A New Turnaround Paradigm

We have previously discussed how 85% of turnarounds fail due to lack of collaboration between the owner and contractors’ teams. If plants want to break from that statistic, they must break with traditional turnaround styles and protocol and be willing to change. Adopting a new turnaround paradigm includes rethinking both the executive support system and contractor strategies to achieve turnaround goals.

The Major Problems

Because the scope of the turnaround is only partially known when it begins, turnarounds require rigorous scope management controls. Traditional turnaround management does not factor in changes to the schedule, with the flexibility to modify the baseline schedule. This is important, because in some instances, the baseline schedule is used to measure performance. Obviously, when there is scope creep and the schedule is not adhered to, this leads to a sense of failure.  A new paradigm demands new practices to allow for changes to the schedule when the project scope changes.

Other turnaround problems include but are not limited to:

  • Doing something just because it was done in the past.
  • Lack of proper planning for all aspects of the turnaround.
  • A mentality of them vs. us between in house personnel and contractors.
  • Using outdated dollar and duration benchmarks.
  • Absence of trust between management and contractors.

Due to the constant restructuring in the industry, plants are also seeing a drop in the amount of experienced professionals to help plan and execute a turnaround. Plants that are willing to compromise in this area will experience hardships in the long run. Those who utilize their core strengths in conjunction with qualified contractors are primed for success.

The Solution

Plants must initiate innovative new paradigms to break the cycle of poor performances on previous turnarounds and shutdowns. Avoid some of the largest and most common turnaround challenges by:

  1. Clearly defining the turnaround vision and performance expectations.
  2. Research and incorporate the best turnaround processes and practices for your operation.
  3. Focus on strategic planning for potential risk/success issues.
  4. Utilizing training programs to enhance the skills of the turnaround staff.
  5. Maintain a healthy team spirit to ensure each participant’s strengths are used to the fullest.

Turnaround Human Resource Management

One of the greatest challenges in turnarounds remains management of human resource pools at both the macro and micro level. Staffing levels for specialty skills may be brought up as vessels are opened, units are blinded, etc. Turnaround managers should constantly review staffing levels versus schedule requirements to ensure sufficient resources are available to complete the bulk of critical work within its deadline. This strategy also provides the flexibility to demobilize excess staff in order to control costs.

Turnaround Communication

Competition or hoarding of skilled labor can occur and jeopardize the turnaround’s success. Field supervisors, superintendents, and other management personnel must foster a cooperative teamwork spirit when defining and organizing the existing labor pool. Management should also take on the responsibility for meeting overall progress and schedule goals instead of sourcing it out.

The new turnaround paradigm plans for more favorable outcomes and address the following:

  • Scheduling and planning – scope and progress
  • Safety management – scope, schedule, requirements, and permits
  • Executive management – summary schedule, and progress
  • Turnaround managers – scope, schedule, progress, and human resources
  • Inspectors – scheduling and progress
  • Contractors – varies by industry
  • Operators – scope, schedule, and progress
  • Warehouse management – scope and schedule
  • Final inspectors – schedule and progress

It is essential to work with the right contractors during a turnaround. With over 40 years’ of turnaround experience, AMACS understands the factors that contribute to successful turnarounds. We have the expertise to provide replacement in kind equipment or produce the most advanced engineered products required for your plant. Contact our team 24/7 to discuss how we can assist with your entire process tower internal needs.