2002 - 2003
Here, where more than 2,000 employees of BASF-YPC would one day produce around 3 million tons of high-quality chemicals per year in ultramodern, large-scale chemical plants, there was still a Chinese peasant economy in 2001.
When the construction work for the integrated production site was started in 2001, it hardly seemed credible that a flagship project of the Chinese chemical industry would arise here in the near future.
For the new head of the location, Bernd Blumenberg, the greatest initial challenge was to organize the work on the giant construction site. The construction of the Verbund site in Nanjing was a completely new challenge for BASF, also because a complete infrastructure had to be built simultaneously for the large-scale chemical plants.
No other construction project in China had ever placed as much emphasis on safety as this particular work. During the four-year construction period, more than 100,000 employees received special safety training. The medical care was also exemplary.
While the construction in Nanjing proceeded, another major project in China was building momentum. In Caojing, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Shanghai, the Shanghai Chemical Industrial Park (SCIP) was growing into one of the world's largest chemical clusters.
In November 2002, an acute respiratory illness first appeared in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong: SARS. As a first immediate measure, BASF offered the roughly 900 employees who were not working in production flexible work hours so that they could avoid rush hour in public transport systems. If a SARS infection occurred in a building where BASF employees were residing, the employees were permitted to work from home during the potential incubation period. As preventive measures, protective masks and thermometers were handed out, trips to affected areas were severely restricted, business meetings were postponed or replaced by conference calls.
Ultimately, BASF’s organization in Asia, with its precisely planned mobilization, had created the blueprint with which the company could later react to similar, but much less serious surges of infection – such as Avian Flu in 2008.
The technically complex transport of an 800 ton distillation column is picked up by Chinese state TV and watched in a live 90 minute broadcast. The lifting of another 92 meter (300 foot) column into place, requiring special cranes, was also spectacular. (Photos: BASF)