Analyze Current Operations and Determine Capacity Limitations
Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM), headquartered in Irving, Texas, is the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. Exxon Mobil markets its products under the Exxon, Mobil and Esso brands.
Exxon Mobil approached Visual8 to develop an advanced, animated Marine Terminal Simulator that would be based on the Company’s existing Marine Terminal simulation model. The end-user would be able to apply the simulator to a broad range of terminal operating issues using the advanced graphical animation, simple user interface, and flexible modeling environment. The tool would be used to examine Exxon Mobil’s oil terminal operations as well as determine capacity limitations under given workload and terminal conditions.
Visual8 developed the Marine Terminal Simulation System to help Exxon Mobil identify and troubleshoot bottleneck areas within the terminal. The tool provided a dynamic account of the workings of the shipping, refinery production, and material transfer operations. By simulating these operations on an hour-by-hour basis over a certain period of time, the model accurately captured the vessel processing rules and pumping times for transferring the crude and refined oils through the facility. Terminal operations included:
- Vessel arrival patterns,
- Weather and tide conditions,
- Storage capacities and pumping rates, and
- Berth and piping configurations.
Detailed reports for docking and loading/unloading times, routing of vessels and daily production levels provided an overview of the working operation. The user was also able to specify the properties of berths which included:
- The number of berths,
- Their pump rate and product accessibility,
- Their vessel handling capacity, and
- Availability over time.
In addition to the tool providing tactical level insights for developing good operating procedures within a terminal, it also helped answer questions such as:
- Under what conditions, and where, does the Terminal become bottlenecked and unable to meet production and vessel demands?
- What impact do changes to the Terminal design or workload conditions have on vessel processing times and demurrage costs?
- What is the “best” design configuration for a specific Marine Terminal that will result in minimum operating cost to satisfy a preset level of shipping activity within defined turn-around service times?
The development of the Marine Terminal Simulation System assisted Exxon Mobil in the efficient design and operation of its terminals. Capacity constraints were predicted to handle future workload levels and shipping requirements. Management was able to assess the adequacy of the alternative terminal design configurations to cost-effectively manage current and future processing volumes. The user-friendly input parameter design, results collection and SIMUL8’s advanced animation capability helped popularize the use of the planning tool as a strategic tool to identify and justify capital-expansion programs.