Published by Peter Boler on August 18, 2020
As COVID-19 continues to spread the toll it has taken on public health and global economies is hard to dispute. That combined with an oil price war between OPEC and Russia created a supply and demand imbalance. Demand decreased as travel restrictions and mandatory stay-at-home orders went into place while supply continued to increase resulting in significantly lower oil prices. While oil prices have recovered somewhat since early April the demand effects continue to linger.
As a result oil and gas companies have rightly acted to protect employees health and safety and by cutting or deferring discretionary capital and operating expenditures at all levels including laboratory operations. However, the crisis also presents an opportunity to reconsider how investing in newer technologies can improve operational efficiencies while simultaneously reducing long-term costs effectively positioning these companies to emerge from this crisis well positioned for the future.
One way to do this is for laboratory directors to use this opportunity to consider technologies and methods that allow them to consolidate tests that have traditionally required multiple analytical systems. This type of strategy can have a significant impact of laboratory cost and productivity because it effectively eliminates the need for multiple analytical systems, reduces the costs associated with maintenance and consumables and improves laboratory productivity and efficiency because analysts have fewer analytical technologies to learn.
Consider the VUV Analyzer™ Platform for Fuels running ASTM D8071. This single platform can replace the need for multiple analytical techniques (Figure 1) including: ASTM D1319 using Fluorescence Indicator Absorption, ASTM D5599 using GC-OFID, ASTM D5769 using GC-MS, and ASTM D3606 using GC-TCD. Consolidating reduces costs and improves efficiency because it:
- Reduces the number of gas chromatographs from three to one.
- Reduces gas consumption because fewer GC are required.
- Eliminates the need for expensive maintenance on MS vacuum pumps and source optic cleanings,
- Eliminates the need for expensive maintenance on GC-OFID platinum reactors.
- Eliminates the needs for expensive dyes and time consuming analysis.
- Simplifies operation for the user through a single platform and automation.
- Frees up critical laboratory resources to work on other high priority tasks.
The cost savings associated with a consolidation strategy is best displayed in Figure 2. Operating the VUV Analyzer Platform for Fuels and ASTM D8071 is twelve (12) times less expensive to operate per sample compared to the sum of the other techniques. This dramatic difference is due in large part reduced labor costs associated with operating a single automated analytical platform and a dramatic reduction in maintenance and consumable costs.
Short-term responses to these crisis’s like cutting or deferring of capital operational expenditures have already been implemented. They should be continuously monitored and adjusted where needed.
However, laboratory leaders who want to emerge from the crisis positioned for the future need to start investing in the laboratory technologies that will allow them to reduce operating costs over the long-term while also improving efficiency and profitability.
In part 2 of the series we will dig a little deeper into the cost advantages of the VUV Analyzer Platform for Fuels by looking comparing different fuel types and method in more detail.