Fundamentals of Project Management and Business Decisions
Professor Porfirio Chen
Case Study #1:
The Benfield Column Repair Project
CASE ANALYSIS OF:
THE BENFIELD COLUMN REPAIR PROJECT
Introduction / Background
This case is about an important South African coal, chemical and crude-oil Company called “Sasol”. The case is developed around the Benfield Unit of the Gas Circuit as Sasol Three. Sasol is an International integrated energy and chemicals company that generates value through its proven alternative fuel technology with capable employees that provide sustainable energy solutions to the world. The company is also involved in mining, energy, chemicals and synfuels. In particular, they produce petrol and diesel from coal and natural gas. Sasol’s primary business is based on CTL (coal to liquid) and GTL (gas to liquid) technology and this differentiates it from other petrochemical companies. CTL AND GTL plants convert coal and natural gar respectively into liquid fuels.
One day, a fire broke out in a regeneration column used to process hydrogen in the Benfield Unit at Sasol Three, one of Sasol’s factories. The fire caused a lot of damage in one side. Without it, a large section couldn’t function, bringing many negative effects, as it was used to process Hydrogen (main component for the chain of equipments that converts coal to oil and chemicals). Because of this, it was essential that area as soon as possible. For this a target of 47 days was set.
The main issue was to put the company on business as fast as possible. Now, the first question they asked themselves was to determine the scope of the repair or simply do nothing. A damage investigation revealed that buckling in the shell of the column had caused it to bend in the middle to such an extend that the top of the chimney was 20 inches off-center, making the 70m column tilt. To devise the optimum solution, a communication link had to be setup between US and SA team which involved working very late hours because of 10 hours time difference. Therefore, a modest design focused on communication and bearing in mind the humane concerns of the entire group affiliates, exploits the willingness of the employees.
Deliverables are anything (facility, report, installation services, and equipment) produced as the result of a project or any part of a project. The deliverables of the Benfield column repair project are: welding, electrical, piping, rigging, and mechanical.
A project is essentially a set of interrelated activities, with a beginning and a definite end, using limited resources to achieve a desired goal. A fundamental aspect of any project is the order in which activities are performed. And to determine the logical sequence of activities should establish the method, time and cost of each operation. For this project the time established to have the column back in service within 47 days, the budget was 85.3 million, and the scope is to repair the Benfield column as soon as possible.
Assumption is a factor in the planning process that is considered to be true, real, or certain, without proof or demonstration. The Benfield column project was able to complete in only twenty-five. The manager assumes the following: all resources will be on time, with all the team working together and with good communication the project will finish on time and manager from the original fabricators of the column has the necessary knowledge and experience to repair the column efficiently with low cost and time.
The mission of this Project is to bring the plant back online in the shortest possible time. Using state of the art technology, implementing new methods, encouraging personnel to do an outstanding job, involving them into the Project by listening to their suggestions and reducing the cost of Project without losing quality or control.
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