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Issue of December 2003 

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Case Studies of the winning companies

BPCL innovates with IT systems

Commissioned in 1955, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited's (BPCL's) Mumbai refinery covers 454 acres of land in Mahul village. It is the backbone of the company and was the first industrial unit in India to obtain ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 certifications. It is the only Indian refinery and one of the 34 refineries worldwide to achieve Level 8 on the International Safety Rating System (ISRS).

The initiative

BPCL's effort was driven by a service model with the intention of creating value for end users. The attempt was to integrate information from various production units by means of a portal. The refinery had separate units for production, dispatch, transfer, planning and scheduling, safety, maintenance, and technology.

"There were pockets of business in manufacturing. We began to work on better safety management two years ago by creating a workflow where every safety incident was recorded and archived. This safety system was in turn used for issuing permits for maintenance," said MD Agrawal, Chief Manager, IS Refinery System at BPCL.

BPCL's technology efforts are built on a base of XML, .NET, and Visual Basic in an enterprise portal. The backend runs three versions of Oracle, namely 7, 8 and 9.

The innovation

The IS team worked with existing systems and built solutions on top of them to get the maximum value for the organization. BPCL invested Rs 3 crore in a laboratory information system and purchased eight user licenses.

"This was an opportunity for plumbing the system. Buying more licenses would have been quite expensive. So we used the eight licenses for data input and built our own system that provided a Web-based interface for viewing and analyzing data stored in this system," said Agrawal. The IS team went further and mined data from the laboratory information system to do historical analysis.

A recent project helped cut screening time for visitors to the refinery down from one hour, to five minutes. Earlier visitors had to produce a welcome slip, which had to be matched by the guard from a bunch of similar slips. Now the system is integrated with the intranet and it lets you key in a welcome slip that is available at the entry point as an alphabetically sorted list. A digicam is used to take the visitor's photograph, and from there it is a simple click and print operation to generate a slip.

The Quality Assurance System (QAS) pulls data required from multiple sources. The information regarding the tank in which the refined fuel is stored comes from SAP, while the quality information has to be gathered from the IP 21 production management system. The QAS lets BPCL print quality certificates and hand them to customers in real time.

The benefits

The company's IT initiatives have helped its Refinery achieve KPI targets for the business unit and individual departments. The system has enhanced the safety, efficiency, productivity, education, security, and customer service for its operations.

Roadmap for the future

BPCL intends to integrate the portal with its SAP backend. It also intends to build department-wise knowledge bases. The pilot will be in the purchase department followed by the plant. The idea is to provide digital dashboards for each department. There are plans to push information to PDAs using Wi-Fi for wireless access.

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