How to Successfully Navigate the Case Interview

How to Successfully Navigate the Case Interview

Interviews are always nerve racking.  With a strong desire to put your best foot forward, you can end up putting your foot in your mouth instead. Everyone has done it at one point or another, walking away thinking “wow, that was bad”.

The case interview, a standard step in the hiring process of any consulting firm, has an added element of stress.  Not only is your background and character being scrutinized, but so are your problem identification and solving skills.  Remaining focused and being clear to let your problem comprehension and concise analysis shine through can be difficult in this situation.

However, as intimidating as a case interview may seem, there are three simple ways to detach from the stress and instead approach the entire process logically to succeed.

 

Practice

A case interview is no different than any other interview in that you need to present yourself well.  However, it does require a much different approach to preparation.  When warming up for a fit or a character interview, you polish up on the basics, rehearse responses to standard questions like “why do you want to work here” or “tell me a time you failed and how did you respond”, and generally prepare to speak to content you are well versed in.  But in case studies, you don’t know in advance what content you’ll be asked to cover.

So, the first step to preparing for a case interview is to polish your responsive analytical and problem-solving skills by taking advantage of the myriad sample case studies available online.  Practice how to separate the stimulus from the question, how to break down the problem, how to identify what information is missing, and how it should be gathered and synthesized.

 

Do Your Research

Your next step will be to research the company’s terminology.

Study their website and their LinkedIn page, and read any publications you can find in order to learn what their “language” is.   A quick perusal of Trindent’s website and LinkedIn page, for example, will show a treasure trove of vocabulary and expressions that make up the standard language we use every day.

 

Remember to Adapt

During the interview, knowing the company’s nomenclature will help you understand the case, read your interviewer’s queues, structure your responses to fit the company mold, be concise in your answers, and hit the right points rather than explaining around them.

It will also allow you to adapt your style to match that of the interviewer.   It may seem like a small thing, but the case will be presented using the company’s language, so pivoting to using their terminology will not only help you understand it better, but will also allow your interviewer to easily follow your thought process as you talk through the solution – all of which will translate into higher scores.

 

Being well prepared for a case interview takes a lot of time, but it also takes a great deal of stress out of it and sets you up to succeed in the next steps of your consulting career.

 

Interested in becoming part of our team? Check out our current openings page to find a role that best suits you.

At Trindent Consulting, we are a global technical augmentation company with a passion for solving complex problems in the energy, healthcare, and finance sectors. With over 100 client partnerships, our success centers on prioritizing sustainable profit margin improvements and delivering impactful results.

As a medium-sized firm, we cultivate a close-knit environment where every team member knows one another. Our people are fun, and our work is intriguing and diverse. We actively strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone has equal opportunities for growth and success.

Interested in becoming part of our team? Check out our current openings page to find a role that best suits you.

 

Interested in topics related to “Building a Career in Consulting”? Click the buttons below to check out our related insights.

Setting Up for Success: A Beginner’s Guide to Consulting

What exactly do consultants do? This is a question commonly asked of consultants by friends, family, or during coffee chats. The truth is, ‘Consultant’ is a broad term covering a wide range of definitions.

In this article, we’ve condensed the essential skills and benefits common to Trindent Consultants. These are the core ingredients that define the consulting lifestyle, enable us to deliver bottom-line results and represent what you can expect from a career in consulting.

 

C – Change

In consulting, there are two layers of change that are important to master: (1) the ability to accept change; and (2) the ability to instill change. As a consultant, you need to be able to adapt to changing work conditions and environments. By learning to embrace change and expect the unexpected, you will set yourself up for success. Additionally, as a consultant, you are responsible for influencing the client to trust the solutions you are providing. It is imperative that you can deliver on your promises and establish rapport to implement sustainable changes.

 

O – Organization

You will work with large amounts of information and data throughout the majority of the engagements you are a part of. You may also work on several concurrent engagements with competing deadlines and priorities. By staying organized, productive, and managing your time, you will be able to complete deliverables with a systematic and efficient approach.

