Donauchem invests in the future: Most modern chemical warehouse in Austria officially opened

At the end of November 2022, the new administration and distribution centre of Donauchem was commissioned at the Donau Chemie site in Brückl. The official opening took place on 4 May 2023. Around twelve million euros were invested in Austria's most modern chemical warehouse, which was built exclusively by regional companies.

Fig.1: The ceremonial opening of the new Donauchem building at the Brückl site. From left to right: Harald Tellian, Mayor of Brückl; Mathieu de Krassny, CEO of Donau Chemie AG, Günter Leikam, Member of the Carinthian Parliament; Martin Gruber, Deputy Governor of Carinthia; Michael Walter, Managing Director of Donauchem Austria, Christoph Gerold, Site Manager of Donauchem Brückl.

Goodbye lack of space: More efficiency and capacity in the new distribution centre

Donauchem's previous location in Brückl was directly on the site of the Donau Chemie chemical plant, which has existed for over one hundred years. With the continuous growth of Donauchem, the logistical requirements have increased considerably and the lack of space became increasingly noticeable. In order to be able to continue growing, an expansion of the spatial capacities was inevitable.

With the construction of the new distribution and administration centre, several goals could be realised at once:
  1. Donauchem is even closer to its customers and can offer tailor-made products on a sustainable basis. As the last few years have shown, strategic stockpiling in particular is gaining in importance.
  2. The new distribution centre enables us to act more economically by increasing our capacity and improving overall efficiency.
  3. The location is secured for the long term, as we are now in a position to open up new business areas and position ourselves for the future.

Currently, the Donau Chemie Group employs more than 130 people in Brückl. The new Donauchem site offers space for 35 jobs.

Rede von DI Michael Walter bei der feierlichen Eröffnung des neuen Standortes der Donauchem Brückl
Fig. 2: Speech by DI Michael Walter, Managing Director Donauchem Austria at the ceremonial opening of the new site of Donauchem Brückl

Rede von Ing. Christoph Gerold bei der feierlichen Eröffnung des neuen Standortes der Donauchem Brückl
Fig. 3: Speech by Christoph Gerold, Site Manager Donauchem Brückl.

Fig. 4: The opening ceremony with a festive supporting programme.


Increasing efficiency and productivity 

Previously, Donauchem had several spatially distant areas on the Donau Chemie site at its disposal, which ultimately led to a highly fragmented working environment. Products had to be transported from one area to another for further processing and then back to the warehouse. The associated lorry transports and forklift trips through the plant increased the time and resources required.

In the new distribution centre, all work areas are now compactly combined under one roof.

Expansion of the portfolio and access to new markets

The expansion of our portfolio is of crucial importance for the region. By increasing our capacities, we can now supply customers in Slovenia, Croatia and Northern Italy directly from our location. Previously, this was not possible due to a lack of spare capacity.

This expansion also opens up new opportunities for us to purchase goods from southern European producers and import them from Mediterranean ports. The Alpine crossing in particular has been a significant logistics barrier up to now. The new location makes a decisive contribution to economic efficiency here.

Thanks to the possibility of having tanker or iso-containers driven directly to our site from Koper or Trieste, we can now fill and transport products directly in small and large containers. We can also unload containers from the Far East via our ramps and store the products here.


The modular hall system: flexibility for future growth

The hall system has been planned with great foresight with regard to future growth and not only takes into account current requirements, but also covers growth in the coming years. 

1. reserves for the future through modular building construction

The design of the building allows for modular expansion of the building to provide additional storage capacity or to meet other needs should the need arise. The reserve area would allow the entire hall to be mirrored without having to interfere with the structural design or operation of the terminal.

2. flexible block storage with optional changeover to rack storage

The hall system is designed as a block storage system and offers large-area storage areas divided into zones. Each storage zone is specifically designed to store a particular product with a fixed number of bays. The advantage of this concept is its high flexibility.

In addition, the support grid of the hall was planned in such a way that it is possible to switch to a rack storage concept if necessary.

3. 75 percent increase in capacity through two-shift operation

The distribution centre currently operates in single-shift operation, but is designed for two-shift operation. Converting to two-shift operation would enable a 75 per cent increase in capacity. Under ideal conditions, i.e. if the warehouse turnover were to allow it and there were no restrictions on truck movements, the capacity could theoretically be doubled or even quadrupled in the course of a modular expansion, both for input and output processes.


