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Terminal efficiency

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

At Tank Storage Asia a presentation was given by Mike Beviss, Director of Special Projects, Eastport Global Pte discussing the increasing importance of storage terminal efficiency.

Terminal industry trends

It was pointed out that there are more and more frustrations being encountered within the terminal sector, especially regulations, costs and demands. There are also more and more factors coming in to play to complicate matters, such as emissions policy which can cover anything from vapour control to odour control and ballast water control is shortly to be something all terminal operators need to consider. Also, new regulation means that more reporting and proving needs to be done, which of course detracts from the day to day operation of a terminal in some respects.

Another trend that is being seen at the moment, as pointed out by Beviss, is that of everything needing to be ‘larger’, be it terminal and tank size, volumes stored and shipped or even the client and customer that is being dealt with.

When it comes to future trends however, what is the terminal sector going to have to contend with? Beviss said that of course, the industry will have to contend with ‘more and varied of the above.’ But sadly it won’t stop there. More flexibility will be needed especially as the demand and supply chain experiences the changes that are anticipated by all and were discussed the first presentation of the event. Products and volumes are going to change, as the world shifts towards utilising more natural gas, particularly LNG and in many cases LPG as well. Also, increased environmental awareness is going to provide a big hurdle, as well as shifts in trends, and Beviss particularly expects environmental awareness to play a big part in Asia’s terminals market in particular. ‘But is anything getting easier?’ we all thought. One thing certainly is according to Beviss and that is communication. The developments in technology, software and data sharing means that despite the increased levels of proving and reporting that are now required, and will continue to be, communications technologies are making it all easier and more efficient.

Efficiency versus inefficiency

Beviss stated, ‘planning improves efficiency, fact,’ and in order to ensure that all plans are thorough, be they for a terminal or any other kind of operation, then improvements need to be made on the preparation of scenarios and the what ifs. IT was promoted by Beviss as the solution to this meticulous way of planning as it can help terminals move from being reactive to proactive with quick returns.

Efficiency also needs to be looked at differently and not just as things such as pumps and tanks and capacities getting bigger, the following must be considered and the solutions are relatively simple:

  • Timely presence: Solution – communication.
  • Optimal utilisation of facilities: Solution – planning.
  • Man power: Solution – sufficient for needs.
  • Process control: Solution – IT.
  • Consolidation of information: Solution – IT.
  • Flexibility: Solution – planning.

It pays to be efficient

Of course, when it comes to being efficient, investments need to be made to implement procedure and technology to help with the effort and of course, this means larger OPEX, especially when it comes to larger terminals as Beviss said, ‘operational efficiency is not an economy of scale.’ So, it will be, in the instance of efficiency, the smaller terminal operations who are likely to benefit from efficiency measures more rapidly as it will be easier for them to lower OPEX. Ways of doing so were highlighted as:

  • Outsource non-core activities.
  • Improve man power utilisation.
  • Increase service levels where automation works.
  • Decrease labour intensive services.
  • Align compatible contracts.
  • Risk Based Inspection to minimise maintenance and downtime.

Moving forward

Beviss concluded his presentation by discussing what can be done moving forward to ensure efficiency in the terminals sector as there are great expectations all round. Flexibility and planning were of course highlighted once more a key, followed by:

  • Simple and clear processes.
  • Accessible, available and relevant data.
  • Tools to avoid repetitive tasks.
  • Communication and visualisation platforms.
  • Training.
  • Independent and authoritative planning.

The final message was, that planning, communication and process control are all important to terminal efficiency, and of course, all can be improved with investing in IT systems and solutions.

Written by Claira Lloyd

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