Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company unleashes potential for continuous improvement

Its excellence journey has led to significant financial returns, improved work efficiency, and transformed culture.

A full-conversion refinery, Yanbu Aramco Sinopec Refining Company (YASREF) has remained steadfast in the pursuit of sustainable excellence. Driven by business results and recognised performance as a pace-setter within the refining industry, the company’s excellence journey has sparked curiosity amongst other players since it was operationalised.

The company was operational in 2015 and swiftly established an operational excellence office aimed at developing organisational capabilities, creating a sustainable improvement, and ensuring YASREF refinery processes, and systems are amongst the best in the world through leveraging the latest technologies and empowering and developing its human capital.

In 2021, YASREF adapted the business transformation as a continuous improvement hub for the idea generation and review process, and within a very short period, it had become the climax of transformational improvements generating significant value and engaging a vast number of young employees. Through hands-on governance and empowerment for Yasref employees, extraordinary results were achieved with significant financial returns, improved work efficiency and productivity, and transformed cultural and people development.

The expected business transformation baseline benefits have doubled within a 2-year span since the inception of the programme and less than 10 years since its operation. A growing number of operational transformation ideas are generated throughout the year, including the extraordinary efforts to maximise diesel production by blending unconverted oil into finished diesel products via an innovative approach to upgrade products whilst maintaining optimum quality. The idea and the marginal improvements are considered extraordinary and agile to maximise the refinery profitability with low-scale capex with results that are unmatched with similar configuration refineries globally.

Flawless governance, change management techniques, and leadership commitment were key ingredients in developing YASREF’s people, stimulating ideas where team collaboration, determination, and full engagement were witnessed in reconciliatory platforms standardising the company's continuous improvement process. 

“Transformation history and progress have become part of the company DNA and considered as one of the principles where HR, maintenance, and other business functions have leveraged the governance style to achieve both functional and administration of their departments.”

YASREF eyes automation and digitalisation as key principles of operational excellence and has advanced with in-house solutions to digitalise its processes, with Yasref's resources and personnel leading the change. This allows information, technology, people, and processes to experience an innovative shift towards agility and value creation for YASREF Excellence. This was demonstrated with more than 20 automation applications made in-house to improve the efficiencies of processes within the company. 

The operational excellence framework encompassing all business functions is integrated in a way to help facilitate value generation and avail the opportunity to adjust and change utilising the “PDCA” Plan, Do, Check, and Adjust. With the objectives set to generate at least 1-3% of company income and benefits on an annual basis in a span of 3 years with the engagement of a workforce experienced less than 10 years with field and engineering background to advance a very pragmatic and committed excellence objectives. 

This successful journey has been lauded by the Asian Oil and Gas Awards 2023, as the company bags Operations and Maintenance Initiative of the Year - Saudi Arabia and the People Development Initiative of the Year - Saudi Arabia category wins.

The prestigious awards programme recognises exceptional initiatives in the oil and gas industry in Asia.

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