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3 CASE ANALYSIS OF: 1995 PMI INTERNATIONAL PROJECT OF THE YEAR – THE BENFIELD COLUMN REPAIR PROJECT IAN BOGGAN, PMP, GENERAL MANAGER, INTENS SA
INTRODUCTION / BACKGROUND The case is about a leading South African coal, chemical and crude-oil Company called ‘Sasol’. The case in particular revolves around its Benfield Unit of the Gas Circuit at Sasol Three. Nothing much is being said about the company in the case but researching online I found that Sasol is an international integrated energy and chemicals company that creates value through its proven alternative fuel technology and talented people to provide sustainable energy solutions to the world. The company is involved in mining, energy, chemicals and synfuels. In particular, they produce petrol and diesel from coal and natural gas. Sasol's primary business is based on CTL (coal-to-liquid) and GTL (gas-to-liquid) technology and this differentiates it from other petrochemical companies. CTL and GTL plants convert coal and natural gas respectively into liquid fuels. PROBLEM On Tuesday, March 8, 1994, a fire broke out in a regeneration column used to process hydrogen in the Benfield Unit at Sasol Three, one of Sasol's factories. The fire caused it to buckle in the middle and it tilted to one side. Without it, a large section of the factory could not function, resulting in a substantial loss, as it was used to process Hydrogen which is one crucial component in a long chain of equipments that converts coal to oil and chemicals. Therefore, It was important to repair the column as soon as possible for which damaged portion of the column shell was to be cut out and replaced. For this a target of 47 days was set. ISSUES The main issue was to bring the plant online in the shortest possible time frame. Now, they first question was to determine the scope of the repair or simply do nothing. A Damage investigation revealed that buckling in the shell of the column had caused it to bend in the middle to such an extent that the top of the chimney was 20 inches off-center, making the 70m column tilt. To devise the optimum solution, a communication link had to be setup between US and SA teams which involved working very late hours because of 10 hour time difference. While the
. the following issues were upfront: 1) A project team had to be devised and technicians/engineers were required to take up the project. However cost was also controlled through techniques of value analysis and a new prototype was even devised to handle both man and equipment together in a crane. leaving the entire process sabotage.. insulation and cladding. Leaving the column as it could have resulted in a major crises as Hydrogen was being process and it could have also interrupted in the chain. and there was another alternative to this: The ‘That’s failed. From the beginning it was clear that the project would be schedule driven as leaving it dysfunctional would cause the company a massive income loss. engineers. This reduced the time lag. Quality and Safety was one of the ground rules. The second approach offer advantage of reducing time which was the main target to hit. other issue running in parallel was to determine the work which was necessarily to be carried irrespective of the type of repair selected.. now the alternative they had was either to replace it or do nothing. Items that fell into this category included removing the damaged packing material. Once it was decided to remove the damaged shell sections. Resource utilization was made through a standby philosophy and also through scheduling for the critical tasks needs. Having the Project team. the kind of cooperation between the QC personnel and the artisans helped the way through.fix it’ attitude but that would have jeopardize the team effort and would have taken more time to complete each task.optimum solution was being devised. and technicians from subsidiary company added a benefit that those people already knew the company in and out. As far decisions were concerned they could have kept the authority with Management or could have disbursed it among the team. 2) Whether the Project will be cost or scheduled driven? 3) How will Safety and Quality be ensured? 4) How Decisions will be authorized? 5) How resources will be obtained? 6) How communication will be maintained? ALTERNATIVES The main problem was to get the column back online.
