Standic •

The construction of Standic’s new chemical terminal in Antwerp is proceeding smoothly. After years of preparation, the execution started in February of this year with making the site ready for construction. There are now already plenty of tank pits – ready to be operational as of 1 April 2021. Three people are responsible for the daily coordination: Raoul Cootjans as the project manager, Susanne Claessens as the prevention advisor and Johan Trouw as the construction manager. What does their work at the terminal entail and how do they collaborate?

Raoul has been hired as an external project manager and has been working at the terminal since October 2019. He keeps an eye on the planning and the budget and maintains contact with all contractors who work on the site: about 150 people. “My main task is to ensure that the collaboration between all contractors runs smoothly. I see myself mainly as a people manager to maintain the right atmosphere. For example, suppose a trench is dug unplanned to construct a sewer. Then it may just be that another contractor has more difficulty in accessing the site or has no access at all. We try to solve this as quickly as possible so that as few contractors as possible will be bothered by it. But I certainly am not alone; Johan and Susanne also play a major role in this.”
‘What matters is that we prevent unworkable or unsafe conditions’

As the construction manager, Johan sees to it that the contractors do exactly what has been laid down in the planning. “I have to make sure that the work is done properly and that there are no conflicts that may impact the planning. To give an example: when concrete structures are being built, anchors are cast on which a steel structure is placed. This requires different disciplines and different contractors. I coordinate all those activities so that everything fits together. What matters is that we prevent unworkable or unsafe situations. For example, if people have to work on scaffolding, I will indicate this to Susanne. In this way we complement each other.”

Susanne has been working in Antwerp as a prevention advisor since January 2020. First through an external party, later as a permanent Standic employee. She ensures that everyone on the site does their job safely. In situations where things could go wrong, she points out the risks to people and provides guidance. “For example, many wells and trenches are being dug here, so it is important that this is properly marked and secured. Also, people often work with boom lifts – it’s therefore vital, that they are properly secured when on the job. Nothing should go wrong. Sometimes it is also a matter of knowing but not acting upon it. Think of the safety goggles that are mandatory for everyone on the site.”

Measures during COVID -19

When the pandemic started, a way had to be found quickly to keep everyone working safely. Raoul explains that this has been achieved with a simple but effective ‘Excel system’. “Every week the contractors fill out an Excel document with the planned work for that week: what they are going to do, where and when. Johan imports these files into a tool that automatically generates a fine overview. In this way we ensure that the contractors do not come into each other’s vicinity. That is not only positive from a COVID-19 point of view, but also efficient because everyone can work in their own spot. We have also done everything we can to also make the environment outside the construction site itself as safe as possible. For example, during the first COVID-19 wave, we placed twenty tables and chairs far apart in a large hall for personnel to eat. There are also extra toilet containers on the site.”

Building off-site

The construction of the terminal is progressing very well, not least because a lot of offsite construction is taking place, says Johan: “The tanks, for example, are being built in Noord-Holland and then shipped to Antwerp. Yesterday, there were ten new tanks on two pontoons on the wharf. They were placed in the right spot in four hours with large cranes.”

What certainly did not slow down the speed of the project is the good collaboration and humour, say both Raoul and Susanne. Raoul: “We work very hard and face a lot of challenges, but there is definitely laughter as well. And that brings about the right atmosphere. The relationship with and between the contractors is very good, right from the start of the project. It’s not that there are never any discussions, but in the end, everything gets resolved. We are a good team.”