The Challenge:

Dow Corning Corporation (DCC) partnered with Progressive Recovery to solve their single-source solvent recycling capability problems.Management at Dow Corning Corporation (DCC) directed its Facilities Engineering Group to seek out ways to incorporate outside specialty vendors that would relieve the group of detailed engineering and project management. The ideal vendor would be a specialist in their specific field of process engineering and capable of providing both engineering and fabrication of complete systems.

The goals of DCC’s program are:

  • Free the Facilities Engineering Group for other projects.
  • Reduce overhead costs.
  • Fast track projects.
  • Bring a fresh perspective to solving problems.

One of the first projects to be considered under this new directive was a hazardous solvent waste reduction skid. DCC Facilities Engineering Group created a matrix of the desired qualities of an ideal partner and began interviewing several candidate firms. Capabilities and past experience in engineering, fabrication, quality control and project management in the field of separation technology were the essential attributes DCC sought.

Given minimal information about DCC’s project details, individual firms were asked how they might theoretically reach the general goals DCC had in mind. A rough order of magnitude was requested for hardware to achieve the desired performance.

The Solution:

At the outset of the project, 15 companies specializing in the area of solvent separation and solvent recovery were contacted. When the process was complete, Progressive Recovery, Inc. (PRI) was selected as the partner for the project.

PRI offered:

  • Single source responsibility for engineering & fabrication.
  • The most complete range of in-house capabilities for this project.
  • Over 35 years of experience in solving complex problems with innovative solutions.
  • A positive, proactive approach to project management and client interface.

DCC required:

  • Reduction of hazardous waste solvent volume by reclamation.
  • Reduction of particulate contamination in the processed distillate to a maximum 5 PPM.
  • Side steam capabilities to allow various solvents to be reclaimed from the same waste stream.
  • A compact and robust system design.

Chemical Engineers at PRI worked with DCC to produce a tentative Process Flow Diagram (PFD). After acceptance, PRI was contracted to provide a pilot scale unit for a process demonstration. A multiple stage re-flux tower was constructed and demonstrated in PRI’s laboratory. Products from the trial were shipped back to DCC for quality evaluation where the recovered solvent was found to surpass the minimal standard for purity. As a result, the project was given the release to proceed.

Single-Source Solvent Recycling Capability Creates Partnership Between DCC & Progressive Recovery

DCC and PRI then established an understanding of the roles each would play as partners in the success of the project. Team members from both companies met to outline key objectives,  expectations, and assumptions in a Project Charter that was signed by both companies. Throughout the project, the Project Charter would serve as an anchor to the working relationship between the two companies, and was referenced as the scope of the job evolved. Later, this document would be used to measure the project success.

PRI then submitted a revised, tentative budgetary proposal that outlined the price for a system that would meet the understood needs of the project based on the results from the pilot scale demonstration and the tentative PFD. DCC reviewed the proposal and determined it met with basic engineering and financial perimeters set for the project.

Dow Corning then had enough information to create a request for a formal quotation. This document outlined the complete scope of the project and provided PRI with DCC’s corporate specifications for process equipment controls and automation. Armed with this information, PRI’s Chemical, Mechanical and Electrical Engineers created a final Process & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) for the skid. Information from the P&ID helped PRI define the overall price of raw materials and outsourced components, estimate fabrication hours and create a project schedule with an estimated time of delivery. Civil and Structural Engineers were consulted for estimates on wind loads, seismic considerations and foundation design. All of this information was combined to create a formal proposal which was submitted to DCC. Dow Corning accepted the proposal, issued a purchase order and production began on the skid.

Throughout the course of the project, PRI provided regularly scheduled reports to DCC’s Project Coordinator. Several trips were made to PRI by various DCC engineers and inspectors to witness the project progress and verify production specifications. Because of this level of communication, the job went smoothly with minimal of adjustments or changes.

The complete skid was shipped on time to DCC’s Midland Michigan Plant on two special tractor trailers. PRI had provided a template of the skid foundation mounting points, allowing the skid to be erected at the site immediately without any problems. Local contractors brought utilities and process lines to the skid. When these connections were completed, a PRI Chemical Engineer and Electrical Engineer arrived on site for the initial startup and commissioning. The skid proved its capabilities in process function, separating the waste stream into multiple skid streams. As noted earlier, DCC required the system to provide maximum particulate contamination to 1 PPM.

After several months of continuous operation, the DCC/PRI Project Team met to close out the job and evaluate the results. The Project Charter was reviewed. All expectations for budget, schedule, delivery, and system performance were met or exceeded. All parties agreed that this was a successful first effort as partners. Both companies saw areas that could be improved on future projects and neither would hesitate to join together again.

Dow Corning Corporation now has reduced hazardous waste costs significantly. The savings the skid provided delivered a 100% return on investment in just a few months of operation. The detailed engineering supplied by PRI freed DCC personnel for other duties and reduced the overhead cost for this project. PRI’s Engineering Staff provided DCC with suggestions and solutions that challenged and complimented their existing practices, adding a fresh point of view to the project. PRI was able to fast-track the project, reducing the overall time from conception to implementation.