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The right chemistry for SABIC UK Petrochemicals

26 June 2013

After nearly 20 years of under-investment, SABIC UK Petrochemical’s ethylene liquefaction plant on Teesside has witnessed a dramatic turnaround and is on track to make productivity gains of more than £10 million a year following an intensive reliability programme with change management specialists, Reliable Manufacturing.

Saudi-owned SABIC is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chemicals, fertilisers, plastics and metals. Its Teesside plant forms an integral part of its European operations.

Just 18 months after embarking on its ‘Manufacturing Excellence’ programme with Reliable Manufacturing, plant breakdowns and performance issues have been dramatically reduced. Communication between the plant’s two sites has improved, saving the company more than £1 million a year; asset care improvement teams have uncovered issues making great efficiency savings, which on just one propylene dryer is estimated to be in excess of £400k a year. And the plant has set a precedent for the rest of SABIC.

“We’ve managed to achieve reliable production week after week, despite the plants age and without any significant investment,” says Wayne Alexander, former Senior Operations Manager. “It’s about the teams operating the plant correctly, being slick at what they do, and working to plans and targets.”

The previously disenfranchised workforce has really got behind the project, with an estimated 75% of process team members involved in some way. “When people start to see changes happening, they begin to have more pride in the assets; it increases their motivation and has an indirect effect on performance,” says John Burluraux, Manufacturing Excellence Project Manager. Reliable Manufacturing’s three-phase approach, ‘engage, transform and sustain’, has helped to defrost the existing culture and establish a new one of ongoing continuous improvement. “Our best results are in what have traditionally been our worst months, so the performance is stellar, especially if we can lock it in going forward; that’s the next phase of the project. Alan Wasson, Engineering Director.

With the new levels of reliability, the plant has extra capacity to sell. Not only that, the improvement process is helping SABIC to achieve its safety goals. Better reliability means fewer things go wrong, reducing people’s exposure to potentially unsafe conditions. “These results have been terrific,” says Logistics senior operations manager, Steve Jones. “I am a proactive supporter of Manufacturing Excellence and see this being rolled out to other parts of the organisation”

For Manufacturing Director, Mike Ducker, “It’s about having a workforce that’s really engaged and aligned with where the business needs to go and seeing their job as one of continuously improving business peformance. With that sort of teamwork ethos, the sky’s the limit,” he concludes.

For further information, please contact Andrew Fraser:

Reliable Manufacturing

25 Barshaw Gardens
Tel: +44 (0)1925 261033 are not responsible for the content of submitted or externally produced articles and images.
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