SAFETY AND LOSS MANAGEMENT

The purpose of one major project was to examine causes and set priorities for reducing the number of deaths that were occurring on oil well drilling rigs.  Causes of problems were catalogued and prioritized from the perspectives of personnel working at all management levels -- from managers of operating companies, rig managers, drillers, roustabouts to Occupational Health and Safety experts.  The result was a listing in rank order of importance of priority elements that needed attention.  These were acted upon with excellent results.  Nine years later, a review of oil well safety issues demonstrated continuing problems were the result of inaction on specific items that had been identified in the PriorityPath® project conducted earlier.  Actions on these items continue to be taken with continued improvement being experienced.

Priority Systems ® has assisted a major Canadian Oil Company to develop loss management systems for all of its oil refineries.  In addition, the company was assisted in setting priorities for retrieving a caisson stuck on a wellhead in the ocean off Newfoundland and in determining priorities for keeping two large turbines operational after having four catastrophic breakdowns during only eight years of operation .

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION

Another project was directed toward redistricting of School jurisdictions.  Ten neighboring School systems were each claiming entitlement to new tax revenues occasioned by new industrial development in the area.  The priorities of each competing group were measured and the implications were presented to Government Officials and the Communities involved.  The local people insisted upon immediate action, with the result that their initiatives led to the reduction of number of School Boards from ten to four. This project was later reviewed by an Australian scholar in his Doctoral Thesis where it was noted that despite nearly one hundred years of dispute and resistance to full cooperation in the ten communities, following the PriorityPath® project the people themselves initiated what no outside agencies had theretofore been able to accomplish.

PETRO-CHEMICAL

Priority Systems ® has been involved in several projects with large oil-sands processing plants in Northern Canada.  Two companies mine tar sand from the ground, separate the sand from bitumen, and upgrade it into synthetic crude oil.  The first project came during the startup phase of the initial plant.  For the first few months, the two cokers that used a new fluidized bed cracking system were subject to constant problems.  The circulation within the cylinders could not be stabilized and the cyclones were continually coking up, requiring substantial down time.  It was estimated that the plant was only achieving 53% of rated capacity during the first 18 months of operation.

This was totally unsatisfactory.  The major owners of the plant assembled a team of specialists, including some of the inventors of the equipment, to try to resolve the problems.  In about two weeks time, the team identified approximately 250 engineering difficulties that the researchers and engineers believed may have been causing the problems.  The problem then was that no one knew where to begin.  Attacking them all simultaneously would mean closing the plant for at least six months at a cost in excess of $400 million, an action that was not attractive to the owners who wanted to begin to see some return on their investment.  Priority Systems ® was asked to make a presentation.  Managers of the plant initially expressed little interest in the human factors that may be involved, but asked for help in establishing priorities among the suggested engineering fixes that were on the table.  They wanted to use PriorityPath ® to identify the six to ten priority areas where fixing specific deficiencies would have the most positive effects on the overall problem.

The project began.  But almost immediately, people began identifying problems with maintenance and operational procedures that they said were as significant as the actual engineering deficiencies that had already been recognized.  When the priorities of engineers, operators, maintenance staff, researchers and managers were measured, it was clear that most participants believed that tighter control of procedures and better maintenance would probably compensate for the engineering inadequacies.  After considerable discussion, the plant managers decided to proceed with the operational and maintenance refinements that had been identified in the project.  Within two weeks, the plant was operating at 85% of rated capacity.  The increase in revenues was approximately $2.25 million per day.  The owners were especially pleased.  Since that time, the engineering changes that they knew needed to be made have been implemented during scheduled turnarounds and the plant today runs at approximately 110 -115 % of rated capacity.