 

N – Network

You will work with incredibly smart people within your consulting firm as well as on your clients’ teams. This will allow you to build professional relationships with ambitious and talented individuals who you can continue to learn from throughout your career.

 

S – Solutions Oriented

Successful consultants are solutions-oriented – you enjoy the challenge of solving difficult business problems while uncovering effective and innovative solutions.

 

U – Urgency

One of Trindent’s core values is Perfection with Urgency. As a consultant, you may have new deliverables pop up with tight turnaround times. It is essential to produce a high-quality deliverable efficiently and effectively to ensure it is client-ready within deadlines.

 

L – Learning

As a consultant, you are going to work on various projects, with a variety of clients in a wide range of industries so you will certainly not be deprived of opportunities to learn! If you are a curious individual with a love of learning, consulting could be the perfect fit.

 

T – Travel

One of the most exciting parts of consulting is the opportunity to travel. Trindent’s global client base will allow you to fly frequently, live in hotels, and explore new cities, all while bonding with your engagement team.

 

I – Initiative

As a consultant, you may be expected to lead your own workstream during an engagement. You should be comfortable stepping up to the challenge and act with little to no supervision.

 

N – Navigate Ambiguous Situations

At times, you will face challenging and ambiguous business problems. These situations will push you to be comfortable with the unknown and uncover insights from complex problems.

 

G – Growth

Aligned to the love of learning, working in consulting will expedite your professional growth immensely. Being exposed to a variety of clients, industries, and business practices will allow you to gain unparalleled experience and knowledge within a short timeframe.

 

Above all, Consultants Make It Happen™. We develop insights, instill change, and deliver sustainable results for our clients. By honing the skills mentioned and demonstrating them during your work or throughout the interview process, you will be setting yourself up for a successful career.


Top Reads to Break into Consulting and Succeed

Unlike careers in medicine, law or priesthood, one doesn’t require seven, eight or ten years of education to break into consulting. However, it might often seem that way. Statistically, more and more top business school grads are gravitating towards a career in Management Consulting, so competition has never been tougher. Listed below, are some books that can greatly assist you, not only in breaking into consulting but also in succeeding once you’re there.

 

  1. The McKinsey Way – Ethan M. Rasiel

Quick Glance: The McKinsey Way gives you a quick glimpse into the life of a McKinsey Consultant. The book discussed in simple terms how to run a meeting, how to sell yourself, your business and your ideas, and how to train yourself to think like a consultant.

Why Read? Ethan’s deep dive into the McKinsey way lessens the learning curve associated with many consultancies.

 

  1. Case Interview Secrets – Victor Cheng

Quick Glance: Considered to be the bible for preparing for case interviews. Whether you are brand new to the process or a seasoned vet, this book is the gold standard in giving you the tools to better structure your thoughts, apply logic throughout a case and present and synthesize ideas effectively and coherently.

Why Read? Case Interview Secrets walks you through each stage in the case interview process and the examples at the back are good primers to the real thing.

 

  1. Smarter, Faster, Better – Charles Duhigg

Quick Glance: In this book, Charles Duhigg uses captivating real-world examples to convey ideas on how to improve yourself, your way of thinking and even your business.

Why Read? A big part of consulting is being able to convey ideas to clients using anecdotes and stories to be more relatable and effective.

 

  1. HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials

Quick Glance: The Essentials are precisely that – the basic requirements of business knowledge that you need to understand how businesses operate in their respective ecosystems.

Why Read? You are often expected to learn quickly when placed on a new study or engagement. Having a working business knowledge can provide the necessary context to help make sense of things.

 

Interested in learning more career tips? Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest news!


Maximizing Benefits through Advanced Process Control (APC) in Gasoline Blending

Maximizing Benefits through Advanced Process Control (APC) in Gasoline Blending

Introduction:

Advanced process control (APC) plays a crucial role in real-time analysis and recipe control for optimizing gasoline blending operations. However, to harness the full potential of these systems, users must be aware of key considerations. This article will explore three important caveats when implementing APC in gasoline blending: configuring the objective function, ensuring accurate parameters and constraints, and establishing a robust performance review process. By addressing these aspects, refineries can unlock the benefits of precise process control, automation, and financial advantages while adapting to lean operational environments.

