CITGO Experiences “Huge Success” Digitalizing HF Alkylation Flange Turnaround

“By the time we engaged [TRU] for the flange management portion of our turnaround, we were only 10 weeks from the start of the event. TRU was able to fully digitalize our flange inspection and repair workflow, configuring the solution to our own unique standards and specifications in a tight schedule. We used the solution from start to finish, which allowed us to move away from a qualitative to 100% quantitative decision-making process.”

– Brad Wolters, Reliability Manager, CITGO Petroleum

Like many in the petrochemical industry, leadership at CITGO’s Midwest Refinery Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) Alkylation Unit had experienced previously ineffective attempts to streamline and optimize turnaround processes. Everything from off-the-shelf software to giant whiteboards had been employed with marginal improvement on the outcome. The intensity of the HF alkylation process made the turnaround exceptionally difficult, with the flange inspection, repair and replacement activity being a significant portion of the event. TRU was engaged just 10 weeks prior to the turnaround to digitalize the entire flange portion of the event.

CITGO’s Turnaround Challenges:

  • Thousands of flanges to assess and return to service
  • Record and track inspection, repairs and overall progress
  • Inspections conducted almost completely by third-party contractors
  • Only weeks to launch a new solution

Secure, custom configured platform

Tight timeframe or not, IT security is always a hurdle when it comes to implementing new digital technology at any business. TRU (formerly TruQC) cleared this early on, as we do with all our clients, leveraging our detailed Technology Control Plan that demonstrates we meet the most stringent cloud security requirements, including that of the US Navy and Department of Defense based on our work with their contractors.

Further, CITGO engaged TRU based on our solid existing turnaround framework and their confidence in our ability to customize that framework in time for their imminent turnaround. The solution needed to fit their workflow, reflect their processes, and speak in their terminology. Part of this meant it was important to design and build CITGO’s solution by role, so users from different departments could easily get their work done without sorting through extraneous information. The work hadn’t changed for them, just the way they documented it.

TRU calls this configuration, and it’s what sets our digitalization solutions apart from traditionally rigid software. And we don’t just do it for CITGO – every TRU solution is custom configured for our clients.

Fully virtual from Discovery through Implementation

To make sure we properly configured CITGO’s solution, we began with our standard Discovery process, managed by our experienced Project Management team. Our clients benefit from our broad digitalization experience – in both time to configuration and design for usability. CITGO’s turnarounds span multiple departments and often include third-party contractors that enter mid-turnaround, so they needed a solution that was easy to understand and use without a lot of training. Ahead of the turnaround, TRU was able to roll-out a fully capable solution to production and train the initial set of users without having to visit the refinery. Even prior to the limited travel in 2020, TRU had virtually engaged and launched clients across industries, giving CITGO the confidence to stay the course for digitalization with TRU as a partner.

Using TRU start to finish, CITGO was able to control all data related to their flange turnaround because the data belonged to them and was always accessible in real-time. Up-to-date, API-based internal standards were in the hands of every third-party inspector. Real-time access to status and progress was there for every flange, allowing engineering to adjust schedules and repairs on the fly. Wasted visits to flanges that were unopened or not clean enough to inspect were nearly eliminated, as was headcount just to manage paperwork processing. The optimized process allowed the flange portion of the turnaround to finish on time and on budget despite several time-consuming repair surprises along the way.

“[TRU] was intuitive, the user interface was great, training was simple, and everyone could get the data they needed. And that data made the difference – I consider TRU a huge success.”

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