Polyvinyl butyral hars fabriek
Vision 2005 led DSM away from bulk chemicals and polymers, in the direction of specialty products in performance materials, health, and nutrition, which was combined with further internationalization. The most far-reaching aspect of this change was the sale of the petrochemical activities, which comprised roughly half of DSM’s activities at Geleen. In 2002, these activities were sold to the Saudi-Arabian company SABIC.
Thus, a new situation was created: two major players – DSM and SABIC – located at one industrial site. The deal gave DSM the means to realize its ambitions in life sciences and material sciences, and so become less sensitive to cyclical fluctuations in sales and revenues. The move catapulted SABIC from 22nd to 11th place in the world ranking of petrochemical companies.
Introduction of Chemelot
The name Chemelot has connotations with chemistry, lot (place) and, of course King Arthur’s mythical castle, Camelot. With DSM as well as SABIC on the site, the name Chemelot was introduced in 2002. Chemelot comprises the industrial park and the campus.
The year 2005 can be considered the real starting point for Chemelot. After the petrochemical activities had been taken over by SABIC, the staff departments of the remaining DSM units were drastically reorganized as a result of the Copernicus project (2002-2004). In 2004, this gave rise to protests from the trade unions, who feared that DSM was about to dismantle (too) many of its operations in South Limburg. In that same year, DSM concluded a covenant with the Municipality of Sittard-Geleen, the Province of Limburg, and the trade unions. The aim was to develop the former DSM site into an open industrial site for chemical production, research, and development. Targets were set for attracting new companies and for creating new jobs during the period 2005-2008.
This explains why 2005 is taken as the starting point of Chemelot.
DSM’s strategy had consequences for DSM Research at Geleen. The research activities were decentralized to the business. Activities of a more general nature, such as analysis, were divided among departments that from now on presented themselves to the outside world under their own names, such as DSM Resolve. The name DSM Research disappeared, the research site was called Chemelot Campus; since 2014: Brightlands Chemelot Campus. This became the location where DSM, SABIC and, increasingly, other companies established their (new) activities in the field of research and development – and they still do today.
Toward an open chemical park
DSM invested in acquisition and real estate. The Municipality of Sittard-Geleen invested in infrastructure. For instance, in the renovation of the entrance (Gate 2) to the Chemelot Campus, the Gate to Innovation, which was ready in 2008. Another investment concerned the Prof. Van Krevelenstraat, which in that same year unlocked a publicly accessible part of the Chemelot site, an area of 67 acres. Here Mammoet realized a new company building in 2012. In cooperation with LIOF, DSM set up a venture capital fund, Limburg Ventures, to promote the further development of Chemelot.
In 2009, it could be concluded that the targets of the covenant were amply met. The most remarkable acquisition was the Japanese chemical company Sekisui S Lec, which chose Chemelot as the location for a new plant for polyvinyl butyral resin, a raw material for safety glass films (for instance used in car windshields). This plant started production in 2006, and in 2010 its capacity was doubled.
In 2007, DSM decided to sell a large part of its remaining bulk activities, activities based at Chemelot. As a result, DSM’s focus was placed even more strongly on nutrition and health products and performance materials.
Before this sale was realized, the supporting services (DSM Manufacturing Center, DMC) were transferred to a new entity: Sitech Services (2009). The shareholders of Sitech are DSM and the companies that were to become the owners of the plants still operated by DSM at the Industrial Park in 2002, after the petrochemical activities were sold to SABIC (SABIC is not a shareholder).
Sitech supports these plants with a range of services, such as maintenance. Furthermore, Sitech provides services to the whole site, notably the company fire department, the security department, the overall infrastructure (roads, railways, pipe ways, sewers), and waste water purification. The creation of Sitech Services prevented fragmentation of expertise and ensured that the costs did not become too high.
Meanwhile, a structure was created in the field of governance. Agreement was reached with the Province of Limburg, which was the authority issuing the environmental permit, about a single so-called umbrella permit for the entire site. The individual plants received a sub-permit under this permit; there are about fifty of these. The holder of the umbrella permit is a special legal entity, the Chemelot Site Permit B.V. (CSP), with SABIC, Sitech Services, the other sub-permit holders – which had formed the Association of Other Site Users, – and DSM Netherlands/Chemelot (as the land owner) as shareholders. In 2007, a single desk was established for direct contact between CSP (also representing the Chemelot companies) and the Province of Limburg.
In addition, a Policy Board was set up, consisting of the CSP Managing Board, to determine the internal policy for companies based at Chemelot. This policy is laid down in documents, such as the Site Regulations.
Read also How it started underground, The first transition: from coal to chemicals, When it went darker than in a mine shaft, How DSM developed into a chemical company, How DSM made a big leap forward, DSM from commodities to higher added value, and How DSM remained profitable in the 1990s.
This is a repost of my (Dutch) August 6, 2018 post.
Read my May 20, 2013 blog post about the reason why of my English reposts.