Digital Transformation and Manufacturing Operations Management at Saudi Aramco

By Janice Abel

ARC Report Abstract


Even in today’s challenging oil and gas environment, Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s leading energy and chemicals producers, has enjoyed continued success.  This can be attributed in part to the company’s approach to manufacturing operations management and digital innovation, which enables it to identify, develop, and implement new strategic technologies.

At the recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida, Eyad A. Buhulaiga, Senior Projects Manager at Saudi Aramco, spoke about the company’s first digital plant integration of its new integrated manufacturing operations management system (imoms) technology at the company’s Jazan Refinery Complex (JRC) in Saudi Arabia.  He also said that Saudi Aramco is in the process of making the technology and services available to other companies.  

Key takeaways include:

  • Saudi Aramco developed imoms as an off-the-shelf solution for operational intelligence and advanced automated decision support within its own refineries.
  • Initial implementations at the Jazan refinery project demonstrate that the solution can help streamline business processes and close automation gaps with minimal customization.
  • The company is commercializing the technology and its associated expertise to share with other companies across a variety of industries.  It is also pursuing patents for the technology.

The Digital Refinery and Manufacturing Operations Management

Mr. Buhulaiga presented on the solution Saudi Aramco developed for its recently completed Jazan Refinery Complex Project (JRC). The com-pany calls this solution “imoms” (integrated manufacturing operations management system).  The new imoms technology, Aramco’s digital application for manufacturing intelligence, was designed to help solve the information and automation gaps typically encountered in today’s MOM technologies.  The goal is to create a largely off-the-shelf solution that would require minimal customization.  In addition to implementing this solution within its own plants, Saudi Aramco is in the process of also making it commercially available to other companies. 

The imoms project was a collaborative effort between the Saudi Aramco Project Management Team; the Jazan complex proponent; subject matter experts from Engineering Services, Information Technology, Oil Supply Planning and Scheduling (OSPAS), and Loss Prevention; and Corporate Maintenance, which actively participated in the design and development of imoms with the system integrator. 

Core Functional Areas

Aramco initially developed imoms to support the business processes management at the Jazan Refinery Complex, including the marine terminal and power plant.  The solution provides tools and templates based on ISA 95 guidelines to enable implementation of standard business processes.  The JRC benchmark was implemented to capture all the information in reusable templates. 

Four Pillars of Operational Excellence

As Mr. Buhulaiga explained, imoms is designed to enhance operational excellence by providing advanced tools that will help improve profitability, efficiency, reliability, and — most importantly — health, safety and environment; the “four pillars” of operational excellence. 

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Cloud-based Digital Technology and Services

While all imoms technologies developed for the Jazan project are cloud-based, the technology can also be made available on-premise or in private or public cloud infrastructures.  The solution is configured on top of commercial off-the-shelf commercial technologies.

According to Mr. Buhulaiga, “imoms establishes an integrated, cloud-based digital transformation infrastructure that we believe is unprecedented in the industry as a greenfield project.  It consists of configuring commercial off-the-shelf products with no customization to ease the process of supporting and expanding to other applications and facilities.”

Users can tailor this largely off-the-shelf technology to their business process using the Saudi Aramco-developed templates.  These easily modified templates or apps help streamline the process of identifying requirements for standard business processes for each application.  “A typical MES/MOM implementation can take several years to work through the different project phases, such as FEED, detailed design, implementation, and testing and deployment. imoms-as-a-service can reduce the development effort and time to production significantly by tapping into the pre-engineered solutions,” said Mr. Buhulaiga.

The Jazan Refinery Complex Project Benchmark

The Jazan Refinery Complex project technology consists of 20 integrated and interoperable solutions that are digitally transforming the plant’s operation and helping enable operational excellence.   The project includes integrating 26 different applications residing on more than 100 servers with over 1,000 users. 

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Keywords: Saudi Aramco, Digital Transformation, Manufacturing Intelligence, Decision Support, Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), imoms, ARC Advisory Group.

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