Optimizing Common Environmental Data Management Tasks at Petroleum Refineries

Petroleum refineries can significantly impact the environment and communities around the facilities. The refinery operators are responsible to comply with environmental regulations in various domains such as water, soil, air, and biodiversity. High volumes of data are collected in-house and by subcontractors and must be analyzed efficiently to ensure compliance. EQuIS™ software standardizes and automates tasks to efficiently extract insights from the data, allowing for information-driven decision making in real-time and during operations.

The following four common data management tasks at refineries can be optimized using EQuIS.

 

Managing Sampling Plans with Sample Planning Module (SPM)

Operators are required to monitor their sites closely due to the potential for a substantial threat to the environment. Typical collected data sets include air emissions, groundwater, discharge water, and biodiversity. Regular sampling can identify trends and triggers. The EQuIS SPM allows sampling coordinators to manage and track all sampling and field data collection events. SPM ensures completeness compared to regulatory requirements.

Sampling plans are generated, optimized, and tracked through projects to ensure efficient data collection within budget and on time. SPM uses central calendars and generates task lists, field electronic data deliverables (EDDs), instructions for the sampling teams, bottle labels, and chains of custody (COCs). Powerful reporting tools allow the data manager to identify issues with laboratories, field teams, and data transfers.

 

Standardizing Field Data Collection with Tablets, Forms, and Formats

Once the sampling plans are finalized, the field crews collect samples, field measurements, and inspection records based on the requirements of the sampling plans. The EQuIS field tools EDGE and Collect run on field devices like tablets (IOS, Android, Windows) and laptops. Standardized electronic forms are pushed to the user devices to ensure a consistent data collection workflow. The EQuIS Data Processor (EDP) and SPM tools complete a closed-loop workflow for EDD processing.

EDGE and Collect also include the EDP verification tools for improved data quality in the field, resulting in consistent formats of results across sampling teams. Field crews can collect and check their data using GPS receivers, barcode scanners, field sensors, and other devices to digitize the workflows. Electronic COCs can be generated automatically for the laboratories with formats that are defined in the sampling plan and checked immediately for correctness and completeness. Optionally, the sampler’s signature can be required for Quality Assurance / Quality Control purposes. Samplers can be more quickly trained, and quality is substantially improved.

Connecting the Sampling and Laboratory Data and Other Data

The refineries’ monitoring process often requires high-volume and high-frequency data collection to monitor the various domains. Field teams traditionally collected most field data on paper forms and sent the samples with hardcopy COCs to the laboratories, which then submitted the results in lab reports. EQuIS digitizes this workflow by establishing electronic data transfers between field crews, laboratories, consultants, and data receivers.

The field teams can generate electronic chains of custody (eCOCs) that are transferred to the laboratories once the required samples in a batch are collected. This step in the workflow is beneficial for all parties—the samplers are not required to manually fill out the COC details as all required data is automatically populated, and the laboratories can read the eCOCs into their LIMS, eliminating the manual task of transcribing hand written COCs. The benefits of automating this workflow are tremendous.

The data transfers from the laboratories to the centralized EQuIS system can also be automated. Many larger labs automatically generate EQuIS EDDs with all analysis information from their LIMS. These EDDs are submitted by e-mail, FTP, or web upload. EQuIS can automatically processes these data streams, including an initial data verification. EQuIS also provides automated reports to the laboratories immediately highlighting any quality control outliers. This closed-loop electronic workflow significantly improves data quality, by replacing manual workflows with electronic ones.

Reporting and Monitoring with Triggers, Agents, Graphics and GIS

Stakeholders may need to make decisions in an efficient way once field and laboratory data have been collected, correctly and completely. Operations at downstream facilities are at risk if results and analysis are not available in a timely manner. EQuIS optimizes this workflow by automating and making electronic several of the manual tasks.

EQuIS Enterprise has a powerful and flexible dashboard architecture for all environmental data streams. Charts, maps, graphs, statistics, and a large library of reports can be configured to automatically update when a new dataset is loaded. Then “triggered” events may generate reports or graphs. Typical examples include reports that are posted to dashboards and emailed automatically when new data arrives that exceeds a regulatory threshold. The water management group may be interested in a statistical report whenever the water level in a group of wells exceeds a limit or when a set of laboratory parameters is detected.

 

Summary

EQuIS increases efficiencies at oil refineries by:

• Making manual data management workflows electronic and automatic, and
• Providing software checks at the transfer points in the workflows.

Expanding digitization efforts to these topics will result in better accessibility of environmental data that leads to reduced costs for data collection and data analysis. All data are readily available for the relevant parties, including subcontractors, and the environmental managers can focus on gaining insights from the collected information. Refinery staff can lower costs and improve quality, while using multiple consultants and labs during the life of a project.

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