A CHEMICAL firm is investing in a multi-million digitisation project with the aim of doubling its capacity.

Chemical manufacture Lianhetech Seal Sands, which is based in Middlesbrough, is working with Siemans Digital Industries on the project.

Lianhetech, which makes fine chemicals for the crop protection, pharmaceutical and performance markets, has committed to a multi-million-pound expansion.

The digitalisation is being carried out on a large-scale expansion of its existing brownfield site, which will double the sites overall capacity, alongside a planned expansion for state-of-the-art digital greenfield site, which should open next May, creating 80 jobs.

This has given the manufacturer an opportunity to create a digital production facility that uses data to drive decision making and share real time information with its customer.

Julian Lightwing, operations director at Lianhetech, said: “For decades the chemical industry has become increasingly reliant on a supply chain from the East – China and India – which has led to a huge decline in UK manufacturing.

“Lianhetech wants to take a global approach and de-risk its supply chain by investing in its operation in the UK and across Europe. The concept is that Lianhetech Seal Sands will be part of the global company and can offer the benefits of the eastern and western environments.

“We currently have four production buildings, the large expansion on the existing site and land we can expand onto. It means we can start from scratch at grass roots level to create a digital enterprise building – and involve Siemens from day one.

“By taking a modular approach to design, construction and commissioning we can be faster and more dynamic.

"We can then exploit the data to achieve operational and production benefits.”

The partnership aims to help Lianhetech double its chemical manufacturing capacity, improve production efficiency and ‘right first time’ quality, and future proof the plant, which employs over 350 people.

Eric Bennison, account development manager at Siemens Digital Industries, said: “Our partnership with Seal Sands is almost 20 years old, through its former owners Fine Organics and now Lianhetech. During that time we have always strived to find new solutions to enhance the products they produce for their customers.

"It is testament to our long-standing relationship that Lianhetech asked us to help them enter this new phase of digitalisation.

“Its goal is to be fast and dynamic. By using our world class, state-of-the-art digital tools we are working with Lianhetech to develop and deliver one of the most significant investments in UK chemical manufacturing for a long time."