 

Table of content:

Configuring the Objective Function

Parameters and Constraints

Performance Review Process

Benefits of a Well-Configured APC System

Conclusion

 

Configuring the Objective Function:

To achieve optimal results, configuring the APC system’s objective function is essential. Refineries must customize the solution to align with their specific refinery posture and economic goals. Often, default settings from initial installation are utilized without considering individual circumstances. Refineries should assess and update these settings regularly to maximize performance and value delivery.

 

Parameters and Constraints:

The accuracy and timeliness of data feeding into the APC system are critical for effective gasoline blending. Refineries must ensure that data sources are up-to-date, reflecting daily operations and incorporating the latest lab data. Careful attention should be given to the calibration and accuracy of the data. Additionally, refining the constraints is vital to strike the right balance. Overly flexible constraints can lead to excessive fluctuations during adjustments, while overly tight constraints may hinder the system’s ability to provide optimized solutions.

 

Performance Review Process:

Regular performance reviews are essential to ensure that the APC system remains up-to-date and continuously improves. Refineries should establish a robust review process to assess the system’s configuration and identify additional optimization opportunities. By periodically evaluating system performance and exploring new features, refineries can enhance their operational efficiency, identify potential areas for improvement, and capitalize on emerging technologies.

 

Benefits of a Well-Configured APC System:

A well-configured APC system in gasoline blending brings numerous benefits. It enables precise process control, ensuring the production of optimal-quality gasoline within specifications. The high level of automation reduces manual intervention and empowers process control engineers and operators. In lean operational environments, a well-configured APC system can generate significant financial benefits, potentially amounting to tens of millions of dollars annually.

 

Conclusion:

Maximizing the benefits of APC in gasoline blending requires careful attention to key considerations. Configuring the objective function to align with refinery goals, ensuring accurate parameters and constraints, and implementing a robust performance review process are crucial steps. By addressing these caveats, refineries can achieve precise process control, automation, and substantial financial advantages in an increasingly lean operational landscape.

Interested in learning more about our services in the downstream sector? Check out our Energy page to explore our expertise and discover how we drive client success.

Interested in topics related to gasoline blending? Click the buttons below to check out our related industry insights.


How to Establish a Good Ethanol Uplift Model?

“How to establish a good ethanol uplift model?” has been a common question when it comes to gasoline blending. With the addition of 10% ethanol to a majority of gasoline products, accurate prediction of the final fuel properties is critical to mitigate margin erosion. With years of experience in blending optimization projects, at Trindent we have developed specific expertise in this area, and here are some insights:

 

Ethanol Uplift Model Best Practices

Each refinery has its configurations that are developed as a result of the molecules they are making. Therefore, picking the right independent variables to start the development of the model is critical. It starts with understanding the principle of what Octane Number (ON) is, and how this property is related to the chemical molecules inside the gasoline. Typically, a refinery can use as much as 7-8 independent variables, and around 10-15 iterations before finding the perfect model which is not only accurate but also intuitive. The complexity of the model is also important as you want to make it sophisticated enough to provide the accuracy you want, but also simple enough to integrate into the existing system with ease.

 

Managing Component Distribution

Once a model is developed – the next question would be – how do we optimize it? In addition to adjusting the ON of the neat blend stock (which is often the only approach most refineries take), refineries may take advantage of other property and compositional requirements between to maximize the overall benefit of ON uplift.

 

Going Beyond ON

While a lot of focus on the ethanol model is about ON, it is imperative to consider other properties that are also affected by ethanol. Therefore, a mature ethanol model system would consider other key properties such as RVP, distillation, and V/L. A good ethanol model system would allow a refinery to achieve method repeatability level giveaway for all their constrained parameters and maximize the benefit from production cost management.

