Improving Turnaround Planning and Execution

Emerson's Nikki Bishop


Emerson's Tim Olsen


Continuously operating process plants need to plan outages, also known as turnarounds, from time to time to perform maintenance and improvements not possible while the process is online. Every day of downtime is lost revenue, so carefully planning the actions to be performed during the outage is critical.

In a Hydrocarbon Processing article, Get more from your next turnaround, Emerson’s Nikki Bishop and Tim Olsen describe opportunities to reduce risk and improve the odds of a successful plant turnaround.

Nikki and Tim note that the turnaround personnel are:

…tasked with coordinating limited resources in a constrained time period, and must ensure that they are safely working only on the assets that need attention. Missing a required maintenance service, or doing unnecessary work, has the potential for extending the turnaround schedule, which increases the probability of an unscheduled shutdown after the turnaround is completed.

They explain that these turnarounds typically were performed on 3-to-5 year intervals, with some now stretching out to 5-to-7 years between turnarounds. This can create issues with collective experience with many involved moving into different roles during these intervals.

Effective turnaround project planning is critical because:

  • Project duration is minimized and typically based on a critical path item, with every day during a shutdown resulting in lost revenue.
  • Unscheduled or emergent work causes bottlenecks in turnaround execution and leads to budget and schedule overruns.
  • Delays due to turnaround schedule overruns can sink profits for the facility, ruining financial performance for a financial quarter or longer.
  • Increasingly, process plants execute larger capital projects during turnarounds, adding to already complex project management and logistical challenges; especially if both activities are considered separate events rather than coordinated as one.

Over the past decades, smart instrumentation, final control elements, rotating equipment and other assets have included diagnostic information which can help the planning process. What is sometimes missing is the asset management software to capture this data over time to establish performance trends and identify equipment for the turnaround list.

Asset management and predictive analytics software…can be utilized to automatically collect the data and turn it into useful information. However, launching an effective condition monitoring program requires a behavioral and procedural change from a traditional approach. Nonetheless, companies planning a turnaround should give this kind of program careful consideration, and they may find that enlisting outside help can make predictive analytics and condition-based procedure modifications much easier.

Nikki and Tim share some important lessons that increase the probability of success:

  • It is never too early to launch a program.
  • Uphold the scope-freeze date.
  • Deployment requires information integration.
  • Add automated data collection and analysis where needed.
  • Temporary vs. permanent.

They share a case sturdy where a refinery typically rebuilt 250 control valves during the turnaround. By using asset management software which collected valve signatures, the diagnostics revealed that only 28 required servicing. Savings were estimated at around $1 million USD for the turnaround. Additionally, the resources to be deployed for these activities could be deployed more productively elsewhere during this period of intense activity.

Read the article for more on ways to better plan and execute your plant’s next turnaround.

You can connect and interact with other turnaround experts in some of the Industry groups as well as the Plan & Design group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Monday, February 20th, 2017 under Project Services.