Saltigo GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of specialty chemicals company Lanxess, has not one, but two reasons to celebrate in November 2017. The Central Organics Pilot Plant (ZeTO) run by the custom synthesis specialist can look back on 50 years in operation at the Leverkusen site. The ZeTO accounts for around one-fifth of Saltigo’s total capacity and, with its 220 employees holds a unique position based on its versatility alone. In time for this anniversary celebration, work also was completed on the extensive expansion and modernization project started in 2015.
Some EUR60 million were invested at the Leverkusen site, primarily in two new multi-purpose production lines at ZeTO and the construction of a neighboring tank container storage facility. This new active container storage area has up to 16 tank container locations.
“In the 11 years of Saltigo’s existence alone, a total of nearly EUR300 million has been invested in the integrated production network at the Leverkusen site, over a third of that in ZeTO,” says Lanxess Board member Dr. Hubert Fink.
Saltigo Managing Director Dr. Torsten Derr is pleased with the full order books for the new production lines. “Production will already be up and running in the new facilities by early January 2018.” The additional capacities will be available at just the right time, on schedule and within budget as we had planned,” he says.
Following expansion, ZeTO’s total reactor volume will be 470 cubic meters. The largest of the 75 total stirred-tank reactors has a capacity of 16 cubic meters. Capacities for solids isolation have likewise been expanded significantly.
Still up to date even after 50 years
Even 50 years after it was built in 1967, the ZeTO is still one of the world’s most modern and flexible multi-purpose production facilities for fine chemicals. To safeguard this position, the company has made continuous investments in ZeTO to keep up with advancements in synthetic chemistry, process engineering and automation. “We incorporate our up-to-date systems and all our experience in every new project, in newly developed and improved production processes, thanks not least to our highly motivated employees who receive thorough and ongoing training,” says Dr. Boris E. Bosch, Plant Manager of ZeTO.
Uwe Richrath, Lord Mayor of the City of Leverkusen, emphasizes: “For 50 years, Saltigo’ s Central Organic Pilot Plant, or ZeTO for short, has been transforming customers’ needs into chemical formulas, process technology and products. The ZeTO existed long before the company’s name Saltigo was registered. That is what links it to Leverkusen, because our city did not bear its current name from the very beginning. With the expansion of the ZeTO and the latest investment of 60 million euros, Saltigo is continuing to pursue a sustainable location policy in the face of global competition”.
Commitment to the site
Saltigo, with its production facilities in Leverkusen and Dormagen, is committed to Germany as a business location. “The ‘Made in Germany’ label has an impressive ring to it again in the field of custom manufacturing, especially when faced with Asian competition. This applies particularly to regulated industries where meeting quality, scheduling and cost targets is the deciding factor for market success,” Derr explains.
However, the company’s ongoing support of the city and the region is demonstrated by more than just its investments in the plant. Saltigo also takes its responsibility as a center for vocational training very seriously. “We cannot afford to let the potential of junior talents go unused,” Derr emphasizes. Young people naturally also benefit from this attitude. For example, seven of the 10 new jobs created in ZeTO were filled with graduates of the in-house vocational training program. Three additional employees will join the staff in early 2018.
Saltigo – A success story
When Saltigo was established in 2006, its new beginning was marked chiefly by the process of realigning business. Just two years later, the company then shifted its focus back to growth. Today Saltigo has some 1,200 employees and completes around 150 projects for customers all over the world. The custom synthesis of agrochemical active ingredients and intermediates has become its largest field of activity. Customers often require several thousand tons of such substances per year. Saltigo further produces pharmaceutical active ingredients and intermediates, as well as a wide range of fine chemicals, including non-exclusive synthesis modules. The most well-known representative of this product group is the insect repellent icaridin, marketed under the brand name Saltidin. It is the active ingredient in insect repellents from numerous distinguished manufacturers.
“To play in the world class of custom synthesis like Saltigo does, a company has to be flexible and capable of adapting to constantly changing customer expectations and market conditions. This is a basic prerequisite especially in the field of custom manufacturing. Saltigo tackled this task with great determination from the outset and mastered it successfully. And ZeTO undoubtedly was a decisive contributor to this success,” underlines Fink, Board member of Lanxess.