Sabic develops turnaround optimisation project.
SABIC Innovative Plastics is, with the help of The Woodhouse Partnership Ltd (TWPL), developing a new and quantified risk-based process for optimising its long-term inspection, maintenance and shutdown plans.
This initiative, the "Turnaround Optimisation Project", is a key part of its integration programme with recently-acquired manufacturing sites in the Netherlands, Spain and the US. Sabic's mission is to attain a world-class level of excellence in the scoping, frequency and duration of plant turnarounds on all their production facilities. It is estimated that the project could save very significant costs at the four Innovative Plastics sites, as well as improve safety and increase production opportunities. In April 2008, an initial scoping and exploratory workshop was run at the Bergen op Zoom site in the Netherlands, where the existing maintenance and turnaround planning process was explored, and various consultant firms considered for potential contributions. John Bruijnooge, maintenance manager at Bergen op Zoom, says: "We chose TWPL because they can provide the necessary expertise and practical experience to help us achieve our mission." TWPL are recognised world leaders in cost/risk optimisation methods, including the provision of Asset Performance Tools (APT) -- a set of "what if?" software aids to explore the economics and risks of complex equipment inspection, maintenance, replacement, spares and shutdown strategies. Significant training and mentoring also comprises part of the project so, as Sabic staff gain experience and confidence in such tools, they apply the methods across their other business units and other aspects of operational decision-making. Alex Thomson, principal consultant, TWPL, says: "We were able to provide a structured, well proven approach and state-of-the-art analysis tools to determine the optimum inspection and maintenance intervals using existing plant data and knowledge, even when such information is uncertain. Once individual task timings and their flexibilities have been optimized, the total site turnaround strategy can be developed by optimal bundling of the work. Early signs are already showing that a four-yearly turnaround cycle might be achievable." The team is currently evaluating the critical tasks for the main process units, including identification of any 'de-bottlenecking' projects that will enable longer run lengths between shutdowns. It is estimated that the turnaround project could save Sabic Innovative Plastics very large sums over the next ten years, mostly by avoiding unnecessary shutdown and start-up costs. Additional production benefits and opportunities and improved risk management are also expected. Jan van Andel, global leader for the Turnaround Optimisation project, says: "This is a massive opportunity for us. We will now be able to isolate the tasks that have prevented us from achieving a four-yearly turnaround in the past." John Bruijnooge also stresses the vital cultural spect to the project, which is already changing attitudes to historical practices and cost/risk justifications of current activities: "It is very important that we work closely with our staff to change their hearts and minds and demonstrate why a longer shutdown interval makes sense. This is a cross-functional project and, with plant safety being a cornerstone of our business, it is essential that we show how plant safety can be enhanced by this optimisation process. " Sabic is the largest and most profitable non-oil company in the Middle East and one of the world's five largest petrochemicals manufacturers. It is a public company based in Riyadh: the Saudi Arabian government owns 70 per cent of its shares, and the remaining 30 per cent are held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Sabic is composed of six strategic business units, covering basic chemicals, intermediates, polymers, specialty products, fertilisers, and metals. Sabic Innovative Plastics, launched in 2007 with the acquisition of GE Plastics sites, is a leading, global supplier of engineering thermoplastics with a 75-year history of breakthrough solutions. The company's product portfolio includes thermoplastic resins, coatings, specialty compounds, film and sheet. TWPL was founded in 1995 by a team of eight senior executives of UK companies with the aim of breaking the 'temporary enthusiasm' cycle of many management improvement efforts. Since then, it has grown to 40 professionals working in over 25 countries and most industrial sectors. The company has been instrumental in many of the leading developments in best practices and asset management standards, including chairing the production of the BSI PAS 55 standard, the Institute of Asset Management's Competency Framework. TWPL now provides assessments, certification, strategic roadmapping, implementation support and education programmes, including MSc programmes, e-learning and customised workplace mentoring.
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