This began a period of several years work with the company during which Priority Systems ® assisted them with a variety of projects.  One involved the management of sour gas.  Though under threat of close supervision by OHS officials, the project initiated a sequence of programs that has made the plant a model of safety in the industry.  Use of the process assisted them to fine tune their Total Loss Management program.  When they undertook a $1.2 Billion expansion project, PriorityPath ® analysis was used to Fail-Safe the construction management plan.  During the course of construction, they were also assisted to develop specifications for and prepare to receive a state-of-the-art computer control system, (the Honeywell TDC 3000 system).  It was installed and is a model of efficiency.  At this site, the TDC 3000 system is utilized to approximately 85% of its capacity while in stark contrast, engineers at other refinery operations have stated that although they use the TDC 3000 system in all of their refineries, in no instance is it utilized to more than 50% of its capacity.  During construction, they were assisted to develop startup sequences for major new environmental units.  At the end of construction, they were assisted to develop new startup routines for the integrated plant, helping to ensure that although the chemistry was changed, there was a smooth transition without interruption of production from producing under the old system and with the original equipment only to the new system with the new equipment.

Priority Systems ® was also instrumental in assisting the same organization to develop effective startup sequences of rebuilt cokers after they had experienced a $400 million fire.  A subcontractor had installed an eighteen-inch piece of off-spec pipe which corroded and led to the eruption and ignition of bitumen at 600 lbs/sq inch pressure.  In rebuilding the coker, they included improvements from similar installations worldwide.  When it came time to start it up, which was scheduled for sub-zero weather in late December, no one in the world had any experience with their unique configuration of equipment. Priority Systems ® personnel worked with people knowledgeable about the various pieces, and with the startup team, evolved a sequence of probably adequate systems.  Oil-in occurred on December 23, at -40 degrees C.  The startup proceeded without incident and has become a model of how it has been done ever since. An additional benefit was that the run-length was improved from just a few weeks initially to more than two years.

Priorities for the renewal of automated systems on the Alaska Pipeline, with a focus on operational viability of the systems for 30 plus years, were determined for BP.

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

In early 1993, the Chairman of a large quasi-government insurance organization discovered that the accumulated deficit in the compensation fund, without his knowledge, had ballooned from the reported amount of $200 million to more than $650 million.  Priority Systems ® was employed to ascertain the reasons for the deficiency and to assist in developing a plan for coping with the problem.  Judgments of critical factors were assembled from the agency, industry and government supervisors, the priorities of various groups were determined and the results were reported to the Chairman and his newly-appointed President.  The Chairman stated that the meeting held with us to discuss project findings was the beginning of the major turnaround they experienced over the next 23 months, during which time the entire deficit was recovered.  A year later, the fund had an accumulated surplus of more than $80 million.  The elements of this project were consistent with many of the other projects conducted by Priority Systems ® .

ENVIRONMENTAL

Just before the major oil spill incident in the Gulf of Alaska, Priority Systems ® conducted a project with a member of an off--shore drilling consortium directed toward preventing oil spills in the Beaufort Sea -- just east of the Alaska/Canada border in the Arctic Ocean.  The project looked at any and everything that could cause financial risks for the company.  The result was a series of programs that to date has assured the safe and responsible operation of exploration operations in the Beaufort.  A few days after the Valdez incident, the Company project manager called and asked if managers of activities in the Gulf of Alaska incident had been contacted.  He expressed his personal view that if the same activity that had been done in the Beaufort had also been done in the Gulf of Alaska, the Alaska incident could have been prevented with a savings estimated in excess of two billion dollars.

A large Environmental Compliance Agency used the PriorityPath ® Strategic Risk Management/Mission Alignment process on three occasions to address and resolve controversial environmental issues associated with petro-chemical production in Alberta:

The first project was in relation to a large sour gas processing plant where, for twenty years, some downwind residents had claimed to have experienced adverse effects from emissions.  A local action group had tried without success to secure government funding for an epidemiological study to establish whether or not there was a relationship between emissions and symptoms being experienced by residents. PriorityPath ® was used to determine and assess the priority viewpoints of the many referent groups in the area, some of whom were: local doctors, nurses, representatives of the Departments of the Environment, Energy, Agriculture, Public Health, the companies involved, environmental protection associations, Federal Government Air and Water pollution experts, Municipal and Provincial Government elected representatives, local residents opposed to the plant together with their professional advisors, and residents (including employees) who felt there were no problems being caused by the plant.

