I received a call recently from an automation engineer facing an upcoming planned shutdown or “turnaround” in industry parlance. Actually “controlled chaos” may be a better moniker since a tremendous amount of maintenance activity needs to be squeezed into a short period. This engineer had come across one of my earlier posts on this topic and was looking for help in analyzing the control performance of the process control loops prior to the turnaround. This analysis helps identify control issues that can be addressed during the turnaround.
Time is money when the plant is not in production, so this time must be carefully planned and methodically executed to get all the maintenance activities done without schedule delays. Large refineries, petrochemical plants and other continuous processes will run for years between turnarounds. This means there are often new people working each one, which adds to the challenge.
Emerson’s Asset Optimization team has developed a smart turnaround program, which puts a primary focus on control valves but also includes instruments, rotating machinery, and power distribution assets. The program includes a pre-turnaround planning and analysis phase, turnaround execution phase, post-turnaround review phase, and an ongoing maintenance phase.
The post-turnaround review phase captures the results versus the plan and documents the baseline and best practices to serve as “institutional memory” for the next time a turnaround is scheduled and new personnel are involved. Documentation to support on-going maintenance after the turnaround is also reviewed and submitted.
Chris recommended that planning should begin six to twelve months in advance since the flexibility to make changes to the plan diminishes as the turnaround date approaches. This investment in pre-turnaround planning and equipment analysis will be offset by avoidance of delays during the turnaround, reduced turnaround cost, and more efficient operations post-turnaround from better performing assets.
Turnaround specialists review diagnostics from smart instruments based on Foundation fieldbus and HART digital communications to determine which control valves actually need to be pulled for service. Portable diagnostic equipment can be brought in if smart instruments are not in place. Chris notes that typically only 70% of these valves need to be pulled and serviced.
This program ranges from a cost reduction only focus where units are already performing optimally, to a production performance improvement level, to a level of sustaining high performance through training of plant operations and maintenance staff to more effectively use diagnostics from smart instruments.
If your plant conducts turnarounds from time to time and if are going to the Emerson Exchange next month in Dallas, make sure to check out the sessions on smart turnarounds.