Safety And The Environment -- "Zero" Really Adds Up

Project gets field issues detected and addressed far faster and more effectively.

By Kim Hoyt, Huntsman Corp.

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If, after scanning the tag, the field worker enters a process variable (temperature, pressure, vibration, level, etc.) that's outside of determined limits (SOC), the handheld automatically gives an alert. This shows the consequences of being out of range (consequences of deviation) and suggestions to remediate (corrective actions).

Checklists accessible via the MC9090 handheld cover all process equipment requiring field monitoring. Almost immediately operations staff added safety-shower and fire-extinguisher checklists to the database.

The combination of database and mobile-enabled wireless technology make the possibilities for reporting and process improvement virtually endless.

One key challenge with any new technology is getting "buy in." This issue became a non-starter when field operations staff began using the system. Port Neches field operators are the biggest supporters of the new mobility solution.

Impressive Results
The system went live in May 2009 and now is deployed at more than 70% of the plant with complete coverage expected this summer. It's already markedly improved the number of defects captured and reduced redundant efforts.

Pumps were initially a prime focus because they promised an immediate work-reduction opportunity.

The program has identified certain equipment that fails more frequently than others. There's a "bad actor" list of pumps; similar lists are being developed for other equipment like compressors and heat exchangers. This enables staff to prioritize. Bad actors get more frequent checks than other equipment.

Response time to address defects has dropped dramatically. What before might have taken three weeks now often only takes a day or, at worst, a week.

Next steps include a Six Sigma study, expanding the solution to additional plants, and deploying more wireless applications, e.g., for tank level monitoring, railcar and hazardous-material tracking, and emergency notification.

Kim Hoyt is manufacturing excellence manager for Huntsman Corp., Port Neches, Texas. E-mail her at

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