Recognition for innovation and entrepreneurship: Four projects win BASF Awards
* Business Excellence Award goes to the BASF team that created the transport company Rail4chem and the team responsible for developing an efficient paint technology for MINI production
* Joint winners of the Innovation Award 2006 are the developers of Hexamoll® DINCH, an innovative PVC plasticizer, and the team responsible for implementing an automated early warning system
BASF honors exceptional team projects that go beyond innovation and make a major contribution to the company’s success, present and future. Such projects are best-practice examples of teams that act as entrepreneurs within the company and accomplish outstanding results for BASF with a perfect mix of pioneership, passion and proficiency.
The BASF Awards 2006 were conferred during a conference of top managers in Budapest. The winners of this year’s Business Excellence Awards are the two projects “Success through competition: Rail4chem, the rolling pipeline” and “An innovative coating process for more MINIs.” The joint winners of the Innovation Award 2006 are the projects “Hexamoll® DINCH: a plasticizer for sensitive applications” and “Model-based safety systems for dispersion reactors.” The two prizes, each worth €50,000, are awarded jointly to the team members.
“The awards underline the importance of innovations in our company. Innovative products, processes and business models constitute a major contribution to our sustained commercial success,” said Dr. Jürgen Hambrecht, Chairman of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors, at the award ceremony. With the awards, BASF aims to encourage BASF employees to do things differently and turn the best ideas into successful market solutions.
Business Excellence Award – tailored solutions for customers
The Business Excellence Award is conferred by Board of Executive Directors in tribute to tailored solutions that are based on a profound understanding of markets and customer needs. One of this year’s winners is a logistics team that sparked off competition in the rail freight business. The activities resulted in the founding of Rail4Chem, a rail freight company that operates throughout Europe. Rail4Chem was established as a joint venture with two freight companies and a railcar leasing company. Before Rail4Chem, Deutsche Bahn was the sole supplier of rail transport services.
Liberalization of rail traffic allowed BASF to set up its own rail company in 1996. Since 1999, complete trainloads with fixed schedules have been commuting daily in the form of “rolling pipelines” between the company’s major sites in Ludwigshafen, Schwarzheide and Antwerp. Now, Rail4Chem has so many other customers that BASF business accounts for only a fraction of the rail company’s revenues. Today, Rail4Chem is one of Deutsche Bahn’s largest independent rivals and even operates international long-distance routes.
Rail4Chem saves BASF millions of euros in rail freight costs. The new company upped its sales more than five-fold in just four years. Rail4Chem also created significant competition in the market. Logistic departments and customers in the operating divisions benefit from better terms.
In the second prize-winning project, a BASF Coatings team joined forces with their customer BMW Group to develop a new coating technology for the production of the MINI in Oxford.
The Coatings team developed a novel car paint that combines all the functions of the formerly necessary filler coating. In addition to excellent optical features such as color, effect and tri-dimensionality, this new coating system also provides all the protective features of a filler coating – ultraviolet resistance, resistance to stone damage, and good adherence. This innovative new technology renders the filler processing step entirely redundant. The new coating process is much shorter and enables significant reductions in emissions and energy consumption at the coating plant.
What’s more, the MINI production facility is using the area and infrastructure previously devoted to the filler process to expand its production capacity rapidly and efficiently. Production in Oxford is now fully converted to the new coating technology. Annual car production at the plant is set to rise from 180,000 vehicles to 240,000, starting from 2007.
Innovation Award – new ideas professionally turned into innovations
“With the Innovation Award, the Board of Executive Directors rewards inventions that have been successfully turned into innovations,” said Research Executive Director Dr. Stefan Marcinowski during the award ceremony. “This year’s two winning teams found new solutions for safety and sustainable development with their projects.”
One of the two successful projects centers on plasticizers, which make brittle PVC pliable and flexible in products such as infusion tubes, toys and food wrappings. Conventional phthalate-based plasticizers have repeatedly been the subject of debate due to alleged potential health hazards. In response, a team of BASF experts sought an alternative to conventional plasticizers for use in sensitive applications. Several years of research culminated in the development of Hexamoll® DINCH, an innovative plasticizer whose human health safety has been demonstrated in innumerable tests, making it the best studied plasticizer on the market today. In addition, Hexamoll DINCH is suitable for processing in customers’ existing production plants. The product has been successfully launched on the market, and leading manufacturers of medical devices and toys have switched to Hexamoll® DINCH for their production processes.
The second award-winning team’s project is based on research at the chemistry-technology interface. In a project titled “Model-based safety systems for dispersion reactors,” a study group developed an automated safety system for chemical plants that can be integrated in existing control systems. The new technology facilitates early identification and avoidance of disruptions in the production process. The frequency of plant closedowns is reduced, resulting in higher capacity utilization. The first pilot system was started up in a dispersions plant in Ludwigshafen six years ago. Productivity soared, precluding additional investment in plant expansion and saving BASF millions of euros as a result.
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