 

This article was written by KAI Y. WAN, an Associate Principal at Trindent Consulting. Dr. Wan has collaborated closely with multiple business partners in the energy sector across North America and Asia-Pacific, including some of the world’s largest refineries, and has delivered > $300 MM in financial improvements, with typical project ROIs at 500%–1,500% during the first year after implementation.


How Does Butane Affect Gasoline Blending?

Butane is one of the most important components in gasoline blending and arguably one that could provide the most economic benefit to the bottom line of more and more skinny refinery margins. Butane has a high octane and high RVP which makes it the ideal component to improve the quality of gasoline blends, especially in Winter months. Along with its properties, it has a relatively low cost compared with other components making it the go-to ingredient when blending gasoline. Moreover, it could help companies to reduce the product quality giveaway, i.e. the difference between the specification and the actual product properties. It is estimated that each barrel of butane added to the gasoline blend represents an uplift of $40-50 of the final product.

 

Factors Influencing Butane Utilization

The management of butane is as important as the product itself considering the relatively large amount of product that is required during blending. To improve how well the butane is utilized, the following factors should be considered:

  • Inventory capacity
  • Sourcing: Internal production vs. external supply
  • Product monitoring

 

The goal is to have enough butane available when blending in order to optimize the gasoline recipe, minimize giveaway and improve margins.

 

Inventory capacity: Consider doing a mass balance of butane not only for each blend but for an entire season (mainly Winter) to understand the total amount that will be required. It is recommended to include all the available tanks (accumulation), estimated gasoline production and butane percentage (out) and product sourcing (in). For perspective, butane represents about 10% of the total gasoline volume in wintertime, which is 4-5 times more than in summer.

Sourcing: After the total requirement of butane is determined, an important question has to be asked regarding its source: Is the refinery able to produce the total amount needed? Or does an external supplier need to be involved? If so, how often can you get the product? How soon in advance does the request need to be placed? How feasible is it to have an additional volume? How is the quality of the product and how to monitor it? Planning for the butane sourcing is recommended prior to the season to avoid last-minute pitfalls and secure steady availability through the season.

Product monitoring: This is one of the most critical factors to consider when managing butane – to be able to know the product location, quantity and quality at any given time. The information should be transparent and encompass all the stakeholders including butane storage levels, requirements for blending and other processes, internal movement of product, etc. so that decisions can be made promptly without bottlenecks. Data visualization tools are very important in order to convey information in the most efficient way possible. It is recommended to generate automated data without any additional effort.

 

Once the analysis is done all stakeholders must come up with a plan to address the weak points, generate solutions, and implement and track them. They can use this analysis to evaluate the outcomes for future seasons or expand to other processes or locations as needed. A combination of technical and managerial expertise is fundamental for excellent butane management in order to understand common problems, physical limitations, product specifications/components properties, and data manipulation. This further helps in engaging with the multi-function teams at different levels, motivating and coaching employees, and providing tools to effectively track results.



Setting Up for Success: A Beginner's Guide to Consulting

Setting Up for Success: A Beginner’s Guide to Consulting

What exactly do consultants do? This is a question commonly asked of consultants by friends, family, or during coffee chats. The truth is, ‘Consultant’ is a broad term covering a wide range of definitions.

In this article, we’ve condensed the essential skills and benefits common to Trindent Consultants. These are the core ingredients that define the consulting lifestyle, enable us to deliver bottom-line results and represent what you can expect from a career in consulting.

 

C – Change

In consulting, there are two layers of change that are important to master: (1) the ability to accept change; and (2) the ability to instill change. As a consultant, you need to be able to adapt to changing work conditions and environments. By learning to embrace change and expect the unexpected, you will set yourself up for success. Additionally, as a consultant, you are responsible for influencing the client to trust the solutions you are providing. It is imperative that you can deliver on your promises and establish rapport to implement sustainable changes.

 

O – Organization

You will work with large amounts of information and data throughout the majority of the engagements you are a part of. You may also work on several concurrent engagements with competing deadlines and priorities. By staying organized, productive, and managing your time, you will be able to complete deliverables with a systematic and efficient approach.

