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Plants for Corona vaccine production



Chemicals, News, Safety & Security
Bilfinger supported a well-known pharmaceutical industry client with the modification of plants for the industrial production of a Corona virus vaccine. In record time and under intense time pressure, the team delivered and installed systems, valves and piping for the conversion of the plant. The plant had previously been used to manufacture other products for the biotech industry. “We are honored to be able to contribute to the fight against the Corona pandemic with this project,” says CEO Lars Malte.    “As a long-standing partner to the pharmaceutical industry, we have an experienced team and a reliable network of suppliers, enabling us to deliver the required components at very short notice. Time, after all, is a decisive factor in the production of the vaccine.” The team from the Austrian subsidiary delivered and installed systems, valves and piping. A range of substances required for the vaccine production process will flow through the pipelines. The company won the order at very short notice and carried out the work within just a few months. Lars Malter: “The greatest challenge we faced was to quickly purchase the necessary parts, get them to the site and assemble them. As a result of the enormous time pressure, planning and construction took place simultaneously at the construction site – a unique situation also for us as a service provider for the project.” Corona vaccines are making a vital contribution to the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic (source: WHO). To contain the pandemic and to ensure people have individual protection from the virus, it is now necessary to produce and administer billions of doses of vaccine in a short period of time. It would normally take several years to develop a vaccine – time that, if taken, would cost countless lives in the Covid 19 pandemic. Several manufacturers around the world have therefore successfully developed vaccines against the Corona virus in absolute record time.

Chemicals News Pharmaceuticals

Digitalization: Transformation in the process industry




Siemens will be demonstrating how the combination of the real and the digital worlds empowers industrial companies to act in a versatile and sustainable manner at the “Achema Pulse” live digital event. Companies in the process industry are facing urgent and rapidly changing challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic in particular has transformed demand patterns and global supply chains virtually overnight. At the same time, industry-specific regulations and standards are creating new framework conditions for production. Digitalization and automation are the levers for mastering these changes. Industrial IoT solutions can exploit the resulting data to secure a competitive advantage since the intelligent analysis, understanding and utilization of the data allows companies to adapt their processes faster to changing requirements. The Digital Enterprise portfolio makes this possible by combining the real world with the digital world, thus enabling solutions for simulation, virtual processes, remote access and connectivity as well as presenting service offerings for digital transformation. Thanks to the corresponding industry-specific know-how, individual sector requirements can be taken into account.

Focus on industry-specific solutions

“Achema Pulse is a great opportunity to providing impulses to our custumers and gaining insights on how we can implement the digital transformation together. There will be a special emphasis on the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, and we look forward to sharing our expertise in these areas.”

– Eckard Eberle, CEO of Siemens Process Automation

For companies in the pharmaceutical industry, winning the race against time is now more important than ever. The company is helping pharmaceutical companies accelerate their production setups with the help of digitalization and automation. One example is the Mainz-based biotechnology company BioNTech SE which has converted an existing facility in Marburg for the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in record time with assistance from the concern. Through collaboration and the team of experts on site in Marburg, the project timeline for converting the existing facility for the production of mRNA-vaccine was cut from around one year down to five months, whereby the implementation of key parts of the new Manufacturing Execution System (MES) was reduced to two and half months.

In the future, the digital twin can be increasingly used in vaccine development. Global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is collaborating with digitalization expert and digital transformation leader Atos to digitalize its vaccine development and production process using the digital twin. As the first application for testing, GSK, Siemens and Atos have developed a proof-of-concept digital twin specifically for the development and manufacturing of adjuvant technologies. Using mechanical models and artificial intelligence (AI), the partners developed a hybrid model to simulate and monitor the process. As such, the digital twin links the process parameters to the quality of the adjuvant, with the sensors and process analytical technology (PAT) feeding the twin with the information needed to predict the quality of the product. Any deviation from the optimal quality is anticipated and causes the twin to act on the process parameters and rectify them to satisfy the target specifications. In the next step, GSK wants to work with the company to support its vision to establish and introduce new digital twins for the entire vaccine development process for new vaccines. Thus, the digital twins of product, production and performance will be linked together.

