Envisioning a Strategy

After a day of meetings, Peter believed that Monica could be an ally for the digital data infrastructure project. She had spoken up for him when Paul got frustrated during the day's discussions. Peter sketched out the vision he planned to share with Monica about the three capabilities an EIDI enables:

  • 1. Proactively detect shifts in process performance. Use statistical tools and process knowledge to identify shifts in performance and provide a structured means of determining the cause of the shifts and, if required, corrective actions to take.
  • 2. Identify process improvement opportunities. Provide sufficient information to identify areas of improvement and new performance indicators.
  • 3. Aggregate data from across the refinery to provide insights into equipment performance. By combining production event data with performance trend information and integrating this data for analytic tools, the team can identify process improvements to be shared with peers and management.

The maintenance crews were not the only ones who needed to perform extra work for this project. Alex, the process engineer, and his team would have to identify the process units and document the data variables associated with them so the digital data infrastructure project could collect the proper data and provide plant staff with refinery performance analysis.

Peter told Monica, "Ever)' business has to work on improvements, but this project we're starting has the potential to be a rebooting strategy for Proclndustries. EIDI is a technology that can make big changes happen quickly."

Peter identified a series of gaps in the ability of plant engineers and maintenance crews to collect and share data and to comprehend current refinery conditions. Their job functions would change, and with change comes uncertainty and skepticism. He concluded that the team would have to effectively communicate the extensive benefits of EIDI as an "enterprise industrial data infrastructure" so that the teams understand this will greatly benefit them.

Monica agreed. "It's very hard to change our current company culture. Everyone here works hard, but the plant people think that executives at headquarters don't understand their problems." Monica noted that refinery employees might look at Peter as an interloper sent by headquarters to make trouble. "But they are so deep into their own work that it is hard for them to see the bigger picture," she added. "They can't see that there could be a better way of doing things."

Monica pointed out that getting rid of their beloved spreadsheets would be a formidable task. They will be replacing these with a shared view using the EIDI. They will soon be able to create alerts about important refinery events and ultimately use predictive analytics to anticipate issues that need attention (Bascur et al. 2011).

Peter emphasized the importance of digitizing the refinery and said that Monica's modeling expertise would be a great asset in the implementation.

With the EIDI program in place, Monica would be able to fine-tune the refinery's linear programming optimization model using real production data and current refinery capabilities. This would improve the accuracy of the plant production schedules she created, and the effects of using more accurate data would spread throughout the plant. Everyone would have access to operational data on their devices—PCs, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Having a digital data infrastructure in place would allow plant engineers to eventually integrate more advanced data analysis tools, such as multivariate analysis and machine learning.

Monica added that there was no doubt if they reduce the refinery production variances, then they would capture top management's attention.

The key, Peter said, was to align planning and scheduling with the daily production results. Having an easy way to aggregate the data from the production, or execution side of the plant, and being able to provide the right information to adjust the LP optimization model—to balance forecasting, execution, and analysis—would enable the plant to execute continuous improvements. When using a common digital data infrastructure as the official system of record, people have a flexible data environment to tackle continuous-improvement initiatives.

"It sounds exciting," Monica said. "Please let me know what I can do to help you make this happen."

Peter left the conversation feeling that he had gained Monica's trust. However, even though the main thrust of his plan for a digital data infrastructure was clear, he knew that his plan would have to incorporate the quality management work that Proclndustries had already started.

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