Shutdowns and Turnarounds - A Painful Nuisance or A Strategic Opportunity?
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Shutdowns and Turnarounds - A Painful Nuisance or A Strategic Opportunity?

  Mar 21 2019

# Planning and Strategy Management

In the past 2 months I have delivered training and consulting assignments in the Middle East, Caribbean, America, Asia and Europe and during this time I have met, trained, and worked with a number of turnaround professionals and there is one thing that almost all of them have in common:

They, believe their next turnaround will be a failure!

This failure will be very unpleasant. It will involve a lot of hard work and stress for them and their colleagues along with painful consequences for their companies and suppliers at least, but all too often their customers too. People get injured, on average, costs run 16% over budgets and even worse, events overrun on average by nearly 20%. These are huge issues, but what are the main reasons people tend to go wrong?

  • Lack of strategy or effective steering teams
  • Lack of planning
  • Fighting on what best practice should be
  • Ineffective contracts or contractors
  • Badly selected scope and uncontrolled changes in scope
  • Unclear roles and work processes
  • Badly chosen or used software

Sadly, this is no different than previous years.

We have been struggling with major turnarounds for years and if anything, we are getting worse rather than better. In the meantime, the world around us is changing, technology is accelerating and other departments are transforming their performance. To be fair, our challenge is getting tougher, legislation is tightening, budgets are under pressure and we are losing experienced people, so.

It’s not all bad though….

Safety is a consistent and gleaming example of how companies around the world across all sectors have achieved dramatic improvements over the past 20 years. Interestingly, I hear the same clear messages about safety and consistent methodologies in nearly every company I visit. There is an important message here:

A structured approach with clear priorities;
Leadership from the top leading to values throughout;
Good training leading to increased awareness and greater thought;
Honest reporting, investigating issues and praising good work;
Good continuous improvement processes
Do Bring Success!

The same model can bring success in turnarounds. In other words, there is an opportunity for companies who take an open mind to research best practice from other, develop effective turnaround methodologies and develop their staff on this and their roles in achieving it. At the moment too many companies fail to recognise this, but for those that have, we can see a complete transformation.

Turnaround can become a strategic opportunity.

Just as poor turnaround performance can create consequences on a scale way beyond day-to-day maintenance and reliability, getting them right can not just avoid these problems, but also improve profits and future operations. They provide an opportunity to install upgrades, to resolve defects and reliability problems, debottleneck and invest to enable plants to run longer and run better. The value of this for most companies will be measured in multiple percentage points of increased profits.

About the Author

Laurence Dummett

Laurie Dummett is an award winning consultant and trainer with over 25 years’ experience in maintenance. He has worked across five continents, in a wide variety of environments from the world’s largest oil refinery to a small bottling plant. Laurie has 10 years of maintenance management experience in the process industry, and brings a very practical approach to training. He moved into consulting with ABB Eutech as their global maintenance specialist where he led maintenance best practice panels, delivered a wide range of maintenance improvement projects and trained other consultants.

Laurie founded his own consultancy in 2002, to focus on maintenance improvement and best of the best methodologies. As part of this, he developed a range of maintenance “models of excellence” with inputs from authors, international lecturers and some of the world’s leading consultants and operators.

Laurie remains close to the industry and continues to help operating companies, testing and refining his maintenance models in the process. His work in maintenance improvement has been recognized as best-in-class winning prestigious awards such as the UK Chemicals Industry Association national award for Excellence in Engineering.