Understanding the True Impact of Turnarounds in Industrial Sectors|
Article - September 25, 2017 By LarsonElectronics.com
Understanding the True Impact of Turnarounds in Industrial Sectors
Maintenance is a one of the most important aspects of industrial operations. However, due to the busy nature of such sites, it’s not possible to perform repairs and inspections while sustaining daily operations. To effectively complete such tasks, parts of the facility must be shut down temporarily to streamline upkeep.
Turnarounds are unavoidable for plants with long-term objectives. Comparable to owning a car, machines, facilities, pipes and work stations are prone to degradation and must be properly maintained. With this in mind, turnarounds can be defined as a scheduled, non-production period, wherein critical upkeep is performed in a timely manner to ensure safety and operational efficiency.
Cost and Phases of Plant Turnarounds
Plant turnarounds are usually broken down into different phases during execution. The first two stages include strategic and detailed planning. During these two phases, an overview of the project and objectives are provided. In the latter stage, specific descriptions are given to each task. At the end of the planning phases, major goals are finalized and typically go unchanged (unless there is an emergency) to streamline completion.
After planning, specific tasks must be allocated to workers and teams at the site. Lastly, the final two stages include execution and closeout. During closeout, a comprehensive assessment is provided in the form of reports and feedback from the crew. This information is used to determine how successful the workers were in completing the turnaround.
From a cost perspective, shutdowns are expensive to shoulder for businesses. It is important to keep in mind that daily operations are suspended or halted during turnarounds, resulting in a dip in output. Moreover, because companies want to finish turnarounds as quickly as possible, it is common practice for businesses to cater to overtime work arrangements. Providing higher pay rates over a span of a few weeks for hundreds of workers can be costly – even for highly profitable industrial establishments.
Equipment, Lighting and Operators
Equipment for completing tasks during plant shutdowns vary greatly. In most cases, such requirements are addressed during the planning stages. Because turnarounds are seasonal, companies may choose to rent tools and equipment, instead of full, upfront purchases, to reduce project costs. The type of equipment (purchased or rented) used during the execution of turnarounds is temporary or portable. For lighting systems, this could include light towers, LEDs on carts or wheelbarrows, string lights and more. Inspection lights are also widely used during the closeout phase to streamline completion and improve quality assurance.
Businesses with thousands of workers may choose to call on existing employees to conduct plant turnarounds. In the event one’s workforce is lacking, companies may choose to bring on third-party contractors. This option is considered to be less risky for projects with several layers or components. With more workers available, individuals are less prone to getting tired or making human-related errors. Additionally, businesses could reduce time spent on training internal employees about complex turnaround tasks by hiring a skilled third-party crew with the necessary knowledge, experience and equipment.
Examples of Successful Plant Turnarounds
Companies in oil and gas, manufacturing, chemical refining and processing sectors incorporate turnarounds in operations on a consistent, seasonal basis. An example of a business that is no stranger to periodic shutdowns is Shell. The global brand deployed over 4,500 contractors to complete a second-phase turnaround in the Muskeg River Mine and Scotford Upgrader. During the project, roughly 250 valves were installed and inspected.
In 2016, Valero Energy Corporation completed a plant turnaround at one of its facilities in Benicia, California. Worth a staggering $16 million, the project involved the installation of new processing machines.