5 Key Stages for Plant Turnaround Management

John McLay’s outstanding publication, Practical Management for Plant Turnarounds, provides a repeatable, logical set of guidelines and steps to ensure successful turnarounds. At the foundation of the process is understanding that 5 discrete stages contribute to the success of your next, and future, turnarounds.

  1. Strategic Planning. This is the key stage. Any significant venture that will involve thousands of people, tons of materials and hard-to-find, costly equipment, requires a leadership team that provides the necessary guidance, timely review and approvals to ensure that the preparation for the turnaround event proceeds on schedule. Use readiness tracking measurements to ensure that key objectives are done, on schedule, by each stakeholder group or department.
  2. Tactical Planning. Hundreds or thousands of detailed ‘micro-plans’, for each equipment asset in the turnaround, are copied from previous turnarounds and modified as needed for the current one. New plans are built as needed for special cases. Plans include manpower, equipment, space and specialty contractor requirements as resources. Resource limiting tools are used to ensure field ‘maintainability’ or ‘constructability’. Capital projects teams also provide detailed, resource-loaded plans to the work packages in the turnaround.
  3. Logistical Planning. As the magnitude of the work, based on the detailed plans, takes shape, procurement processes need to kick in in order to ensure that delays in deliveries do not affect the turnaround’s schedule. Also, sufficient lead time is needed to find the right people, contractors and supplies to help in the turnaround effort. Operations, HSE, QA/QC, Inspection, Security, etc. need to review and fine-tune their processes based on the evolving scope of work for the turnaround. Operations teams build and maintain their detailed shutdown and start up steps in the integrated plans that Maintenance and Engineering planners have built in Stage 2 (i.e. Tactical Plans).
  4. Execution. The main event will proceed well, as long as sufficient and complete (we measured this!) effort was expended in the preceding 3 (i.e. Strategic, Tactical, Logistical) stages. In those stages, you planned the work. Now, you simply need to work the plan. Track progress, record time and costs incurred to get the work done. Take actions based on a daily, or shift-based, accounting of incurred costs and earned value and a the determination of forecast costs and completion schedule.
  5. Closure. Wrap-up the turnaround while memories are fresh. Review significant variances from the plan. Address these by modifying the Strategy (the first stage) to ensure that the next turnaround directly benefits from your hard work and hard-earned lessons.

Conduct each of these crucial stages in an integrated Turnaround Management solution – and you save additional time and costs in unnecessary meetings, communication bottlenecks, in-efficient spreadsheet and database usage.