By Lucien Joppen
Allan graduated with a bachelor degree of Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of the Philippines. His first job was with Score Pacific (the company’s name has changed into Callidus) which headquarters was in the Philippines. The company was focused on engineering, repair and maintenance of valves, mainly for the mining industry.
“After five years with Score Pacific, I moved to Dubai to work at McDermott where I started as a Piping Engineer with a focus on valves. After nine years, I am still with McDermott still dealing with valves. Our office covers all MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) Region, serving the oil and gas sector.”
Good Working Relationship
When asked about his move to the UAE, Allan explains it was mostly a matter of timing. “After my restriction bond with the government – as I needed to work five years in the Philippines due to the scholarship I got – my previous supervisor contacted me through LinkedIn and asked whether I would be interested to work with him again. When the company and destination were clear, I did some desk research regarding McDermott and life in UAE. The UAE, Dubai in particular, was and still is a growing and exciting community, compared with other nations in the region. As for McDermott, it is one of the largest EPC contractors for oil and gas with a solid reputation. In the end, however, the main reason for my move was the supervisor whom I had a good working relationship with.”
Delays and Issues
Allan holds a job as a Valve Package Engineer at McDermott. This is a fairly new title that was established as the company saw the need to address delays and issues with valves which in turn affect overall delivery to its clients.
“I am responsible for valve procurement from the cradle to the grave. It starts with a valve MTO extraction from P&ID to the production of valve datasheets, then material requisition. After which I oversee the various offers until placing a purchase order (PO). After the PO, being the Valve Package Engineer, I am also responsible in the vendor’s execution of the PO, however mainly for the technical and delivery part. Financial transactions go through a different person. Therefore, my responsibility for ends only after successful commissioning of the plant. Any issues regarding the PO until to commissioning are still my responsibility. One example is the orientation between valve and actuator due to space constraints which are not foreseen during initial phase. We also experience failures during site testing and installation.”
On the question if Allan’s work also entails plant visits and site inspections, he answers affirmative. “I regularly conduct manufacturing plant visits. Especially for critical valves we organize kick-off meetings in plants of our suppliers, also some design review and pre-inspection meetings. I also visit second tier suppliers such as forgemasters, machine and welding shops and so on, just to ensure that we are on schedule. Inspections take place mostly during FAT and the final release just to ensure everything will run smoothly. Inspections are the domain of our Quality Inspectors.”
Talking about a regular project, could Allan indicate how many and which types of valves are involved? “On a typical project we normally have a total of around 3,000 valves of which around 10% is actuated. But currently we are executing one big project – one of the biggest McDermott has been awarded so far – which has around 11,000 manual valves and roughly around 600 actuated valves.”
Talking about issues, could Allan mention some topics that high on his agenda at the moment? “At this stage, we are being challenged by the delivery requirement by our project planning. This is crucial especially for actuated valves where delivery depends on the actuators. Actuators are typically being supplied by a sub-supplier of the main valve manufacturer. If the actuator manufacturer misses its delivery to the valve manufacturer then we will expect a bit of delay in overall delivery. Hence to minimize such issues we try to split those long lead items and order well in advance. So mainly it is about timing. The previous trend in which there was a more relaxed attitude towards deadlines has changed. Also, deadlines have been tightened: where once we had 52 weeks it is now 40 weeks.”
Quality Issues with Paint Jobs
“In general, I am interested in quality control/supply chain management issues. For example, the material quality and track-and-trace-solutions. Currently, we have additional inspection points on top of the minimum requirements by our end users. These inspections are based on our lessons learned in previous similar jobs we have executed. For example, we have experienced quality issues with paint jobs in which the paint was already chipping off in the first month after installation. It helps us to reduce quality issues in the end but then again the schedule will be extended as the more stops (for inspections, ed.) you give to a manufacturer the further the delivery will be.
On the other hand, some vendors try to shorten delivery times by overpassing/compromising on some quality points. I would say this issue at some point can never be forecasted, for example a material failing some test etcetera. In response to this, for critical valves, McDermott are delegating dedicated quality inspectors and field expeditors to ensure that the valves can be delivered on time and against the requested quality criteria.”
Finally, how does Allan perceive the drive in the oil and gas supply chain to drive innovation forward and to improve operational excellence?
“McDermott, being an EPC contractor, relies mainly on the vendors proposal. We are very accommodating and willing to discuss any innovation the vendors has to offer. So far I am impressed by the compact design of actuators. Catering mostly building offshore platforms, having a compact design helps us to reduce weight and overall footprint of the valve. There are manufacturers who have launched more compact models by reducing the spring chamber and the size of the springs while maintaining identical product characteristics (torque etc.). Unfortunately, currently not many end users are open to such solution as they are prone to use existing solutions they are accustomed to. At the end of the day we still need to ‘sell’ such innovations to our clients as a package.”