Chemical Company Plays It Safe With Explosion-Protected Motors

Even under normal conditions it is not simple to always have the right motor on hand to address a wide range of applications. It is all that much more difficult in large chemical companies if several thousand drives have to be kept running around the clock in harsh explosive environments. In the future, one of the largest chemical companies in the world will be depending on a team of external specialists and the comprehensive range of Simotics XP explosion-protected motors from Siemens.

  • In the future, BASF SE will be predominantly using explosion-protected Simotics XP motors from Siemens at its Ludwigshafen complex. It is estimated that this complex has up to 100,000 motors. © BASF SE
    In the future, BASF SE will be predominantly using explosion-protected Simotics XP motors from Siemens at its Ludwigshafen complex. It is estimated that this complex has up to 100,000 motors. © BASF SE
  • Supported by Siemens, ASF Südwest GmbH in Mörstadt set up a new warehouse for about 2100 motors. © Siemens
    Supported by Siemens, ASF Südwest GmbH in Mörstadt set up a new warehouse for about 2100 motors. © Siemens
  • Simotics XP in detail © Siemens
    Simotics XP in detail © Siemens

Motors represent the driving force in all industrial processes. Without them, pumps, agitators, compressors, fans and many other pieces of equipment would grind to a standstill – and in turn, the production process itself. The chemical industry also requires especially rugged and explosion-protected designs. The greater the number and diversity of explosion-protected motors deployed, the more complex the challenge of always having precisely the right motor on hand at the right location. For BASF SE in Ludwigshafen, this has always been part of their day-to-day business.

To ensure that processes are safely and reliably kept up and running, the right explosion-protected motor must be on site in the shortest time to address regular service and maintenance work, process modifications, upgrades and especially in the case of sudden unexpected failures. "It is not unusual that up to 150 motors are called up every month – every day company operations require between three and five and sometimes even up to ten motors, predominantly for work that has been scheduled", explained Bernd Korbach. He shares responsibility in BASF SE for technical drive systems and the procurement in the Technical  Expertise, Global Engineering Services area.

Motor logistics reorganized 

BASF SE has reorganized its motor logistics so that the supply chain is even more efficient, which means faster, more reliable and cost efficient. BASF has brought two competent partners on board – Siemens AG and ASF Südwest GmbH, located nearby in Mörstadt. In close collaboration, they drew up a new logistics strategy. Simotics XP explosion-protected motors from Siemens represent the basis for the majority of the applications. Over time, these motors will replace motors from other manufacturers. Employees belonging to the Technical Expertise department in BASF SE have defined a standardized inventory with minimum unit quantities that address the demand of the complete complex under normal conditions.

In a concerted action involving several departments of Siemens and the user, a central warehouse that stocks approximately 2100 explosion-protected motors was established at ASF Südwest in a very short time. Some of these motors are presently still from BASF's own inventory, which are now being delivered with priority, and gradually being replaced by the corresponding Simotics XP variants. Motors that have taken from the plant and overhauled are also in circulation.

All motors in the new warehouse comply as a minimum with the requirements for use in hazardous area, Zone 2. Versions are also immediately available to address even more demanding requirements, for example designs with flameproof enclosure. Currently, the warehouse has explosion-protected motors with power ratings extending from 0.18 up to 250 kW, in shaft heights 71 to 315 and types of protection Ex ec and Ex eb (increased safety, for Zone 2 respectively Zone 1) as well as Ex db (flameproof enclosure for Zone 1).

Ready to deliver around the clock 

Service provider ASF Südwest works around the clock 365 days a year and transports motors to precisely where they are required. "Generally, we deliver the next work day – but in an emergency, the right motor is in the plant within three hours. If required, we modify this according to user specifications, for instance by installing special flange rings or fan covers with protective canopy – we also re-equip reinforced bearings" explained Bernd Wolf, CEO of ASF Südwest GmbH. IT structures have been appropriately adapted to ensure smooth workflows. At defined intervals, the warehouse team checks whether new requirements apply and prepare motors according to user specifications. Generally, motors are delivered once daily but also more frequently depending on the actual requirement. Unlike a transport company, these drive specialists can provide in-depth technical support to the user and recommend suitable, approved alternatives if a motor doesn't precisely correspond to the specifications. The warehouse operates with fixed SAP storage locations so that ASF and BASF always know which motor is located in which warehouse rack.

Triggered by ASF Südwest, Siemens regularly stocks up the inventory through established replenishment routes as quickly as possible to ensure maximum delivery capability. The procurement process is significantly simplified by having just one supplier.

For BASF SE, all of this means professional support, the shortest response times and in turn maximum plant availability and process reliability without tying up their own capital in electric motors.

Documented professional competence 

Since 2014, ASF Südwest has been active in the area of automation, electrical installation and drive technology for companies in the region and currently has a 30-strong team. The motor competence is also the result of a significant maintenance/repair and revision work performed for various chemical companies as well as in the municipal sector. They built-up their specific expertise on explosion-protected motors from Siemens through the Siemens Modification and Logistics Program (Simolog). As a consequence, these specialists are qualified and authorized to modify both standard as well as explosion-protected motors from Siemens and to market these independently.

Explosion-protected motors for all requirements 

BASF SE selected Siemens as preferred supplier as their portfolio, quality and availability to deliver are precisely what they were looking for. "We reliably get all of the explosion-protected motors required from a single source", explained Bernd Korbach. The Simotics XP program encompasses explosion-protected motors with types of protection Ex ec, Ex eb and Ex db to address applications in Zones 1 and 2 in the factory. The motors correspond to the usually applicable directives such as ATEX and VIK. Standard versions with aluminum and cast iron enclosure are always available for delivery. Further, variants with reduced inrush currents, special cable glands or for converter operation up to 690 V can be quickly provided. This means that the optimum motor is always available for all requirements and eventualities.

And to top it off, they have a low energy consumption: In the Ex eb version, Simotics XP motors today already surpass future energy efficiency specifications laid down in the IE3 standard. On the path to achieving CO2 neutrality by 2050, energy efficiency is also very high on the agenda for BASF SE.

Efficient from the very start

Since the operation kicked off back in March 2021, motor logistics from the new warehouse with new partners have been running smoothly without any bottlenecks. News about this outstanding performance spread like wildfire in the region and brought other interested parties into the program.