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Idea generation awarded car prize

March 2016

Authors of the ten ideas approved in 2015 within the scope of the Colombo Platform have presented and defended their projects. Thereupon participants in Colombo Open Day voted to select the most innovating idea: Aniline and Nitrobenzene tanks water volume calculation, to which CUF Executive Board awarded first prize. The event was held in Estarreja, on March 16.

João Cardoso could not be happier when he received the keys to his new car, given to him by João de Mello, Chairman of CUF’s Board of Directors. The car was his prize for having won the 2015 edition of the Colombo project - an idea generation project.


His project surprised everyone, revealing enormous tenacity and imagination, and solving a situation which contained potential risks. In fact, measuring water levels in aniline and nitrobenzene tanks required operators to climb a very tall vertical ladder up to the top of the non covered tanks. The solution engineered and proposed by João Cardoso eliminates these risks: it consists of a system operated with a semi-automatic conductivity probe, which allows detecting aqueous and organic phases.


 «It was a total surprise. I had no expectations whatsoever» says João Cardoso. He then added with a smile: «My greatest pleasure was meeting a challenge and solving a problem we all had at the plant.  Notwithstanding, winning the Colombo prize is an enormous recognition”. 



Timing could not be better. João Cardoso celebrates 46 years of employment at CUF. He started working in these same facilities in 1970, at the former Amoníaco Português. The company later changed its name to Quimigal and, finally to CUF – Químicos Industriais. “I’m very proud to be part of the history of this chemical company”, he says. In fact, after nearly five decades of intense work, João Cardoso still has the energy, imagination and perseverance to contribute with highly innovating ideas.


He was not alone. Second place in this 2015 Colombo edition was won by Carlos Pires and José Bento whose project viewed to extend the lifespan of P60B1F gland packing seals. The idea is simple and ingenious:  just dip the piping in the containment basin and ensure the absence of air in the system in order to extend the lifespan of the gland packings, instead of having to replace them every two months.


Carlos Oliveira’s and José Bento’s and Inês Ribeiro's and Olga Nunes’ ideas came in third place (tied). In the first case, the purpose was to reduce stoppages in the reactor by one to two per year, thus minimising production losses. Carlos Oliveira and José Bento engineered to isolate gland packing seal pot K509, thus reducing downtimes in the reactor in the event of intervention. Inês Ribeiro and Olga Nunes, on the other hand, proposed the painting of the walls surrounding CUF plants, based on decoration suggestions given by the local community.


All four winning ideas and remaining ideas selected in 2015 were presented during the Colombo Open Day.  At the opening of the event, Sebastião Moutinho, who coordinates the Colombo platform, pointed out the keys for success: “There were 41 ideas gathered during last year, among which ten were approved, seven are still under review and will be brought forward to 2016 edition. 


However, these figures are part of much larger statistics. Since the beginning of the Colombo project in 2006, there were 372 ideas submitted, 108 ideas approved and 80 ideas implemented. These ideas generate a return estimated at €3.5 million.”


In addition to the three representatives from the Pedro Nunes Institute, who helped authors to pitch their ideas, the special guest of this Colombo Open Day was Paulo Bessa. In his speech, Amorim Ventures’ manager addressed the present challenges faced by the cork wood industry.  According to Paulo Bessa, such challenges require investment in Innovation:  «We want to recover the cork stopper market share, expand the cork interior design business and develop new uses for cork».