From the Top: Bring Down the Silos

By Charles Becht V, P.E., President of Engineering Services at Becht. April 29, 2021

Editor’s Note:

We’re excited to introduce From the Top, a new mainstay in Inspectioneering Journal. This column will explore how different parts of organizations can partner in a collaborative manner to discover new efficiencies, improved equipment integrity, and opportunities to capture additional margin.

This past year has been a challenging one for our industry. The ongoing pandemic, coupled with a heightened focus on energy transition, has been disruptive for the traditional way of working. However, despite these disruptions, the lessons we have learned over the past year on a profitable, safe, and reliable way forward are simply reminders about what we’ve known all along.

The most important lesson is that organizational silos must come down. Almost universally, owner/operators continue to navigate political nuances of “site vs. corporate” or the illusion of competing priorities between different parts of the organization (e.g., “projects vs. engineering” or turnaround vs. integrity). These competing priorities are artificial inventions of siloed groups. The reality is that everyone wants the manufacturing assets to operate in a profitable, safe, and reliable manner. The stress from this illusion of competing priorities has only increased over the past year with workforce reductions and the retirement of subject matter experts.

Over the course of 2021, this column will explore several different themes, including:

  1. Leveraging enhanced infrared inspection fidelity and de-coking process optimization to increase heater and unit capacity.
  2. Proactively planning for different crude slates to capture margin opportunity.
  3. Eliminating chronic bad actors by bringing together process, inspection, and operations personnel.
  4. Applying a consistent measuring stick for process, operations, and integrity work scopes, not just at the end of the cycle (work scope challenge session) but moving it upstream earlier in the scope selection process.
  5. Putting in well understood and implemented controls (e.g., integrity operating windows and design & process best practices) so that damage is prevented as opposed to just being found with inspection programs.

As an industry, we have the collective wisdom among the different disciplines and specialties to navigate these uncharted waters so long as we all align around the same guiding goals.

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