Wallpaper has suffered a decline in popularity in recent times. But not at the Schwechat Refinery. There wallpaper has never gone out of fashion as it serves a practical purpose, although a search for decorative patterns would prove fruitless. The wallpaper here involves massive white sheets of paper that cover entire containers. On large-scale projects the paper gives an overview of hundreds of tasks all running in parallel. But now modernization has also reached here: the time has come for Wallpaper 2.0 – logistics software that allows the complex work processes to be recorded more precisely and makes the working day significantly simpler.
The law stipulates that a refinery’s units have to undergo a general inspection once every six years, a so-called turnaround. When the time comes round again, the refinery ceases production. All of the equipment is opened, cleaned, inspected and, wherever necessary, serviced. Achieving this requires around 3,500 workers for a general inspection and the workload completed in a single month involves some 600,000 working hours. But how can you keep an eye on such a mammoth project?
In the past, this worked with the so-called “Stop Wallpaper”, derived from stop in the refining business. During the turnaround there used to be little container villages at each of the site’s arteries. Some of these containers were wallpapered with large sheets of paper on which one could see the entire project logistics. The requisite individual steps and the people responsible were listed next to each task. When one item was completed, the person responsible had to sign his/her name. For decades this method guaranteed that not a single one of the 50,000 or so work steps was missed during a turnaround.
However, in a time of smartphones, tablets and databases, it was high time to find an alternative to the wallpaper. Stefan Krebich and his team set themselves the task of replacing the classic Stop Wallpaper with a digital version, the “Coordination Board”: “The Coordination Board is precisely modeled on the paper version. Just as before, the key players are the installation company, cleaning company, our inspections department and our operations staff.”
Truly a complex challenge for the team, as they needed to develop a “digital interpreter” that would allow different sources of data to be linked up. “We successfully managed to cross-link all of the data in a uniform IT standard, to develop an appropriate user interface and to ensure that the Coordination Board worked just as fast”, said Roland Ladengruber, who worked on the new system together with Stefan Krebich.
“Using the touchscreen station, the PC or just on a smartphone – with the new Coordination Board you can directly access all of the data, plans and images from wherever you’re working.”
OMV Turnaround Manager & Project Manager Coordination Board
With a single click, users can see the status, all of the technical data, plans and images that have been uploaded on the device. “One significant advantage of the digital wallpaper is that there are three different ways of retrieving the data. One is on the touchscreen station on site, one is via a PC and the third option is on a tablet or smartphone. This gives you the chance to input data into the system directly from your workplace and to see all of the information or plans exactly when you need them”, says Stefan Krebich.
One of the key requirements for the software was that this complex system is not only fast for users, but also intuitive to control. Everyone from the inspection department and the operations managers at OMV through to the external fitting or cleaning companies had to be able to work with the graphics-based user interface. “We wanted to design an interface that mimics the technologies people are familiar with from their smartphones; delivering the desired information at the simple touch of a button”, says Roland Ladengruber. Hunting for specific data on sheets of A3 on multiple containers throughout the compound has now become passé thanks to the multiple filters and search functions.
A particularly neat solution was found for registering in the system on site. “We thought, what does everyone always have on a turnaround? Their hard-hat! Every hard-hat received a personalized RFID tag. When I go to a station and put my hard-hat on the scanner, I am logged into the system automatically and can immediately access my equipment list and see the record of my activity”, says Stefan Krebich. Scan the hard-hat again and you are automatically logged out.
“Naturally you’re pleased when you see that all the hard work has actually paid off and that it even revolutionize work processes.”
OMV Department Manager SAP Purchasing & Maintenance
The digital wallpaper already passed its first test during the 2016 turnaround of the Schwechat Refinery on the inspection of the fuels units. The practical experience gained allowed the developers to learn a lot and to identify the teething problems that come with such a complex system. On this year’s turnaround of the refinery’s petrochemicals units, a revised version of the Coordination Board proved its value from April until June. “I believe we are onto something that is both highly innovative and will serve as a trailblazer; it will naturally have other additional applications and that makes us really proud”, says Roland Ladengruber.
So it seems that the wallpaper’s days are numbered thanks to the Coordination Board. But the craft of the painter-decorator is not currently in jeopardy, Stefan Krebich and his colleagues are not working on a digital replacement for ingrain wallpaper – not yet, anyway.