Situation

Our client received a $7 million fine as the result of a river spill. This incident was preceded by others. The new CEO stated this would never happen again and was committed to implement a system-wide safety and automation initiative.  This was a five-year plan to achieve best-in-class status in all functional areas.

The system-wide implementation (over 30 locations, from Houston, up the Eastern seaboard, to New York) would be a challenge for a number of reasons. First, the attitude of Operations and the Control Center was one of extreme caution. Because of the fine and previous incidents, there were decrees of “thou shall and thou shall not.” The organization was virtually paralyzed by fear. The new CEO wanted to overcome this fear and move on, safely and efficiently. Second, automation of the system would require remote operations, meaning the field technician’s presence would be removed from local communities. There were strong safety concerns being expressed by local community leaders, who could block the implementation. In essence, the project needed to be addressed on two separate, yet related fronts: the internal organization and the external local communities.

Actions

The initial phase of the implementation was to discover the current situation at the pilot locations and determine the effect of automation. This included developing As-Is process flows for the Incoming, Delivery and Scheduling functions; identifying all tasks performed by the field personnel by time required for each activity; and working closely with software engineers and other engineering organizations to develop training guidelines to assist field technicians and control room personnel in using and managing the new automation processes and procedures.

We also developed a Town Hall presentation to be used in each community along the pipeline.  The purpose of the Town Hall Meetings was to address the safety concerns of political, firefighting and community personnel. The presentation demonstrated how the operation of the system would be safer and how the control center would be able to respond more quickly than on-the-ground personnel to address any emergency situation.

The next phase of the implementation was to install the pilot area, which included conducting the initial meetings with the community, building To-Be flows for Incoming, Delivery and Scheduling, identifying which field activities would change, be eliminated or stay, training of control center and field personnel, and the Go-Live with pipeline operations.

After the successful implementation of the pilot project, we earned the right to assist in the system-wide implementation, which involved: rolling out the community presentation to all towns impacted by the automation, performing the discovery and implementation activities at each location, and applying lessons learned as we moved through the system.

Results

In addition to improved operational safety and excellence, the successful system-wide implementation resulted in $14 million in projected savings, a 30 percent staff reduction, on-line customer planning and scheduling and automated, real-time batch viewing by customers.