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 With aging power plants and refineries, reliability can only be driven by organisational culture

The reliability and efficiency of chemical/petrochemical plants and refineries is a concern for the industry, as it tries to keep up with increasing demands armed with aging infrastructure. The average age of refineries and power plants in the US is 40 years, according to some reports.  

"The assets are not getting any younger," said Jeff Dudley, Director Corporate Reliability & Maintenance, Dow Chemical Company. "To maintain them, there must be a certain level of spending, but spending proactively and on a planned basis will get the most impact for the resources put towards becoming reliable."

A speaker at the marcus evans Chem/Petrochem & Refinery Asset Reliability Conference, Dudley went on to say: "Many people in the industry believe that they can buy reliability. In most cases, depending on the age of the assets, no amount of money will be enough to ensure that. What they fail to understand is that the people working on the assets and making the products are the most impactful. The key to having a highly reliable operation is having an organisational culture where people care about reliability."

To instill a reliability-centred culture, a company must focus on reliability and have a desire to meet customer needs. The corporate leaders have to care, and give employees a reason to care as well. It is hard to achieve a state of reliability if reliability does not matter to either of those two groups, according to Dudley.  

"Reliability can only be driven by organisational culture. Behaviours and actions matter much more than the money or techniques used. Being proactive rather than reactive to issues, considering what could go wrong ahead of time and fixing them, are all behaviours that drive reliability," Dudley concluded.  

The marcus evans Chem/Petrochem & Refinery Asset Reliability Conference, will take place in Houston, Texas, January 23-24. For more information, visit the event website

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