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Analysis

The Impact of Maintenance on Refinery Productivity

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:30

Pemex Refining attempted to address its efficiency problems through the introduction of its MDO Program (Programa de Mejoramiento Operativo or Operational Improvement Program). Progress in the main objectives of this program is reflected in key indicators that are followed closely and published in a quarterly report. The main objective of the program is to implement best practices in Mexican refineries and improve operating efficiency and profitability. The program establishes efficiency protocols for everyday operations to increase equipment reliability and uptime of refining processes. It is divided into five critical factors that have each to be addressed individually: technical system, reliability, production management, supply and organizational strengthening.

The objective of the technical system component is improving the performance of the refining process, and reduce energy consumption and leakage. Half of the initiatives proposed in this respect are already in operation, and Pemex predicts that addressing these issues will lead to a $US3.79 cost saving per barrel refined, showing the importance of addressing these problems. This is probably the component in the plan with the most significant economic impact, since it addresses equipment performance and the e·cient use of crude oil. The target of the reliability component is reducing downtime at refineries, while increasing the availability of critical equipment and personnel. In order to achieve this, Pemex Refining is implementing maintenance schedules under a risk assessment matrix, planning weekly preventative maintenance tasks within the organization’s ERP system.The task force in charge of implementing the MDO program has also created several workshops to understand recent incidents in the National Refining System, determine the causes of failure and propose mitigation methods through strategies to optimize preventative and predictive maintenance plans. Through a hierarchical system that ranks cases based on risk and economic impact, groups within the workshops established key indicators to monitor possible failures more closely. Critical equipment has been defined, and is already undergoing revamping and repair processes. Finally, several areas of opportunity are being defined to continue these actions and proactively prevent possible risk situations, such as promoting the safety component of the DuPont Production System. Pemex Refining is currently undergoing assessment and training programs to help personnel learn about refinery management. Through the different evaluations that took place, the task force in charge of the diagnostic phase of the process realized that the main factor lacking in the organization was the recognition of leadership cadres. As a result, several leadership programs have been implemented and evaluations, workshops, and feedback sessions are currently under way.

While Pemex has started to execute actions to improve operational e·ciency, the company has a log way to go. This is shown in the quarterly reports of 2012: from the 46 scheduled maintenance tasks that Pemex planned for 2012, only 28 were performed, leaving large areas still to be addressed. The continuation of strategies within the MDO program and the DuPont Production System could lead to a more e·cient Pemex Refining division that could reduce the gap between potential productivity and current levels.