According to Richard Scharchburg, logistics operations manager for INEOS, the imperative to develop an action plan in the new era of digitalization began with “inquisitiveness on our part” and progressed with the company devoting ample time to research.

“We realized there were some things where we were very far behind, compared to what some of the other industries were doing relative to the chemical industry and transportation industries,” Scharchburg said. “We felt there were a lot of opportunities, so we went from there.”

Joining Scharchburg on a panel discussing how companies can plot a “roadmap” to advance their capabilities toward a digital supply network at the Petrochemical Supply Chain and Logistics conference held recently in Houston, Corey Vickers, global logistics category manager for Chevron, noted three “triggers” in his company’s journey to digitalization.

“Our approach was to design a strategy that had some relative guardrails, without being constrained by those guardrails too much.” — Corey Vickers, Chevron

“First and foremost was that oil prices improved. We had come out of the downturn and realized we had the opportunity to do something different; there was an opportunity there,” Vickers said. “Second, we had a leadership change in logistics for our company that kind of peeled back the covers and said, ‘Look, we won’t be behind any industry standard in the digital space.'”

Vickers also noted that at that time, Chevron welcomed a new CEO who “has made it very clear that digitization and all things digital are important to him.”

As Chevron and INEOS embraced their digital supply chain strategies, leaders recognized that prioritization was essential in terms of what needed to be done to maximize data effectiveness and visibility, while simultaneously addressing both internal and external constraints.

Vickers said Chevron considered appropriate priorities “from a very, very broad scope.”

Chevron, Vickers explained, consists of an upstream organization made up of multiple business units, each of them “autonomous and independent and different from one another.”

Additionally, he described Chevron’s downstream organization as “kind of the same drill,” with “big capital projects” operating on an ongoing basis.

“And it’s a decentralized company, so we needed to look at a strategy that fit with this, irrespective of the operating environment,” Vickers continued. “Our approach was to design a strategy that had fundamental pieces to it and some relative guardrails that everybody could basically operate within, without being constrained by those guardrails too much.”

The next step, Vickers said, was to capitalize on this decentralized nature as well as “the desire for everybody to go out and do wonderful things, to bundle up things that they’re going to do, and copy and paste that elsewhere.”

Data and ROI

Scharchburg said INEOS engaged three distinct concepts that significantly helped the company to develop its digitization strategy.

“One was to consolidate our data. That was a really big step for us,” he said, accentuating the necessity of finding “a platform that can support you in that area ⦠and help everyone related to the supply chain.”

The second point, Scharchburg said, was addressing the strategic need for a specialized organizational team.

“We brought in some new people with a different skillset,” he said.

Finally, Scharchburg said the team identified “some easy wins” in initial projects that would provide the potential for solid returns on investment (ROI).

“That really helped set our strategy,” he said.

For ongoing industry updates, visit