We all have those days. The alarm clock doesn't go off. Storm clouds appear immediately after the car is washed. A traffic jam holds up a meeting. Nothing seems to go right.
The chemical industry is having one of "those days" ," only it is waking up to that same day over and over again. (Remember the movie Groundhog Day?)
Plagued by challenges ranging from overcapacity to highly volatile energy costs ," coupled with security threats and a tarnished image crying out for a makeover ," the industry desperately is seeking ways to ensure better days ahead.
Speaking at the recent Texas Technology Showcase in Houston, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. President and CEO Jim Gallogly challenged attendees to make the transformation from "smokestacks to Emerald Cities." And unlike the characters in the Wizard of Oz, they must embark on that journey without assistance from a good witch.
According to Gallogly, "Emerald City" facilities commit to the highest environmental and safety standards and use state-of-the-art energy-efficiency technologies. Such facilities, he added, are "world-scale" with access to growing markets, maintain profitability through tough economical times and are technology innovators on the energy and environment fronts.
"Emerald City-zens," said Gallogly, insist on the highest safety performance and the securest plants. Moreover, they partner with government regulators to go beyond compliance to proactive performance, and they regularly play host to their neighbors ," a key image booster.
Chevron Phillips strives to create Emerald City facilities that employ Emerald City-zens. The company has an ethical commitment, said Gallogly, that includes adherence to the Responsible Care initiative and a code of business ethics. Its tenets of operation instruct employees to "work safely or not at all" and advise them that "there's always time to do it right" and "if it's worth doing, let's do it better." The company also is dedicated to implementation of technological advances such as low-sulfur fuels and biodegradable solvents and drilling fluids.
Chevron Phillips has put into place the framework it needs to survive ," and thrive.
Gallogly called the showcase an opportunity for "knowledge sharing on a Texas-sized scale" and urged attendees to use the energy and environmental knowledge gained through showcase sessions as "a first step" to improve performance and polish the industry's image.
If you work for one of the "big guys" such as Chevron Phillips, you probably have an abundance of resources to transform your plants into Emerald City facilities. But what if you work for a smaller company with limited resources?
You, too, can take actions now to ensure better days ahead. Small changes ," from process modifications that help mitigate skyrocketing feedstock and energy costs to image-building open houses ," often have a big impact on the bottom line. A proactive approach, however, is essential to survival ," and profitability.
This month's "A Closer Look" (page 64) might help you jumpstart your facility's transformation efforts, offering a number of tips, tools and technologies for slashing energy-related costs.