From Shutdown Zero to Hero

In a process industry, shutdowns are essential to keep production going. One of our consultants, who specializes in service providing within Stork Asset Management Technology, explains.

Everyone knows how difficult it is to put change into practice. One of our clients, a production company in the food sector, was heading towards the planned shutdown date without a clear plan. The why was clear; the how, by whom and whatever else were all questions that remained unanswered.

A change is much more than a process on paper. It's the details that make the difference...

What was the goal of your project?

When I started this project, it wasn't within my scope at all to tackle the two annual shutdowns, but rather to support the reorganization in my role of Head of Daily Maintenance. However, with the shutdown approaching and little or no movement in the preparation, I felt compelled to shake things up.

As a result of a total restructure in the maintenance organization, no one felt a responsibility to take charge of the preparations. In consultation with the management, we managed to get matters back on track.

And what was the result after these changes?

An evaluation after the shutdown seemed appropriate in order to bring the pain points to the surface. What is remarkable at such a moment is that our own staff was pretty okay with the course of this commotion. A turnaround training and the appointment of a work planner to be able to start the preparation on time, were the most important action points on the way to the next shutdown. This shutdown concerns another department with far less time pressure. Again we did an evaluation, which was extended with a Stork turnaround Scan. The organization appeared to be better, but certainly not yet at the level you're aiming for to manage your assets properly.

 

Can we take a look at that scan?

The result of the scan shows that there are still quite a few holes that need to be filled. On the Stork maturity scale, an overall moderate score of "reactive" was achieved. So there's work to be done, but how do you get started? Striving for perfection is good thing, but of course this doesn't come cheaply. The cost-benefit consideration is also the main point of departure here. A healthy ambition towards "starting proactively" was defined and translated into a red "standard" line.

Nevertheless, there were still many visible gaps between the evaluation and the new ambition. So where do you put the focus?

The spearheads in the new process had to be, in order of priority: 1. drawing up a scenario with a description of the process rather than constantly reinventing the wheel, 2. recording a good scoping process as this is the basis for good preparation, 3. better basic work preparation, 4. an integrated planning between production, maintenance and projects, starting with the phasing out of the installation up to and including the restarting procedure, 5. bring lessons learned back into the scenario so as to keep the continuous improvement ball rolling, 6. the introduction of a steering committee to give management the opportunity to take control and assume a certain amount of responsibility.

The reason we used these focus points was the practical way of thinking within the organization. A strong hands-on mentality where everything is questioned. Anything that does not immediately contribute to the assets is not given priority.

Could you tell me a little about what this process looked like?

The elaboration of the process resulted in a project approach with a turnaround time of about 3.5 months from kick-off scoping through to a final steering group for the completion of the project.

[Simplified display of the shutdown process]

This might seem like a solid process, but putting it into practice and letting it live is another step altogether. And you're right. Change takes place at the pace of the employees.

How do you make the implementation a success?

By paying a lot of attention to the change process. The technique we use for this is the CAP model (Change Acceleration Process). Creating a shared need is the first step. Showing that there's room for improvement, too. This was created by the training and evaluations of previous shutdowns. In combination with the pressure on production figures, the insight was strengthened. By expressing the ambition and putting this on paper in a vision with a red standard line, the step "shaping a vision" has been given shape. With Stork, the knowledge was acquired and simultaneously also the skill set to fulfill the role of shutdown manager as lead, with a focus on coaching and training our internal staff. The kick-off meetings play an important role in this. Fixed deadlines give direction and a need for discipline to be ready on time.

Can you tell us how the organization experienced this?

With a new process, almost the entire organization involved goes through the natural process of change. Not without effort, with resistance, disappointment and motivation as the driving emotions. The most beautiful change for me is the motivation of an older employee who, as a welding technician, was able to use his wealth of experience in his new role as a turnaround planner. The total U-turn from frustrated to optimally motivated gives me personally a lot of drive and satisfaction.

How did the turnaround itself go?

The result of all this preparation was clenched in a short shutdown of 3 days to complete the execution in a safe, qualitative manner with the shortest possible turnaround time and within budget. The result was clear: shutdown and maintenance work went very well, 100% on schedule. Unfortunately, the startup did not go without a struggle. On the whole, success exceeded expectations. There is still room for improvement, but my advice is to first allow us to celebrate this success.

Can I assume that here, too, an evaluation has taken place?

The evaluation is crystal clear with significant improvements in many areas:

You're probably wondering why HSSE management scores lower than in the first assessment. Despite the fact that safety was not a priority in the action improvement plan, a great deal of extra attention was paid to it. This includes drawing up a LOTOTO (Lock Out Tag Out Try Out) and HSE plan, resulting in a higher expectation pattern with more depth in the evaluation and a lower score as a result.

How do you ensure that this level will be reached, or exceeded, with future shutdowns?

The step that has been made in the Stork maturity chart from reactive to well-planned is nothing less than impressive. But it won't stop here. First and foremost, the "Making the change last" hurdle will be an important milestone by handing over the shutdown management baton to internal staff. Stork's follow-up program is designed to keep the finger on the pulse and to make adjustments where necessary.

The new focus improvement points have also been drawn up for future shutdowns. These include, in random order: optimization of the LOTOTO plan and work permit, commissioning plan, cost management. In this way, the process of continuous improvement is perpetuated, and the organization develops from 'shutdown zero to shutdown hero'.

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About the author:

Nick Thijs is a consultant at Stork Asset Management Technology and assists companies with the development of asset management strategies, concepts and their implementation. He specializes in the implementation of Service Providing processes.

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