SOCAR Turkey aims to expand digital transformation in Petkim to other group companies (INTERVIEW)

SOCAR Turkey aims to expand digital transformation in Petkim to other group companies (INTERVIEW)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 20

By Leman Zeynalova - Trend:

It is planned to expand digital transformation in Petkim petrochemical complex to other group companies in SOCAR Turkey’s Refinery and Petrochemical Business Unit, Murad Abdullayev, Deputy General Manager for Digitalization and Technology at SOCAR Turkey’s Refinery and Petrochemical Business Unit told Trend.

"As you know, additional investments have been made in Petkim since 2008, when it was purchased by SOCAR from the Turkish Privatization Administration for $2.40 billion. In this context, in order to meet the demand in the petrochemical sector with high growth potential, a total of over $1 billion worth additional investments with around $100 million per year were made in Petkim since 2008. İn line with our company’s vision and strategy, we determined the digital transformation as sine qua non in Petkim’s modernization process and focused on the ways of applying this approach in all of our company's business processes," he said.

Abdullayev noted that for this purpose, the Digitalization and Technology Business Unit was set up in 2018.

"And a digitalization team was created under my leadership to complete our vision of digitalization, which is beyond the understanding of classical information technologies. As a first step on the way of digitalization of Petkim, we created Petkim Digital Academy in 2018. We have organized various trainings at the Digital Academy to improve the digital thinking reflexes of our colleagues, that is, to expand their "digital thinking" ability," he added.

Abdullayev noted that taking into account all these developments, one can say that 2019 was "the year of digital transformation for Petkim."

"Since 2018, we have spread the digitalization culture in all segments of Petkim and implemented more than 20 digitalization projects. Indeed, as a result of our work, Petkim was the only company in Turkey to be included in the Global Lighthouse Network list of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020, which provides benchmarking for companies all over the world on innovative and digital applications standard. The list includes 44 companies, which set an example in digital applications in their field. All of these companies are best of all applying Industry 4.0 principles," he added.

Abdullayev noted that this outstanding award clearly shows how advanced is Petkim in digital transformation. "Our digital applications are shown as the "best practice" and represent the highest digital application standard in its field. We are proud of this success."

"Most of the digitalization projects we started in Petkim since 2018 have been completed and we have started to get positive results of these projects since 2019. We do not settle for this, but always add new ones to our projects, because we think this transformation is a never-ending process that will continue in parallel with global developments and advanced technology. We will continue to develop and implement new digitalization projects to keep pace with global transformation and even to develop applications that will guide the sector," he said.

Abdullayev went on to add that Petkim, STAR Refinery, SOCAR Storage (SOCAR Depolama) and SOCAR Distribution (SOCAR Dagitim), which are the integrated value chain of SOCAR Turkey, merged to form SOCAR Turkey Refinery and Petrochemical Business Unit in November 2019.

"Now, our goal is to expand this digital transformation we started in Petkim to other group companies in our business unit. In line with this goal, our efforts and investments to digitize our processes will continue in 2020," he said.

Abdullayev said that in the Digital Academy, various trainings were organized for more than 300 employees, including senior management, to have competent human resources in digital and analytical fields and to sustain digital transformation in the company.

"The training categories are titled as "Digital Awareness", "Advanced Analytical and Data Knowledge", "Process Digitization" and "Internet of Things and Robotics". Applications to be used in Petkim, such as bootcamp, as well as practical trainings, are also being developed in the Digital Academy. Especially, the applications that came out as a result of advanced analytical training have already started to provide added value to Petkim. Thanks to the suggestions of our employees, we developed more efficient production processes within the company. We have analyzed many different scenarios by creating data-based decision making processes and algorithms. The Ethylene Furnace Optimization Model (EFOM) Project that we applied in the Petkim Ethylene Factory is an example. Thanks to this project, 54 billion scenarios can be created every 15 minutes instead of eight furnace operating scenarios once a week. Thus, the most successful scenarios are applied to real processes. We have submitted applications to the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office and European Patent Office for this project we are developing. Currently, the applications are under review," he said.

As a result of these efforts, Petkim's efficiency, throughput, energy efficiency and product quality is increasing, noted Abdullayev.

"I would also like to point out that we cooperate with the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Taking advantage of this institution's vast experience, we have taken our digital transformation process one step further. In addition, we will also continue to implement joint projects with start-ups on production and process development in cooperation with Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Bogazici University and Middle East Technical University. In this context, Petkim supported ITU Big Bang Start-up Challenge of ITU Cekirdek incubation center in 2019, which is the second best in Europe and the third best in the world, and closely followed the projects presented there," he said.

Thus, the company also has the opportunity to meet the entrepreneurs who stand out with their projects among thousands of candidates and discover the possibilities of cooperation, said Abdullayev.

"Our main goal in digitization is to make Petkim, which is in the leading position in its own field, the most digital company in Azerbaijan and Turkey. Therefore, we uninterruptedly continue our efforts to make our company a digital company with all its employees and culture. Petkim is a company with more than half a century of experience. By combining this experience with new perspectives and technologies, we try to produce maximum value from our vast knowledge. By ensuring Petkim's business efficiency and improving the quality of its products, we contribute to the economic development of Azerbaijan and Turkey," he added.

Abdullayev noted that it is also planned to ensure long-term sustainability of the operations safely by using augmented and virtual reality technologies in the support processes such as maintenance and job security.

"Thanks to these projects, we have ensured efficiency and improvement not only in production, but also financial, human resources and other sectors of Petkim. As a matter of fact, these improvements more and more positively affect our financial results from year to year. The digitization projects we have realized so far will provide an estimated financial contribution of approximately $43 million to our company in coming years," Abdullayev concluded.


Follow the author on Twitter: @Lyaman_Zeyn

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