 

N – Network

You will work with incredibly smart people within your consulting firm as well as on your clients’ teams. This will allow you to build professional relationships with ambitious and talented individuals who you can continue to learn from throughout your career.

 

S – Solutions Oriented

Successful consultants are solutions-oriented – you enjoy the challenge of solving difficult business problems while uncovering effective and innovative solutions.

 

U – Urgency

One of Trindent’s core values is Perfection with Urgency. As a consultant, you may have new deliverables pop up with tight turnaround times. It is essential to produce a high-quality deliverable efficiently and effectively to ensure it is client-ready within deadlines.

 

L – Learning

As a consultant, you are going to work on various projects, with a variety of clients in a wide range of industries so you will certainly not be deprived of opportunities to learn! If you are a curious individual with a love of learning, consulting could be the perfect fit.

 

T – Travel

One of the most exciting parts of consulting is the opportunity to travel. Trindent’s global client base will allow you to fly frequently, live in hotels, and explore new cities, all while bonding with your engagement team.

 

I – Initiative

As a consultant, you may be expected to lead your own workstream during an engagement. You should be comfortable stepping up to the challenge and act with little to no supervision.

 

N – Navigate Ambiguous Situations

At times, you will face challenging and ambiguous business problems. These situations will push you to be comfortable with the unknown and uncover insights from complex problems.

 

G – Growth

Aligned to the love of learning, working in consulting will expedite your professional growth immensely. Being exposed to a variety of clients, industries, and business practices will allow you to gain unparalleled experience and knowledge within a short timeframe.

 

Above all, Consultants Make It Happen™. We develop insights, instill change, and deliver sustainable results for our clients. By honing the skills mentioned and demonstrating them during your work or throughout the interview process, you will be setting yourself up for a successful career.

At Trindent Consulting, we are a global technical augmentation company with a passion for solving complex problems in the energy, healthcare, and finance sectors. With over 100 client partnerships, our success centers on prioritizing sustainable profit margin improvements and delivering impactful results.

As a medium-sized firm, we cultivate a close-knit environment where every team member knows one another. Our people are fun, and our work is intriguing and diverse. We actively strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone has equal opportunities for growth and success.

Interested in becoming part of our team? Check out our current openings page to find a role that best suits you.

 

Interested in topics related to “Building a Career in Consulting”? Click the buttons below to check out our related insights.


How to Successfully Navigate the Case Interview

Interviews are always nerve racking.  With a strong desire to put your best foot forward, you can end up putting your foot in your mouth instead. Everyone has done it at one point or another, walking away thinking “wow, that was bad”.

The case interview, a standard step in the hiring process of any consulting firm, has an added element of stress.  Not only is your background and character being scrutinized, but so are your problem identification and solving skills.  Remaining focused and being clear to let your problem comprehension and concise analysis shine through can be difficult in this situation.

However, as intimidating as a case interview may seem, there are three simple ways to detach from the stress and instead approach the entire process logically to succeed.

 

Practice

A case interview is no different than any other interview in that you need to present yourself well.  However, it does require a much different approach to preparation.  When warming up for a fit or a character interview, you polish up on the basics, rehearse responses to standard questions like “why do you want to work here” or “tell me a time you failed and how did you respond”, and generally prepare to speak to content you are well versed in.  But in case studies, you don’t know in advance what content you’ll be asked to cover.

So, the first step to preparing for a case interview is to polish your responsive analytical and problem-solving skills by taking advantage of the myriad sample case studies available online.  Practice how to separate the stimulus from the question, how to break down the problem, how to identify what information is missing, and how it should be gathered and synthesized.

 

Do Your Research

Your next step will be to research the company’s terminology.

Study their website and their LinkedIn page, and read any publications you can find in order to learn what their “language” is.   A quick perusal of Trindent’s website and LinkedIn page, for example, will show a treasure trove of vocabulary and expressions that make up the standard language we use every day.

