Technological innovation has the potential to transform the role of a storage terminal from a run and maintain facility to one that continuously improves its processes and operations.
Embracing an innovative spirit can not only help deliver value both financially but can also improve safety and help encourage everyone involved in terminal operations to add value to existing processes.
Drawing on his extensive experience in developing and implementing innovation projects in the oil and gas sector, Matthew Hudson, terminal manager at Shell Haven, Shell, says that a key aspect in fostering an innovative spirit is to ensure that there is an 'enabling culture'.
In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine Hudson says: 'It is important to enable the front line and encourage them to look at problems at a terminal and developing solutions for them.
'It is about coaching them and encouraging them to take ownership of certain initiatives and own the result. This is one of the ways you can drive more innovation.'
The use of professional networks to share good practice and develop new innovations is one of the ways Shell ensures it maintains continuous improvement of its processes. Its various innovation groups invite companies or individuals from outside the sector to discuss how a particular piece of innovation could be transferred into an application in the oil and gas sector.
For example, Hudson's team were able to develop market dyes that attach to hydrocarbons in a facility to act as a leak detection service after a medical surgeon was brought in to discuss how they use marker dyes during surgery.
Recently, Shell has invested in ROV technology for tank cleaning. Hudson is now examining how the company want to progress the use of this technology.
'We are now looking at the next step and how we process the use of this technology. Ultimately, we want to achieve 100% no-man entry in tanks for cleaning. It is important to not only successfully deploy the innovation but also to continuously develop it.'
Other innovations being trialed by the company include the development of instruments to do product quality samples inline to provide more accurate readings and avoid the need to break containment by pulling a physical sample out of the line.
'Both leaders and the workforce need to work together to ensure a company continues continuous improvement. It is the responsibility of leaders to enable culture and ensure that the workforce feels enabled and it is the responsibility of the people on the ground to implement these initiatives.'
Hudson will be speaking more about the practical deployment of new technologies in a terminal on the morning of the second day of the StocExpo Europe conference on March 26-28 at the Ahoy Rotterdam. For more information visit www.stocexpo.com.
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