Minimizing Plant Turnaround Chaos

The controlled chaos that surrounds a plant turnaround, or planned shutdown, has given more than a few engineers some gray hair. I highlighted a plant turnaround planning presentation at last year’s Emerson Exchange and I asked Emerson’s Chris Forland if I could get this year’s presentation.

Chris, Scott Grunwald, and Miranda Pilrose presented, Parts, People Process: The Winning Formula for Emerson Turnarounds and Certified Services.

Some of the challenges causing the gray hairs to sprout include the loss of experienced folks to plan and execute the turnarounds. You can also count on finding things during the turnaround that you did not expect. You might also miss finding hidden problems during the turnaround that manifest themselves once you’ve started the process up again.

The turnaround period is also a golden opportunity to look for optimization opportunities to reduce energy consumption and improve process efficiency.

Chris, Scott and Miranda stressed the need to address these challenges head on by starting the planning process early–since the plan flexibility decreases as the turnaround start date approaches. It’s likely that any investment in pre-turnaround planning and equipment analysis will rapidly pay itself back in improved performance.

They describe a six-step turnaround program that includes project kick-off, condition assessment, refining the details, internal planning, turnaround execution, and post-turnaround review.

The project kickoff step defines the scope of outages, personnel, roles and mission of the Emerson turnaround team. The turnaround project plan is thoroughly reviewed, maintenance records are reviewed, and the timing, duration, and budget are scoped. The team conducts a detailed plant walk-down to familiarize everyone with the facility and the challenges.

The condition assessment step looks for control performance issues while the plant is still running. It identifies equipment, control strategies and process dynamics that need to be addressed during the turnaround.

In the refining the details step, internal valve conditions are analyzed with Flowscanner and AMS ValveLink, process dynamics are measured with the Entech Toolkit, and gap analysis is performed to find opportunities for integrating with other plant software like computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. Another key activity is to review the plant’s use of diagnostics in turnaround planning and maintenance.

Turnaround execution–the time of controlled chaos–is made more manageable because only the valves that need work are removed. Since the conditions are known ahead of time, the necessary repair parts can be on hand and work performed to a pre-planned schedule. During this period of frequent communication among turnaround team members, status reports are updated and changes to the turnaround plan are documented and rescheduled as required. Equipment asset performance is returned to OEM specification with the necessary ASME conformance and FM Approvals documented. Predictive diagnostic technologies can also be installed and commissioned during this step. Finally, per the measured process dynamics, tuning and control strategy adjustments are made to optimize the performance of the process.

The post-turnaround step captures and documents what was learned throughout the planning and execution–for the next turnaround that will likely include many new team members from the process manufacturer’s staff. Budget items are reconciled, improvements documented, asset repair reports assembled, valve diagnostic curves archived, and baselines generated for ongoing performance analysis. The information is assembled into a final documentation package and reviewed at the post-turnaround review meeting. It’s also important to quantify the improvements to verify the value of the time and resources that went into this extensive planning and execution process.

As part of the team, Emerson brings expertise from many areas including instrument & valve services, electrical reliability, and control system performance due to the wide-ranging skills required to perform a successful turnaround.

The key is to identify, plan and schedule as much as possible–as early as possible–to minimize the unplanned, gray-hair producing moments.

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