Powers of 10 Four: System Operation

At the next Powers of 10 level is the system-level analysis of the refin­ery operation, including the new blending unit. Here are the facilities planner, who makes room for the new equipment, and the person who controls the boiler that burns the fuel. Again, these people need to be considered, and the Powers of 10 analysis at this level helps us do this. Are they allies or foes? If foes, can they be turned into an advantage?

Think about Steve, a union member who has been working as a boiler operator for 20 years. He prides himself on his efficiency with his boiler. He is comfortable with the controls for optimizing fuel mixtures and knows exactly how his boiler reacts to different qualities of fuel. For Steve, switching to EHF means a loss of knowledge and a need to learn new proportions and characteristics to control the fuel. The tools for optimizing the mixing will stay the same, but effi­ciency will change. He will also have a new responsibility added to his daily tasks—managing the blending unit that will be installed at his station.

The management might explain that the fuel burns cleaner and is more efficient, but will Steve have trouble explaining to his family and friends why he has to burn greater quantities of fuel for the same output? (Again, as mentioned earlier, the water adds volume, so it takes more fuel for the same output, although not more diesel.) As did the bus drivers with PuriNOx, Steve talks to his peers, the other guys in the plant who are also not sure about putting water in the equipment—that, again, has always been a hard-and-fast rule. As pre­viously mentioned, this new stuff looks like milk! Steve will do what his plant manager says to do, but he doesn’t want any headaches or any problems changing over to this new product.

However, what about Steve’s colleagues? Will they be as open – minded? They are members of the union. Will they complain about this change and make demands that could seriously impact the acceptance of the fuel product?

One way to address Steve and Eric’s concerns is to educate them on the benefits and use of the product, not to pitch the benefits to the plant manager alone. From the start, the operators and maintainers will have a sense of the goals of the new product and the purpose behind the process changes. Also, education will help product idiosyncrasies to be less strange, more familiar. Remember, this new white stuff looks noth­ing like a petroleum product. The challenge is to use the white color as an advantage in establishing a brand identity for the product.