A good friend, and a solid expert in turnaround management, John McLay, published Practical Management for Plant Turnarounds. This guide is chock-full of useful methods and techniques gleaned from a career spent working on real turnarounds. His presentations and workshops continue to be well-attended around the world. The cover of this book speaks eloquently to me. The simple schematic accurately describes the stakeholder departments involved in a turnaround. Your steering committee should have representatives of each of these groups: Operations – who actually run the plant and are the day-to-day users of the equipment assets; Maintenance – the 100 or more strong team of technicians that keep the equipment running; Engineering – composed of Mechanical, Process, Electrical and Instrumentation experts; Quality Assurance – your team that ensures that work is completed to spec, and records completions diligently; HSE and Security – the people that help your contractors and in-house staff be made aware of safe work norms and ensures that safety concerns are addressed; Planning and Scheduling – the group that bears much of the current workload of getting ready for a turnaround; Procurement – the supply chain team that works to ensure logistical issues with Contractors, materials, services and tools are addressed; Administration – the managers of the plant that help to support the other teams. The Turnaround Manager or Supervisor is successful when each of these groups pitches in and ensures that their piece of the preparation and execution work is done on time and as expected.
How does one measure the teamwork between each of these groups? People in these groups are not robots. They have feelings and stresses and may be more or less inclined to be a proactive member of the team. And, as John posits in the manual: ‘How do we convince the owner or senior management team to provide the time and resources to start the planning earlier?’ These, and numerous other people-related issues, point to the need for a consistent process to underpin the work needed from multiple groups.
They need to all be working in the same sandbox. In 2018, this common sandbox is an integrated, digitized solution. Such a solution would include each of the checklists, like those that John has carefully provided and itemized in his guide. Along with a checklist item, which would be available on your screen, each team member would be able to electronically sign-off, and add notes to, the checklist item. The solution would then instantly slide the next item on deck, and notify the right people that their input or work is required. In this way, predefined action items are made available in the right order and in time, and the solution provides a reminder for items that will impact the execution start date.
With such a solution in place, meetings to review progress on checklist and other actions can now focus more on what you plan to do next along with potential barriers, rather than being a review of what was done. You already know what was done before coming to the meeting.
This proactive approach to a teamwork-focused working environment will significantly reduce the indirect work effort required from your critical staff, and reduce costs leading into the turnaround.
One reason for the current barriers to this type of integrated effort is that each of the turnaround stakeholder teams operates in their own silo. HSE people have HSE tools to manage their incident reports, training processes and tracking. Planners do their work in scheduling systems. And so on. An integrated solution helps you to fill in the rough gaps between each of these silo operations, and in doing so, helps the entire team to be far more productive.
That meeting shown on the cover of the John’s book, will have few surprises for the well-run team that uses a collaborative, integrated, digitized solution now available to us in 2018.