Digital Worker enhances safety and maximizes efficiency

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Chemical company Lanxess’ maintenance and operations management goes digital, with tablet checklists replacing pen and paper versions

In process industries, maintaining the highest standards of safety while ensuring maximum efficiency is paramount. Paper checklists have traditionally been the medium of choice for documenting commissioning, maintenance, and safety inspections. But for German chemical company Lanxess, the Digital Worker is the path for ensuring efficiency, data quality and legal security.

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Lanxess, a leading specialty chemicals company based in Cologne, Germany, has been expanding its operations over the last decades. Regular maintenance and system checks are crucial for the smooth and safe running of the company’s 65 plants, which are spread throughout Belgium, Germany, and the U.S.

Pump maintenance, regular checks of critical safety equipment, and process documentation – these are just some of the activities for which Lanxess utilizes checklists to ensure that the right protocols and procedures are adhered to. To date, the company has accumulated over 400,000 check lists in their production environments alone. Every year, hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper must be printed, filled in, forwarded, and archived. Regulations require some of these lists be scanned and digitally stored. The endeavor in its entirety is costly, time consuming, and error-prone, not ideal in a chemical environment.

Maintenance: Merging the real with the digital

The chemical company found a way to reduce complexity with the Digital Worker, a platform for managing and consolidating data. At its core is an open application server that play host to different apps that address specific customer needs. Dedicated apps support process and quality controls, the commissioning of field devices, and maintenance, among others.

“The Digital Worker merges the virtual with the physical,” explains Frank Opalla, manager Technology & Digitalization for Vertical Chemical Industry at Siemens. “It is a system and solution for digitizing all workflows and process plans, replacing pen and paperwork flows, allowing easy access to any kind of information, and enabling personnel such as plant operators and technicians to be more efficient in the plant.” 

Digital Worker: One day to roll out

With the Digital Worker, Lanxess can better meet it needs. At Lanxess, the Moby.Check software, supported by the IT infrastructure set up by Siemens, is replacing paper checklists with digital ones. Lanxess’ specialists created the digital lists themselves on their PC. The easy-to-use editor and the process were so intuitive that the system could be rolled out across a pilot plant in Germany with less than one day of training.

Tablets for field personnel

Today, Lanxess’ field personnel in the pilot plant are equipped with tablets, which can be controlled with the keyboard or voice command. They fill out checklists that are linked directly to the company’s maintenance and enterprise resource planning systems. Once filled, the lists are automatically forwarded to the respective engineering departments and archived. This is important for improving legal security. The process is seamless, quick, and transparent.

“Clipboards, slips of paper and pens will soon be things of the past. Tablets connected directly to the central IT systems at Lanxess will make work for our production and maintenance employees more efficient, user-friendly, and safer,” says Benedikt Efker, head of Digital Production at Lanxess.

“Clipboards, slips of paper and pens will soon be things of the past. Tablets connected directly to the central IT systems at Lanxess will make work for our production and maintenance employees more efficient, user-friendly, and safer.”
Benedikt Efker, head of Digital Production at Lanxess

Data in the cloud

The Moby.Check software also works offline. When connection to the server is off, data is stored locally. As soon the device reconnects to the server, data is transferred to the cloud.

Safety enhanced by streamlined workflows

Using GPS, the Digital Worker can track all tools, equipment, and people within a facility, which is of vital importance in case of an injury or accident. It can guide workers to the right equipment and location, reliably identify assets, and immediately provide relevant technical documentation.

The potential for the Digital Worker to further enhance safety is huge. It can verify if a worker is wearing the right protective clothing when entering certain areas of a facility. It can connect to remote experts, who can assist field workers from anywhere – on site, from home or another plant.

The road to the digital enterprise is long. By digitizing their checklists, Lanxess is making large leaps with small steps. It maximizes worker efficiency, streamlines workflows, and reduces waste. A rollout to the 65 plants across Europe and the US is in the planning. Not only will work for hundreds of Lanxess employees become simpler, but it will also be more reliable, less prone to error, and much safer, for better peace of mind.

 

February 2022

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company based in Cologne, Germany. With around 14,900 employees in 33 countries, Lanxess is an established company on the global market. Its primary expertise lies in producing, developing, and marketing chemical intermediates, additives, specialty chemicals and plastics, with annual sales of EUR 6.1 billion (2020).

Lanxess manages its operating business through four segments: Advanced Intermediates, Specialty Additives, Consumer Protection and Engineering Materials. These include 11 Business Units, through which the company works with a broad range of applications and markets.

 

Lanxess