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Having excellent On-Stream Time is the bread and butter of any processing plant or other facility that produces chemicals, power, pulp, etc. Effective maintenance practices minimize downtime by focusing and coordinating preventive and corrective maintenance activities. There is however another entire category of downtime; that is the downtime driven by Turnarounds. Paul Harker, Senior Operations Manager with USCCG, explains the best approach to Turnarounds below.

The objective of a Turnaround (TA) is to complete all essential maintenance work required to ensure that the area runs reliably for an entire production campaign. This must be done while keeping the TA duration as short as possible to minimize the loss of production.

Turnarounds exist for two reasons:

  1. There are some maintenance activities that can only take place completely and safely when the plant is down.
  2. A correctly scoped Turnaround, executed in the minimum time required, prevents unplanned down events that ultimately cause greater total downtime.

Without a comprehensive approach to turnarounds, an organization exposes itself to a number of issues:

Due to the complex mix of parts, equipment, and contractors involved there is a great deal of scrambling required to execute the event. Some common stumbling blocks include:

To avoid these issues and to actively manage the balance between speed and effectiveness, a comprehensive system must define a closed loop. The loop needs to contain tools & techniques that fit into the following categories: Strategic Planning, Detailed Planning, Follow-Up, Execution, and Progress Monitoring.

The illustration below depicts the Stages for managing Turnarounds. Each of the categories has been given a color code to make it easier to visualize which elements of the system fit into each category.

(Click image to enlarge)

Chemicals Turnaround MOS

1. Strategic Planning

The strategic elements of planning for Turnarounds exist to ensure that its activities will drive results. The results need to be consistent with the organization’s production and financial objectives. It is surprising how quickly complex activities like Turnarounds can develop a life of their own and stray from what the organization intended.

The Strategic Planning elements include:

2. Detailed Planning

This is where the bulk of the planning activities take place. In order to make effective use of the tools and techniques to implemented, there must be resources put in place that have the authority to draw together the needed information and to call the appropriate planning and updating sessions. If these resources and the processes they are pursuing are not given the full support of the management team, you will find that the Turnaround will miss one or more of its reliability, schedule, or cost objectives.

The Detailed Planning elements include:

3. Execution

Execution is where the rubber hits the road in any operating system. For Turnarounds, that includes: ramping down the operation, getting the maintenance work completed, and ramping back up. It also involves follow through on all of the detailed plans by getting work orders written, contractors aligned, work packets put together, materials acquired & staged, etc.

Managing the elements within the Execution category include:

4. Follow-Up

Close Follow-Up is the key to the successful completion of the TA activities. It is also a basic management skill that cannot be over-emphasized. Follow-Up is the periodic review of the status of a work assignment to determine if we remain on-schedule or if some execution problem has arisen. It is essential to give good assignments with specific expectations for follow-up to be effective. This is as equally true for contractors as it is for our own people.

The Follow-Up elements include:

5. Progress Monitoring

Progress Monitoring is the last of the system categories. It differs from Follow-Up in that we are monitoring the progress to improve our turnarounds, as opposed to executing the current TA. The elements here are designed to capture how successful we were against our cost, schedule, and reliability objectives. Are we getting better at these over time?

The Progress Monitoring elements include:

The tools and processes outlined above are designed to actively manage the balance between the speed and the effectiveness of Turnarounds.