In the chemical industry, the biggest challenges lie in the fact that plants must run reliably and safely. The “Digital Worker” is a concept that allows operating personnel to digitize and automate work in the field using state-of-the-art technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This approach supports the user in the digitization of workflows in process plants and in paperless processing, promoting remote access thanks to electronic documentation, access information and guidance by intelligent devices. Against this backdrop, specialty chemicals company Lanxess continues to drive forward digitalization in its production plants. Over the next three years, the specialty chemicals company will introduce mobile operations and maintenance. In a first step, around 400,000 paper-based operations and maintenance checklists used every year will be replaced by digital equivalents, then filled out on tablets. Lanxess is supported by Siemens to digitize its checklists. For this, the Moby.Check software will be used,  which runs on tablets and can be controlled using either the keyboard or voice commands. Moby.Check has a flexible operating concept allowing users to create production, servicing and maintenance checklists on their PC – without any programming work or training in advance. In addition to more efficient processing, the error rate of manual transmission can be reduced, and documentation simplified. The Digital Worker supports the transformation from analog to digital workflows and can also exploit the potential of the digital twin in the field. Applications based on AI contribute to higher plant availability through the early detection of anomalies. And predictive maintenance planning means that outages and routine maintenance work are avoided.

As a specific offering for the chemical and oil & gas industries, Siemens offers not only the explosion-proof motors of the Simotics XP series, but also motors of the Simotics SD series for environments without explosion hazard in the Chemstar version. They are equipped with pre-configured chemical-specific options. Both motor series, available with options, operate reliably and energy-efficiently even under extreme conditions and offer all relevant certificates.

Modularization as the key to meeting new requirements with ease

To meet the demands of short innovation cycles and adaptations to new product portfolios, systems must be quick and easy to expand. The prerequisite for this are standardized, cross-vendor interfaces for the efficient configuration, communication and integration of modular plants. An interface of this type is defined in the MTP (Module Type Package). This protocol defines the information technology aspect of process models or plant sections in such a way that they can easily be integrated into a comprehensive automation solution, for example the Simatic PCS neo web-based process control system. The modules are assembled to form an overall process, facilitating their monitoring and control. At Achema Pulse, the example of the cooperation between Siemens and Merck will demonstrate how a modular production plant based on MTP minimizes engineering effort and permits fast and versatile process adaptations.

New IIoT solutions for faster data transmission and reliable data acquisition

“As part of the digital transformation, new trends are emerging in the process industry, which we are driving with our solutions and innovations,” explains Eberle. “We regard 5G as one of the most important technologies in the industrial IoT context. It means we can transfer data quickly and reliably over powerful communication networks to exactly where it is needed. This makes production plants more flexible, autonomous and efficient.” Scalance MUM856-1 is the first industrial 5G router from Siemens.

With its wireless connectivity, the robust Sitrans MS200 Multisensor forms the hardware basis for the collection of vibration and temperature data in mechanical system components. Via a Bluetooth connection, the data is sent to the Sitrans CC220 industrial gateway where it is encrypted before being transmitted from there to the cloud. Sitrans SCM IQ has an anomaly detection feature which is based on machine learning. It constantly monitors and analyzes all sensor values and swiftly detects any deviations from the intended operating state. Via the app, anomalies in plant behavior can be documented for immediate distribution to alert a predefined group of users. The Sitrans SCM IQ system comprises multisensors, gateway and app, and can be used in all industrial plants with mechanical or rotating system components. Scheduled to be available from summer 2021, it allows previously unused data from field devices to be used for the preemptive identification and prevention of imminent device failures in advance, thus reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unplanned downtimes.

Sustainability as a guiding principle

As Eberle emphasizes: “Our offer not only meets the requirements of our customers, it also constitutes a contribution to sustainability.” Accordingly, Achema Pulse will also be offering sessions on the topics of chemical recycling and sustainability.