 

Remember to Adapt

During the interview, knowing the company’s nomenclature will help you understand the case, read your interviewer’s queues, structure your responses to fit the company mold, be concise in your answers, and hit the right points rather than explaining around them.

It will also allow you to adapt your style to match that of the interviewer.   It may seem like a small thing, but the case will be presented using the company’s language, so pivoting to using their terminology will not only help you understand it better, but will also allow your interviewer to easily follow your thought process as you talk through the solution – all of which will translate into higher scores.

 

Being well prepared for a case interview takes a lot of time, but it also takes a great deal of stress out of it and sets you up to succeed in the next steps of your consulting career.

 

Interested in becoming part of our team? Check out our current openings page to find a role that best suits you.


Top Reads to Break into Consulting and Succeed

Unlike careers in medicine, law or priesthood, one doesn’t require seven, eight or ten years of education to break into consulting. However, it might often seem that way. Statistically, more and more top business school grads are gravitating towards a career in Management Consulting, so competition has never been tougher. Listed below, are some books that can greatly assist you, not only in breaking into consulting but also in succeeding once you’re there.

 

  1. The McKinsey Way – Ethan M. Rasiel

Quick Glance: The McKinsey Way gives you a quick glimpse into the life of a McKinsey Consultant. The book discussed in simple terms how to run a meeting, how to sell yourself, your business and your ideas, and how to train yourself to think like a consultant.

Why Read? Ethan’s deep dive into the McKinsey way lessens the learning curve associated with many consultancies.

 

  1. Case Interview Secrets – Victor Cheng

Quick Glance: Considered to be the bible for preparing for case interviews. Whether you are brand new to the process or a seasoned vet, this book is the gold standard in giving you the tools to better structure your thoughts, apply logic throughout a case and present and synthesize ideas effectively and coherently.

Why Read? Case Interview Secrets walks you through each stage in the case interview process and the examples at the back are good primers to the real thing.

 

  1. Smarter, Faster, Better – Charles Duhigg

Quick Glance: In this book, Charles Duhigg uses captivating real-world examples to convey ideas on how to improve yourself, your way of thinking and even your business.

Why Read? A big part of consulting is being able to convey ideas to clients using anecdotes and stories to be more relatable and effective.

 

  1. HBR’s 10 Must Reads: The Essentials

Quick Glance: The Essentials are precisely that – the basic requirements of business knowledge that you need to understand how businesses operate in their respective ecosystems.

Why Read? You are often expected to learn quickly when placed on a new study or engagement. Having a working business knowledge can provide the necessary context to help make sense of things.

 

Interested in learning more career tips? Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest news!


Trindent Develops Accurate Post-Ethanol T-50 Model That Yields $12M in Savings

Trindent is thrilled to share the exciting news of our successful development of an accurate post-ethanol T50 model, marking a significant achievement that has not only resulted in a remarkable reduction in buffers but has also facilitated a 4% increase in butane blending between November and January 2023, translating to impressive financial benefits totaling $12,000,000.

Developing accurate post-ethanol models presents significant challenges for many refineries, particularly when it comes to predicting T50—a key distillation parameter. Ethanol blending exhibits near-azeotrope behavior that severely affects the shape of the E10 distillation curve, making precise modeling complex and demanding.

Moreover, the difficulty in achieving accurate models is compounded by the inherent noise in the data set, such as ethanol blend volume and accurate E0 D86 measurements, which often hinder the development of reliable models.

Despite these challenges, the Trindent team was able to deliver outstanding results to the client.

An achievement like this highlights the importance of precise modeling and data accuracy in optimizing refinery operations and maximizing profitability.

