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CapEx Avoidance: Polymer Production Capacity

Increasing the capacity of two main production lines by >20% and >50% led to a significant (>€15 million) CapEx avoidance


Chemicals – Chemical Polymer (Oil additive)


Increase production capacity of two lines by 20% to meet European and global demand


The capacity of line 1 increased by >50%, generating >€1m p.a. in additional profit, enabling the client to cancel a large CapEx proposal.

The capacity of line 2 increased by >20%, generating >€8m p.a. in additional profit

Why was Chartwell brought on board?

Forecast demand for oil additives for the next 5+ years, putting pressure on the client's vertically integrated supply chain. 

This generated an urgent need to increase total production capacity - the site team decided to try a Chartwell Opportunity scan to see whether a CapEx investment could be avoided.

The scan revealed possible operational opportunities substantially larger than the benefit of the proposed CapEx, with much shorter lead time. This led to the launch of an improvement project.

Project work deep dives

Three-stage batch process in focus:

The process consisted of three main stages:

  • Polyreactor: Chemical reaction occurs here and this was the bottleneck for the project
  • Mix tanks: Stirring and waiting for QC check
  • Filling: Filled into either tank containers or drums

Project focus to deliver improvement:

To achieve the goal of increasing the capacity of two lines, four modules were run over a period of 48 weeks:

  1. Planning and Scheduling improvement
  2. Reducing the Polyreactor Cycle time
  3. Decoupling filling from logistics
  4. Increasing capacity of drum filling line

Key lever to increase capacity of line 1 by >50%:

The first step was to work with the onsite team to identify the bottleneck. 

Next, to monitor performance at this asset, a new visualisation tool was developed to show how the bottleneck was being used. This revealed significant idle periods at the bottleneck. 

To assess the possible impact of using these periods, High Capacity trials were performed,with the results of:

One week Max. Capacity trial achieved >100% above S&OP capacity

Three week sustainable High Capacity trial achieved 80% above S&OP capacity

Processes were then built with the site team to deploy and sustain the newly trialled methods to maintain capacity improvements.  

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