Hokkaido Refinery, Section II
It’s All About Teamwork
Refinery equipment operates non-stop, so it’s essential that it be monitored 24 hours a day. For instance, status checks can be performed while making the operational adjustments required when crude oils are being switched, or when checking for potential problems – both large and small – that can arise during the various processes. Teamwork is essential, and specialists from each division combine their talents to address problems as they occur. It is also an efficient way for veterans to pass on their knowledge and skills to younger workers. Ultimately, teamwork is what keeps a refinery operating smoothly – ensuring a steady supply of energy day after day, year after year.
Every Team Needs A Leader
Heading up a team of twelve engineers, Shift Supervisor Hiromasa Shimizu directs operations from the front lines of the Hokkaido Refinery. Crude oil is switched roughly once every three days, and with each switch, detailed adjustments must be made to equipment operating conditions. Hiromasa oversees the process, carefully monitoring onsite conditions for any irregularities and communicating with Field Men who inspect the equipment and Board Men who monitor operating conditions – making adjustments as required. Once again, it all comes down to teamwork.
The Right Decision
When an anomaly occurs, it is the Shift Supervisor who makes the critical decisions. In 2018, an earthquake resulted in a blackout at the Hokkaido Refinery. Hiromasa was responsible for deciding what types of inspections to make – inspections that had to be performed in pitch darkness. The stakes were high, because if equipment operations were suspended, it might take weeks or even months to get them back on line. “It’s a struggle to make the right decision when facing a situation never before experienced,” Hiromasa explains. With worker safety as his top priority, he resolved problems as they arose, and the refinery was able to continue operating.
A Learning Environment
An important task for a Shift Supervisor is training other engineers. After about a year – with sufficient on-site experience – an engineer can be certified as a Field Man. After another four or so years, the engineer can become a Board Man. “I am always happy when someone I mentored gets certified,” says Hiromasa, who took the initiative and started an in-house study group. Giving young engineers an opportunity to understand the thinking behind various operations better prepares them to handle unexpected situations. Ultimately, Hiromasa believes in fostering a work environment that encourages growth – one in which team members can strengthen their areas of specialization. It is an approach that raises morale and elevates the effectiveness of the team as a whole.
The Front Lines
Hiromasu Shimizu is proud to be a Shift Supervisor at Hokkaido’s only refinery. Each day, he meticulously performs his duties while nurturing the next generation – ensuring that they have the training and skills necessary to fulfill their duties as well as he does. As for his own future, he plans to continue expanding his experience and expertise, eventually becoming an operations specialist. “I always want to be working close to the front lines,” he declares. With his knowledge, capabilities, and commitment to teamwork, it is the ideal place for him to be.