Complex needs require clear and efficient solutions.

Complex needs require clear and efficient solutions.

From our own mixing room to our own labelling room, and lots of services in between: our company leaves nothing to chance to assist our customers in their often complex supply chain. We are increasingly changing the field with thorough and innovative custom solutions. Solution Design Engineer Rob Mannaerts and Global Industry Lead Jef Molenaers outline the added value we can provide.

Although the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors still organise many supply chain activities in-house in addition to their core business, we notice that an increasing number of customers are in need of external and specialist support. The regulations in these sectors are becoming stricter and this also makes their supply chain increasingly complex. Rob Mannaerts has been working at H.Essers for about ten years. Since 2018, he is Solution Design Engineer with a specific focus on Chemicals, one of our strategic segments. That’s precisely the need our Engineering department is now increasingly trying to fill. “Especially in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, which are already dealing with lots of complex activities anyway, a one-stop-shop partner can make a big difference by integrating various value-added services into the total solutions we offer. The big advantage for the customer? We don’t shy away from complex flows or solutions. On the contrary, thanks to the growing expertise of both our Engineering and QSHE departments, we always manage to come up with a suitable custom solution. And naturally this happens in close synergy with our customers.” 

Liquid nitrogen

Jef Molenaers gladly tells us about a recent project for one of our pharma clients: “In this sector, about 95% of the products must be stored in a temperature range of 15°C to 25°C or 2°C to 8°C. These are standard temperatures and we have the right equipment to handle this. However, a small percentage has to be kept at much lower temperatures. This is usually the case for active ingredients of a product or for semi-finished products, but also certain Covid-19 vaccines, which the sector is working on, will have to be distributed at freezing temperatures down to -80°C. This is a significant logistical challenge, as these temperatures cannot be achieved with regular cooling equipment. For one of our customers we recently started working with liquid nitrogen to make this transport possible. Together with Air Liquide and in close consultation with the customer, we reached an effective solution and process flow, which was developed at our Genk-Noord site. We installed a large vessel there which is replenished with liquid nitrogen on a weekly basis. It is used to fill super-insulating containers, called cryodrums, to prepare products for their journey. From Genk, refrigerated transports embark on transits to all continents.”

Rob Mannaerts has also witnessed the conception of a number of amazing projects. “Like our work for Janssen PMP, for example. PMP is a division within the Johnson & Johnson Group and a world leader in the development of chemical substances and end products for the protection of materials and food. In Hall 14F, the newest compartment at Dry Port Genk, we designed several VAS areas tailored to the company’s activities: from an ATEX-compliant filling room to a labelling room with an integrated relabelling machine. In the latter area, both product units and packaging materials are prepared for transport. Each month it concerns, on average, more than 50,000 labels in various formats, with peak volumes that can be twice as high. Quite a lot of work for the four full-time employees. But this approach also allows for late product differentiation.”

Late product differentiation

The late product differentiation that Rob is referring to is a tremendous added value for customers. They have to keep fewer products in stock, while still being able to respond quickly to a specific customer demand. “In Winterslag, we installed a mixing room for our client PPG to mix paints based on the client’s demand.”

Rob expects these value added services to continue to grow in the future. “Over the years, our corporate vision has been refined and we are now reaping the benefits of targeted investments in knowhow, licences and infrastructure. Not just the quantity, but also the diversity of value-added services has increased a lot in recent years. In addition to various investments on our high SEVESO sites in Ghent, Wilrijk and Genk, we recently finalised a new VAS master plan for Wilrijk. The aim is to further expand our filling activities and, in addition to bulk products, focus on filling smaller formats. In order to take action when our customers need it, we have already arranged the permits for this. So we’re all set!”

Do you have a question about our solutions for the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors? Rob Mannaerts (rob.mannaerts@essers.com) and Jef Molenaers (jef.molenaers@essers.com) will be happy to help you out.