At Trindent Consulting, we’re fueled by a passion for solving the most complex of problems in the energy sector. With expertise in gasoline blending optimization, we help clients achieve significant financial benefits by:

  • Developing Accurate Post-Ethanol Models: We develop accurate post-ethanol models, addressing the complexities introduced by ethanol blending and ensuring accurate predictions of key parameters like T50. By leveraging our expertise, refineries can optimize their blending practices and achieve superior fuel quality.
  • Reducing Operational Buffers: We understand the importance of maximizing blending efficiency to enhance refinery profitability. We help refineries minimize operational buffers, ensuring optimal utilization of resources and streamlining the blending process for maximum efficiency.
  • Enhancing Data Accuracy and Reliability: In an industry where data-driven decision-making is paramount, we excel in enhancing data accuracy and reliability such as ethanol volume %. We empower refineries to make informed decisions with confidence, driving operational excellence and performance improvement without capital investments of software changes of any kind.
  • Providing Tailored Solutions for Profitability: Every refinery faces unique challenges, and we recognize the importance of tailored solutions to address specific needs. Our team collaborates with clients to understand their distinct requirements and develop customized strategies aimed at increasing profitability and optimizing refinery processes effectively.

Interested in learning more about our services in the downstream sector? Check out our Energy page to explore our expertise and discover how we drive client success.

Interested in topics related to gasoline blending? Click the buttons below to check out our related industry insights.


How to Establish a Good Ethanol Uplift Model?

“How to establish a good ethanol uplift model?” has been a common question when it comes to gasoline blending. With the addition of 10% ethanol to a majority of gasoline products, accurate prediction of the final fuel properties is critical to mitigate margin erosion. With years of experience in blending optimization projects, at Trindent we have developed specific expertise in this area, and here are some insights:

 

Ethanol Uplift Model Best Practices

Each refinery has its configurations that are developed as a result of the molecules they are making. Therefore, picking the right independent variables to start the development of the model is critical. It starts with understanding the principle of what Octane Number (ON) is, and how this property is related to the chemical molecules inside the gasoline. Typically, a refinery can use as much as 7-8 independent variables, and around 10-15 iterations before finding the perfect model which is not only accurate but also intuitive. The complexity of the model is also important as you want to make it sophisticated enough to provide the accuracy you want, but also simple enough to integrate into the existing system with ease.

 

Managing Component Distribution

Once a model is developed – the next question would be – how do we optimize it? In addition to adjusting the ON of the neat blend stock (which is often the only approach most refineries take), refineries may take advantage of other property and compositional requirements between to maximize the overall benefit of ON uplift.

 

Going Beyond ON

While a lot of focus on the ethanol model is about ON, it is imperative to consider other properties that are also affected by ethanol. Therefore, a mature ethanol model system would consider other key properties such as RVP, distillation, and V/L. A good ethanol model system would allow a refinery to achieve method repeatability level giveaway for all their constrained parameters and maximize the benefit from production cost management.

 

This article was written by KAI Y. WAN, an Associate Principal at Trindent Consulting. Dr. Wan has collaborated closely with multiple business partners in the energy sector across North America and Asia-Pacific, including some of the world’s largest refineries, and has delivered > $300 MM in financial improvements, with typical project ROIs at 500%–1,500% during the first year after implementation.


How Does Butane Affect Gasoline Blending?

Butane is one of the most important components in gasoline blending and arguably one that could provide the most economic benefit to the bottom line of more and more skinny refinery margins. Butane has a high octane and high RVP which makes it the ideal component to improve the quality of gasoline blends, especially in Winter months. Along with its properties, it has a relatively low cost compared with other components making it the go-to ingredient when blending gasoline. Moreover, it could help companies to reduce the product quality giveaway, i.e. the difference between the specification and the actual product properties. It is estimated that each barrel of butane added to the gasoline blend represents an uplift of $40-50 of the final product.

 

Factors Influencing Butane Utilization

The management of butane is as important as the product itself considering the relatively large amount of product that is required during blending. To improve how well the butane is utilized, the following factors should be considered:

  • Inventory capacity
  • Sourcing: Internal production vs. external supply
  • Product monitoring

 

The goal is to have enough butane available when blending in order to optimize the gasoline recipe, minimize giveaway and improve margins.