PROPOSED SOLUTION The first alternative to the problem in context was either to replace or do nothing. Sasol Three.9 mil under budget. Visits were frequently made during the night. Two areas were given the most attention: Innovation and Creativity. there was no other option but to replace the portion of the shell. and 15 days were cut from the schedule with a saving of around R5. Sasdiens. one important product in the cycle. Members were drawn from Sastech. however. technicians and manpower from outside. The second option gave the opportunity to utilize more creative thoughts and kept the morale high ANALYSIS The Selection Criteria for the Project team was to make sure most of the technicians. Because the time frame was short. The positive spirit created a dedicated project team. Communication was considered the most important and everyone had to know what was going on at all times. engineers and experts already have somehow been associated with the Company and or have worked previously with it. their names were posted on a board outside to boost morale. Each person was encouraged to work for the benefit of the project as a whole. Team efforts were given important over Individual Performance. it was decided to give this to Sastech which was a subsidiary of the Sasol Group of Companies. any time saved in individual tasks would have direct effect.Communication could either have been only one way top down or could have utilized every member of the team. The concept was so successful that at one stage a fistfight nearly broke out because three different artisans wanted to work on one particular section of the scaffold at the same time. As the Column was used to process Hydrogen. Each piece of piping fitted correctly the first time. over one million rand worth of material and equipment was ordered and not one single item was late. removing the feeling of isolation from workers and when people performed well. . and enthusiasm and commitment. Similarly CBI was contracted to remove. The second issue was to devise a Project Team which could have incorporated engineers. Chicago Bridge and Iron Works which were the original fabricator of the column as this gave an added advantage of having people know the organization and work already. This helped in reducing downtime of the project. fabricate and replace the vessel as CBI engineers were involved when Sasol Three was built.
The work together attitude. the value analysis tool to save cost. only two aspects required management approval: technical and process decisions used to determine whether to repair or leave it in its damaged condition. cancelling Easter holidays for key personnel – all this was the solution that took the project to be such a success.Two reduce bureaucracy. 8) Post Project Analysis Meeting to identify the problems that could have saved more time. In order to minimize risks. use of user friendly software Microsoft Project for scheduling. the standby approach to resources. each topic identified was Post it note and attached a a huge white board. all designs were approved with actual size measurement. 5) Encouraging Innovation and Creativity. 4) Regular visits of Project team at sight to remove feeling of isolation and encouragement to contact any time of the day or night. 7) Utilizing Work break down structure through Brainstorming. transportation and living condition were all ensured so that they can give their best on the job. 6) Encouraging Team Performance over Individual Interest. Their work conditions. For the team to function at its peak it was important to look after the people. . The baseline plan was laid in the hands of the project team. reviewing weather reports from two different weather stations and extensive use of standby equipment and materials. 2) Any decision even if unconventional could be accepted if it complied with the ground rules. this was ensured through making sure representative from all levels are presents in all meetings. Communication was at the Heart of the successful management of everything stated above. 3) Putting names of people performing well on a board outside boosting their morale’s. TOOLS AND TECHINIQUES USED Following are some of main highlighted tools and techniques utilized during the Project: 1) Giving credit for work finished ahead of schedule rather than on schedule. extensive servicing of equipments.
10) 11) 12) 13) Utilizing Microsoft Project due to its user friendliness. safety was not negotiable. Safety representatives were encouraged to give their feedbacks and The project team spent 14 hours on-site. Risk Management ranged from ad hoc discussions to formal Potentional Deviation Analysis (PDA) studies. buyer. Policy of looking after people and people look after the job was adapted. maximized the motivation of the workforce. Identifying resources with potential to affect critical task durations.9) Using the concept of Two day look-ahead window. the confirming the maxim that the simplest solutions are the best. 17) 18) 19) 20) 21) 22) 23) 24) Conventional Procurement and contract management was followed. working as a team. A one page report was developed and presented to management on regular basis. By using one A checklist was developed to ensure all people are informed and are Feedback was mostly verbal to avoid unnecessary paperwork. 14) 15) 16) Cost was also reduced using value chain analysis. Meeting notes that required follow-up were typed into a computer. centered on communication and considering the soft issues od each team member. present. but on an informal basis to reduce time. A cost control base was developed using Sastech system and established forecasting. accurate feedback when and where required was ensured. As level of familiarity increased. Taking to the workforce was quantity of information flow increased proportionally. . A simple plan. which allowed immediate tasks to continue while future tasks were being developed. an excellent way to pass on and receive information. Contractors were also invited to internal meeting so that they feel like One buyer was selected to handle all purchase orders. Using a standby approach for resources even labor.
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