As the plant manager of the Lubrizol Bayport facility since July 2016, Anh-Thy Tran aims to ensure safe, reliable and responsible operations to produce and deliver lubricant additives at targeted cost and quality. To accomplish this, she focuses on three fundamentals of manufacturing leadership.
The first fundamental: Safety
The first of these fundamentals addresses safety. “As plant manager, I will do everything possible to protect and ensure the safety of our people, our neighbors and those with whom we have contact,” Tran stated. “At the Bayport plant, we aspire to be Lubrizol’s premier manufacturing site for stand-alone chemistries. In order to achieve this, we must first and foremost build upon our strong safety culture. The emphasis on safety impacts not only our employees but also the community, through our focus on both personal safety and process safety.”
Lubrizol Bayport has been an OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs Star Worksite since 2005. In that time, the site has celebrated numerous safety milestones and received multiple awards both internally and externally. One of its recent safety accomplishments is the completion of a major expansion project on which employees and contractors worked approximately 1 million man-hours without an OSHA recordable injury.
One key safety program includes daily walkthroughs at standardized times across the site, with participation from front-line employees, first-line supervisors and multiple layers of management. “The focus is on hazard recognition, setting clear expectations, accountability and coaching through meaningful and engaging discussions,” said Tran.
The second fundamental: Environmental stewardship
“It is of equal importance that we constantly demonstrate our commitment as an environmentally responsible organization,” Tran added. “As plant manager, I will be a responsible steward of the environment in ways which do not conflict with the safety fundamental.” She emphasized it is “imperative that we continue to operate our facilities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Only in doing so have we earned the right to work.
“An example of this is we are continuing to reduce waste generation and increasing recycling in order to leave as small a footprint as possible.”
The third fundamental: Corporate goals and values
According to Tran, it is also her responsibility to provide leadership, guidance and direction for the Bayport site in a manner consistent with the company’s core values and strategic goals. To her, this means that she will “provide leadership in understanding, accepting and achieving corporate goals — using corporate values — in ways that do not conflict with the safety and environmental stewardship fundamentals.”
“There are specific continuous improvement tools we are using to enhance values and improve operational efficiency,” Tran explained. “A couple of these tools are core problem solving and value-stream mapping. We are utilizing these tools to engage all employees to ultimately become problem solvers. This allows for engineers, operators, technicians — pretty much everyone — to approach and solve some longstanding problems in a structured way.
“I firmly believe that our successes are primarily a result of the employees at the site. This is really a great group of people who are committed and dedicated to Lubrizol’s success. I hope that by empowering employees to become problem solvers, we have added something a little more challenging and meaningful to their roles. I think this will allow us to continue to grow and become more responsive and adaptive to potential challenges. It is really to better position ourselves to be more competitive.”
In addition to having a great team, Tran added, the Bayport site also has a robust, integrated management system to guide its operations.
Lubrizol’s Operations Reliability Management System (ORMS) establishes the principles and expectations for how each site must operate globally to achieve and sustain value by providing superior products and outstanding service, while maintaining the health and safety of employees, customers and neighbors and protecting the environment. The safety, environmental and operations enhancement programs that have been implemented at the Bayport facility adhere to these principles and expectations through a focus on continuous improvement.
‘Challenges present opportunities’
The Lubrizol Bayport facility recently underwent a safe and successful expansion, but one of the challenges Tran admits her site has faced amidst its success is a loss of institutional knowledge due to retirements.
“We are fortunate to have great people; very smart and capable people with lots of knowledge work for us for very long durations. More than 30 years of service is not uncommon,” Tran commented. “However, all that knowledge resides with the individuals, and when they leave after decades of service to the company, the knowledge leaves with them.
“We continue to see an influx of new people, as a high percentage of our employees are of retirement age or have recently retired. In order to ensure operational success, it is critical to capture, document, institutionalize, train, share and transfer knowledge to employees in a systematic and purposeful way.
“One of our strategic priorities is to focus on organizational reliability. This means that employees have the skills, abilities, resources, tools and developmental opportunities to achieve personal and professional success. Over the past few years, we have implemented some key processes to improve knowledge capture and transfer, training, coaching and development, and knowledge sharing.”
Another challenge Tran said the Bayport site and the entire lubricant additives industry has faced is uncertainty surrounding environmental legislation and its effect on the economy.
“Our lubricant additive products touch the transportation industry globally and are used in a variety of applications such as passenger- car engines, heavy-duty vehicle engines, marine engines, automatic transmission fluids, etc.,” she explained. “So the challenge for the lubricants industry is centered around environmental regulations and uncertainties regarding the penetration of electric and hybrid vehicle technologies.
“However, I think these challenges also present opportunities for companies that are innovative, not necessarily just in terms of products and chemistries, but in terms of how we conduct our business.
“I am very optimistic about Lubrizol’s future since we have always been an innovative company with visionary leaders. I am excited about our bright future.”
Supporting local causes
Lubrizol Bayport supports many local nonprofit organizations like the United Way and March of Dimes, as well as education in the La Porte area for both the school district and San Jacinto College.
“We strongly encourage our employees to support the community through volunteerism,” said Tran. “Some examples of our involvement in the local community include supporting the La Porte Education Foundation by providing grants to teachers and participating in the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)/La Porte Safety Fair, Habitat for Humanity projects, the La Porte Independent School District Mentoring Program and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Blood Drive.
“Lubrizol also encourages employees to reach out beyond the local communities where we have a presence. One example is the Community Connection program, which recognizes Lubrizol employees for their efforts and the time and talents they provide to make our expanded communities a better place. Employees tally their hours spent in service, and the foundation gives cash donations based on volunteer hours. Through the Community Connection program, the nonprofit organization benefits twice: once from the volunteer’s contribution of time, and again from a Lubrizol Foundation financial contribution.”
Tran personally serves as an executive committee member for the La Porte, Morgan’s Point and Shoreacres LEPC, as well as an active member of the La Porte Plant Managers Network, the Association of Bayport Companies and the La Porte Community Advisory Council.