Top Ways to Prevent Plant Turnaround Failure

Turnarounds are scheduled, periodic events where one or more processing and/or production units are temporarily removed from service in a plant. According to Emerson, up to 74% of all plant turnarounds fail to meet their performance goals on time. There are many reasons why turnarounds fail to meet deadlines or budget requirements. Regardless of cause, improper turnaround planning can have a significant negative impact on your bottom line. Here are our top ways to help prevent plant turnaround failure.

  1. Don’t Pinch Pennies

In years past, many turnarounds were planned and performed using in-house plant personnel. This was often done as a means to reduce costs and optimize labor. Today, professional plant turnaround specialists are often called on to do planning and management and at times supply labor during turnarounds. In an effort to decrease cost, owners sometimes prioritize the contractors based on who turns in the lowest bids. They may have a few experienced professionals that work full time for the company, but hire the rest locally at the time of the turnaround. This corner cutting can end up costing far more than the initial savings in delays and other complications, which can be troublesome since turnarounds are usually planned to the day, if not the hour.

While cutting cost is tempting, it is almost always wisest to go with an experienced plant turnaround company that has a successful track record and can justify its higher estimate by having the expertise, proper tools, and skilled labor. These contractors should work as closely as possible with in-house personnel to achieve mutual goals.

  1. Maintain a Good Relationship With Your Contractor

Building and cultivating an open and honest line of communication with your turnaround contractor is key to improving the outcome of a turnaround. The relationship between the owner representative and the contractor is crucial because contractors need to be able to tell owners realistic and pragmatic information, even if they don’t want to hear it. Owners also need to be able to express concerns and know they have been acknowledged and will be addressed. It is also essential to establish that the owner’s representative will take the leading role of supervising the activities of both the contractors and their own personnel. There are three reasons this is beneficial:

  • The owner’s representative knows the expectation of their superiors and how best to meet them.
  • The owner’s representative also knows the consequences of not meeting the goals.
  • The owner’s representative is familiar with the in-house staff and will know how to best utilize internal resources.
  1. Proper Planning Prevents Failures

Before the turnaround, the turnaround team should perform a comprehensive plant walk-through. This is to confirm which assets will be targeted during the turnaround, as well as to see what may have to be added. This planning includes but is not limited to:

  • Conducting diagnostic testing
  • Measuring condition of plant assets
  • Spotting potential failures
  • Determining which instruments, equipment, components, hardware, etc. must be repaired or replaced
  • Determining the optimal level of maintenance to be carried out

This planning enables owners and contractors to define the project scope, develop a suitable schedule, and accurately estimate the cost in dollars and days.

  1. Review Your Performance

After the turnaround is complete and plant operations have returned to normal, the Team should review the turnaround performance and document “lessons learned” in an effort to improve performance for future turnarounds. Sometimes obstacles occur during the outage that are addressed at the time in an effort to complete the task, but are not documented to discuss the reason for the obstacle and what could have been done to avoid it. The only way to improve future performance is to revisit past performances and making the necessary adjustments.

Partnership with Experience

With millions of dollars per day being spent to perform a turnaround, it is critical to plan correctly.  Hiring skilled professionals is one of the keys to ensuring optimal results from your turnaround.

While AMACS is not a tower internals contractor, we have close relationships with several contractors that have been managing turnarounds for years. We are willing and able to handle the supply of your tower internal needs on a “turnkey” basis. With over 70 years of experience, the AMACS Turnaround Team is ready to partner with you. Contact us so we can share in more detail how our Turnaround Team can provide you with all your tower internal needs.