By Byron Perrott, General Manager, Global Manufacturing and Supply Operations on Apr 11, 2022
Byron Perrott is the General Manager, Global Manufacturing and Supply Operations, based at the Shell Technology Center in Houston, Texas. Since 2005, Byron has worked in variety of areas across Shell that includes logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and strategy. Prior to Shell, Byron worked in the semiconductor industry in various functions, which included plant management, strategy, mergers and acquisitions and as Director of Global Supply Chain.
For this interview on “How I Make Every Molecule Matter”, Byron shares how the experience and agility of the team at Shell Catalysts & Technologies has helped provide innovative solutions to the extraordinary challenges across the global supply chain.
1. What are some of the challenges in manufacturing and supply chain operations that you have been working through in the past year?
Within Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ manufacturing & supply operations, our primary responsibility is managing demand from customers, producing the orders and then shipping it to customers around the globe. Our current manufacturing portfolio consists of seven plants located within the United States, Europe and China as well as a large contingent of supply chain personnel managing raw materials, planning and shipping product around the globe.
The current operating environment is incredibly challenging as global society continues to move from one crisis to another. In my 30 years working in manufacturing and supply, I’ve never seen anything like the obstacles we are faced with today. The pandemic has been incredibly demanding from a staffing and a supply chain standpoint. Essentially, every part of the global economy has been impacted and it has constrained our ability to source raw materials, cargo trucks, ships, staff, etc. Inflation has also impacted every part of our business as we are seeing price increases in a myriad of areas compared to 2020.
In addition to the pandemic, we now have the war in Ukraine, which is creating shortages of raw materials used in our manufacturing process and Shell has announced its intent to withdraw from all Russian oil and gas. For us in manufacturing & supply, that creates a complicated, challenging situation.
2. How is manufacturing & supply navigating the situation?
The Shell Catalysts & Technologies crisis teams are assessing the ever-changing circumstances on a daily basis to make sure that we are following the Shell Group’s guidance to act ethically and responsibly. Across the organisation, our teams focus on:
- Care for our people and the people we work with.
- Ensuring business continuity and delivering on our commitments.
- Managing compliance.
Because some raw materials come from Russia, we are currently working to source those materials from other countries and vendors. The situation is complex and there are a myriad different factors impacting Shell Catalysts & Technologies.
3. How do you work in a larger team across initiatives to ensure that products get produced and shipped to customers?
First, from a strategic standpoint, we continue to work long-term strategic initiatives to stay ahead of our competition and deliver for our customer base. Because of this, I’m heavily involved in the longer-term thinking associated with capital projects and where we’re going as a business. There are many different activities going on within different plants, supply chain and capital projects.
Second, from a tactical or day-to-day operations standpoint, our supply chain is actively working with the commercial business, plants and our vendors to produce material to meet customer demand. Because of the plethora of crises, the organisation has had to methodically work to sort and solve the many raw materials, logistics and shipping issues in collaboration with customers and partners.
Solving these challenges has been incredibly stressful and difficult for the organisation. Within Shell Catalysts & Technologies, we have an incredibly experienced and talented manufacturing and supply chain team. And their work with our R&D organisation has resulted in the combined teams resolving multiple issues. Solving the myriad of problems has taken lots of creative thinking, hard work and collaboration between supply chain, manufacturing and R&D. It’s been an incredible effort by all involved and I am proud to be a part of this organisation.
4. What are some of the most interesting projects you have been involved in?
From the perspective of how we Make Every Molecule Matter, we are running our plants as efficiently as possible to reduce our CO2 footprint. We make efforts to get maximum use of all our raw materials and to get maximum efficiency of our energy usage. We are currently working with the Shell New Energies business to see how we can integrate renewable energies to make our plants more CO2 efficient.
There are a variety of projects that will help us through the energy transition. One of them is our Project Blue Cat at Port Allen, Louisiana. One of the primary drivers of the project is to provide catalyst for our IH2 project, which is waste-to-fuel technology that is under development.
One of the most rewarding projects I have been involved in is Project Hero, where we worked with our Chinese partners to build a Resid plant in China. The project was difficult due to clashes in cultures, ways of working, languages, technology transfer and costs. After working through these barriers for multiple years, the plant is producing high-value product for Shell Catalysts & Technologies and is a critical part of our future supply chain.
What is amazing about the plant is that we got it up and running during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in June of 2020. We managed to do that virtually with our R&D and supply chain teams. We had video conferences on a nightly basis and managed to get the plant qualified and up and running to produce high-quality product. It was a big win for our organisation to be able to do so virtually. Again, this was another collaborative effort between supply chain and R&D. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when teams work well together.
5. Looking forward, what motivates you?
I am a competitive person and I want our business to be successful; this drives me on a daily basis. Despite the challenges I’ve shared, manufacturing & supply continue to perform exceptionally well. I’m motivated by the performance of the team, the wonderful relationships I have with people across our organisation and what the future holds.
Looking forward, it will take years for the global supply chain to reach equilibrium. Because of this, we need to be prepared as an organisation to resolve the many dilemmas facing us. We’re in a huge storm, but I have no doubt we have the talent and fortitude to navigate it.