Improve It Turnaround Mindset

Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo


The mindset in most plant and production facility turnarounds is to get things fixed as fast as possible in order to get the facility back on line. At the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) Annual Meeting earlier this year, Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo teamed with a leading Latin American refiner to provide ideas on enhancing the turnaround planning mindset from “fix it” to also include “improve it”.

Turnarounds provide the opportunity to bring equipment closely back to original design effectiveness. They also provide the opportunity to increase ongoing mechanical availability and reduce operating costs through improved operations analysis and control. These investments to implement improvements are a small part of the overall turnaround budget but can have an extremely high incremental return on investment.

The key is to take a systematic examination of potential improvements very early in the turnaround planning process to get the actions identified, approved, budgeted and implemented during the shutdown window.

refineryFor the refinery case study shared in this presentation, improvements in reliability, safety and operations were identified on the Vacuum, Furfural and Dewaxing units as well as a cooling tower.

For the vacuum unit, the traditional fix it scope includes integrity maintenance, hex/fired heater cleaning, mechanical maintenance and piping inspection and maintenance. Taking an “improve it” mindset, planning began 5-6 months in advance of the turnaround defining the scope and budget. One improvement identified was to improve the decision process for operations, yield and inventories by adding measurements for operators and historical collection. Power and grounding to the refinery electrical equipment was also analyzed and improved. Other opportunities identified were to rationalize the control system alarms according to EEMUA 191 and ISA 18.2 and to add continuous monitoring to pumps per API 682.

Similar improvement opportunities were found for the Furfural unit (LF) and Dewaxing units. From performing the improvement actions in addition to the “fix it” actions, the refinery operations and maintenance teams saw an increase in electronic equipment reliability and a 70% reduction in incidents causing major pump damage. Overall rotating equipment reliability metrics improved from 82% to 92% availability. Compliance with API 682 was also achieved.

From an alarm management perspective, alarm levels were reduced by 3000 which provided the operators the opportunity for earlier detection and analysis of critical alarms. By avoiding or reducing the abnormal situations the overall reliability and safety was improved.

For the cooling tower, maintenance on the fans is expensive and requires shutting down the entire cell. Much of the instrumentation was old and out of service. Vapors from the process had corroded the wires over time. Without the instrumentation providing continuous measurements, operators performed rounds three times per day. Not only did this increase the time spent in hazardous locations, information was not available to improve efficiency and optimize performance.

Cooling-Tower-WirelessBy adding wireless transmitters and sensors to provide continuous cooling tower monitoring, the refinery team was able to eliminate two out of three operator rounds and improve overall efficiency by 10%. Collecting historical information from these measurement devices also provided accurate information to improve cooling tower efficiency over time.

Other operational benefits included the ability to reduce water and chemical usage from reduced blowdown and makeup water operations. By continuously monitor key parameters, maintenance activities could be planned and scheduled in advance.

Overall, the payback for these “improve it” activities, planned early and performed during the turnaround, was approximately 2.4 months. Ongoing savings continue from more reliable and efficient operations with less risk for operations and maintenance personnel.

In this short 2:34 video, Marcelo describes how incremental operational improvement projects can be successfully implemented during a turnaround, while still adhering to the turnaround budget and schedule.

You can connect and interact with other refining experts in the Refining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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