A valuable oil refinery repair program provides continuous improvement and increases customer confidence.
by Jarrod Streets, BP Whiting Refinery

Pumps & Systems, April 2013

A high-quality pump repair program should be designed to standardize repair technique, reduce the risk of improper repair and drive continuous learning from errors to eliminate expensive repetitive equipment failures. This article discusses the actions taken by a refinery team to improve its repair program.

Repair Process Review
Within any industrial environment, having out-of-service equipment introduces operational risk. To minimize failed equipment, an internal shop or vendor shop must conduct high-quality repairs that make the long runs at an acceptable cost. About three years ago, a refinery team began a journey to improve the quality of repairs within its facility. The team conducted a refinery-wide survey to determine how the team’s customers viewed its repair capabilities.

The team found inconsistency and confusion within its processes. Work was not efficient, and quality was almost impossible to measure because of this inconsistency.

It was not clear who within the organization was responsible for the repair. No standard receiving process was in place. The team had no guidelines to determine how the work was assigned. There was no consistent process for deciding what would be completed using internal resources and which jobs should be sent to vendor shops. Even worse, mechanics had no consistent, day-to-day repair standards.

The team’s customers were frustrated with the lack of updates regarding critical repairs. They also voiced that the duration of repairs was too long. While the work was being completed, the process could and should be improved.

Figure 1. Pump shop work flow

Process Management
After determining the equipment’s current condition, the team began the improvement journey by stating, on paper, the vision of how work should flow through the shops (see Figure 1). Team members established that every pump overhaul within the refinery must be managed by the main shop. If resources were not available, the main shop would be responsible for the repair and manage it through a vendor facility. This provided one point of contact to all support vendors and the team’s internal customers. They only had to contact one person for a decision versus multiple individuals, with varying levels of repair experience, to approve scopes and quotes.

With the owner of the repair identified, the team had to implement a system to notify operating units (customers) of the status of their repairs. By chance, at the same time, the refinery was standardizing its departmental websites. The team decided to use the standardization project to create an internal site for its main shop.

This site is available anytime to internal personnel with intranet access. In the past, a status update email was circulated weekly, but the distribution was limited. With the internal site, anyone may review a repair’s status at any time.
This site also included the functionality to manage repair scopes and information from engineering. Before implementation of the site, engineering would email job scopes for items to be corrected during a repair. This became cumbersome to manage for the shops. With the intranet site, engineering creates a new item to notify the shops of the work and uploads information necessary to complete the repair. The team aligned the site to match its process flow (see Figure 1).
To track the status of each repair, the team developed categories. They are: