Engen opens Cape Town fuel depot to improve customer service

Monday 12 October 2009

The cumulative time saving is of enormous value, and the main beneficiary is the customer. Jeeva Chetty, national operations manager, Engen Petroleum.

Engen Petroleum's customer service has taken a giant leap forward in the Western Cape. After many years of operating out of the Chevron Refinery in Milnerton, the SA market leader opened its own fuel storage and loading depot, Cape Town Terminal, in neighbouring Montague Gardens.

Engen takes pride in providing their customers with "par excellence" service, hence managing and operating their own facility, offers them the added advantage of maintaining their promise to the customer, says Chetty.

Control leads to better service

Chetty says while Engen and Chevron's relationship of some 20 years' standing has been enormously beneficial to both companies, operating a 'tenant depot' gives the tenant precious little procedural and decision-making control, leaving it powerless to respond quickly to customer needs.

"We ran a small office at Chevron and waited our turn along with their other customers. Now that we have our own operation, our bulk truck operators [BTOs] have commented that hours of loading time have shrunk to minutes. The cumulative time saving is of enormous value.

"While it represents a considerable investment to Engen, having our own facility is a strategic move that gives us a clear competitive edge in managing our inventory and providing our customers with a better service."

The other motivating factor, he says, is to stand a better chance of preventing a recurrence of the fuel shortage experienced in the Cape some years ago.

Leading gear, processes and training for leading HSEQ

Cape Town Terminal is a highly sophisticated facility with the latest in health, safety, environmental and quality (HSEQ) equipment and procedures. A big focus has been placed on training of additional personnel and acquiring leading systems and infrastructure.

"While we had little manpower for physical activity at the tenant depot, we now have resources for tank discharge, pipeline slug intake, rail tank car discharge, plant maintenance, load rack operations and several other activities," says Chetty.

As regards extra infrastructure, he says a total of four automated loading racks are linked to a central management centre, where an inventory management system gather accurate, up-to-the-second supply statistics for Engen's Supply division.

The new fuel storage tanks are equipped with remotely-managed high-level alarms, fire-fighting equipment and other HSEQ and supply systems, Chetty continues.

The company's tanks store the entire range of petrol and diesel for Engen's retail and commercial fuel needs. (Lubricants are packaged at a different facility.)

Johan Brink, programme change manager for the depot, says an expansion programme is currently under way, to add more loading racks and tanks.