Identifying Workflow Information Gaps
In preparation for the digital transformation team meeting that afternoon, Bill Roberts, the vice president of operations, asked Tom to present an overview of various functions at the refinery and how they interconnected. Peter, who is leading the digital data infrastructure project, identified areas where they were missing information that could improve operations. Bill proposed that the team should identify missing links and how they affect refinery business performance. By filling in these gaps, the team would recognize what constitutes a profitable refinery. Peter and Monica could use Six Sigma methodologies in a continuous-process improvement program enabled by the enterprise industrial data infrastructure (EIDI). (See the box "Six Sigma.")
Six Sigma, developed in the 1980s at Motorola, is a statistical measure of variation from a desired result. Adapted in many industries, Six Sigma methodology is used worldwide for improving enterprise process management, with the desired end result being "zero defect" commercial processes. The actions drive process improvements, quality improvements, reduced costs, financial gains, and enterprise competitiveness (NIST 2017).
At Proclndustries, efforts to incorporate Six Sigma methodologies had fallen short. The proposed digital data infrastructure project would address the following:
- • Operational efficiency, optimizing energy and water consumption.
- • Reducing refinery equipment failures and unscheduled downtimes.
- • Improving returns using Six Sigma methodology, which enables companies to identify root causes of waste, thereby improving efficiency and yield.
It was up to Peter to determine the best way to adopt an EIDI, which would lay the foundation for the company moving forward. Very early on in his career, Peter noticed that many companies discard a valuable corporate asset— production history. Since he began working as an engineer in the process industries, he believed that people who effectively use data can transform their world.
At the refinery, an EIDI would enable
- • The standardization of process methods and how people work,
- • Sharing of information among different departments, and
- • Development of metrics based on real-time data analysis.