Standardizing Laboratory Best Practices with LIMS

Valero Energy Corporation is a Texas-based Fortune 500 company in San Antonio. Valero has a workforce of approximately 21,000 and boasts revenues of almost $30 billion. As one of the leading American refining companies, Valero’s extensive refining system has a daily throughput capacity of close to 2 million barrels.

Valero has 4,800 miles of crude oil pipelines and refined product, as well as refined product terminals, in combination with its interest in Valero L.P., which complement its Southwestern and Mid-continent-based regional marketing assets. With approximately 4,200 retail sites in the United States and Canada, branded as Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Ultramar, Beacon and Total - Valero markets through a bulk and rack network on a wholesale basis in 40 U.S. states, as well as Canada and Latin America.

Key Challenges Faced

Valero’s LIMS application needs were complex, thanks to the acquisition of new refineries. The new corporate-wide LIMS solution would be a substitute for various legacy LIMS installations at each of its plants. The solution sought by Valero needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Must be able to fulfill all the functional needs of a refinery (process) laboratory
  • Must be able to amalgamate perfectly in the future with the corporate business and plant manufacturing systems (SAP and Info Plus 21)

System Sought

To fulfill Valero’s needs, the LIMS functions and operational systems had to meet multiple workflow and management functions, as follows:

  • Automatic sample scheduling with label printing
  • Capacity to submit unscheduled samples▪ Capture procurement and date and time of sample
  • Monitor sample pickup and delivery
  • Scan from barcode samples when received with date and time stamp
  • Schedule work and distribute samples to the correct lab area/instrument and other identified   workstations
  • Prepare samples
  • Complete analysis (measurement) and to check against control charts with exception reporting   and automatic notification of results
  • Take and verify results – no matter the source - with detailed sample analysis
  • Automate report and result distribution process with chain of custody reporting

System Selected

The system selected by Valero was the LabVantage LIMS, chosen from a list of 3 carefully selected vendors. LabVantage was able to fulfill all the requirements Valero had and ultimately installed and loaded at the Corpus Christi lab data with over one million result records in a little over a 2-week period. Demonstrations of the system then took place over a 2-day period to both lab managers and supporting staff.

System Delivered

In May 1999, Valero received the LabVantage LIMS for its first installation at the Paulsboro, New Jersey facility. September 1999 saw Valero go “live” with the assistance of the LabVanage Professional Services team. Over the next year, the LabVantage LIMS was implemented at 4 other refineries. Valero’s subsequent acquisitions deployed the LIMS at 5 additional refineries. LabVantage LIMS is used by lab personnel at the refineries, in a 7/24 operation.

An average 40-50% of the results are input from the automated instrument interfacing of the automatic distillation units and the gas chromatographs. Reports used to in support of the lab and refinery operations include the following:

  • Daily Completed Samples
  • Daily Failed/Waived Results
  • Daily Tank Results and Summary
  • Absent Results
  • Operational Morning Reports for GC Data, Products, and Process Units
  • Lab Worksheets
  • QA/QC Calibration
  • Sample Receipt Status
  • Sample Schedule by Test and Time
  • Sample Schedule by Sample Point and Time
  • Special Sample Count Report
  • Template Listing
  • Test and Test - Property Listings
  • Trace Log

LabVantage was able to fulfill all the requirements of Valero, as well as being able to install and load at the Corpus Christi lab data, obtaining over one million result records in just over 2 weeks.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by LabVantage Solutions, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit LabVantage Solutions, Inc.

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