Laurence Philippart, Plant Manager Merksem

Laurence Philippart, Process Manager QSE @ Tiense Suikerraffinaderij - Raffinerie Tirlemontoise

When did your adventure within Raffinerie Tirlemontoise start?

I was working for about a year in an engineering office in Brussels when I saw in an ad that Raffinerie Tirlemontoise was looking for a production engineer at the sugar factory in Wanze. I have always wanted to work in production, so I took my chance and sent my application.


After several steps in the selection process, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise hired me and I started my career on 8 November 2004. This year, it will be my 10th beet campaign! I still remember my first day as if it was yesterday… I could barely understand what my new colleagues were saying… they were talking about Grand Pont, run-off, centrifugal,...


Since I started, I have done several jobs at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise: production engineer, packaging manager at Tirlemont, process manager and quality-safety-environment manager at Wanze and, very recently, I became Plant manager at our Merksem plant where our Candico products are made.


What does your working day look like?

I get to the plant fairly early every morning and the first thing I do is, look at the previous day's production results to prepare for the production meeting, held every morning. I then generally slip my safety shoes on and enter the plant to read its temperature: environment, cleanliness, problems encountered, etc.: for me, it is important to stay in contact with the core of our plant: the personnel.


Then, once the production meeting is over, I go back to my office or attend further meetings as necessary:  Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work (CPPW), meetings with suppliers in the context of the many projects under way on our site, audits, etc.


I also regularly see personnel who consult me on a whole range of subjects going from quality or safety issues to private difficulties which may influence their work.


And once all that is done, it is time for me to go home! So my days absolutely fly...


How would you describe the atmosphere at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

For me, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise is like a SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) that has grown over the years, but has kept a unique atmosphere where everybody knows everybody, where colleagues help each other and where communication is not dictated by strict rules. We laugh a lot, we are a unified team of employees and workers. That is even more true when we are going through rough campaigns as we always stick together for the best results.


What do you think of your job and life at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

At the speed of light ! You may think that a plant which has been in existence for over 500 years knows everything there is to know about Brown sugar and Candi sugar, but oh no! There are always new projects to plan, processes to improve...


What is your favourite sugar of Tirlemont?

I hope my colleagues at the Merksem plant will not be disappointed but my favourite sugar remains Cassonade Graeffe. I just love how it melt on pancakes. Shhhh :-)