Case Study


Cabot Carbon




Fumed Silica Burner Train


£12 million


Cabot Corporation is a leading global, speciality chemicals and performance materials company with annual sales of around $3.5 billion. Their product portfolio covers areas such as rubber and speciality carbons, activated carbon, inkjet colorants, cesium formate drilling fluids, fumed silica, aerogel and elastomer composites.

PROjEN have had a long and close working relationship with Cabot that stretches over a number of years and has involved carrying out work at a number of sites including the Cabot Italiana plant in Ravenna, Italy.

The Project Scope

Cabot Corporation were seeking to design and build a fumed silica burner train in order to increase production capacity by 25% at their production facility at Barry in South Wales. The expansion was part of a three year plan to expand Cabot’s global fumed metal oxide capacity by 35 to 40% and is an extension of Cabot’s long-term partnership with Dow Corning.

Fumed silica is an ultra-fine, high-purity particle used as a reinforcing, thickening, abrasive, thixotropic, suspending, or anti-caking agent.

In 2010 PROjEN were appointed to conduct a Front End Engineering Design study. Following the Cabot Corporation Board sanction of the full project in 2011, the execution phase was awarded to PROjEN and commissioned to coincide with a planned plant shutdown in October 2012.

PROjEN’s scope of work included full detailed design plus equipment specification and project execution and included:

  • Burner/Cooling tube layout including PED work
  • Main Unit Filter
  • Feedstock, Air and Hydrogen supplies
  • Environmental Emissions Abatement
  • Process Utilities
  • DCS migration from legacy system

PROjEN were engaged on an Engineering Procurement and Construction Management (ECPM)contract which included an equitable pain/gain mechanism designed to align the objectives and place a high degree of emphasis on Safety, Health, Environmental, Quality (SHEQ) performance.

The Challenge

This was quite a complex project with a large number of subcontractors that differed greatly in terms of size and experience so it was critical to establish a common way of working. With this in mind, an integrated project team was established at an early stage that included all those deemed as project critical suppliers. Non-adversarial NEC3 contracts were used to fully engage sub-contractors. All key project team members from across the supply chain were involved from the outset in the development of critical documents, such as a clear User Requirements Specification, Agreed Project Objectives and Scope documents, all coordinated though an overarching detailed Assignment Execution Plan.

Formal Client and Design Kick-Off meetings ensured the project started effectively, with roles and responsibilities clearly defined, understood and documented, all supported by an Organisational Chart and RACI matrix. Effective stakeholder management was given a high priority throughout, with a full schedule of meetings established and maintained to ensure project objectives were shared and aligned. Risks that arose from formal project risk assessments were assigned to and actioned by the organisation best suited to manage them.


A high emphasis was placed on the Safety, Health and Environmental performance of the project with over 90,000 man hours recorded without a single reportable accident or incident. Underpinning this success was the behavioural safety training provided for all those engaged on the project.

The project was delivered within 2 weeks of the original 58 week programme. It was successfully commissioned and put into full production with the expected capacity and product quality targets met within days of start-up. This was in-line with the key project objectives and critical success factors, which included:

  • Zero reportable accidents/incidents
  • 25% increase in production capacity
  • Project delivery within the agreed overall Target Cost
  • Handover within the target month specified

Full handover of project documentation within 30 days of ‘mechanical completion’

Project Cost

£12 million


58 weeks, completed in 56 weeks.


Cabot Carbon


  • Greater certainty of outcome – PROjEN provided the necessary expertise to ensure the project met all the specifications and provided the oversight to ensure the project was delivered on time and on budget.
  • Focus on safety – PROjEN  masterminded and managed the entire safety programme as both Cabot Corporation and PROjEN viewed this as a critical aspect of the project.
  • High degree of system assurance – Performance was measured at weekly progress meetings, and throughout the project lifecycle at Steering Committee meetings and through benchmarking against the ACTIVE Principles and reviews. An open approach to challenges from stakeholders was adopted and encouraged. Logs of improvement opportunities were recorded across the project to enable integration with the Close-Out Review and Lessons Learned exercises.


This project was a major success for both parties and was recognised by the European Construction Institute (ECI) as being an exemplar of how working collaboratively and promoting shared responsibility can bring real benefits. (The ECI presented PROjEN with their Project of the Year Award 2013 for this project). It is always a leap of faith by a client to adopt a softened contractual approach to the delivery of a project. However, if done correctly and with the full involvement of the right parties this approach invariably produces more successful projects on all measures.