Managing Hot Cutovers in Refineries

A recent post on’s global on-line community for automation professionals asked about how to go from pneumatics to a process automation system in a refinery.

Given the strong global demand for refined products, refineries want to avoid any downtime when modernizing their automation and safety instrumented system technologies. This process of cutting over from old to new while the process is running is called a Hot Cutover.

Ken Suetterlin, a senior Emerson Project Manager from our Refining and Chemical Industry organization responded to the post with the following recommendations:

  1. 1. Identify which loops are to be converted as Hot Cutover and which are to be done during Turnaround. If possible, we recommend you convert loops related to safety shutdowns during Turnaround. The loops in each category can be color coded on P&IDs and/or indicated by category in an instrument database. Then you can sort by Hot Cutover and get a list of all loops in that category.
  2. Once you have a list you’ll want to work closely with Operations to schedule the loops based on production priorities and loop complexity.
  3. Install and test as much as possible in advance to avoid last minute surprises.

Upfront planning is critical to avoid downtime. In a Shell Deer Park refinery modernization project, Emerson supplied all phases of engineering services related to Hot Cutover including conceptual design, FEED (Front End Engineering Design), detail design, FAT (Factory Acceptance Test), field commissioning, SIT (System Integration Test), SAT (Site Acceptance Test), and installation. The team worked closely with installation contractors, and provided the engineers and technicians for actual cutover.

The Hot Cutover process at the Shell Deer Park refinery which included critical units like the Cat Cracker is described in an April Hydrocarbon Processing article.

Posted Wednesday, March 1st, 2006 under Downstream Hydrocarbons, Services, Consulting & Training.

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