 

Inventory capacity: Consider doing a mass balance of butane not only for each blend but for an entire season (mainly Winter) to understand the total amount that will be required. It is recommended to include all the available tanks (accumulation), estimated gasoline production and butane percentage (out) and product sourcing (in). For perspective, butane represents about 10% of the total gasoline volume in wintertime, which is 4-5 times more than in summer.

Sourcing: After the total requirement of butane is determined, an important question has to be asked regarding its source: Is the refinery able to produce the total amount needed? Or does an external supplier need to be involved? If so, how often can you get the product? How soon in advance does the request need to be placed? How feasible is it to have an additional volume? How is the quality of the product and how to monitor it? Planning for the butane sourcing is recommended prior to the season to avoid last-minute pitfalls and secure steady availability through the season.

Product monitoring: This is one of the most critical factors to consider when managing butane – to be able to know the product location, quantity and quality at any given time. The information should be transparent and encompass all the stakeholders including butane storage levels, requirements for blending and other processes, internal movement of product, etc. so that decisions can be made promptly without bottlenecks. Data visualization tools are very important in order to convey information in the most efficient way possible. It is recommended to generate automated data without any additional effort.

 

Once the analysis is done all stakeholders must come up with a plan to address the weak points, generate solutions, and implement and track them. They can use this analysis to evaluate the outcomes for future seasons or expand to other processes or locations as needed. A combination of technical and managerial expertise is fundamental for excellent butane management in order to understand common problems, physical limitations, product specifications/components properties, and data manipulation. This further helps in engaging with the multi-function teams at different levels, motivating and coaching employees, and providing tools to effectively track results.


Maximizing Benefits through Advanced Process Control (APC) in Gasoline Blending

Introduction:

Advanced process control (APC) plays a crucial role in real-time analysis and recipe control for optimizing gasoline blending operations. However, to harness the full potential of these systems, users must be aware of key considerations. This article will explore three important caveats when implementing APC in gasoline blending: configuring the objective function, ensuring accurate parameters and constraints, and establishing a robust performance review process. By addressing these aspects, refineries can unlock the benefits of precise process control, automation, and financial advantages while adapting to lean operational environments.

 

Table of content:

Configuring the Objective Function

Parameters and Constraints

Performance Review Process

Benefits of a Well-Configured APC System

Conclusion

 

Configuring the Objective Function:

To achieve optimal results, configuring the APC system’s objective function is essential. Refineries must customize the solution to align with their specific refinery posture and economic goals. Often, default settings from initial installation are utilized without considering individual circumstances. Refineries should assess and update these settings regularly to maximize performance and value delivery.

 

Parameters and Constraints:

The accuracy and timeliness of data feeding into the APC system are critical for effective gasoline blending. Refineries must ensure that data sources are up-to-date, reflecting daily operations and incorporating the latest lab data. Careful attention should be given to the calibration and accuracy of the data. Additionally, refining the constraints is vital to strike the right balance. Overly flexible constraints can lead to excessive fluctuations during adjustments, while overly tight constraints may hinder the system’s ability to provide optimized solutions.

 

Performance Review Process:

Regular performance reviews are essential to ensure that the APC system remains up-to-date and continuously improves. Refineries should establish a robust review process to assess the system’s configuration and identify additional optimization opportunities. By periodically evaluating system performance and exploring new features, refineries can enhance their operational efficiency, identify potential areas for improvement, and capitalize on emerging technologies.

 

Benefits of a Well-Configured APC System:

A well-configured APC system in gasoline blending brings numerous benefits. It enables precise process control, ensuring the production of optimal-quality gasoline within specifications. The high level of automation reduces manual intervention and empowers process control engineers and operators. In lean operational environments, a well-configured APC system can generate significant financial benefits, potentially amounting to tens of millions of dollars annually.

 

Conclusion:

Maximizing the benefits of APC in gasoline blending requires careful attention to key considerations. Configuring the objective function to align with refinery goals, ensuring accurate parameters and constraints, and implementing a robust performance review process are crucial steps. By addressing these caveats, refineries can achieve precise process control, automation, and substantial financial advantages in an increasingly lean operational landscape.


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