The distribution warehouse: handling 30,000 tonnes per year  

The distribution warehouse was designed to handle 30,000 tonnes of packaged goods per year. It is equipped with tank and filling facilities for flammable liquids as well as acids and alkalis. In addition, the possibility of setting up a filling plant for liquid foodstuffs has already been planned.

The building has a total storage capacity of 3,400 tonnes, which is divided as follows:

  • 330 tonnes of foodstuffs
  • 450 tonnes of flammable liquids
  • 600 tonnes of acids
  • 720 tonnes of alkalis
  • 1,000 tonnes of solids
  • 100 tonnes of oxidising products
  • 200 tonnes of other chemicals


Efficient filling facilities: direct filling from tanker truck into bulk containers

The distribution centre has a very efficient filling infrastructure that enables media to be filled directly from the tanker truck into large containers - without having to go via buffer tanks. This saves valuable time and reduces labour and plant engineering.

The filling system for flammable liquids is explosion-proof and works with an impressive hourly output of 30 m3 (30 tanks á 1 m3). As already mentioned, the option to build an additional filling plant for liquid foodstuffs has been planned. Currently, filling is done via a pipe sluice where food is taken over and pumped directly into IBCs.

Fig. 5: Filling area of the new site

Infrastructure sharing: day tank as buffer truck

Since Donauchem is directly connected to Donau Chemie's media system via a pipe bridge, all products from electrolysis production can be transported to the new terminal without the use of trucks. However, as soon as a product is delivered to Donauchem.
In order to avoid affecting Donau Chemie's operations as much as possible, Donauchem's terminal has a buffer tank farm for electrolysis products.
These day tanks are filled at night for use during the day.

Modern office building with its own quality assurance laboratory

A total of 450 square metres of space has been provided for the office building, which is also located on the site. The building also houses the new Donauchem laboratory, which is used for quality assurance and carries out chemical-physical determinations and identity tests.

Previously, the laboratory activities were carried out by Donauchem Chemie in the factory laboratory. Since Donauchem's requirements for incoming goods analysis differ from those of Donau Chemie, a separate laboratory was set up.

Sustainability through renewable energy and electromobility

As part of the new building, comprehensive measures were taken to implement an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly heating solution. A total of 26,000 metres of underfloor heating pipes were laid and a large-area heating system was installed.

A low-temperature heating system with concrete core activation is used, which is particularly efficient and sustainable. The primary energy is extracted from the cooling water of Donau Chemie in an environmentally friendly way. By using the waste heat from the chemical plant, which is brought in via the pipe bridge, the plant can be heated with a low flow temperature.

In addition, the carport was equipped with five e-charging stations and the company fleet is gradually being converted to electric vehicles. The energy needed for the electric vehicles and the building is provided by a solar system installed on the roof. The surplus electricity flows to the Donau Chemie chemical plant and is used there.

The building itself is an "energy plus" building; more energy is generated than is consumed.

From screws to PLC controls: Challenging procurement of components

After a two-year planning and preparation period, the chemical warehouse was built in just one year and went into operation in November 2022. However, the construction of the distribution centre presented the team with numerous challenges, as delivery delays accompanied the construction throughout the year.

From banal screws for fixing concrete components to office containers and technically important components such as PLC controls and network equipment - numerous areas were affected. This was mainly due to problems in the supply chains, high demand and the lack of availability of sensors and chips. In particular, the chip crisis, triggered by the shortage of semiconductors, made it difficult to procure components.

Despite these adverse circumstances, the commissioning schedule was only delayed by one month - a clear testament to the commitment and efficiency of the team, which worked hard to overcome the difficulties and successfully complete the project.

Conclusion: Donauchem is gearing up for the future

The expansion of Donauchem and the development of new business areas and markets are important steps to drive the company's growth. The construction of a new distribution and administration centre was inevitable to make this possible. In addition to broadening the portfolio and supplying a larger number of customers directly from the site, strategic stockpiling enables a quick response to customer needs as well as flexible adaptation to changing market conditions. The new chemical warehouse is thus an important milestone for the company and will also be beneficial for our customers.
Donauchem GmbH

Related links:
Presseaussendung der Donau Chemie Gruppe (Status 15.5.2023)
Beitrag Kleine Zeitung (Status 15.5.2023)


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