The steel frame goes up; pipes and cables go down; and assembly teams spring into action. Industrial plants are real masterpieces of precision engineering. And they present countless logistical challenges – often exasperated by the harsh local climate. At the end of the construction and assembly work, our commissioning engineers step in to ensure that a fully functioning plant is handed over to our customers.
Extreme projects call for extreme expertise
Linde Engineering played a key role in the construction of one of the largest ethylene plants – spanning a massive area equivalent to 100 soccer pitches. The plant has the capacity to produce 1.5 million metric tons of polymer-grade ethylene per year. The project was of truly mammoth proportions and complexity. The climate and local infrastructure added to the challenges, pushing the teams and the equipment to the limits of their endurance. Winter temperatures drop as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius at the industrial complex site. Our engineers had to ensure that all plant components were designed to withstand this extreme climate, with the ability to be powered up and down on demand while still ensuring cost-effective operations. The construction of a propylene plant at the same location had already given Linde Engineering an opportunity to demonstrate its comprehensive EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) expertise in the delivery of challenging projects. Building on this success and the experience gained engineering around 4,000 plants worldwide, our team of experts quickly made it to the shortlist. But the challenges with this particular project did not stop at scale and climate. Logistics presented its own hurdles. Plant components, materials and resources/supplies had to be shipped from around the world to the construction site – on time. The assembly teams on site were able to rely on our smoothly coordinated logistics flows despite the fact that heavy equipment could only be transported by river – which is only possible during the summer months. In the end, around 100,000 tons of concrete and 60,000 tons of steel were used and almost 5,000 kilometers of cables were laid for the project.
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From the desert to the Arctic, numerous multi-billion-euro reference projects are a testament to Linde Engineering's skill in successfully mastering the climate and infrastructure challenges of world-class megaprojects. The Hammerfest project in Norway is an excellent example of this expertise in action. The barren island of Melkøya, located around 600 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, is the site of a
pioneering high-tech industrial complex engineered by Linde. One of the largest natural gas liquefaction plants in the world, it has been converting natural gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and shipping it globally since 2008. Four million tons of LNG are produced here every year. When designing and engineering the plant complex, Linde Engineering ensured that every piece of equipment would be able to withstand the snowy and icy conditions. Given the harshness of the local climate, the decision was made to prefabricate the most important plant modules at dedicated yards and then ship them from the nearest ports to Hammerfest. This project is an impressive showcase of Linde Engineering's ability to deliver and assemble
modular process plants and key components, covering the entire spectrum from small terminals to world-scale plants operating under the harshest conditions.
Similar challenges accompanied our largest reference project for ammonia production. This plant went on stream in 2017 in a region with a climate and logistics infrastructure comparable to that of Hammerfest. Here also, for example, the waterways are not navigable all year round, roads are narrow and bridges have limited load-bearing capacity. All of which make detours necessary. The tight schedule was a further challenge, as was the need to transport equipment to the construction site from yards dotted around the world. Despite all this, our engineers were able to successfully complete every step in the engineering, procurement and construction workflow and even managed to commission the plant in freezing winter temperatures. Our team accomplished this extremely difficult task in close cooperation with their colleagues from Linde Gas. The ammonia plant uses the
Linde Ammonia Concept (LAC™). Performance is stable – much to the satisfaction of our customer. The plant produces 1,340 tons of ammonia per day as well as 8,000 standard cubic meters of pure hydrogen per hour.
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Constructing an industrial plant is a complex and lengthy undertaking. As with a house, you start with the foundations and move on to the steel frame. After that equipment is assembled, pipes are laid and instruments are connected. The final step, namely commissioning and start-up, is no less complicated. Our engineers inspect the intricate network of pipes, pumps, heat exchangers and plant components to ensure that everything is sufficiently clean, inert, sealed and dry for start-up. The
commissioning engineers then bring the plant on stream, test every function and ensure the plant is operating as it should with the appropriate temperature and pressure settings. They gradually ramp up capacity from 0 to 100 percent and fine-tune various settings to maximize efficiently and align operations with customer needs.
The benefits of virtual training
Commissioning engineers step in once construction work has been completed, and hand the plant over to the operator. Close cooperation is essential here, too, since our experts have to train the customer's staff in order to familiarize them with all operational procedures and protocols. Theoretical training, practical exercises and commissioning preparations help our customers optimize plant operations and maximize their return on investment. With large industrial complexes, training is delivered to at least 100 employees. To make this task easier, our engineers can create a three-dimensional virtual copy of the plant while it is still under construction. This realistic practical field training tool is the result of Linde's cooperation with companies that normally create digital fantasy worlds for computer games. Data that is only intelligible to experts is converted into a virtual twin of the plant, which becomes an interactive training platform. The technology gives operating personnel an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the plant before it has even been built. As a prototype, Linde Engineering virtualized a subcomplex of the world's largest
gas processing plant. Following field training, operating tasks can be simulated in a virtual control room.
The virtual training simulator leaves employees ideally equipped not only for their daily tasks but also for emergency situations.