2020 AFPM Summit: Strategies for sustainability post COVID-19
Strategies for sustainability post COVID-19
MEL LARSON, Becht
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the oil industry, potentially forever. Now more than ever, companies must leverage the assets of people, tools and processes. Industry workforces are lean and legacy knowledge retention continues to be a challenge, now more than ever. Knowledge and experience not only allow for optimization, but also safeguard against workplace incidents due to lost expertise.
To compound this issue, fuels demand is not expected to return to pre-COVID levels until 2022. How can your company weather this storm? Do you have the people, tools and processes in place to support your workforce during these tough times, while also preparing for the future?
Becht provides a multi-disciplinary approach to help the energy industry, especially refiners and petrochemical companies, address these challenges and allow for your workforce to come out of this crisis stronger than before.
The key asset: People. No plant runs itself. Your workforce will always be the key to your plant’s success. Every employee—from cleaning staff to the newest operator to the engineers and CEO—is necessary. Plant processes, overall maintenance and even shipping product to market must be completed within parameters of knowledge, procedures and collaboration to maximize profit.
During these lean times, workforces have been cut to the bone. Becht provides partnerships to supplement and augment your staff in all areas of the refinery system and structure. Focused utilization of subject matter experts (SMEs) with owner-operator experience improves the optimization of systems and assets in a cost-effective manner. Becht can provide support in the following key areas, and beyond.
Integrated systems analysis: Process. Reliability equals profitability. Equipment health and reliability are composed of multiple components across rotating equipment, fixed equipment, instrumentation and infrastructural elements. During these uncertain times, the focus must be on refreshing and updating systems to ensure a strong position for future recovery.
One critical area of focus is on corrosion control programs. In this time when the crude diet is changing, processing shifts in hydraulics and severity locations and mechanisms must be reviewed. Risk-based work selection and inspection programs allow owners to focus their spending on turnaround work. Becht has experts in all equipment disciplines as well as trained reliability professionals who can assist your facility in implementing effective programs and ensuring that your plant is ready.
Strategic business planning: Tools. The renewable fuel and biofuels demand is increasing. The path forward requires the balance of meeting future fossil fuel demand, and maintaining shareholder value while having access to financial funding. Strategic business analysis considers the future and the assets mix to develop a plan that is executable and achievable, meeting the company profit objective.
Analytical tools, such as linear programs (LPs) and/or rigorous simulation, must be reviewed for accuracy to ensure that financial and strategic decisions are based on correct input and market opportunities. Another often overlooked ingredient is independent validation. Becht is technology agnostic, allowing for a true value-based analysis vs. a “What’s in it for me?” viewpoint by a technology or construction provider. Reviewing and auditing work with Becht as a partner can uncover unseen potential and opportunities for strategic advancement.
In parallel to the forward plan, this period of reduced demand provides time to ensure that your plant is operating at its optimum. Becht can assist by providing SMEs and cross-functional teams to complete a gap analysis of existing plant assets. Becht experts work collaboratively to identify and implement improvement opportunities to maximize the value of your people and systems in the current mode of operation
Human performance: Maximizing the “internal” value chain. People are one of the key components of any plant. Companies are operating with lean workforces, and yet the same amount and content of work must be executed. Legacy knowledge is walking out the door and team communications are impeded by partially remote staff. During these difficult times, a shift and refocus is necessary to define and develop the internal value chain. Human performance is not merely a “training” exercise. Efficiency must be facilitated to maximize the potential of the whole team from the CEO to the newest operator to the cleaning staff. To achieve this, a strong training process has become more important than ever. It is imperative to reinforce the importance of the team by implementing a structured training system, facilitated by knowledge leaders and focused on achieving and retaining expertise, and making it a daily evergreen activity. Becht brings the knowledge to facilitate and execute gap analysis, curriculum mapping, course development and implementation of training (FIG. 1), and to facilitate the cross-functional team engagement of critical teams and members. Becht’s experts guide collaboration between internal groups and our partner providers of services to ensure safe, efficient and effective plant operation that is standardized for ease of verification.
FIG. 1. Becht’s training experts guide collaboration between internal groups and our partner providers of services to ensure safe, efficient and effective plant operation that is standardized for ease of verification.
Becht recognizes that it is time to “elevate” the view acknowledging that training and continuous facilitation are the backbone to optimal plant operation and equipment health, and ultimately lead to increased profit. To this end, Becht engages personnel across crafts, task groups, divisions and age to capture legacy knowledge by collaborating with veteran workers that understand context and strategy. In addition to more typical training programs, Becht offerings include:
- Interactive process flow diagrams (PFDs): Unit information all in one, easy-to-use virtual document that can be accessed, updated and maintained collaboratively across multi-discipline teams, considering CCD, RBWI and key process operating variables and parameters.
- Safety data for various pieces of equipment and process lines
- Reliability and inspection considerations and concerns
- Sequenced turnaround support.
Becht’s vision is to engage and include personnel with diverse experiences and expertise to reinforce the concept that operations, reliability, sustainability and profit are everyone’s responsibility, particularly during this transitional time.
BechtCONNECT. BechtCONNECT provides an additional tool to support your people and processes with a library of key information and lessons learned that serve to inform and strengthen your workforce’s foundations. Becht’s unlimited engineering knowledge delivers greater performance and productivity to your organization.
Becht is positioned to help you survive and thrive in this climate. We have more than 1,500 experts in the refining, nuclear and petrochemical industries. Most Becht experts are from owner organizations and have 30+ years of experience. Please contact us if you have any questions or are looking to improve the health of your assets for a safe, reliable and profitable future.
For more information, please visit https://becht.com/plant-services/performance-group/.