IPP&T Magazine Online

Making re-opening processing plants easier, safer

July 22, 2020   Don Horne




As thermal processing plants re-open across America, they face challenges and uncertainties never witnessed before, from reestablishing supplier channels for critical materials, to servicing new orders resulting from pent-up demand. All while at the same time ensuring the health and well-being of their employees.

One company that is helping make plant re-openings successful is the Plibrico Company, a supplier of refractory solutions for the aluminum, steel, mineral and petrochemical processing industries, with special expertise in ensuring the safe, productive operation of high-temperature furnaces, boilers, and incinerators.

Plibrico is playing a major role in the safe return-to-work strategies of its industrial customers by instituting a robust COVID-19 Response Plan. Many thermal processing plants that were running on a reduced schedule or idled, are now returning to work and starting to reopen. As production starts to ramp up, organizations find themselves in critical need of refractories for unplanned repairs or maintenance.

Refractories that are vital for them to ensuring reliable and safe return to operation.

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“I am extremely proud of the Plibrico employees that have helped our customers make a strong comeback during this turbulent time,” notes Brad Taylor, president and CEO of the Plibrico Company. “Today’s demand for refractories has presented both a challenge and an important opportunity for us to demonstrate our flexibility and commitment to customer success.”

Taylor points to Plibrico’s Oak Hill, Ohio manufacturing site as an example of the company’s strengthened resolve. The majority of Plibrico’s refractory materials are manufactured at this centrally-located production facility. An extensive inventory of raw materials are stored and processed here, resulting in the plant being known industry-wide for its fast turn-around of quality refractory products.

“Even during April and May when customers were grappling with the volatility of the marketplace, Plibrico increased its commitment to its customers thru increased inventory and staffing. The increases allowed added flexibility to ensure on time delivery at a time when our customers needed us the most,” said Taylor. “Plibrico customers have come to rely on the flexibility and strength of our manufacturing facility to be able to help them meet their challenging schedules, and that’s what we deliver. These are the situations where Plibrico has always excelled.”

One example was a customer that had an unexpected schedule change and required a large expedited order of multiple refractories. The catch? All refractories needed to be produced and delivered to Nebraska in only two days. The purchase order was received on a Tuesday morning that had the plant spring into action. Remarkably, the Plibrico team manufactured the entire order by Wednesday. Next up was Plibrico’s logistics team which put in extra hours processing the paperwork, loading the truck, and getting the shipment delivered to Nebraska to satisfy the customer’s short timeline.

Another case of an exemplary customer experience came in the form of an aluminum processing plant. In the midst of a scheduled repair, the aluminum plant’s manager realized he needed two more pallets of special refractories to finish the project. Plibrico received the order on a Monday morning, and once again quickly responded, re-organizing its schedule to manufacture the special material the customer needed. Despite it being a holiday week, the Plibrico team secured a truck and shipped the load overnight so that the customer had it first thing in the morning when the work crew came in, avoiding additional costly down time.

As the economy starts moving forward, thermal processing plants are beginning to increase their production schedules and shuttered plants are starting to re-open. Successful safe return-to-work strategies include reengagement of supplier channels for critical materials like refractories. Pivoting plant schedules and changing demands, makes supplier flexibility and superior customer service key to achieving success.


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