Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services Meets Complex Challenges
Complexity - Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services (BIS) offers its process industry customers complex services for the entire plant life cycle. As an independent subgroup of Bilfinger Berger with 28,000 employees, the company earned €2.9 billion in 2010.
And all signs are pointing to further growth. By focusing on the core markets of the process industry - such as chemicals and petrochemicals, pharma, food, refineries and power stations - BIS is able to meet the high demands of its customers.
CHEManager Europe asked Dr. Joachim Kreysing, executive vice president of the BIS Group, about current and future challenges for technical service providers.
CHEManger Europe: At the Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services Group all signs are pointing to continued growth. What role is the chemical industry playing in this respect?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: A very important one. The BIS Group generates a large proportion of its revenues from business with companies in the chemical industry. In fact, it is one of the most important sectors for us. More than 80 BIS companies provide services for companies in the chemical industry. As the European market leader in industrial services for the process industry, we are very firmly positioned in this key sector within the German economy.
The sector is exposed to heavy global competition. In what way does this affect you as a provider of services?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: Our customers have very high expectations and are increasingly seeking service providers who are also strategic partners. As the production facilities are mostly bespoke, it is necessary to sit down with the customer to develop individual solutions which go beyond a mere checklist of standardised services and which also entail consulting and the implementation of new processes. This may, for example, involve drawing up a road map to define how the entire service system for a company is to be developed.
What demands does the chemical industry make of maintenance companies?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: As economic success hinges materially on the degree of efficiency in maintenance activities, the foremost imperative is to obtain an optimum balance between plant availability, maintenance times and cost.
At the same time, the market for turnaround services is looking for general contractors able to handle planning and overall coordination in addition to execution of the actual activities. Companies operating internationally seek service providers who likewise have an international outlook.
These are very diverse requirements. What form does a specific partnership with customers take?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: Depending on the customer's specific requirements and objectives, the BIS Group offers various partnership models. The forms that these contracts may take entail individual, outline, and main contracts as well as full-service maintenance and general contractor contracts. With these forms of partnership, the scope of the activities covered by the BIS Group is growing all the time. This also applies to the extent to which we are involved in strategic matters and assume responsibility for maintenance as well as project execution.
Regardless of the type of partnership, agreements are entered into on an individual basis and adjusted in the light of the customer's requirements. In the case of customers with whom we have entered into full-service contracts, we assume complete responsibility for maintenance. With this form of partnership, we work with long-term contracts of a minimum term of five years. This provides the customer with a secure basis while we, for our part, are motivated to maintain the quality of service at a high level, boost plant availability and thus contribute to the customer's productivity. In fact, we go so far as to develop new contracts models with the customer including, for example, such elements as bonuses for the avoidance of non-scheduled repairs and down times.
With respect to turnarounds, customers are also increasingly expecting us to handle long-term planning as well as the overall coordination of the execution phase and ensuing evaluation of the experience gained as input for future turnarounds. These are very demanding projects as the customer expects to receive a more reliable base for planning costs and particularly also schedule compliance in tandem with high standards in work safety and quality assurance. We have a very strong international position in large turnarounds as we not only have the experience but also the necessary capacity within the group.
You introduced the BICEPS programme some time ago. What precisely is it?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: In the chemical industry, it is crucial for data on staff medical checkups and training to be kept up to date and monitored on an ongoing basis. The Bilfinger Berger Industrial Services Certification E-Management Programme, or BICEPS for short, is a computer-aided tool allowing the Company to manage and monitor this data.
Employee profiles are created for each activity. The web-based tool manages and monitors due dates, checkup dates and training. At the same time, it prints out safety passes in various different formats. For those in charge of HSEQ or "health, safety, environment, quality", to give it its full name, this is an enormous help and greatly simplifies their activities.
The chemical industry has an international footprint; not only large companies are acting on a global basis but increasingly also SMEs. What role is the international network of BIS companies playing in this respect?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: The network of BIS companies is very valuable to us. Our international customers frequently want to implement models which we have established with them in a particular country at other sites as well. Via the BIS companies located in these countries we have from the outset local expertise which can be perfectly tailored to meet these requirements. Customers are able to benefit substantially from this - no least of all because it is possible to initiate and implement new projects with shorter startup times.
Other aspects include flexibility and the willingness to provide services. In the case of large turnarounds, for example, we are able to deploy BIS staff from neighbouring locations and thus provide the necessary resources.
Our central corporate units also play a key role in addressing our customers' international requirements by regularly working on domestic and international consulting projects and performing maintenance analyses. These give rise to specific proposals for maintenance strategies and execution.
What do you consider the main challenges to be and how is the BIS Group responding to these?
Dr. Joachim Kreysing: Flexibility, an international outlook and consistently up-to-date expertise form the basis for future success. As far as the customer-vendor relationship is concerned, we will continue to see a move away from the conventional links in favour of partnership-based models in which customers request strategic input from service providers and assign responsibility to them.
In turnaround business in particular, we expect local management activities to increasingly evolve into cross-plant structures. This means that it will be necessary to assign specialists to multiple plants in the future. What is required will be general contractors able to coordinate the entire cycle from the planning phase right through to formal completion of the project.
In addition, internationally active customers are seeking strategic service partners which also have an international base. We as a company are addressing these trends by enhancing our services and strengthening our international orientation.
Bilfinger Berger Industrie Services GmbH