Machine maintenance that is performed to undertake repairs that cannot be addressed whilst the machinery is running, are referred to as a Shutdown, Turnaround or Outage (STO).
Let's face it, Shutdowns, Turnarounds, Outages, are intense events to plan and execute, with a high volume of activity in a short space of time. Managing these can take a toll on mental health if they are not going to plan.
They are however vital to ensure the smooth running of business critical assets, such as chemical plants, power stations and more. The key to a less stressful shutdown is how they are planned, managed, and ultimately, executed. At IAMTech, our software has managed hundreds of successful shutdowns for the world's leading companies like Shell, BP and INEOS, and we base everything we know on this real-world experience, not theory.
Here are some simple tips on how to reduce stress managing STO’s.
Plan Ahead of Time
It may seem obvious, but planning ahead is the most effective way of ensuring a less stressful STO.
This will give you time to make sure that everything needed is in place and pre-booked, including:
- Skilled labour and contractors
- The correct tools and equipment
- Spare parts and materials
- Technology implementation
With more time, you can also provide your staff and contractors with clear guidance and additional training to ensure everyone is prepared and aware of their role in your STO. Make sure you define each STO role, validate the person understands their role, empower the person to deliver their role, afford them the time in their work hours to deliver the role!
Expect the unexpected
Clearly, learning from past events and taking into account anything that went wrong in the past, and preparing for these issues will vastly improve the outcome of your next STO.
Ideally both during your STO and immediately post plant start up, you should capture information about what took place during work delays, unforeseen circumstances during maintenance activities & unplanned lost time events.
This can take the form of the ability to add completion / close-out notes at the completion of any activity. Additionally capturing narratives from maintenance supervisors, schedulers and completions engineers, summarising the findings and publishing a report soon after the STO has finished. These reports should then be revisited before scoping commences for the same event the next time it comes around in its STO calendar cycle.
Feels nice, huh? Knowing you will have an even better, smoother STO execution next time...
To further share that good feeling, make sure you communicate what you have learned with your team so that everyone has a safer, more productive STO experience.
Don’t create a bottleneck
This can be achieved via an effective emergent / addendum / emergency / punch list / variation process - ideally electronic, circulating to all necessary persons in minutes, enabling peer review and electronic approval of additional scope, ideally with signature.
Use Technology to Help You
Let's make it clear, we are not talking about a robot like the Terminator here working at your side - perhaps one day with a Tesla robot by your side……
We are talking software to help you plan and execute your maintenance repairs with less stress, and exponentially improved results.
Finding new tools, and ways to enhance productivity and minimise costs, is a key part of any STO manager's role.
Best in class shutdown turnaround outage software solutions like iPlanSTO from IAMTech take much of the heavy lifting off your shoulders. Features like electronic scope creation and scope approvals, norms-based estimation, and scope / work pack templates can ensure consistency in planning, and make life much easier, ensuring faster, more effective STO’s.
Ultimately, the ability to scope, plan, estimate, sign, approve, schedule, capture progress, record time, measure productivity, capture emerging / addendum works, capture learning and apply learning, from all of all your STOs within one piece of software will take the pain out of planning and executing your Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages.
iPlan from IAMTech offers more than a suite of tools…it offers a consistency of approach that ensures everyone across an asset or a site or a collection of sites is working to that same STO standard & business process.
Avoid disaster in the future with iPlanSTO
Planning and executing a shutdown is always a challenge, and is also costly as the machine/equipment has no output or is not fulfilling its purpose, like a storage tank.
Add to this the cost of labour and parts, it is easy to see why an organisations' culture can be overwhelmed when considering conducting STOs.
However, from experience, we know that the benefits of shutting down equipment for in depth maintenance outweigh the costs, which is why STO’s do happen.
With the equipment switched off, you will be able to catch maintenance issues early that could otherwise lead to complete equipment failure, and safety issues for your workers. Well-maintained equipment will run better too, improving output and reliability, thus future proofing your business.
Using a proven STO workflow will reduce the time it takes to carry out your maintenance, saving money and ensuring ongoing reliability of your assets.