aerial shot of a factory

Evonik is a prominent manufacturer of specialty chemicals that is continuously improving its production processes through innovation. In this case study, we will show how Simon combined his Electrical & Instrumentation (E&I) engineering expertise with Distributed Control Systems (DCS) programming skills to maintain and optimise one of Evonik’s production lines.


Evonik is a major international player in the chemical industry, manufacturing intermediates that are used in many processes across various sectors. Our team was helping them with Distributed Control Systems (DCS) programming at the production site in the Port of Antwerp when they reached out to us for a new project.  

This multifaceted project required both E&I and OT expertise, and we quickly realised that Simon De la Marche would be the perfect fit thanks to his proficiency in electrical design and DCS programming.

Combining E&I and DCS

Since April, Simon has immersed himself in Evonik's E&I department, where he oversees the ACA production process. He is responsible for maintaining and updating vital components, including control valves, modulators, and control systems. He strategically chooses and configures these components to ensure that the hardware aligns with the software.

This unique role, which involves handling both E&I and OT, is a distinctive approach driven by Evonik's commitment to safety and efficiency. By understanding the physical components and their limits and dependencies, Simon can tailor software parameters even more precisely to maximise the hardware’s capabilities.

A fitting example of this combined approach and its benefits is when Simon updated a system measuring gas emissions. Previously, this process relied on constants, leading to significant discrepancies during outliers like exceptionally hot summers. To optimise this, Simon reprogrammed the temperature and pressure sensors to perform a time-based comparison. This ensured that the right amount of gas is taken in based on a mathematical formula, accounting for variables like sunlight on the pipeline.

Continuous Improvement

Chemical companies like Evonik operate under a culture of continuous improvement. Simon and the other members of the E&I team scrutinise every aspect of the production process daily, adjusting where necessary. He is responsible for monitoring and tweaking the hundreds of components, such as dialling in sensors or replacing control valves. Simon compares it to working for a Formula 1 team:

"Keeping these production processes running is a bit like taking care of a Formula 1 car. Each day, as the 'race' progresses, we make superficial repairs and minor tweaks – even though we don’t have the luxury of pit stops. Between 'races,' we can make significant adjustments to gain an edge. Even the smallest components can have a profound impact on the entire system."
– Simon De la Marche, Project engineer at Coretecs

However, there is one critical difference in the approach. When it comes to chemical manufacturers, safety and efficiency obviously take precedence over speed. To stay ahead of the competition, they must strive for operational excellence, all while adapting to evolving legislation.

Safety and Redundancy

Chemical production environments are highly regulated for a reason: if the hazardous compounds they produce would escape, there would be serious consequences. Simon's expertise plays a crucial role in preventing incidents and ensuring robust safety measures are in place.

The entire production facility and control room need to comply with the European Union’s ATEX directives, which are crucial for controlling explosive atmospheres in high-risk environments. These directives set precise guidelines for safety measures, including limitations on currents for sensors and the use of explosion-safe enclosures for specific equipment.  

The continuous operation of these production processes is of the highest importance, as downtime can have severe consequences on revenue. That’s why the production processes feature a high level of redundancy: throughout the installation, safeguards have been integrated. In some cases, identical second setups are kept close, ready to be used immediately in the event of maintenance or emergencies.

At the time of writing, Simon is assisting Evonik with their yearly maintenance and testing of the ACA production installation from the control room. This highly orchestrated procedure ensures that maintenance activities have a minimal impact on production, and maintain the delicate balance between safety, efficiency, and productivity.


By combining his E&I engineering knowledge with expertise in DCS programming, Simon has not only optimised efficiency for Evonik, but also reinforced the layers of safety required in chemical manufacturing. It's a great example of how we tailor our approach for clients with unique demands.

Are you looking for experienced E&I engineers and IT-OT specialists who look at the bigger picture? Contact us today to discuss how we can help you achieve operational excellence with our Industry 4.0 services.

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