Thierry Verbaenen, Operator @ Candy Sugar factory

Thierry Verbaenen,  Candy Sugar Factory Operator @ Raffinerie Tirlemontoise

When did your adventure start at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

On 1/9/1999, I signed a permanent contract at the Merksem site of  Raffinerie Tirlemontoise, after having worked there for a while as an interim. I later had the opportunity to go and work for another company, but the atmosphere and the friends I had made in the meantime made it an easy decision to stay.  It was certainly the right choice, because a strong group like Raffinerie Tirlemontoise provides good job security. I’m a real T-Man now!


What does your working day look like?

The increase in the production of candy sugar means that I have now been working in a two-shift system over the last few months. My work depends on whether I work with the early or late shift.


During early shifts, I help managing the vacuum pans for candy and brown sugar. My years of experience are a big advantage to keep the machines in the sugar factory running while my colleagues are having their breaks. 


Of course, it is also very important to provide input to the processes, as well as ideas for improvement. This is especially the case now that we are in an important growth phase for candy sugars. The white candy sugar is also very challenging for us trying to improve every day, which is a great learning curve for us all!


In the late shift, the focus is mainly on the big bag installation. This is an automatic installation with six lines for me to overview in terms of the correct supply and removal of raw materials. In between, I am dealing with other smaller jobs  to be done. I take my responsibilities seriously and try to provide guidance and support where necessary.


How would you describe the atmosphere at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

This is my 16th year working here and I still like coming to work.  There is more pressure over the recent years, but I try to stay calm and to focus on the jobs and priorities.


There is a great atmosphere amongst the colleagues and even despite the hard work, there is still time for a laugh.


How do you feel about your job and life at Raffinerie Tirlemontoise?

I am pleased that the candy sugar factory in Merksem has been given a new boost and that I can be involved with a fantastic product like our candy sugar granules. Also, the fact that our candy sugar now reaches people all over the world is really special.


The expansion and trust in the candy sugar factory make me feel optimistic about the future of my job and of Raffinerie Tirlemontoise.


Which is your sugar of Tirlemont?

Without any doubt, it is the candy sugar with its soft and smooth taste. Now and then I taste a little during production.