Metering imports, exports, and allocations is a serious matter for plants. If the metering systems in your plant under-measure custody transfer of intermediates and final products to another business, profits are lost. Over-measure and your business shortchanges your customers, which can damage your reputation and expose you to legal liability. Given its importance, custody transfer has been the subject of many posts here on the blog.
Lots of factors can impact the accuracy of your metering system including system design, equipment selection, maintenance and upkeep, and the skills of your metering staff. I caught up with Emerson’s Donald Angus who is a member of the METCO services team, based in Aberdeen, Scotland. METCO works with process manufacturers to provide total metering services to operate, maintain, and manage metering systems to ensure their accuracy. Some process manufacturers have concluded that metering skills are not a core business function, so they look to service providers such as METCO to perform this function.
Donald shares that key performance indicators (KPIs) are often established with risk/reward terms. If the metering performance does not meet the agreed KPIs, the service team does not get paid. These contracts typically include metering maintenance/recertification, metering data validation & reporting, mis-measurement reporting, spares management, service coordination, and metering personnel management.
The METCO team has more than 70 on-site metering specialists and more than 40 consultants, auditors, and engineers based in Aberdeen. Given these risk/reward-based contracts, the skill development of this team is a critical activity. Scotland has a rigorous competency program, Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), designed to benchmark individual skills against national standards of competence. It’s described:
Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are based on standards of competence (National Occupational Standards) that describe a candidate’s ability to work in real conditions – having an SVQ is a kind of guarantee that a candidate is competent to the standards that the SVQ is based on. The National Occupational Standards (NOS) are developed by Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) on behalf of business and industry – as part of the development process, an SSC will liaise with employers within its sector.
The METCO metering team is certified to level 3 in measurement and is the only center in the world to offer this level of measurement certification.
Custody transfer metering falls under the jurisdiction of regulations such as the U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley act. Accurate and repeatable measurements are critical to compliance with the law and avoiding civil and possible criminal litigation. Having highly competent metering specialists as part of the plant’s extended team might make economic sense based on the regulatory environment in which your plant operates.