For the first time, the PriorityPath ® study established baseline data that convinced decision makers that there was insufficient scientific evidence to either ignore the problems or actively pursue remedial action.  The Provincial Government then engaged a large university Medical Faculty to undertake a two-year epidemiological and environmental study which established that symptoms and illnesses being reported in the local area were no different from those being experienced in areas far removed from gas plants.  At the same time, a study of emissions undertaken by another University faculty established that the pollutants being released into the environment were below background levels.  The result was that after nearly twenty-five years of conflict, relative acceptance of the priorities of groups revealed in the PriorityPath ® project and of the facts found in the two research projects effectively ended the controversy that had been so prevalent.

Residents in the Northeast section of a large Canadian city became concerned with the possibility that an accidental release of sour gas could occur from gas wells and pipelines adjacent to their homes.  When they learned that the City emergency response plan did not specifically address this potential sour gas problem, a PriorityPath ® project was undertaken to determine the priority components of a more adequate plan.  This was completed with input from industry, technical specialists, local government and residents, with the result that the plan in the City now is generally judged to be adequate to meet any emergency release of sour gas.

A small oil company was faced with major local opposition to installation of a small sour gas processing plant, despite the fact that the facility was to use a sulfur recovery process that at the time was rated as being the most efficient in the industry.  A PriorityPath ® project in the area was effective in helping industry to adjust its implementation activities and effect the communication with residents that was necessary to secure their acceptance of the development.  Approximately two years later the company received a prestigious award for its success in managing this highly controversial environmental project.

 

COMMERCIAL

A project was designed to help a large furniture manufacturer discover all of the factors that were threatening to push them into bankruptcy.  The company was experiencing severe financial pressures and wanted to learn what it must do to avoid any more losses of any kind and set a direction that would restore them to financial health.  Eighteen months after the PriorityPath ® project was completed, the company was sufficiently healthy that it made a multi billion-dollar acquisition and has never looked back.

AIRLINE

A major airline was experiencing major losses in the areas of baggage handling and damage to aircraft while still on the ground. A series of projects was mounted to understand, prioritize causes and control these losses. It was found that the causes were extremely complex and interrelated. The result of the eighteen-month series of studies was that the airline posted an increase in profits in excess of $34 million, all of which was attributed by the airline to better management of baggage and control of traffic and equipment on the ground.

Safety aboard commercial aircraft and safety on airports have also been addressed using PriorityPath® analysis.

HEALTH CARE

Plans to expand a major medical facility into Arizona seemed to be extraordinarily risky.  It was feared that major losses of many kinds may occur.  Following a PriorityPath® , the move was made. Anticipating, prioritizing and controlling the expected problems, which is characteristic of PriorityPath® analysis, enabled the Clinic to make the move without negative financial consequences.

MILITARY

United States

•  The Us Army used PriortyPath ® to analyze its Deep Battle Plan for the defense of Europe.

•  The US Army used PriortyPath ® to test innovative transport vehicles for use in combat zones.

•  PriortyPath ® was used to “Fail-Safe” a block enhancement of the Abrams M1Tank.

•  PriortyPath ® was used to analyze the US Army Personnel system.

•  Early on, PriortyPath ® was used to”Fail-Safe” the Airborne Optical Adjunct associated with the Star Wars Project.

New Zealand

Two major projects were conducted for the NewZealand military. One was a comprehensive examination of Personnel/Human Resources Systems for the Army.  The other was a Loss Management Program Evaluation for the Army .

Australia

The Field Radio System for the Australian Army was developed using the PriorityPath ® Process

ELECTRONICS FIRMS

PriortyPath ® was used to assist a major international electronics firm on several occasions to assess various aspects of their North and South American Operations.  The projects assisted them to identify, prioritize and address the critical risks associated with the manufacture and distribution of specialty television production equipment and to formulate uniform plans and procedures for manufacturing television sets that are sold throughout North and South America.  The development process for this integrated production schedule was reduced from the usual 22-24 months to less than one year.  PriortyPath ® was also used to perform an organizational assessment of their product development group.  This project enabled them to overcome many of the operational barriers they had been experiencing in bringing new products to market.

IFR Systems

IFR Systems develops, produces, markets and services electronic equipment that is used in the production of aeronautics instruments and test equipment for the mobile telephone production industry.

The purpose of the contract with Priority Systems was to secure better integration of the various segments of the company. IFR had recently acquired the Test Instruments Division of Marconi in England. At the time, the American and British segments of the company were continuing to operate much as they did before the acquisition occurred.

