Industrial operations are costly now that electricity prices have skyrocketed and inflation is reaching record highs. One way to lower electricity usage and avoid investing in over-capacity is to clean the various sections of facilities in a more frequent and well planned fashion. By letting the chemical company Wibax take overall responsibility for the cleaning process, using their unique series of chemical cleaning products, WiCLEAN, produced by the company themselves, plants can focus on core operations, while having facilities fine-tuned in a way that improves both economy and sustainability.
Their glossy tanker trucks are well known on the roads, with their long trailers and the characteristic blue-green logo centred on the tank. Nowadays, trucks from the chemical company Wibax are often accompanied by the company’s own service cars, on their way out to processing industries and paper mills to assist with cleaning their systems.
“Cleaning chemicals have become a steadily more important specialty for us at Wibax, especially in combination with total solutions where we manage the entire cleaning process, from providing the products to disposing of chemicals. And with the almost-complete WiCLEAN series of cleaning products, that we produce ourselves, we have effective basic and specialty chemicals for all equipment imaginable, found at mills and industries”, explains Markus Holmlund, CEO Wibax Production AB.
The family owned chemical company Wibax, headquartered in Piteå, has seen rapid growth since its foundation in 1986, and now has close to 300 employees and an annual turnover of 1.5 billion SEK. With their own production and storage of chemicals, bio oil and much more, at 19 terminals throughout Sweden and Finland as well as one in Estonia, they are now one of the largest chemicals suppliers in the Nordics.
A complete series of cleaning chemicals
From the very beginning, Wibax’ goal was to develop and produce chemicals of their own, at their Piteå facility. One of the most significant endeavours in recent times is the company’s own WiCLEAN series, consisting of liquid cleaning chemicals, specialised for various applications in the paper and pulp industry as well as other processing industries.
“We now produce 30-40 products and speciality chemicals, tailored to more or less every imaginable situation, for example at paper and pulp mills. We keep adding new products, and if a customer is missing something, they can simply let us know, and we will provide cleaning chemicals tailored to their particular facility and equipment”, explains Sophia Innala.
The WiCLEAN series consists of liquid alkaline, acidic and degreasing cleaning chemicals, removing build-up in everything from heat exchangers, trucks and boilers to drying wires. Liquid chemicals help keep the working environment dust-free.
Cleaning-as-a-service is becoming more common
In the field of cleaning chemicals, Wibax can either provide chemicals of their own production, as well as from other suppliers, for the end customer to handle, blend and clean their facility with. Or, the customer can sign up for a total solution, where Wibax’ staff will bring chemicals and equipment on site, and take care of the entire process.
“Choosing to sign up for regular cleaning as a service is becoming more common, and it’s not surprising. Leaving us in charge of the entire process, with our specialist knowledge and chemicals of our own production, is more efficient both in terms of time and cost than doing it yourself. It is also better both for the work environment and from a general environmental perspective that we carry out cleaning in a controlled way and dispose of any waste products”, explains Markus Holmlund.
In this way, mills can focus on their core operations, relying on Wibax’ to provide expertise, production and development of effective and sustainable cleaning chemicals, as well as carry out cleaning and maintenance work.
Avoid investing in over-capacity
Letting Wibax take care of cleaning and maintenance at regular intervals also makes financial sense on another level, namely to reduce energy use and increase the lifespan of machinery and equipment.
“There is always some build-up over time, but regular, thorough cleaning will help avoid negative impact on efficiency and capacity. Take heat exchangers as an example, they are often over-dimensioned to allow continued operation even with some build-up, but they will then be using a lot more energy. From a cost perspective, this of course isn’t very good, and taking the right cleaning steps can yield considerable energy savings”, explains Markus Holmlund.
With regular cleaning, companies can thus lower their electricity costs considerably, and in the long term they can avoid investing in unnecessary, expensive over-capacity, by applying this strategy in new investments.
A sustainable company investing heavily in fossil-free logistics
When Wibax invested in their first electric truck in 2021, they made a serious effort. Joining forces with Scania, they launched a unique, ADR approved truck, capable of pulling 64 tonnes. The truck is now in full service, with two shifts per day, from Wibax in Piteå to nearby customers. Additional electric trucks will be acquired and the goal is that 80 percent of the vehicle fleet will be fossil free by 2030.
“We want to work with good chemistry on all levels, economics and sustainability go hand in hand nowadays. From more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly logistics to sustainable chemical production and environmentally friendly chemical management at customer locations. Most of our cleaning chemicals are environmentally friendly and can be released to the sewage system, and where this is not an option, we will take care of them and dispose of them in a safe manner”, says Sophia Innala.
Source: Nordisk Papper & Massa