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5 Pitfalls that can throw off your Maintenance Turnaround

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Maintenance turnarounds are challenging, time-consuming endeavours, but they are absolutely necessary to keep a plant running safely and efficiently. While most plants typically schedule maintenance on an annual basis, the entire plant doesn’t undergo a full-scale maintenance turnaround once a year.

Instead, maintenance is meted out so that each section of a plant typically receives maintenance every 3-5 years. The infrequency of maintenance turnarounds makes it difficult to find a rhythm to work out any kinks in the process. Additionally, a lot can happen, both seen and unseen, over the course of five years, making it challenging to know which areas of the facility need more attention than others.

Understanding what to watch out for in terms of pitfalls and setbacks can be critical to smoothing out the maintenance turnaround process. Below, we’ve outlined five challenges that maintenance teams may encounter that can significantly hinder the success of a maintenance turnaround.

  1. Deadlines

    Maintenance turnarounds typically have to be completed within three weeks, and every day over that equates to time and money lost. When deadlines aren’t met, the costs of a maintenance turnaround can increase into the millions of dollars very quickly. That said, the magnitude of what a turnaround team must accomplish in this time-period is immense. In less than a month, the team must source potential problem areas, remove the insulation, fix any problems, and re-install new insulation and jacketing. In order to do this successfully, maintenance teams have to have logistics that run like a finely tuned machine - a concept that is much more easily said than done.

  3. Sequencing & Logistics

    The sequencing of a maintenance turnaround is complex to say the least, and it includes the timing and delivery of everything from scaffolding, to maintenance crews, to operational shutdowns, to when and where new materials arrive. This isn’t a simple task as it includes highly variable components, like weather, transportation, multiple crews, existing operations, and material availability.

    To ensure the sequencing occurs correctly, a solid logistical plan needs to be in place. Systems need to be appropriately prepped for the installers to be able to do their jobs correctly. Materials must arrive on the jobsite no sooner or later than they are needed, and there has to be a designated location to store them when they get there. When these minor details fall out of sequence or are overlooked, it can significantly hinder jobsite efficiency.

  5. Work Coordination

    Successfully planning the logistics doesn’t just happen, and the responsibility for developing the plan can’t simply fall to one person; it takes cross-functional coordination between multiple stakeholders, like the facility owner, specifying engineer, mechanical contractor, insulation contractor, and even the material manufacturers. When just one of these key players is missing from this equation, it can delay the entire project.

  7. Discoverables

    Beyond logistical delays there are always the inevitable discoverables. These are the random, one-off problems or issues that arise when the installers and maintenance crews begin to get into the weeds of the projects. They may uncover anything from corrosion under insulation (CUI), to damaged pipes, to damaged insulation, to new problem areas that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, these are unpleasant, land mines that can only be revealed once the work has begun. Having a plan in place to adapt quickly to a myriad of these types of unforeseen problems is key.

  9. Deciding Whether or Not to Upgrade
    In an effort to save time, many maintenance plans simply call to replace like-for-like materials – meaning all replacement material will be the same kind of material as what was removed from the system. While this may be the most efficient method, it isn’t always the most cost-effective or functional approach. This could stem from a number of reasons. Perhaps there is new technology that is better suited to the application, or it could be that the insulation that was initially specified wasn’t the best material for the application in the first place. To avoid this, a maintenance plan should carefully consider how successfully the materials used on the system are operating and withstanding the rigors of the application before deciding whether or not it should be replaced with a different kind of material.

While maintenance turnarounds can be complicated and nuanced, there are a number of techniques that you can use to address these potential pitfalls. Join us for a live webinar presented by Johns Manville Industrial Insulation Group and Apache Industrial Services where we will be discussing these techniques and more. Register now for the upcoming webinar, Optimizing Your Maintenance Turnaround, on Tuesday May 22nd at 2:00 PM EDT.

Authors: Kim Melton & Jack Bittner

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