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10 Steps for Managing a Successful Plant Turnaround

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When managed properly, a plant turnaround has the power to positively affect a company’s morale, efficiency, safety, and bottom line. A turnaround is a period of non-production where day-to-day operations stop temporarily and the focus shifts to maintenance (e.g. cleaning, inspections, repairs, and necessary equipment replacements). Managers and employees — as well as outside contractors — must work together to get the plant back to regular operations.

A turnaround (sometimes called a shutdown) can be expensive in terms of lost production, additional labour, and equipment costs. However, it pays off in terms of future productivity. In order to reap the benefits, the process requires precise planning and expert implementation. Managing a plant turnaround requires the following ten steps to ensure that it runs smoothly and effectively:

10 Steps for Managing a Successful Plant TurnaroundPlanning: The planning stage is probably one of the most crucial steps; there is much to consider. First, put a team in place whose sole job is to create and implement the plan. This team will focus on:Identifying critical and sub-critical issues that affect the plant.

Preparing a schedule that integrates all work activities, including those of outside contractors and their schedules.

Evaluating alternative methods that could achieve desired goals at the lowest possible cost (while staying on schedule, ensuring safety and quality).

Creating a detailed timeline and checklist.

What equipment needs to be removed, repaired, or replaced.

What maintenance and inspections are required.

10 Steps for Managing a Successful Plant Turnaround

Budget: As part of the planning stage, budgeting for a turnaround is important — there are two direct costs:

  • Execution (maintenance fees, equipment repair, new equipment, contractor’s fees, etc.).
  • Loss of production and profits.

Turnarounds are expensive and can consume an entire year’s maintenance fees in just a few short weeks. Time and efficiency are of the essence, so a realistic budget must be established. It’s important to factor in labour costs (like overtime and extra manpower). Factor in the cost of contractors who may be essential to ensure a speedy and thorough turnaround.

3. Assigning Tasks: Once the plan is approved, assign tasks and know exactly who is responsible for each action item. It’s in your best interest to assign a turnaround manager to oversee the whole process. Also, designate assistants in key areas to ensure that particularly significant aspects of the turnaround are being overseen.

Everyone involved should represent all areas of responsibility. Depending on your industry, this breakdown could include: Administration, Operations, Maintenance, Engineering, Health & Safety, and Quality Assurance. Ensure that your regular day-to-day staff is aware of their assignments; these may be different from their regular duties.

4. Removing Unnecessary Assets: Removing assets (that might impede or are not required for the shutdown) will make the space easier to navigate. Heavy or delicate machinery can be moved off-site and staged until the turnaround is complete. Be sure to confirm with your heavy machinery movers the best way to prepare equipment for the move.

5. Inspection: Inspections help you understand the scope of your turnaround and help you anticipate the schedule, cost, and execution. You will need to:

  • Inspect all equipment that is critical to the turnaround — especially machinery that is difficult to access. Know what needs maintenance, repair, or replacement.
  • Understand any new requirements for inspections that may have come into effect since the last turnaround, ensuring that time and money are only spent on what is legally required (and promotes safety).
  • Create a list of all inspections and a timeline for every event that takes place during the turnaround.
  • Inspect equipment that may require maintenance early in the shutdown process. If repairs or replacement are required, they can be dealt with immediately and prevent delays.

6. Purchasing Necessary Tools and Equipment: Once you’ve conducted an inspection and an audit of what is to be replaced, order and purchase (or rent) needed supplies. Doing so will prevent any unnecessary shutdowns.

7. Execution: Once all the above procedures have been implemented, tackle the most difficult jobs first.

  • Make sure all the pre-turnaround tasks are completed.
  • All managers should fully understand their own role in the turnaround and that of their department.
  • Supervisors must know what to expect from outside contractors and monitor their progress.
  • Use turnover checklists to ensure that all aspects of the turnaround are completed.

8. Safety First: Turnarounds can pose risk to personal safety and health. Employees could engage in work that isn’t part of their daily routine, and new contractors and other workers may be unfamiliar with the plant. Make safety a top priority:

  • Prepare a comprehensive safety, health, and environmental plan in advance. Make sure that it’s reviewed and approved by the turnaround team.
  • Explain all safety goals and requirements to contractors when they’re hired; review them when they’re on site.

9. Quality Check: Once work is completed inspect and re-test equipment. (This can be done on a department by department basis, or as each piece of equipment is repaired, replaced, or serviced.) Do this to ensure that every piece of machinery is in good working order and that all department goals have been achieved.

  • Restart: Once all the equipment is back in place (repaired, serviced, or replaced), your plant is ready for the restart. Regulatory bodies will need to do final inspections (which can be done department by department as the turnaround occurs), and the final green light is given to reopen production.

A successful turnaround depends on many people, plus faultless organization and planning. Turnarounds can have an impact on inventory, client relations, and investor confidence. It’s imperative they are conducted with utmost attention to detail and schedule. Turnarounds are necessary and will ultimately lead to a more efficient, safer, and profitable plant.

For safe moving, storage, and staging of your equipment during your plant turnaround in the Toronto area or throughout Canada, call Ready Machinery Movers at 1-800-211-2500. We also handle export packaging and overseas shipping. Contact us for information about major moves, storing your equipment, and set up on the other end. Request a quote or use our contact form to send us your inquiries.



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