NEW! STO LinkedIn group

Join now!

NEW! STO LinkedIn group

Join now!

Continued: Common challenges in Turnaround Management by Sjors Wijgerde

Common challenges in Turnaround Management
06 February

In my earlier blog post, I introduced my past experiences in Turnarounds and discussed some of the key challenges encountered during a STO event, such as ensuring accurate field information, coordinating work in the same area or equipment, and managing deviations and field changes. 

 If you haven’t had the chance to do so, I recommend reading the initial part of this blog before delving into the remaining challenges. This will provide better context as we address the additional challenges in more detail. 

Communication is key

Communication plays a crucial role in turnarounds. Timely updates and informing all stakeholders about deviations are essential. Seamless handovers, especially when the completion of one team triggers the start of the next, rely on efficient communication. Digital tools can improve information sharing and task completion, but it is essential to recognize that over-reliance on tooling may lead to decreased face-to-face communication among teams.  

The right tools alone don’t solve all issues. Establishing effective communication channels and ensuring their utilization is equally important. Implementing digital tools for scoping, planning, and execution management is beneficial, but success hinges on well-defined processes and clear communication. The smoothest turnarounds I’ve witnessed are characterized by robust communication among all stakeholders. While it may seem obvious, effective communication remains the key to success. 

Schedule collaboration

In my role as a scheduler,  retrieving accurate information was a recurring challenge. Bringing the planners and contractors together for collaborative discussions to enhance schedule accuracy before execution was the norm, given the absence of digital tooling. However, this manual approach proved time-consuming and often overlooked one of the disciplines. Consequently, gaps, incorrect information, or wrong assumptions emerged, which negatively impacted scheduling accuracy. 

 During execution, progress tracking relied on analog wallpapers, e-mails, and attending meetings. Staying updated and tracking overruns was difficult, as a significant amount of time was spent on gathering information. Real-time information sharing can significantly save time for schedulers, allowing more time for actual scheduling. This is crucial for improving scheduling accuracy and preventing overruns. 


In Europe, securing qualified resources has become a challenging task. Based on my experience in the Chemical industry, even after a plant is emptied and cleaned to a certain extent, there remains a risk of minor contamination and spillage when opening the installation. Not having qualified personnel increases this risk and can severely impact turnaround safety, affecting not only the directly involved workers but also bystanders and other personnel.  

I recall a specific turnaround where we dismissed 30 of 55 mechanics from one contractor due to inadequate training. Although this decision hurt the progress greatly and lead to project overruns, but in the end, the primary goal was to ensure the safety of all individuals so they could safely return home to their families. 

 This emphasizes the importance of effectively managing available resources, and resource qualifications, during the planning phase. Planning ahead and securing the workforce, especially from contractors, for execution is crucial. It is therefore imperative that broader market conditions and other events and projects that will use resources from the same pool are considered when determining the period and duration of your turnaround.  

To conclude, Turnarounds come with many challenges. Although my experiences may differ from yours, one consistent observation is that no two Turnarounds are identical – not in scope, planning, or execution. Nevertheless, deviations are a common factor, and the key lies in managing these. Establish processes and workflows that improve communication and collaboration so you can face any problem head on. Digital tools can be beneficial, but their effectiveness depends on their appropriate utilization.  

If you are interested in understanding how digital tools can help you, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or join our exclusive STO LinkedIn Group for STO experts! 

Latest Posts

Why an STO software alone isn't the end-game solution

Why an STO software alone isn’t the end-game solution

A STO software alone doesn't always hold the key to solving problems. It's important to conduct a thorough analysis and identify ...

25 March

The essential role of a complete cost dataset for turnaround excellence

The essential role of a complete cost dataset for turnaround excellence

Executing a successful turnaround requires meticulous planning, budgeting, and scoping. Despite these difficulties, the use of a p...

12 March

How to maximize turnaround efficiency via integrated data management

How to Maximize Turnaround Efficiency Via Integrated Data Management

Integrated data management, supported by analytics and a commitment to continuous improvement, propels efficiency, collaboration, ...

19 February

Optimizing Turnarounds in Three Steps

Optimizing Turnarounds in Three Steps

In this blog our experts share their insight into optimizing turnarounds in three essential steps. Namely: create a turnaround tea...

02 February

Request Information