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10 keys to Efficient Plant Shutdown and Turnaround

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11 June

Effective planning and execution produce better TA results whether you are working in the oil & gas, refining, or chemical processing industries. Yet, too many Turnarounds are doomed from getting the best possible performance. Check out the 10 tips to perform successful plant turnarounds:

1) Planning the turnaround

A well thought out plan is critical to a successful plant turnaround. The plan should include information on what maintenance and inspections will be performed, what equipment will be repaired, removed or replaced, how to make use of the previous data, who will be involved, scope, budget, tools required.

2) Integrated turnaround-teams (client – contractor – subcontractors)

Ensuring efficient communication and data exchange, integration between client, contractor and subcontractors is critical. This includes agreement on methods, reporting formats, and breakdown structures. Modern database software and cloud solutions provide a good basis for this. Integration also makes sure that you do not throw things across the fence instead prepare and plan the work together and clearly capture the responsibilities.

3) Management by performance indicators

During the preparation and execution phase, lots of data is gathered and processed in order to plan and control the turnaround. While planners, estimators, work package planners, supervisors, etc. might have a good idea of their own job, but who is reviewing the gathered data from different sources? To make sure that the data gives valuable feedback, key performance indicators like CPI and SPI provide management a quantitative measure of performance. They act as early warning indicators: exactly what you need to make timely decisions.

4) Adequate planning and control in the pre-execution phase

A well-prepared plan is half the work. Start early and keep track of the planning progress. The expected amount of work is linked to the number of scope items. This gives the means to control work package planning progress.

5) Strict scope management

It is all about being critical when approving scope. People from different departments can bring in scope even nearby plants. Some scope can perhaps also be performed outside the turnaround. Challenge the new scope and filter out the nice-to-have.

6) Avoid unexpected failures

There are times where every turnaround faces some unexpected failures and what we can do is make some room in the schedule for this kind of challenges. Try to consider these risks during the planning phase of the turnaround. Also, with the help of experienced consultants, these problems can be avoided during turnarounds.

7) Total budget approach (Maintenance and operation/ Capital projects/ Turnarounds/ Production loss)

While managing operational & maintenance & expenses, capital projects and turnarounds consider the total lifecycle of the asset. Avoid managing and optimizing the budget of each phase separately and always use a total budget approach and choose the most economical way of running your assets. This might mean that more expensive capital investment is favored over a cheaper one, if it happens then the downtime and production losses during its lifetime are optimized.

8) Historical data

Analysis of existing data such as budget and cost reports from previous turnarounds helps in estimating cost, scope. In case of very little or no historical data the following technique can be used:
o    The initial work list is known
o    Basic man-hours can be calculated
o    Current labor rates are known or can be accurately estimated
o    On turnarounds, manpower costs typically represent around 30% of total costs. (If better local data, regarding this ratio exists, then it should be used.)

9) Adequate software tools

In this digital age it is all about data and getting systems connected. This makes of a more efficient, consistent and more accurate data management. All phases of a turnaround can be managed by modern software tools, like scheduling, estimating and progress control. The latest trend is bringing in apps to replace paperwork in the field as well: Cleopatra’s field change app is a good example of this.

10) Learn and implement

Our experts from the field bring you their skills and knowledge to help implement the industry’s best practices. Our Turnaround Management & Control course aims to combine both knowledge and experience in one interactive package to help you and your organization improve your skills and techniques to better manage and control shutdown, turnaround, and outages (STOs). Get to know other experts and deepen or broaden your knowledge about this exciting field.


The digital era of today brings many technologies through which we can manage turnarounds and shutdowns more efficiently. We now have access to software solutions to manage all phases of a turnaround from scope management, work package management, estimating, contract management, tendering, scheduling, change management, cost control to benchmarking.
To properly implement the best practices being described in this article, modern software tools are a must-have. They let you spend time on the things that really matter and steer the turnaround to a success.

If you want to know more about the Total Turnaround Management solution of Cost Engineering, please contact our experts and don’t forget to subscribe for our Newsletter by filling in the short form on the right side of the page.

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