The Importance of On-Site Observations and Witnessing at Refineries

In our capacity as refinery planning and economics consultants , a pivotal facet of our initial assessment involves meticulous observations and active engagement in operations. This approach enables us to firsthand gather information on existing workflows, identify potential issues, and unearth opportunities for value creation. Engaging in discussions with frontline operators and witnessing operations allows us to discern any deviations between planned steps in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the actual steps performed.

During a recent site visit to a client facility, a significant discovery was made concerning the over-utilization of diluent in the crude blending process to meet the pipeline viscosity requirement. This discrepancy was attributed to a non-ASTM compliant sampling location, methodology, and frequency, prompting a comprehensive review of the blend control process. Implementing our standardized audit and witnessing tools revealed the need for a revised sampling program, leading to substantial cost savings.

For successful site visits, adhere to these guidelines:

1. Ask questions and observe: Engage with frontline workers, formulate pertinent questions, and be mindful of time constraints. This approach helps uncover insights  and perspectives, validating information from reports.

2. Document everything: Thoroughly document discussions, take pictures or videos with permission, and summarize insights immediately after the visit. Visual documentation aids in data collection and retention, facilitating the identification of opportunities and implementation of solutions.

Additionally, as implementation consultants, it is crucial to build trust during field visits. Spend time explaining project objectives, emphasizing collaboration, and addressing concerns. Operations personnel should feel integral to the problem-solving process, fostering ongoing dialogue beyond the site visit(s).

Observation and witnessing are integral to Trindent’s solutions, aligning seamlessly with our client's sustainability plan. As refinery planning and economics consultants, we bring a fresh perspective to optimize  processes and drive economic efficiency.

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This article was written by Tareq Chowdhury, a Senior Consultant at Trindent Consulting.