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Tribal Knowledge – Boots on the Ground in the Refinery

Hi, Gary Pitman here at RefComm® which is Refining Community. I’m part of the Coking team. Something that I wanted to leave as a legacy is the idea that we have tribal knowledge. So this series will be called “Boots on the Ground – Tribal Knowledge.”

What I’d like to share with the people that work the units today is: ‘The units weren’t as easy as they are today when I started.’ For the group before me, the generations before me, it was even more difficult. We had a lot of turnarounds a lot of upsets. The process wasn’t very stable. There wasn’t much automation and in some cases there was no automation.

I am going to go back over the fundamentals and make sure everybody understands the fundamentals to build from. The reason you probably think ‘Hmm why is he going over this?’ Well it’s because after going to 30 plants in the last four or five years and doing audits, I see a lot of things that I think we’re missing.

Learn Tribal Knowledge at the refinery from the PROS at and the Refining Community.

In this series these are some of the things that I’d like to cover:
• For the Coker people the switch valve. We have a lot of issues around the switch valve and I want to cover some of the basics there.
• I’d like to go over the 12 things you need to look at a pump.
• Things that you need to look at about instrumentation.
• Insulation. I want to go a little bit in detail about insulation.
• I want to talk about the way we handle the control of the unit: flow, level, temperature, pressure.
• Another item I’d love to talk about and get across to people is the connection between the outside and the inside. The outside operator is seeing things that he needs to relay to the board operator.
• I always want to talk about Lock Out Tag Out (LOTO). We still have some issues around that area and I think we need to make sure that’s one of our core values.
• Gauges. I think there’s a lot of information about gauges.
• contractor traps,
• housekeeping, and
• oxyacetylene setups in the unit.
I think I’ve got about 14 items here on the list as of now. So I will do different segments and try to keep them short, sweet and informational.

-Gary Pitman Coker Subject Matter Expert, Refining Community.

For more practical articles on delayed coker operations, see Gary’s Blog at

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Posted by: Gary Pitman