Lianhetech, which makes high quality fine chemicals for the crop protection, pharmaceutical and performance markets, has committed to a multi-million-pound expansion of its site in Middlesbrough.

The digitalisation is being carried out on a large-scale expansion of its existing brownfield site, which will double the sites overall capacity, alongside a planned expansion for state-of-the-art digital greenfield site.

This has given the manufacturer an opportunity to create a digital production facility that uses data to drive decision making and share real time information with its customer.

The partnership aims to help Lianhetech double its chemical manufacturing capacity to meet demand from customers in the UK, Europe and globally, improve production efficiency and ‘right first time’ quality, and futureproof the plant which employs over 350 people.

Siemens DI has a long-standing relationship with Seal Sands through its previous owner Fine Organics so was the obvious partner when the business was acquired by China-based Lianhetech two years ago.

Siemens DI technologies being deployed include Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7, a powerful control system, digital process instrumentation and variable speed drives.

Siemens DI worked with Liantech and Actemium Automation to ensure that the right products and industrial network approaches were selected to provide a state-of-the-art system incorporating Profinet, the leading Industrial Ethernet standard for automation.

The solution gives Lianhetech greater levels of control over production and availability, and the opportunity for ongoing process improvement as more data is collected around the manufacture of the product – the derived insights can also be fed back to customers.

Eric Bennison, account development manager at Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Our partnership with Seal Sands is almost 20 years old, through its former owners Fine Organics and now Lianhetech. During that time we have always strived to find new solutions to enhance the products they produce for their customers.

"It is testament to our long-standing relationship that Lianhetech asked us to help them enter this new phase of digitalisation.

“Its goal is to be fast and dynamic.

“By using our world class, state-of-the-art digital tools we are working with Lianhetech to develop and deliver one of the most significant investments in UK chemical manufacturing for a long time.

“The collaboration with Siemens Digital Industries has given Lianhetech firm foundations to build a truly digital chemical facility and paves the way for advanced use of data to gain insights and support continuous improvement.”

Lianhetech is taking a modular approach to design and commissioning of the development to achieve its target opening of May 2021.

A further expansion into other parts of the site could quadruple capacity in the future.

The development at Seal Sands is expected to create 80 new high skilled jobs.

Julian Lightwing, Operations Director at Lianhetech, said: “For decades the chemical industry has become increasingly reliant on a supply chain from the East – China and India – which has led to a huge decline in UK manufacturing.

“Lianhetech wants to take a global approach and de-risk its supply chain by investing in its operation in the UK and across Europe. The concept is that Lianhetech Seal Sands will be part of the global company and can offer the benefits of the eastern and western environments.

“We currently have four production buildings, the large expansion on the existing site and land we can expand onto. It means we can start from scratch at grass roots level to create a digital enterprise building – and involve Siemens from day one.

“By taking a modular approach to design, construction and commissioning we can be faster and more dynamic.

“We can then exploit the data to achieve operational and production benefits.”