Findlay, Ohio,
07:52 PM

MPL’s brand new operations center

Marathon Petroleum Corporation recently completed an expansion of its headquarters in Findlay, Ohio. One of the buildings, named the MPLX building, officially opened its doors in July and included a new home for all of Marathon Pipe Line LLC’s (MPL) operations. Nestled inside this new home is a brand new, state-of-the-art, 24-7 pipeline operations center (OC) on the fourth floor.

The OC had unique demands for its new space, given its round-the-clock pipeline operations and the need for intense security. First, the area dramatically expands the console space to 20 stations, up from 11 stations in the former OC, allowing for future growth. In addition to adjacent office space for supervisory staff, the layout includes an evacuation room in the case of severe weather or any other emergency, and a conference room.

“Over the course of a couple years, we met regularly to design the space and carefully plan the move,” says MPL OC Supervisor Steve Dittman, who helped design the new floor plan with MPC’s Facilities Planning organization. “We took into account the OC’s unique schedule and emergency planning for pipeline operations throughout every detail. The conference room is a nice addition, too.” Dittman explained that with the extra space and dedicated gathering spaces, they can bring visitors to the OC for tours without disturbing any of the OC analysts.

In addition to increased security, the new space accounts for contingency plans. All OC operations – if need be – can take place from the evacuation room, which features reinforced walls, 7 to 8 inches thick, and dedicated emergency power.

The more than 70 OC analysts in MPL work 12 hour shifts – from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – and rotate from days to nights every other month. Since fatigue can be a factor in rotating shift schedules, special lighting in the OC automatically adjusts to the time of day. Additional blue lighting activates at night, which helps combat fatigue and improve alertness. There is also a side room with some light exercise equipment to further mitigate the effects of fatigue.

The work of an OC analyst requires constant monitoring of their consoles. Because of this, analysts are unable to leave their consoles for longer periods of time while on shift. To help, the area also includes a break room for food storage and preparation, and a locker area. The consoles are intentionally arranged in pairs, so all consoles can have continuous coverage when an analyst needs a break.

“Our final move-in went seamlessly,” adds Paul Vihalik, MPL OC manager. “We used our backup OC in Bluffton [Ohio] more than once over the past few months during the campus expansion, and the fact that everything went so smoothly is directly related to all of the planning that went into the move. We couldn’t be more pleased with the way the new OC turned out.”

For more information on MPL’s operation center, be sure to check out last year’s article “Managing the Flow.”