iPads at Theo Pouw

iPads to control soil-washing plant

The control of the gigantic soil-washing plant of Theo Pouw, at the Eemshaven, takes place from a command centre that includes four large screens. In addition, process operators are now able to immediately act upon malfunctions and repair minor faults by using their iPad. The iPads help process operators work more flexibly, because it is no longer necessary to man the command centre on a 24/7 basis. The application also increases safety and availability of the plant in general. Prompt intervention will avoid malfunctions and consequential damage. And process operators need to run up and down stairs a lot less often.

Every year, the plant washes around 300,000 tons of strongly contaminated soil. Theo Pouw works according to a procedure that was developed in-house. This procedure involves the heating of contaminated soil, resulting in the contamination being turned into a gaseous state that can be incinerated. This process is called thermal desorption. The method is suitable for mineral waste substances that have been contaminated with organic components, for example in soil originating from gas plants, refineries and other processes where the more serious contaminations occur.

The Theo Pouw Group is a major player in all civil engineering sectors. The company looks after the transport, storage and transhipment, the washing of soil, and the recycling of building and demolition debris. In addition to the location at Eemshaven, Theo Pouw is also established in Utrecht (head office), Weert, Akkrum and Lelystad.

The application of iPads in the controls is a part of the optimisation realised for this plant by Van den Pol Industrial Automation, in collaboration with engineering agency Domatrac from Oosterhuizen. It may take some getting used to - this use of small, vulnerable iPads in the fifteen metres high, complex soil-washing plant. At the same time, it becomes clear that ICT plays an essential part in the well-oiled operation of the plant. At Theo Pouw, the people who work with these have emphasised that, although the iPad is no alternative for the total overview offered by the command centre, they prove to be a valuable addition in the day-to-day operation of the plant, offering many advantages.