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Chemicals Pharmaceuticals

New research collaboration using mRNA therapeutics




This month, researchers and developers from Evonik are starting a three-year collaboration with scientists from the renowned Stanford University in California. Together, they want to expand the possible applications of mRNA therapeutics so that they can better combat diseases such as cancer and AIDS in the future. The goal is to develop a technology for delivering mRNA to tissues and organs that goes beyond the current possibilities of lipid nanoparticles (LNP). To this end, the experts are developing a polymer-based system that Evonik will license and market.

This polymer-based platform complements the existing portfolio of lipid-based drug delivery technologies, including LNP. So-called drug delivery technologies are imperative for mRNA therapies to target and safely deliver active ingredients to their site of action in the body. With this new technology, the company is accelerating the portfolio shift of the Nutrition & Care life science division towards system solutions. The division aims to increase the share of such system solutions from 20 percent today to more than 50 percent by 2030.


“We are proud to partner with Stanford and combine our innovation in advanced drug delivery technology. With this project, we are developing the next generation of mRNA-based medicine.”

– Dr. Thomas Riermeier, Head of the Health Care Business Unit


Effective and safe delivery of mRNA in the cell is one of the major challenges for expanding the use of corresponding therapeutics to promising areas such as cancer immunotherapy, protein replacement and gene editing. The company sees itself here as a leading integrated development and manufacturing partner for drug delivery systems for the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, the accessible market potential for LNP-based delivery systems is estimated to exceed $5 billion by 2026.

“If we are to realize the full potential of mRNA therapeutics, we need a range of technologies that target an expanded range of tissues and organs,” said Dr. Stefan Randl, head of research, development and innovation at Evonik Health Care. “We look forward to commercializing the new platform in collaboration with Stanford University.”

The group will work with scientists at the university to scale up the synthesis and formulation and further develop the innovative organ-selective delivery technology based on a non-animal, synthetic polymer that is degradable in the body. As an integrated development and manufacturing partner for gene therapies, the Group aims to make this technology available in Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) quality for use in clinical development stages and ultimately at commercial scale.

The new polymer-based delivery platform CART (Charge Altering Releasable Transporters) was developed by Professor Robert Waymouth, Professor Paul Wender and Professor Ronald Levy of Stanford University.

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Chemicals News

Caramba Chemical Group: New CEO




Reiner Eckhardt has taken over the management of the Caramba Chemie Group, which offers a wide range of specialty chemical products for cleaning, care, maintenance, surface treatment and industrial parts cleaning, effective June 1, 2021. The company employs around 700 people in 7 European countries.

The internationally experienced manager is very familiar with both the industry and the group, as he previously headed the business of KENT, one of the two strong brands of the Caramba Chemie Group alongside Caramba, for six years as Managing Director.

“Reiner Eckhardt has international experience, is passionate about his work and is a seasoned leader in the specialty chemicals industry,” says Christoph Möltgen, Executive Board Member of the Berner Group.

Eckhardt, who lives in Dortmund, can look back on more than 30 years of professional experience in Germany and abroad. During his career he was responsible for well-known traditional brands and companies, including Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, Wacom Europe, Office Depot and SMEAD, and held various management positions for Operations, Multi-Channel Sales as well as Sales & Marketing. At the globally active machine manufacturer intimus International GmbH, he succeeded in completely turning the company around in just two years. At KENT, too, he proved his entrepreneurial expertise and consistently drove the economic success since 2015. Just like Caramba Chemie, a business unit of the Caramba Chemie Group, the KENT business unit used the pandemic as an opportunity under his leadership and developed faster and more profitably than the market in 2020/2021.


“I am very pleased that my journey in the Berner Group will continue and that I will get the great opportunity to set new impulses for the Caramba Chemie Group. There is immense potential in the company and both brands and I am excited to meet all new and familiar colleagues in the KENT and Caramba team to jointly develop and implement strategies that will drive each company in our group forward.”

– Reiner Eckhardt

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