Looking for the best solution

Looking for the best solution

From Holzminden, the Symrise subsidiary Tesium plans new production systems and renovations for all Symrise locations worldwide. In doing so, its planners always aim for sustainable solutions and the greatest possible efficiency. And because no two projects are identical, the wealth of knowledge in the company also grows with each plan.

Symrise would not have been able to grow the way it has over the past years without Wolfgang Töws and his colleagues. The project engineer from subsidiary Tesium plans production facilities for the Group’s global locations from his office in Holzminden. This work is highly complex because it has to be coordinated by numerous specialists; sometimes around 30 colleagues are involved in one plan. This is due to the fact that different technical regulations and laws often apply to international projects. In addition, differing cultural factors can make plans more complex.

But even in day-to-day work, the challenges are great. If the engineers want to expand existing factories, for example, they often have only limited space on which to build. The planners use a 3D CAD program that allows them to zoom in on details. They can also integrate three-dimensional scans of the available construction sites or existing facilities.

For the very special tasks, Wolfgang Töws even travels around the world. “For example, in 2019 we doubled the capacity of the menthol plant in Bushy Park in the USA, and naturally I was on site for a number of weeks,” says Wolfgang Töws, who has a degree in process engineering and has been with Symrise since early 2001. “With such big projects, our job is to keep things under control with the colleagues on site, to guide the employees, and to make sure that the technical implementation is perfect.”

The experienced engineer is one of 270 employees at Tesium. Over the course of his career, he has supported local colleagues at various Symrise locations around the world. As he does, he draws on the expertise in planning and plant construction that Tesium has developed over decades. The company always considers aspects such as sustainability, energy supply, plant security, maintenance and waste management.

Unique processes

Tesium employees mostly get called in for the more complex facilities. “Each segment is responsible for its own plants and can commission its building projects independently,” says Carsten Teiwes. Unlike the area of flavors and fragrances, in which raw materials are primarily extracted, spray-dried or mixed, chemical production requires more complex facilities, explains Tesium’s Managing Director, who is also responsible for the infrastructure in Holzminden. “The materials that Symrise develops and produces are not in the portfolio of any other company in this form. We want to protect and optimize not only the development itself but also the production processes, so we can maintain this exclusivity,” says Teiwes. “This is also the reason we take over certain projects ourselves.” Another important point: The costs of planning can be significantly reduced with a well-established process.

270 employees work
at Tesium.

“With such big projects, our job is to keep things under control with the colleagues on site, to guide the employees, and to make sure that the technical implementation is perfect.”

Wolfgang Töws,
Project Engineer at Tesium


“Each segment is responsible for its own plants and can commission its building projects independently.”

Carsten Teiwes,
Managing Director at Tesium


“Thorough preparation is essential for us.”

Andreas Knebel,
Process & Plant Engineer at Tesium


“With such big projects, our job is to keep things under control with the colleagues on site, to guide the employees, and to make sure that the technical implementation is perfect.”

Wolfgang Töws,
Project Engineer at Tesium


“Each segment is responsible for its own plants and can commission its building projects independently.”

Carsten Teiwes,
Managing Director at Tesium


“Thorough preparation is essential for us.”

Andreas Knebel,
Process & Plant Engineer at Tesium

Tesium employees use a 3D CAD program in which, for example, entire plants can be analyzed in a three-dimensional view.

Capacity at the menthol plant in Bushy Park, USA, doubled in 2019.

Capacity at the menthol plant in Bushy Park, USA, doubled in 2019.

About 30 employees can be involved in the planning
of a project.

Tesium builds the large-scale production facilities based on models of pilot plants that have been tested in the labs. The subsidiary proceeds in three major steps. The process engineers design flow diagrams, providing them with reactors, heaters, pumps and distilleries. “Next, our colleagues implement these ‘rough’ drafts. They put in the pipe systems, measuring instruments and all other technical equipment,” Teiwes explains. In the final step, a technical illustrator adds details so welders can join the pipes on site. It’s a big task: In some plants, up to 1,200 different pipelines are planned and installed. All planning steps are implemented on computers. “We create a digital twin that can document the facility and provides all the information down to the smallest detail,” says Teiwes, who is working to drive digitalization in the company. Tesium can also simulate processes in the facilities using simulation software.

In addition to engineers, Tesium also sends employees from the workshops abroad to ensure that the complex plans are well implemented. The company simultaneously trains local employees so they can increasingly take on tasks themselves. “Our teamwork is also intercontinental,” says Teiwes, who spent twelve years working in Mexico and Venezuela himself. “It wouldn’t function otherwise, because we always rely heavily on the colleagues on location. They have the process-specific expertise.”

Each location has its wealth of knowledge

It’s important to learn from each other: Andreas Knebel, who is in charge of all facilities planning at Tesium, can confirm this. The process engineer, who has been working in the company since 2001, has been to the USA a number of times in recent years. His next task is to optimize a plant on Colonel’s Island, Georgia, that Symrise acquired with the purchase of the Pinova company. “We didn’t have the process that sustainably extracts an important fragrance from pine wood in our portfolio in this form before. We benefited greatly from the knowledge of the colleagues who have been using this process for years.”

The procedure includes looking at and improving the details of the plant together. When extraction, distillation and mixing processes are carried out in succession, a tiny change in temperature or pressure can make a huge difference. “At one of these meetings we changed the procedure together, which makes the entire process more sustainable and increases our yield.” It isn’t always easy: Other countries use other measurements or even different components, which the colleagues at Tesium have to take into account. “Thorough preparation is essential for us,” Knebel emphasizes.

Tesium also transfers this knowledge on behalf of Symrise to facilities at other locations, making the Group as a whole more efficient. For example, the company assisted with building the infrastructure in the plant in Nantong, China, where it installed sustainable solutions for exhaust air and wastewater treatment. “Our expertise was required there, and also in Russia, where Tesium handled the automation and control of a Flavor project.”

The excursions into Symrise’s global structure are essential for the three Tesium employees. “The company is becoming increasingly international,” says Carsten Teiwes. “This means we need to take our know-how to the entire Group and keep up-to-date on what’s going on there. And that’s best done with the local experts on site.”