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Trindent Client Interview: Transforming Fuels Blending Practices

A leading North American refining corporation engaged Trindent to optimize gasoline blending practices at one of their largest and most complex refineries. The engagement delivered improvements in blending value chain, behavioural adjustments at all levels of client personnel, and over $40,000,000 in annualized savings.

We spoke to a senior workstream supervisor and one of our direct contacts at the refinery to learn more about his experience working with Trindent Consulting.

What was your expectation when Trindent was hired to solve the gasoline blending problem?

Trindent had a strong track record of performing in the specific areas that we needed help with. We had issues with Octane and Volatility giveaway concerning the fuels blending practices, and a sub-standard structure in the way that blends were planned, developed, executed, and tracked. So, in other words, from the time a recipe was sent down to the time, it shipped out. We were looking to closing that loop and understanding how we could improve performance.

Initially, when the Trindent came in, we thought it was going to be a regular experience where a consulting team would come in, tune us up a bit, and then we could go about our business. But soon we realized that we were in much worse shape than we had originally anticipated. We discovered that we were battling with more complex problems like issues with analysis reliability, our octane lab had not been supported adequately and there was a global issue with understanding how to execute blends.

What was the initial sentiment among your team members when Trindent first came in?

Our team welcomed Trindent with open arms. We were looking forward to the experience because we knew that we had to get from point A to point B and we needed someone like Trindent to help us navigate. I think it is the core professionalism within Trindent or maybe they just understand what’s going on and have empathy. Nobody on the Trindent team was ever confrontational or made anything uncomfortable for any of the project managers, business leaders, or anyone on our staff. I never felt like Trindent was trying to insult our intelligence or throw us under the bus. It was clear from the start that they were interested in long-term results and had clear objectives from day one which was refreshing. 

What did you find different about Trindent? How is Trindent different from other consulting firms you have worked with in the past?

It’s impossible to count the number of ways Trindent is different. From the customer side, sometimes when you hear about consultants you cringe because you’re worried that they’re just trying to sell their latest product once you buy that, you’ll never hear from them again. Anyone that has dealt with consultants in the energy industry knows that that’s the typical experience. But the interesting dynamic about Trindent is that their objective is abundantly clear from day one. They come packaged with – here’s who we are, here’s what we do, here’s what we’re offering. Once they go through the identifying barriers to get where we need to get, they start deploying other people both within our organization and from their team. It never seemed like we were just being thrown under the bus. Everybody on their team was high-spirited and energetic, worked hard to engage with not just me, but with the people that reported to me and this was something that’s not typical to consultants. It wasn’t like they were just going to hand us some tools, and we would’ve had to navigate the rest, they went beyond that. They had very knowledgeable people in the field that developed personal relations with people at all levels and developed a rapport and trust with our staff on the field and that made the entire process go so much smoother. 

For someone in my position, it was fascinating to see how Trindent managed to do this all so well. And I’ll be honest, in all my years of working with “consultants” I never felt like that but with Trindent, I felt like more than consultants – they were members of my team and I still feel that way. 

Did you feel that our methodology and tools drove behavioral changes, enhanced ownership & accountability, and helped blenders during execution?

Absolutely. I pride myself as someone who can navigate through various personalities but we were struggling to manage conversations with people across different levels at the organization and multiple teams. Trindent gave us a structured script to drive consistency so our message was clear. With this script, we started to build a structure and a cadence that the blenders became accustomed to. One of Trindent’s geniuses is sitting down, talking to people, and reading through all the superfluous stuff to find valuable information. They gave the blenders an avenue to vent their grievances and eventually it was through these conversations we learned what we needed to look at. 

 We wanted our people to get addicted to success so once they started feeling valued, they started taking ownership.

Trindent talked to every single person. They talked to everyone from operators, to blenders and front-line supervisors. This activity was key to building a structure that was custom built for our site. So they were using a proven methodology but they had found a way to fit it to our specific needs to the point where people started to open up and started to look forward to our group conversations. They started taking personal ownership. They started raising red flags instead of us having to go find them. We wanted our people to get addicted to success and once they started feeling valued, they started taking ownership. At the end of the day, that accountability is all we needed to move forward.

Could you share an overview of the results?

Within the first few weeks, Trindent started putting together processes and we were able to see tangible results* very early on. Octane and volatility giveaway were the two areas we had problems in and if we were to attach a dollar value to them, let’s just say that they were both running neck to neck in terms of their impact on the business.

Within the first month and a half Trindent gave us tools with which we could finally start looking at the big picture instead of just mapping the dots. We were now starting to see the trends and I would say that within the first six months, we had seen an overall reduction in octane giveaway by one whole octane number which is massive, and for volatility giveaway, they achieved a reduction that exceeded 50% of the existing numbers and with these results, the gains were immediate.

What was your overall view of the engagement? Could you say a few words about your experience working with Trindent Consulting?

The first thing I would like to say is that is Trindent lived up to its sterling reputation. They’ve been involved in a lot of aspects of the refining business and I can say that the level of integrity and the work ethic that their team came with is something that I haven’t experienced with other consultants. I always felt like from start to finish Trindent truly cared about our success and it was really about them watching their clients experience success. 

I would say within the first month of the project I was getting feedback from people in the field asking about when the Trindent team members were visiting next. In the midst of all this we ended up in a pandemic but believe it or not, the folks are still looking forward to the Trindent team coming back.

The level of integrity and the work ethic that their team came with is something that I haven’t experienced with other consultants.

You never felt like you were just given a folder full of marching orders to go through. The Trindent team members were always giving us ideas to help improve and fine-tune our processes. They were very good at identifying where we needed to tweak, tune, and facilitate all the different personalities on the team in a way that didn’t make it confrontational. All our team members were comfortable with Trindent and this ensured a smooth flow of the project from start to finish. Even though currently we are in the midst of a pandemic, I continue to get feedback from people in the field asking about when the Trindent team will be coming back, and that says a lot.

To sum it up, Trindent to me stands for professionalism, integrity, and compassion.

Learn more about how Trindent can Make This Happen at your refinery.