Case Study

North American Refining Company Comes out Tops with Training Program

A Case Study in Ensuring a Safer, More Consistent Operation

When a well-known company, among the largest independent petroleum refiners in the United States, operating five complex refineries with 443,000 barrels per day of crude oil processing capacity, required a more detailed and consistent training program for field personnel and control room personnel, they turned to GP Strategies.

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The company had two main focuses:

  • Ensuring operators were able to control their processes safely within operating limits in compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Ensuring that all operating units and job positions, as well as multiple refinery locations, followed a consistent and systematic approach to training that provided efficient initial qualification along with continuing advancement of knowledge and skills throughout an operator’s career.

Additionally, the refinery required a ‘best practice’ solution from a source with experience and capabilities that matched their need.

GP Strategies Solution

After establishing an approach to the scope of work, determining resource needs, and arranging the schedule and budget, GP Strategies assembled a team of specialists to develop the following:

  • Large control diagrams based on existing piping & instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) and process flow drawings
  • Unit description manuals based on existing process safety information and interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) for over 30 refinery units at multiple refineries
  • Structured operator training guides and evaluation tools based on unit operating procedures, SME input, and data contained in each unit’s description manual
  • Detailed troubleshooting exercises for each control room operator, using the proven Technical Operatiors Performance Support (TOPS) systematic troubleshooting methodology
  • What-if drills and crew training drills to enable quick, accurate, and efficient response to refinery emergencies.

GP Strategies used the innovative TOPS materials—a set of training methodologies and interventions designed to establish a solid foundation of skills and knowledge to help improve operator competency measurements. Historically, TOPS has resulted in improvements of these measurements by up to 70%. Additionally, the TOPS methodology sets the stage for obtaining more advanced and comprehensive skills.

The Outcome

Although the work is ongoing at various locations, the results are beginning to show:

  • Trainers, trainees, and experienced operators have realized the value in large control diagrams as training and troubleshooting tools
  • Unit description manuals provide a structured resource for process safety information, used by trainees for qualification and by operators for job performance
  • Structured operator training guides provide accountability and consistency across all job positions. Additionally, the guides sequence training from big picture to specifics, ensuring that critical knowledge and skills are taught and measured in an efficient and effective manner
  • Troubleshooting scenarios and what-if drills provide control room board/console operators with critical-thinking and decision-making skills to recognize and respond to abnormal operating conditions and emergencies.

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Results at a glance
Trainers, trainees, and experienced operators have realized the value in large control diagrams as training and troubleshooting tools.

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