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Economic Imperatives

The high cost however, was reflected in the selling price of the products of the refinery. By the time I arrived on the scene, the operating cost had reached such a level that the products coming from this refinery were barely competitive with imports. The refinery ceased to make economic sense and had thus lost its raison d'etre!

Inevitably, the threat of a close-down of the refinery loomed, unless it took steps to become competitive with imports. For the first time in its history, the refinery was under pressure to improve its cost performance.

New Brooms—To Sweep Clean

A new refinery General Manager (GM) arrived at this time. As maintenance cost (always a major portion of the total operating cost of a refinery) was running at a much higher level than benchmark levels, he sensed the urgent need for expertise and leadership for the Maintenance and Engineering function. The person the new GM selected for this job had to have hands-on experience of several years in process industry at various levels of hierarchy in several locations around the world. I was fortunate to catch his attention, and so got the job.

When I arrived to take over the position of Maintenance and Engineering Manager, a planned major plant shutdown was about six months away. It took me about two weeks to sum up the situation. The next task was to change the prevailing mind-sets and behaviors.

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