«TAU Petrochem» LLC: innovations and development
Successful innovative developments and the growing competitiveness of products in the world market have become the results of 2020 for JSC ”Sintez-Kauchuk” and “Sterlitamak Petrochemical Plant” enterprises located in Sterlitamak. Alexey Nuzhdin, General Director of “TAU Petrochem Management” LLC, spoke in an interview about scientific cooperation, development plans and production indicators of the petrochemical group.
—What are the results of JSC “Sintez-Kauchuk” and “Sterlitamak Petrochemical Plant” at end of the year? How has the pandemic affected the operation of enterprises?
—In the pandemic conditions our enterprises operated in usual mode, while complying all the necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Increase in demand for rubber all over the world has become the factor for price growth which happened due to car sales growth, high demand for rubber gloves and medical products. As a result, in 2020 JSC “Sintez-Kauchuk” and “Sterlitamak Petrochemical Plant” not only did not reduce production, but also increased volumes in some positions compared to 2019. In particular, the production of styrene-butadiene rubbers increased by more than 20% compared to the last year, a similar increase in the production of high-octane additives for MTBE fuel, the production of aviation gasoline AVGAS 100LL was by more than 38%, B-91/115 increased by 67 %. The production of cis-isoprene rubbers has remained the same. Product exports increased by 10%.
The costs of maintaining and production upgrade amounted to about 1.5 billion rubles.
—What new products have been developed and released this year? What are their features and advantages?
—This year we completed research on a highly selective alloyed Al-Ni catalyst with new alloying additions. A pilot batch has been produced by our partners and the catalyst is currently being tested in Agidol-1 production.
The production of crystalline Agidol-3 was adjusted in order to expand the range of antioxidants and develop the market. This production is supposed to occupy a promising position in the phenolic antioxidants sales and to obtain competitive advantages due to the introduction of an innovative product to the market. In addition, the plant science has developed a technology for producing an alternative stabilizer "Agidol-20" with a heterogeneous catalyst. A pilot run is planned for one of the existing installations.
— Could you tell us about current projects at the enterprises? Is there scientific cooperation with universities and research institutes?
- The production technology at our production sites is a science-based process. In our work we interact and cooperate with many scientific and engineering organizations. The level of our scientific work and the results of its implementation can be evidenced by the fact that this year two of our employees have received their Ph.D. degrees.
There is a special subdivision at the enterprise - Central Factory Laboratory. The work of the CFL is aimed at reducing the cost of products, improving their quality, developing new types and grades, as well as solving environmental issues.
For example, the technicians of JSC “Sintez-Kauchuk” have developed a new grade of rubber SKI-5U which is the closest to natural rubber in structure and properties. Now we are at the stage of its acquisition and homologation among consumers.
As a result of eight years of work, we have reached the level of SKI-3S rubber world manufacturers. This work has been carried out jointly with Ufa scientists. I would like to emphasize that last year the authors were awarded the State Prize of the Republic of Bashkortostan in the field of science and technology for the development and implementation of this technology.
— Do you support industrial efficiency proposals?
— The organization of industrial efficiency work is carried out by Technological Processes Optimization Management Department and Production Development Department of “TAU Petrochem” LLC. Each employee can become the author of the efficiency proposal. Since 2011 we have been running the Kaizen program, its key point is that each employee can contribute to the development of the company by offering technology upgrading, process improvement, ways to save time and increase profits.
According to the results of last year, 240 Kaizen proposals were submitted, 116 were accepted for implementation. During the work of the program more than three thousand ideas were received, the total annual effect of the implementation was 247 million rubles.
—How will the enterprises be developing next year?
— We are interested in increasing our efficiency, therefore, at the end of 2019 JSC “Sintez-Kauchuk” joined the national project “Increasing labor productivity and supporting employment”, the main goal of which is to ensure the labor productivity rate growth at least 5% per year. The program is designed for three years, at the moment a stage-by-stage plan for its implementation has been developed to improve product quality, reduce the number of rejects, and reduce raw material costs.
Flare unit modernization, installation of a unit for additional TIBA solution treatment projects are currently at the stage of development. In addition, we are preparing to replace diesel trucks with electric ones.
— What fields would you like to expand next year?
At present, we are working to increase production efficiency by means of targeted technical re-equipment. In addition, we are focused on the release of new products for import substitution, we are working on release of new grades of antioxidants and increase in existing production capacities.
In the near future it is planned to produce TIBA"s own raw materials instead of purchased ones. In addition, the main tasks include reconstruction of the separation workshop where two lines of coagulation, drying, briquetting and packaging of copolymer rubbers will be installed. “Agidol-3” production plant is planning to produce a new kind of antioxidant for rubbers and an oxidation inhibitor for gasoline and diesel fuel. It is going to be export-oriented product.
Our research center employees have developed their own technology for obtaining a new stabilizer “Agidol-152” which is resistant to light and temperature exposures, does not cause coloration, discoloration and has low volatility and extractability. A program is being prepared to introduce technology into production.
— How is waste treatment and environmental control carried out?
— Environmental protection is a common concern. It is impossible to achieve success in it without active involvement of every employee. Environmental monitoring and environmental reporting of enterprises of "TAU Petrochem" LLC petrochemical group is a system of actions that are continuously carried out by the Environmental Protection Department and a certified industrial sanitation laboratory. Our task is to organize the work of enterprises in such way that we can ensure stable reduction in the negative impact on the environment with an increase in production volumes.
All the waste management activities of "TAU Petrochem" LLC petrochemical group are licensed in accordance with the requirements of environmental legislation. A program aimed at reducing waste generation, introducing non-waste technologies and using secondary raw materials is being implemented. Atmospheric air pollution at the industrial site, at the border of the sanitary protection zone and in the city is being intensely supervised.
— How is social work being done at the enterprises? What kind of support does the company provide to its employees?
—In 2020 the enterprises of “TAU Petrochem” LLC petrochemical group managed to maintain their staff and social guarantees, avoid salary delays despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year we started a new tradition to reward employees who have worked for 30-40 years in the company with valuable gifts. We support employees from other towns, pay half of the rent in the town for employees from villages. In honor of Victory Day we assign holiday bonus payment to veterans of the Great Patriotic War, widows of participants and war workers.
As I have already said, there is a regional program “Labor productivity increase and employment support in the Republic of Bashkortostan” at JSC “Sintez-Kauchuk” and “Sterlitamak Petrochemical Plant” within which employees are take vocational training and qualification upgrade training. A scholarship is provided for students. In addition, in 2019 a state program for training people of pre-retirement age. In 2020 participation in projects was suspended due to the pandemic, but this year the company managed to conclude an agreement with USPTU on targeted training of promising employees who are currently taking training. Next year, we plan to train more employees of the petrochemical group who do not have higher education, but want to build d careers at our enterprises.