Shell Chemicals’ ethylene oxide (EO) and ethylene glycols (EG) businesses have benefited significantly by using the global manufacturing and logistics optimisation system (GMOS) – an AIMMS-based strategic business-planning tool developed by Shell Global Solutions. GMOS models a business’ feed supply, manufacturing processes and distribution of products to help maximize margins.

Using state-of-the-art techniques, the tool calculates the optimum manufacturing and logistics plan for Shell Chemicals’ EO and EG manufacturing plants, which are located in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands, and at its Singapore joint-venture site. Each facility can serve most of Shell Chemicals’ worldwide customers. The model considers the production economics of each facility as factors such as feedstock and logistics prices change. Even complex commercial terms, such as rebates and take-or-pay contracts, are considered in the analysis.

“We use the model on a monthly basis at least to help us decide which customers to serve from what location and to calculate the optimum asset loading for each plant,” says Jim Nastoff, global supply chain planning manager, Shell Chemicals. “Questions such as these can only be answered reliably with a global model that considers all customers and all manufacturing plants. You cannot just look at one plant at a time, you have to consider them as an integrated global network in order to run your operations at peak efficiency.”

Nastoff adds, “GMOS has helped us to optimise our supply chain and select the feedstock with the best commercial terms at any given time. The folks in the petrochemicals business really trust this tool to help them make the right decisions.”

As well as for short- to mid-term planning, Shell Chemicals uses the tool to consider ‘what-if’ scenarios, where it can help to evaluate where to locate a new depot/terminal, for example, or to scrutinise the merits of a potential new asset. The organisation also uses GMOS for debottlenecking and shutdown evaluations and to consider the economic benefits of adopting new types of catalyst.

“Another impressive feature of the tool is that it can predict how a plant’s yields and production costs are affected by the asset loading and the age of the EO catalyst,” says Nastoff. “This is very complex and we were unable to calculate the effects accurately before we got GMOS.”

Nastoff says, “Global businesses that need to make decisions quickly and that have complex, difficult networks could unlock major benefits by using GMOS.”

The tool is widely applied in supply and distribution networks within the oil and gas industries, as well as in the petrochemical business. The value in petrochemicals is in investment planning, procurement and improving the structural efficiency of the end-to-end supply chain. In these applications, the tool set is called the network analysis and supply chain optimisation system – NetSim.

Contact: Nort Thijssen, Jim Nastoff

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