Advancing technology has enabled productivity gains in both capital projects and ongoing operations for manufacturers and producers. Ergon Refining‘s Steve Elwart and Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo collaborated on a case study presentation on digital transformation at the Ergon Vicksburg, Mississippi refinery for the ERTC conference in Warsaw, Poland.
For a 500-metric-ton refinery, projects required between 5,000 and 10,000 man-hours in 1990. Today, this same design can be completed in 1,500-to-2,000 man-hours by taking advantage of available digital technologies. This productivity increase is due to increasing the number of tasks that can be performed in parallel and the broader collaboration enabled by communications and storage technologies.
On the operations side, the reliability and integrity of refinery assets can be improved with additional sensors, combined with real-time operational analytics, to enable earlier warnings of developing issues that could lead to unplanned outages if not addressed. This shift from preventive to predictive maintenance helps to improve process efficiency through automated planning and manufacturing, and process controls.
By combining these technologies with redesigned and streamlined workflows for plant staff, business performance improvements can be achieved, enabling strategic advantages in the global marketplace. Encouraging employee involvement throughout the digital transformation process has been key to its successful adoption.
Ergon is currently working to eliminate the last of their manual procedures. By tying into their enterprise business process, they can now streamline their order-to-cash process and ensure customers receive exactly what they ordered.
Ergon’s digital transformation journey is an ongoing evolution. Starting in one area of the plant, they used lessons learned from those upgrades and updates to expand the technology migration to another area of the plant. So far, their transformation has included hardware modernization for the control and process monitoring systems, asset management, an upgraded blending system, electronic marshalling, electronic log books, pervasive digital field networks, enterprise resource planning system integration, and mechanical integrity analytics systems.
Based on Steve’s experience, the journey to improved business performance through digital transformation programs involved seven steps that all companies can put into practice. These steps include:
- Do the basics first
- Provide adequate support
- Transform IT and OT into partnered business leaders
- Take your time
- Be open and honest
- Stress the “why”
- Build momentum
Based on their digital transformation journey to date, Ergon has seen improved product specification performance, reduced process alarms, reduced instrument installation costs and commissioning times, streamlined financial reporting, and improved staff productivity in terms of increased production levels and skill sets.
By starting with business objectives to improve productivity and collaboration to drive business performance, Ergon Refining delivered quantified business results and increased their competitiveness in the global markets.
For more information about the technologies and solutions that drive improved business performance, visit the Refining industry section on Emerson.com. You can also reach out to Marcelo Carugo and Steve Elwart, as well as connect with other refining experts in the Refining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.