Plan for the 5 phases of a plant maintenance shutdown

Be prepared for plant maintenance turnarounds and shutdowns.

By David Neikirk, ABB

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A turnaround (TA) by definition is a planned, periodic event during which one or more processing/production units are removed from service temporarily. In the manufacturing sector, different industries use different terminologies to connote this concept. Some use the term “turnaround,” some use “shutdown,” while still others use the term “outage.” In some industries, the duration and scope of the event determines the particular vernacular used.

Regardless of the terminology your industry uses, this event might occur individually or in conjunction with an entire plant shutdown. The purpose of the event typically is to perform maintenance such as equipment inspection and repair. It’s also an opportunity to replace worn out or broken process materials and equipment that have reached their useful life. Both these activities restore the asset base’s life cycle and ensure the safe and efficient operations between TA events. Often this work can be performed only when the processing/production units aren’t in service.

Phases of a turnaround

There are five distinct phases associated with a turnaround. Each consists of key elements that must be executed to perfection in sequential order. It’s crucial to develop formal processes for each element of each phase. If formal processes aren’t in place, shortcuts tend to happen, best practices and lessons learned get lost, and, more importantly, key steps or procedures can get skipped completely.

Phase 1: Definition/scoping

The definition/scoping phase is the foundation for a turnaround. It’s in this phase that the initial planning, scoping and organization occur. Remember, TAs aren’t stand-alone events, but are high-cost, high-impact events, which represent the execution of the company strategy over a period of many years.

It’s important to build a strategy during this stage addressing how and when TAs are to be executed. Each turnaround should have a business case to justify the event. It should include the key drivers, such as cost reduction or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), that make it a necessity and link it to overall company goals.

Senior management must view turnarounds as an important element in its strategy and should form a steering committee consisting of upper level managers who take responsibility for executing the long-term strategy for turnarounds. Give a TA manager full control of the TA thru every phase so as to develop and manage the organization and resources associated with the turnaround. The TA manager also works with the steering committee to develop the key performance indicators (KPIs), or a set of measures focusing on those aspects of performance that are most critical for success. Typical KPIs for a TA focus on safety, cost, schedule, labor hours, overtime and task completion.

During this phase you should develop the work list, a repository of every conceivable item that should be considered for execution and populated from every level in the organization. Some work list items are mandatory, as dictated by corporate and regulatory entities. Others are improvement-based, as part of an overall strategy to improve cost or market position. Still others come from inspections conducted to improve mean time between failure (MTBF) and equipment life cycle. Use data analysis to find items “below the surface” that degrade processes.

The CMMS is the final destination or repository for items generated from the elements on the work list. Any item submitted for the work list must go through due diligence. The fundamental criterion for items on the work list is work that can be performed only when the unit/process is down.Finally, develop a preparation plan to identify the cost estimate, schedule, work list, constraints and resources needed to execute the TA. The TA manager and the team prepares the preparation plan and submits it to the steering committee for approval and distribution throughout the organization.

Phase 2: Preparation

Phase 2 preparation begins immediately after the preparation plan is approved. This phase develops plan details before TA execution. Develop environmental, health and safety plans to promote workforce health and welfare. Develop logistics plans for reception, storage, protection, issue and demobilization of every item of material, equipment, services, accommodations facilities and utilities the TA requires. Write plans for quality assurance and quality control. Quality assurance is a program for systematically monitoring and evaluating the various aspects of a TA task, service or equipment/material to ensure standards of quality are being met. Quality control measures inspection, testing and engineering, which are used to oversee and improve the quality of work executed.

The work list developed in Phase 1 must be validated and narrowed. Develop detailed work packages for the finalized work list. The work package includes the job scope, number of craftsman, labor hours to execute the tasks and task scheduling. It also includes a standard job plan, detailing the operational steps needed to execute the tasks with precision. Safety steps, permitting, drawings and photos are part of a detailed work package.

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