MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Australia's only polyethylene manufacturer was a finalist for a prestigious award for an education program it shares with its Chinese parent company.
Qenos Pty. Ltd., headquartered in Altona, Victoria, was pipped for the international education award at the annual Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame awards on May 26.
Qenos entered its “knowledge exchange program,” which Qenos Chairman and CEO Jonathan Clancy said helps improve worker health, safety and productivity.
Clancy also chairs Australia's plastics industry representative body, the Melbourne-based Plastics and Chemical Industries Association.
Tim Walshe, Qenos general manager IQ, told Plastics News the knowledge exchange program began in 2007, following China National Chemical Corp.'s (ChemChina) purchase of Qenos in 2006.
Qenos now is a subsidiary of China National Bluestar (Group) Co. Ltd., a joint venture between ChemChina and U.S. publicly listed investment company Blackstone Group.
Walshe said the knowledge exchange program focuses on taking Qenos's expertise in safety, health and environmental management practices and systems into Bluestar companies. It was initially introduced at Bluestar's site in Tianjin, China, and is being progressively rolled out at ChemChina's 23 plants, 14 of which are plastics manufacturers.
“Initially Qenos people provided hands-on training on the mechanics of the business processes,” Walshe said.
There are 20 elements to the program and most Bluestar sites now operate with at least 10 of them. Walshe said the program includes a rigorous audit and assessment process “to see how they're traveling and how well it's being applied.” In 2015, Qenos will have 10 separate teams conducting targeted training at Bluestar sites.
Qenos's next plan is to commercialize the knowledge exchange program. The company is establishing a China-based team, supported and trained by Qenos's Australian personnel, which can teach other organizations how to implement the company's safety, health and environment management practices.
Walshe said the program will be scaled up over the next few years.
Qenos is also sharing its expertise in asset management and maintenance cycles with its parent company's plants. A pilot program is running at Bluestar's phenyl acetate plant in Harbin, China.
Walshe said the Harbin plant currently closes for 20 days a year for maintenance. In contrast, Qenos's asset management program means its PE plants in Botany, near Sydney, in New South Wales, have not had a full shutdown for 12 years. Walshe said there are significant cost savings in reducing downtime for maintenance.
Qenos's four Botany plants manufacture low and linear low density PE for domestic and export markets. Qenos operates three plants at Altona, outside Melbourne, in Victoria. An olefins plant processes ethane feedstock for two downstream high density PE plants and other domestic customers.
Qenos generates annual sales of more than A$700 million (US$534 million).