Planning Turnarounds for more than Maintenance - Emerson Automation Experts

Planning Turnarounds for more than Maintenance

Emerson's Tim Olsen

A Solomon Associates presenter on reliability benchmarking at the 2015 AFPM Reliability and Maintenance Conference noted that a turnaround is the planned shutdown opportunity to implement a capital improvement project.

In an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)’s CEP article, Turnarounds: Strategic Opportunities to Improve (article excerpt – AIChE membership required for full access), Emerson’s Tim Olsen highlights the critical role of advanced planning.

Tim opens the article highlighting some challenges in executing turnarounds:

Mitigating the risk of cost and schedule overruns is vital to competitiveness and profitability. Turnaround teams are tasked with coordinating a limited workforce in a constrained time period and must also ensure maintenance crews are safely working on only the assets that need attention. Missing a required maintenance service or doing unnecessary work could extend the turnaround schedule and increase the probability of an unscheduled shutdown after the turnaround.

Planning Shutdowns, Turnarounds, OutagesTurnarounds should be more than just a maintenance event:

…turnarounds extend far beyond maintenance and can have significant impacts on capital and operating budgets that can determine profitability for the manufacturer. These planned shutdown events are strategic opportunities for processing facilities to improve operational efficiency, reliability, and safety.

He notes the common practice of treating capital projects and turnarounds as separate events managed by separate teams, even when performed concurrently.

This leads to these events:

…becoming more complex because so many activities must be coordinated safely in a limited timeframe. Unfortunately, these added activities and the increased number of workers onsite often result in budget and schedule overruns, as well as a higher probability of a safety incident.

Planning concurrent turnarounds and capital projects:

…must be coordinated so that the right equipment, materials, and personnel can get where they need to go at the right time, and so that the work for the turnaround does not interfere with the capital project and vice versa.

If you’re an AIChE member, read the full article, or even if you’re not, read the excerpt for Tim’s reference to the top 10 reasons for failure in turnaround events.

Learn more about ways to mitigate risks and plan a successful turnaround in the Shutdowns, Turnarounds & Outages section on You can also connect and interact with other turnaround and capital project managers at the Oct 1-5 Emerson Exchange conference in San Antonio, Texas.


  1. Jonas Berge says:

    Knowing which equipment and devices need overhaul, and which ones don’t during the short turnaround window before the shutdown/turnaround/outage starts is the holy grail. Digital Transformation (DX) of work practices allows you to do just that for pumps, heat exchangers, compressors, cooling towers, control valves, and PRVs etc. The result is on-time, on-budget, and quality workmanship turnaround excellence. This is over and above improving how the plant is run and maintained day-to-day. DX solutions like real-time locating system (RTLS) not only makes the plant safer with mustering headcount and rescue locating, but also helps with contractor workforce management. You get digital collaboration with wearable cameras, and you have all the documents on-the-go on your industrial tablet. Many plants are already successful with digital transformation including a mix of on-premise digital and IIoT solutions starting from digital sensors on wireless and fieldbus. Learn how other plants do it from this essay:

  2. JimCahill_Emerson says:

    I wanted to share this comment from Joe Kaulfersch on my LinkedIn status update of this post: “This is analogues to take off and landing an air plane. Start ups and shutdowns can be the most dangerous times the plant is in operation. Most plants run three to seven years on automatic. It’s during turnarounds the process is in manual and different sequence of events have to be followed. I have witnessed millions of dollars of equipment destroyed and people severely hurt during these turnarounds.”

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