes several places in and around the plant from the control room. Of course, the critical parts of the production process are also monitored by the cameras. Should something go wrong in the discharge of a product, the operator can switch to another production route or interrupt the process to fix the problem. Operator Ruud Coomans: “Fortunately rarely anything happens here and we have everything well under control. But you have to keep checking it carefully, because safety is not a given.”

Redesign of the control room

In Aurorium’s C.I. (continuous improvement), complaints were voiced about the control room. It was far too busy; technicians walked in and out to ask questions, pick up work permits or just to chat. “To do the job well, focus is needed,” Ruud Coomans explained. Together with two colleagues, he inventoried what was needed to improve the control room. “Someone from CREON came, listened to our needs and then managed to make something of it.” The operators were also involved in redesigning the control room. “We presented the design proposal to our colleagues. We received nothing but positive feedback on that. Everyone was allowed to think about it and give their input.”

The rule now is: ‘Anyone who does not need to be in the control room must stay out of the room’. By creating a separate canteen and a counter for issuing work permits, colleagues no longer have to enter the room. An anoustic panel hangs at the control room operator’s workstation. It dampens ambient noise and also serves as a divider between the other workstations. “It makes a significant difference in noise! It ensures a quite working environment with focus.”

Ergonomic, height-adjustable workstations were chosen that can be tailored to the different body lengths of the control room employees. “I don’t like sitting, so after an hour I raise my workstation. Then I walk behind my screens, which I love,” says Ruud Coomans.

Workstations and cabinetry

Aurorium’s measurement room has five sit-stand workstations. A SPLIT workstation is the largest console where the control room operator works. Following CREON’s advice, a curved top shape was chosen. The workstation is equipped with 10 monitors. “In the plant, everything is redundant, including the control system. Should one workstation fail, we can switch to the other,” Ruud Coomans explains.

Behind the control desk is a cabinet wall with sliding doors for administration, reference work and lockers. This custom made cabinet was designed and supplied by CREON. At the four LIGHT workstations, various activities are performed, such as looking up information about the production process by staff and shift supervisors, maintenance of the control system by engineers and there is a workstation at which operators can study for courses.

Everything works perfectly

Ruud Coomans glances back with satisfaction: “The cooperation with CREON was great: short communication lines and always reachable. CREON offers good value for money and delivers robust products that also look good. In 3 years we haven’t had a single failure.”

“In the old situation, the control room was stuffed with things; it was a messy environment. Keeping the room tidy also motivates others to leave the workplace tidy.” Coomans still remembers the first time he went to work in the renovated control room. “I was struck by how nice and quiet it was. No loose cables and everything is neatly tidy.”