Valero Case Study

"The Professional Services group is second to none. You can’t throw anything at that group and not get it resolved quickly.”

- Craig Hoaglin, Senior Chemist

Based in San Antonio, Valero is the top producer of refined products in the United States today. They have seventeen refining plants internationally with a combined capacity of 3.3 million barrels per day. The Port Arthur plant became a Baytek International™ customer in 2001.

Before adopting BLISS, the Port Arthur plant used a proprietary UNIX-like operating system working off a VAX server. One major problem experienced with that system was sample logging errors. A lab technician would type in the eight-digit sample number along with test results but if the sample number was typed incorrectly, the data would be irretrievable. This erroneous and lost data, which occurred an average of five times a day, was referred to by Valero as “crazy data.” One of the requirements for plant chemists was to go in every Saturday and Sunday to “grade papers,” a process which involved going through all the previous week’s lab data to catch the crazy data. After the adoption of BLISS, the facility went from five data errors a day down to only five a year, basically making crazy data a non-issue.

Another issue Port Arthur Valero faced before BLISS implementation was waiting on finished goods to be ready for shipment. To ship product, a facility must schedule transport by renting time on barges or ships. The customer pays for this scheduled time whether they are using it or not, and large ocean-going vessels can run $1,000 per hour while sitting at the dock. If the delay causes the ship to be late for its next scheduled pick-up, the company is fined, on top of paying the extended usage fees.

To help solve this issue, the Baytek Professional Services team developed a script that tracks samples from the satellite lab to the main lab. If a sample hasn’t been received at the main lab in a given amount of time, an email and a text page are sent to the on-call chemist. Then, if the tank final is not completed in a given timeframe, another message goes out alerting the chemist. This script alone has saved the plant hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Port Arthur facility also deployed WebBLISS, Baytek’s web-based interface designed to be used with BLISS. The simple interface is highly valued by the lab personnel who use the product throughout the day. Meanwhile, decision makers outside the lab find the remote access to be critical to their job functions. One of the best features of the product is that the web application does not have software which needs to be installed and then later upgraded. Valero had some custom work done on the interface by Baytek which increased its value even further.

 

 

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