Dr. Sebastian Muschelknautz, Linde AG
Stefan Penno, CEO Rembe GmbH Safety+Control, Brilon, Germany
– Software-supported translations from German into English –
CSE: Mr. Muschelknautz, in 2004 you and other colleagues on the Executive Board of Dechema’s Safety Technology Division initiated a position paper on maintaining competence in process and plant safety. What was the reason for this at that time – in 2004?
Dr. Muschelknautz: At that time, the number of young people working in safety technology was significantly reduced, and many institutes were no longer financially supported. The Dechema Research Committee saw a need for action. There was to be a counter-movement, hence the position paper.
CSE: What were the core contents of the position paper?
Dr. Muschelknautz: Above all, training deficits should be pointed out and eliminated as far as possible. However, priority topics for safety-related research should also be formulated and evaluated according to priority. In addition, it was a concern of the Research Committee on Chemical Plant Safety to contribute to making existing knowledge, experience and new findings on safety technology – especially for small and medium-sized enterprises – available and comprehensible.
CSE: These are now the key points of the Center of Safety Excellence. This would allow the position paper to be implemented in key areas after 10 years.
Dr. Muschelknautz: Yes, I agree. And I am pleased that a good solution is emerging after this time.
CSE: Who did the Research Committee want to address with this initiative at the time?
Dr. Muschelknautz: It was planned to set up a competence network consisting of planners and operators of chemical plants, representatives of research institutes and representatives of federal and state authorities.
CSE: Why was it not possible at the time to reach this competence network with all participants?
Dr. Muschelknautz: The safety of plants in the chemical and petrochemical industries was very high at the time and has certainly been improved even further to this day. In this environment, it is not easy to convey that process and plant safety is an ongoing issue. We have to make continuous efforts to maintain the knowledge and expertise for this high safety standard and to further increase it in individual areas.
CSE: Research in process and plant safety is therefore already necessary in order to attract well-trained young people from universities to industry?
Dr. Muschelknautz: Yes, that’s true.
CSE: What importance do you attach to the new Center of Safety Excellence?
Dr. Muschelknautz: First of all, I am pleased that there is now also a center in Europe that focuses on promoting young scientists in process and plant safety. Over the next few years, the CSE must establish itself as an independent institute in a joint alliance between industry, universities and authorities. There is great potential for young students due to the proximity to the colleges and universities of Karlsruhe, Kaiserslautern, Mannheim, Stuttgart and Munich. There will be no shortage of attractive topics. It is precisely in application-oriented, interdisciplinary research in process and plant safety that I see the opportunity for the institute. This can only be achieved with appropriate commitment from industry and the public sector.
CSE: What do you wish the CSE for the future?
Dr. Muschelknautz: Curious students, interesting research topics and the tailwind from the process industry.
Many thanks to Dr. Muschelknautz for the interview.
CSE: Mr. Penno, you run a company that manufactures safety equipment and provides explosion protection and you are responsible for over 150 employees. Rembe actively promotes the Center of Safety Excellence. Why is such a competence center so important for Rembe?
Mr. Penno: Rembe has indeed been growing for many years from a solid German family business to an internationally positioned specialist for bursting discs and explosion protection. Today, this is only possible if you are ahead of the pack. In addition to experience and quality management, new ideas are always in demand. This is only possible with good, interested employees who want to make a difference. The CSE trains the next generation that we will need tomorrow. It also offers the opportunity to improve interdisciplinary safety equipment and to research new products. For Rembe, the CSE is an ideal cooperation partner.
CSE: How can such a cooperation look like?
Mr. Penno: Rembe stimulates topics for final theses and promotes doctorates. We want to play an active role in shaping research in our field. The students of the CSE are very welcome at Rembe.
CSE: The CSE offers lectures on process and plant safety at four different universities*. In your opinion, what opportunities does this offer Rembe?
*(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, TU Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences)
Mr. Penno: Contact with students and junior staff is very important for Rembe. We are looking for good people and not only from Germany. The lectures and the CSE as a platform offer good contact opportunities.
CSE: Is this the way to recruit junior staff?
Mr. Penno: Yes, this is a special concern. We need young academics who want to help shape our future. The CSE has a large catchment area with Karlsruhe, Kaiserslautern, Mannheim and Stuttgart or Munich. The networking of companies and universities is also very interesting.
CSE: Don’t colleges and universities also offer this directly?
Mr. Penno: Well, I honestly don’t know of any university or college that specializes in process and plant safety and has decades of experience in the process industry. The CSE is already unique here and will set corresponding accents. That is my personal conviction.
CSE: What are interesting projects for Rembe at CSE?
Mr. Penno: The CSE will offer unique testing opportunities. Two-phase flows, very high pressures, large quantities and large valve cross-sections can be measured. These are the plans I know. It is important that the students come to the industry with experimental experience. Rembe will therefore support the experimental work. In addition, more precise design methods for safety equipment are required. Modeling is therefore a second topic for Rembe. The third is international standardization. The CSE should also actively strive to harmonize methods and regulations with its cooperation partners in the USA and, if possible, Asia.
CSE: Mr. Penno, how do you think your customers evaluate their commitment to CSE?
Mr. Penno: With this cooperation, Rembe presents itself as an innovative company. This creates even more confidence in our products on the part of our customers. In addition to our experience, we will in future receive further facts from the research results with which we want to argue.
CSE: You attach great importance to the new Center of Safety Excellence?
Mr. Penno: Yes, that’s true. I am pleased that the industrial initiative that was launched more than 10 years ago has now become a competence center. Industry now has the task of actively supporting this institute. Security affects all companies.
CSE: What do you wish the CSE for the future?
Mr Penno: I wish the CSE the necessary and sustained support from industry, curious students, many interesting research topics and a great reputation.
CSE: Thank you Mr Penno for the interview.