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Shell Canada upgrades Brockville lubricants plant

Shell Canada's lubricants plant in Brockville, Ont., just east of Kingston, is celebrating its 15th birthday in style this year, having treated itself to a nearly-completed $20-million makeover and ex...


Shell Canada’s lubricants plant in Brockville, Ont., just east of Kingston, is celebrating its 15th birthday in style this year, having treated itself to a nearly-completed $20-million makeover and expansion. Invited along for the festivities were a variety of guests from both near and far, including members of the local Chamber of Commerce, Shell sales and marketing reps, trade and local media, various industry leaders, and retirees who were previously associated with the plant.

Plans to expand on the plant’s operations were put into action soon after Shell officials devised that increased growth and complexity had exceeded the facility’s original production design capability. Mark Cimolai, plant manager with Shell, said bottlenecks had developed during production which were impeding the plant’s capability to effectively service existing business and were limiting potential growth.

Plant modifications got underway in early 2006 and were almost completed by the time of the plant tour June 22.

Upgrades to the facility include: expanded capacity of the rail siding receiving and loading; the addition of 12 bulk storage tanks (base oils, additives, finished products); an upgrade on the plant utilities, including the compressed air and steam systems; enhancements to the blending process; enhancements to the drum/pail packaging line; the addition of new high-speed 1L/quart case packing and conveyor equipment for PQS; and the addition of a profile high-speed 4L/gallon packaging line, complete with a state-of-the-art robotic arm.

Included in the facility upgrades are improvements to the line that packages the plant’s flagship product, Shell’s ROTELLA T with Triple Protection. Larry Horahan, packaging coordinator, said the line packages about 900,000 barrels and 100,000 drums annually, and productivity has gone up about 20% in the past year.

“This line is the best of its kind in North America, no doubt about it. We benchmarked best-in-class even before our modifications, but our modifications have made it even that much better,” he said.

To compound Harahan’s pride in the improvements is the fact that changes to the line were designed by staff who work at the Brockville plant.

“There are a lot of special things that happen with this plant in regards to human resources,” he continued. “Our people have a lot of say in how they do their day-to-day jobs. With this (plant expansion) project, a lot of people contributed to planning it out. I doubt if there was one person at this plant that wasn’t significantly involved in the restructuring (of the plant).”

The plant got its start in 1992 after Shell’s Montreal and Toronto plant operations were consolidated and a new state-of-the-art and fully-integrated process facility was built in Brockville. It is Shell’s only lubricant oil blending and packaging facility in Canada, producing approximately 200 formulations of automotive, aviation, and industrial lubricating oils.


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