SATORP celebrates operational excellence through sustainability model

SATORP celebrates operational excellence through sustainability model
Published: 23 May 2019 - 3 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery

As SATORP’s vision is to be the Middle East’s and Asia’s leading performer in the refining and petrochemicals industry, the company’s strategic objectives were formulated to maximise the added value and meet the stakeholder’s expectations.

SATORP, as a successful joint venture, has great blend of expertise from two giants, reputed organisations Saudi Aramco and Total, which truly believe that effectiveness of any programme depends heavily on people, who make things happen. In the first quarter of 2016, operational excellence promotion started in the company by a brainstorming workshop with teams across different functions. The word ‘excellence’ was presented in 10 different languages, representing the multinational, multicultural teams of SATORP. The discussion was on how to tackle the meaning and the essence of the excellence.

The majority expressed that excellence is to be the best – to be a world-class refinery, highly reliable and pace-setters in the industry. The participants believed that people are at the heart of the business excellence and the true enablers who generate ideas to optimise and continuously improve the benchmarks. They realised that excellence implementation is not the matter of a project to be launched, or a market package to be purchased. Definitely, SATORP has invested in an in-house stringent model that focuses on continuous improvement of major business drivers, which are people, safety, assets and performance.

Operational excellence roadmap

Following several successful strategic alignment meetings, SATORP was able to create an operational excellence roadmap, which was headed by managers from different departments. This exercise is conducted annually during the five years’ business plan cycle; the outcome was significantly advantageous. The most tangible benefit was demolishing the silos between disciplines, establishing an integrated scheme to visualise the strategy framework holistically. Moreover, critical pathways of the company have been identified, major milestones throughout the years were developed and integrated to gauge the impact on the allocated resources.

Through such interactive session, SATORP was able to prioritise major business goals and capital projects, which were categorised according to the following major key focus areas: (i) Attract, develop and retain competent workforce; (ii) Foster a safety culture to protect personnel, assets and community; (iii) Maximise the added value of the business; (iv) Achieve sustained operational excellence; (v) Maintain effective corporate governance; (vi) Enhance internal and external communications; and (vii) Promote SATORP image in public and media.

Operational excellence roadmap has envisioned the growth opportunities for SATORP to capture margin to enhance. Simultaneously, it unveiled the potential bottlenecks where it triggered the alarm for decision-makers to come up with optimised strategies to mitigate the associated risks of overlapping business goals. The core question on the table was repeatedly asked: What we should do first and how it will impact other initiatives?

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SATORP management team with Amin H Nasser, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco, during the 2019 Saudi Aramco President’s Excellence Award ceremony.

SATORP’s operational excellence model
By end of 2016, a focus team from SATORP visited Saudi Aramco’s Operational Excellence Department in efforts to review Saudi Aramco operational excellence model and the best practices of its implications. The visit was fruitful and have inspired the team to understand the major operational excellence enablers. By cross checking these with the SATORP practices, the team found that the company already has these major enablers in its current in-house model.

However, SATORP tenaciously aims to have a structured operational excellence programme. This is originating from the belief that companies adopting structured operational excellence initiatives are gaining double benefits compared to other successful companies with no structured operational excellence programmes. As a result, an external review meeting of the team was conducted during 2018 for consultation purposes. The recommendation provided was to conduct an organisational assessment to identify potential strategic gaps to focus on.

A proposal was developed and presented to the management to move forward and contract with a well-known quality management firm, which serves thousands of applicants worldwide. The phases for this project is under development. The plan is to launch the programme officially toward the end of 2019, along with an awareness campaign, which will be conducted utilising all channels of communications to assure the buy-in of this programme. The plan is to create a multi-disciplinary approach team, which leads different functions to explain the elements of SATORP customised model and conduct periodical meetings during establishment phase.

In 2019, during the month of February, with an aim to win, SATORP have joined the Saudi Aramco president award for operational excellence. The competition was between all Saudi Aramco joint ventures locally as well as overseas. The assessors visited SATORP premises and spent one dynamic week to review the company’s models and meet the leaders. Several presentations were made by highly seasoned employees in an interactive context to share the SATORP best practices in the following operational excellence elements: leadership and accountability, human resources and development, innovation and process management, HSSE and risk management, customer focus, asset management and supply chain management.

The admiring remarks from the assessors were overwhelming on the distinguished performance for certain operational excellence elements. The discussion was dense to validate the model’s sustainability, which was grounded on the continuous improvement concept. The backbone of each model was nothing but the effective and viable communications matrix adopted by functional teams. This was highly manifested in agile gross margin improvement KPI. The collaboration between scheduling, planning, performance control, and refinery operations on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is massive to pursue the profit of every single drop of crude pumped into the SATORP refinery.

Improving the energy intensity index
The shrewdness of this practice was highly appreciated by the assessors who believed that SATORP has built a meticulous process to assure accountability and continuity to enhance margins. Another remarkable performance was that SATORP is the first refinery in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to successfully utilise a software solution to conduct refinery hydrocarbon mass balance. The output of the tool is precise to deliver an accurate refinery yield compared to simple boundaries principle. This achievement has attracted other entities to benchmark with SATORP to execute their software solution projects. An eye-catching performance in energy conservation has grasped the assessor’s attention through Solomon Associates KPI review. They found that SATORP has improved the energy intensity index (EII) significantly, which qualifies the company to get the most improved joint venture for the Saudi Aramco president award in energy.

Behind this success is a team of young energetic engineers who joined SATORP as PDPs. They have developed a very focused and enthusiastic energy conservation programme, targeting essential refinery resources such as power, steam, fuel and water. In joint efforts with other functions, they created short- and long-term initiatives and started to execute the low-hanging fruit first. The progress was substantial in a record time, which has enhanced SATORP benchmark in EII.

It was a moment of great pleasure for SATORP to be among the winners during the announcement of 2019 Saudi Aramco president’s joint ventures excellence award on 13 March 2019. The company harvested three important awards in an intense competition – the best performance in operational excellence, and the most improved in HSE, in addition to energy. This victory would have never been possible without collaborative efforts, sheer communications and dedication from SATORP teams.

SATORP has a challenging slogan – One Plant, One Team – which is not just a poster on a wall but certainly a philosophy carved in the minds of people running the organisation. SATORP’s competitiveness is rooted from the leadership style, which promotes empowerment of teams who carry on day-to-day business with high self-esteem and a great spirit.

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