LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany—As Europe braces for the hottest week of the year, German chemicals giant BASF S.E. is preparing for the possibility of extreme weather events occurring more frequently in the future.
In order to make the Ludwigshafen headquarters site more resistant to long-term low water events, BASF said it is working on a concept that will include various measures in two important areas of activity: The cooling water supply and logistics, BASF spokesman Florian Tholey said in a written statement.
The measures regarding the cooling water supply already have been implemented, with the recent installation of an additional so-called recooling plant, Tholey said, adding that another recooling plant also is under construction.
Recooling plants allow the reuse of water for cooling purposes several times before it is discharged back into the Rhine, making the company "more independent of the Rhine."
In addition, BASF will use digitalization to control its cooling water flows more efficiently in the future.
BASF's second field of action concerns transport and logistics via the Rhine.
To address the issue, the company has optimized its stock management through digitalization.
"Meshing data from various sources will enable us to make more precise long-term forecasts for weather, water levels, and supply chain," Tholey explained.
In addition, the company has optimized several loading points during the past months in order to switch more flexibly between different modes of transport in the future.
While more loading points are to follow in the near future, BASF also has increased the proportion of ships suitable for low water, Tholey added.
Rhine water levels have dropped in the past few weeks, putting Europe's most important river and transport artery at risk of shutdown.
BASF was hit severely by an "all-time" low in Rhine water levels last summer, which forced the supplier to halt toluene diisocyanate (TDI) production at its Ludwigshafen production facility.
This year, so far, BASF has not had any restrictions regarding logistics or cooling water supply as the water levels of Rhine have not been critical in recent months, Tholey said.