At the end of January 2012, the following announcement made global headlines: “Major Refinery Operator Files Bankruptcy”. There are numerous reasons available as why large corporations are forced to file bankruptcy. Besides competition and management issues, a decisive factor can often be as simple as high operating costs due to persistent maintenance. Maintenance costs massively increase expenditure and thus, make healthy company economics difficult.

Protection is crucial.

Safety valves protect the refinery processes against hazardous overpressures. These measures are crucial as high temperature differences could result in major pressure fluctuations taking place in the plants.

Safety valves: Pros and cons.

Safety valves provide numerous advantages, opening when pressure becomes too high and automatically closing after venting. However, an immense drawback is that safety valves are very maintenance-intensive and present the disadvantage of not providing liquid tightness. In turn, this results in huge material wastage and rising emission rates.

“It’s the volume that counts.”

“When operating several large plants worldwide, it’s the volume that counts”, says Stefan Penno, Managing Director of REMBE® GMBH SAFETY+CONTROL: “Incessant material wastage weakens the value-added chain, pollutes the environment and demands increased maintenance. Now that’s costly.”

Economic damage and environmental contamination.

A study conducted by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) substantiates this conclusion: 22-27% of all leakages, defects in liquid tightness result from flange connections. Just in the Netherlands this results in an annual raw material loss of  approximately 106,000 tons of gases and liquids. With a calculated average price of 700 EUR/ton, this results in a loss of 75.000,00 EUR/year.  When adding the leakage losses resulting from shaft sealing, this makes an additional 383.000 tons/year resulting in an amazing total of EUR for the Netherlands alone. The American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has discovered that 40.000 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) alone were annually emitted in the USA.  Besides the economic damage, the environmental contamination issue should not be ignored.

Robust bursting disc for sensitive process areas: KUB®

REMBE®, the specialists in process safety and explosion protection for nearly forty years, recommend all refinery operators to revise their opinions. “The sole implementation of safety valves doesn’t make sense in every case. There are certain sensitive process areas, where you are truly better advised to implement robust bursting discs”, states Penno further. REMBE® has specialised in laser technology, and developed a unique two-layered REMBE® Reverse acting buckling-pin bursting disc (KUB®). Its utilisation in those types of demanding processes has successfully proven itself for years.

Buckling-pin principle.

The BT-KUB® mechanism is based on the buckling-pin principle by Leonard Euler. As opposed to other bursting disc manufacturers, REMBE® waives any mechanical scoring. This is due to the fact that response pressures are accurately defined by Euler’s buckling-pins, which are positioned by state-of-the-art laser technology. "Once our bursting disc is installed, it needs no further maintenance and reliably safeguards the process/plant. Only in the event that the disc has responded, must it be replaced; the timeframe can vary, after a year, a decade or never”, Penno explains. “In light of recent events, it would be wise to inspect the process safety and efficiency of existing as well as newly constructed refinery plants. By installing supplementary bursting discs, money can be saved long-term and thus, counteracts bankruptcy; at least in regard to operating and maintenance costs.”


German roots, international success: Around 35 representatives from all over the world visited the Sauerland between 3-6 July for the third REX convention at the family-owned company REMBE® in Brilon, Germany. The purpose of the three-day event was to provide continuing professional development to REMBE® safety experts, who represent their bursting discs and explosion protection safety devices all over the world.


“Sauerland secures Nutella production”

One example of this came from Andreas Hansen and Dr. Francesco Petruzzelli, employees at REMBE®’s Italian subsidary, who described competently and with Italian spirit how they managed to win an important contract with the multinational company Ferrero: “Mamma mia,” both exclaimed, “the Sauerland has secured Nutella production!” Outside, REMBE® engineer Roland Bunse demonstrated high explosives to an amazed audience of visitors. After the exciting explosions he remarked impassively: “Well that certainly wouldn’t have happened with a REMBE® bursting disc.”

Safety guaranteed by tradition.

Managing Director Stefan Penno emphasises how important the location of Brilon is for the company’s international success: “Our Sauerland roots represent the security that we guarantee our customers.” The fact that production takes place exclusively at the German plant in Brilon sets this traditional company apart from its competitors. REMBE® China manager Ben Liang is convinced: “The ‘Made in Germany’ stamp of quality is a door-opener, especially in Asia.”

Patented vision.

Yet this sense of tradition is only one side to REMBE®’s success. Because we in the Sauerland don’t just know where we come from, we know where we’re going too. It is here that our REMBE® engineers are working diligently on new innovations. It comes as no surprise, then, that there have been attempts to copy patented REMBE® inventions abroad, to no avail of course. Friedhelm Kesting has been the plant manager and REMBE® employee for more than 35 years. He perhaps best represents the combination of groundedness and international vision typical of REMBE®. He confidently leads the international REX delegation through the factory building in Brilon, proudly showing the brand new laser equipment, custom-built for REMBE®’s specific needs, introducing workers to the guests, and answering questions. Friedhelm does all of this with typical Sauerland aplomb, and all in English. To sum up the REX convention: everyone got along wonderfully. And it wasn’t just the Chinese visitors who continually praised the climate: “The fresh air here is simply marvellous!”

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