Approximately 250 persons were interviewed, some individually and some in small groups. A Diagram containing issues that participants felt were critical to attaining the Mission was produced, edited by groups of participants and the items rated for relative significance and criticality via the Internet. Results in the form of reporting charts and documents were produced and presented in meetings to all participants.

The judgments of the seven senior managers, located in Britain and Wichita were presented individually to each manager. An analysis was also made of the priorities of all of the managers taken as a group. Priority Systems personnel moderated a meeting where the executives came together to compare their individual perceptions of most critical concerns with each other and with the priorities of the group as a whole. From this meeting a plan for achieving better integration of systems within all parts of the company was formulated. The result has been that the company now confronts challenges in a more cohesive manner than was possible when they were such disparate entities.

The company has since been acquired by the Aeroflex Corporation.

A MAJOR MINERALS AND CHEMICAL PROCESSING FIRM

Priority Systems ® assisted a major producer of fertilizer to determine priorities for improving corporate profits.  This project involved an assessment of mining operations, transport of minerals to fertilizer plants, plant processes and marketing of final products.  Critical issues related to re-construction and startup of one of their plants was also addressed.  The findings provided a performance baseline for the company and were instrumental in making critical decisions to meet the needs of a shrinking market.

SECURITY

Calgary Police Services and Royal Canadian Mounted Police


G8 Summit Security, Joint Planning Team

The G8 Summit Security Planning group was charged by the Government of Canada on behalf of the Governments of the nations attending the Summit to ensure that all persons attending the Summit, as well as all local personnel were safe and secure during Summit proceedings. The Summit was held at the Kananaskis Resort, ninety miles southwest of Calgary in the Rocky Mountains on June 26 and 27, 2002. It was attended by President George W. Bush and the heads of state of the major industrial nations of the world.

The Mission Statement of the project was as follows: 

To ensure the safety and security of International Protected Persons and to share responsibility among agencies to prevent crime, enforce laws and maintain peace, order and security, which includes upholding the fundamental freedoms of thought, belief, opinion, expression and of peaceful assembly as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Approximately 70 members of the Calgary Police Service, RCMP, City of Calgary and other Federally appointed officials were interviewed. They were asked to identify security planning issues that the Planning Group had not addressed, or had addressed in too limited a manner as well as existing and potential problems and issues. These were assembled into the Diagram that was used to validate the information collected, edited by project participants and rated on the Internet to determine the criticality of each issue identified.

Results of the analysis are confidential and must remain secure. However, it was the judgment of officers of both the Calgary Police Services and the RCMP that the priorities identified and rank-ordered were timely, relevant and critical to success of the entire enterprise. The PriorityPath® process helped focus cooperative efforts upon resolving several critical problem areas that had not been addressed until project results were available.

As was widely reported in International media, there were virtually no security problems experienced at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis. In particular, no cars were towed, no glass was broken and there was the arrest of only one person – a local individual who was formerly a union official, allegedly used his arrest to further personal ambitions.

WASTE WATER MANAGEMENT

Projects have assisted waste water management organizations in Sydney Australia, Aurora Colorado, Las Vegas Nevada and Southern Water in England to prioritize activities that improve treatment processes and limit both construction and operational costs. The English company projected savings in excess of 40 Million Pounds as a result of implementing project priorities.

 

MUNICIPALITIES

The City of Orem, Utah, used PriorityPath ® to determine essential actions they needed to take to reverse the slide toward “slum status” that one neighborhood feared was imminent.

MISCELLANEOUS

Priority Systems ® has also conducted studies with departments of government, private and public corporations, several oil companies other than those mentioned herein, numerous schools and school systems and a variety of organizations where the focus has been on such matters as organizational assessment, environmental compliance, educational improvement, safety, organizational structure and many others.  While the specifics are unique in each case, and the methods were adjusted to meet each circumstance, the results parallel those described for the organizations whose experience is more completely described above. Important benefits derived from all projects, however, are the cost/benefits achieved.  In some cases revenues have been increased.  In others, costs have been avoided as problems have been identified before costly consequences have been permitted to occur.  In these instances, the contingency funds allocated to the project have become another source of savings or profit.