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The Republic of Tatarstan boasts one of Russia’s largest petrochemical complexes. PJSC Nizhnekamskneftekhim supplies tire and plastics manufacturers around the world. Measurement technology from Endress+Hauser ensures that even the most complex processes run efficiently and reliably.

Latest technology and state-of-the-art processes: The ethylene plant.

Nizhnekamsk in the Republic of Tatarstan is roughly two hours east of Moscow by plane. What was an insignificant work settlement 60 years ago has rapidly grown into a city of 237,000 citizens with giant shopping centers, an ice hockey arena, an inland port and an airport. “The city exists due to the complex,” says the taxi driver on the way to the city center. It’s not long before iron and chrome steel sparkles between the trees: refineries, power plants, tire factories and countless suppliers have set up shop near the city. Pipelines on high stilts run along the route. And on the horizon yellow flames shoot out of flare stacks. “The eternal flame of our industry,” says the driver facetiously.

When he says “the complex,” the taxi driver means PJSC Nizhnekamskneftekhim. Founded in 1967, the company is both the nucleus and the driver of the region’s economic growth. The petrochemical company, with a workforce of 14,000 employees, is the leading manufacturer of synthetic rubber, plastics, olefins and chemical intermediate products. About half of the company’s products are exported. One hundred and twenty 120 products are manufactured in nine facilities that span the entire petrochemical value chain. The company is the world’s leading supplier of rubber. Products from Nizhnekamsk provide the right rubber mixture for companies such as Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone.

Extensive expansion
The company’s operations have been undergoing continuous modernization and expansion since 2006. New plants for formaldehyde, isobutylene and isoprene have been built. Pneumatic measurement points, which were the instruments of choice 40 years ago, have been continuously swapped out for electronic instrumentation in the existing installations because of the extensive maintenance effort they require.

Superior precision during custody transfer: The company relies on Coriolis flow measurement technology for raw materials delivery. 

A state-of-the-art ethylene complex designed by the German-based Linde Group will soon go into operation. Here, raw materials for production of films and plastics will be manufactured. With 600,000 tons annually, the current capacity will nearly double. By itself, this one facility has an installed base of 400 Endress+Hauser instruments. Almaz Zakizianov, the Endress+Hauser sales representative who manages key customers from the regional office in Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan, reckons the enormous complex has around 4,000 Endress+Hauser instruments in total. The challenges are dealing with explosive mixtures and critical processes that must be precisely controlled, as well as operating in the harsh environment.

“When it comes to such fragile processes, we must be able to rely 100 percent on the measurement technology.”

Marat Faritovich Fatkhullin, Deputy Chief Engineer for Automation and Head of Instrumentation for the company.

“We install measurement instrumentation from Endress+Hauser wherever maximum reliability is called for, such as sophisticated chemical processes or custody transfer applications,” explains Konstantin Sergeevich Shabalin, Head of Metrology at the new ethylene plant. Since 2015, the plant has been relying on Coriolis flowmeters to determine to the gram the amount of gasoline transferred from the adjacent refineries. “When absolute precision is required, Endress+Hauser is our first choice,” says the measurement specialist. With so-called alpha olefins, highly reactive liquids, radar measurement technology from Endress+Hauser is the only instrumentation capable of reliable level measurements in the reactor.

Detailed documentation
“When it comes to such fragile processes, we must be able to rely 100 percent on the measurement technology,” says Marat Faritovich Fatkhullin, Deputy Chief Engineer for Automation and Head of Instrumentation for the company. “The more challenging the measurement task, the more important the knowledge from Endress+Hauser is.” The metrology and automation department boasts 1,500 employees, an indication of the significance the company places on process technology. “The market expects high-quality products, stable processes and safe production from us,” says the Deputy Chief Engineer. “That’s why we need superior equipment and reliable partners who can respond quickly when needed.”

“Of the 400 Endress+Hauser instruments in the ethylene plant, to date we’ve had to send only three of them to the repair shop over a period of 10 years.”

Marat Faritovich Fatkhullin, Deputy Chief Engineer for Automation and Head of Instrumentation

“We place our full trust in Endress+Hauser when selecting the type of instrument,” explains Konstantin Sergeevich Shabalin. As is customary in Russia, PJSC Nizhnekamskneftekhim has its own excellent engineers. The company even operates an accredited calibration service. Each measurement instrument has a defined maintenance interval, and the performance is precisely documented – with outstanding results. “Of the 400 Endress+Hauser instruments in the ethylene plant, to date we’ve had to send only three of them to the repair shop over a period of 10 years,” explains Marat Faritovich Fatkhullin. “The tests in our calibration lab show that after many years, the instruments are as precise as ever, plus the maintenance effort is low.” While every plant used to have its own maintenance staff, today a central department covers the entire operation.

Highest demands
“Since the instruments from Endress+Hauser cause so few issues, we are able to extend the calibration cycles,” explains Ravil Shamilovich Ayupov, Head of Instrumentation at the isoprene-monomer (liquid substance processed into rubber) plant. It’s an imposing facility with more than 5,000 measurement points. Here, too, 2,000 blue-labeled devices ensure efficiency and safety: the process is demanding, and all parameters are constantly monitored to ensure consistent product quality. That makes it more important to have easy-to-operate instruments and documentation that satisfies all of the requirements, including being available in the local language. “Even if questions do arise, such as with commissioning, the specialists from Endress+Hauser are always available. They understand our processes down to the last detail,” says the engineer.

Ravil Shamilovich Ayupov is already looking forward to the newest generation of instruments from Endress+Hauser with Heartbeat Technology. These sensors are self-monitoring and can be verified directly in the process without being removed. Head of Instrumentation Marat Faritovich Fatkhullin has no doubt that Endress+Hauser will continue to support PJSC Nizhnekamskneftekhim in the future. “The expansion and modernization of our plant is a work in progress. When it comes to improving our processes and increasing productivity, with Endress+Hauser we have a reliable partner at our side!”

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