Collaboration is key for a successful startup

    Nestled within the U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project site at Old Ocean, Texas, a new state-of-the-art laboratory is gearing up to test the polyethylene that will be sent to customers worldwide.
    Setting up the laboratory the right way is just as important as starting up the world-scale polyethylene (PE) units, which are part of Chevron Phillips Chemical’s $6 billion investment. Of the 200 jobs created for the project in Old Ocean, 26 laboratory employees were hired to serve as critical checkpoints for high-quality products.
    Polyethylene products produced at Old Ocean will be used in a variety of applications, including high pressure pipe and blown film resin suitable for the food industry.
    “When hiring the laboratory team, we looked for a mix of supervisory experience, polymer science knowledge, analytical skills and prior laboratory experience,” said Lily Cui, PE laboratory supervisor. Lily worked in the company’s Bartlesville Research and Technology Center, home of the world-renowned Plastics Technical Center, where she was part of the technical service team. Her work experience is unique in that she is familiar with customer concerns and has a polymer and product development background.
    Cui brought on board six employees who transferred from other sites. They had expertise in quality systems, leadership, and polymer science. In addition, a few others were hired who had dual experience as operators and laboratory analysts. All others were hired externally and had prior polymer or laboratory experience.
    Now with startup around the corner, the laboratory is installing and commissioning its leading-edge equipment, and subject matter experts around Chevron Phillips Chemical are offering their knowledge to ensure success.
    “What makes Chevron Phillips Chemical a great place to work is the collaboration among the entire workforce,” said Scott Hoffpauir, a quality management specialist at the new PE laboratory. “Bartlesville and Kingwood research and technology employees are coming to help with anything and everything. They are not just experts in our company, but in the world and they are offering a hand and adjusting their schedule to help us.”
    Collaboration doesn’t stop at the subject matter experts. Employees of the new PE laboratory at Old Ocean will now be part of the company-wide Lab Quality Assurance Team (LQAT). Starting in the mid-90’s, the LQAT team is comprised of manufacturing polymer facilities, and research and technology representatives, to ensure the same high-quality products are shipped to customers from different facilities.
    Workforce collaboration is the necessary ingredient to a successful company. Not only is collaboration essential to startup a multibillion dollar project but, it’s also needed to exceed customer expectations for service and quality long after the new units are up and running.
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