Four Ways To Turnaround Your Approach to Shutdowns

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Shutdowns and turnarounds are far from an oil and gas company’s favourite task. TAR events cost money and time – the enemies of profit in a 24/7 business world.

In the following analysis we have isolated four of the biggest challenges in the turnaround manager’s day-to-day job, and how they can be managed for success with the use of bespoke software such as iPlan.

Work Scope

The management of work scope within a shutdown is often one of the most problematic aspects of any event. Typically, we find that asset owners and their contractors have to deal with sizable variations in scope, principally due to the lack of detail recorded in the pre-event planning phase. Working with our clients, one of the common denominators relating to problems with work scope accuracy is due to significant parts of the scope remaining ‘unknown’ until the beginning of - or worse - during the event. Consequently, this has a knock on effect on planning, scheduling, resources and materials. Collectively, this becomes a significant time and cost issue to the asset owner. By using intuitive software solutions, it allows the client to effectively source and manipulate a number of key information sets in order to deliver a more detailed and accurate work scope. For example, analysis of previous event data, consulting the comprehensive series of in-built norms and following the in-built quality assurance.

In terms of the mechanics of creating the scope, a cloud tool allows users to adopt a thorough approach to work scoping through the library of templates of typical jobs for different equipment types. iPlan users can import their entire work list and attach a typical job sheet from the library to each piece of equipment. This typical job sheet will then be taken on site for evaluation and refinement (via iPlan Mobile). Thorough analysis of over 250 Shutdowns using iPlan, has shown us that refining job templates reduces the risk of missing the key steps of a job and is far quicker than creating brand new job work packs from scratch.


Contractor Management


The key to an efficient and profitable working relationship for both asset owners and their contractors is through transparency of information AND both parties sharing a single event knowledge base. Naturally, these maintenance partnerships of asset owner and maintenance contractor(s) commence with the best of intentions with clearly defined ‘ideals’ as to how both parties will work together to deliver an efficient, safe and cost-effective event. However, the reality is often different due to the lack of access to the same information and the same work approval system - in other words the lack of an ‘all-inclusive’ management solution. Ways in which to overcome this common problem is to ensure (from an asset owner point of view) that detailed, historical information is present in your management system which provides contractors a clear picture in which to start building work packs from. Similarly, contractor access to their clients’ internal systems is often technically challenging, albeit necessary to enable them to obtain all of the information they need to run an event. This often presents problems as it involves giving third parties access to internal IT systems.

A cloud-based solution - a sandbox sitting between the client and contractors IT networks, able to interact with these networks but physically independent of them. This instantly overcomes the issue faced by the asset owners IT policies and procedures, as it is no longer necessary to grant contractors access to the clients domain to share the same event knowledge base. iPlan has been designed with the ‘partnership working’ approach that asset owners and contractors desire in mind. The Management Dashboard clearly shows event progress, which is available to both parties. It also includes a transparent work approval process which logs reviews, comments and job sign-off within the event.


Readiness Assessment


Assessing the readiness of an event is crucial to its success, nothing should be overlooked. It may seem like a simple process, but an in-depth check list WILL help determine absolute readiness for an event to begin. Of course, check lists demonstrate varying levels of effectiveness. Because there are so many facets to consider and check, it is important to adopt a solution which allows flexibility; users should be able to segment the information relevant to their areas of concern (scaffolds, for example) as well as having the option to view the overall ‘top-level’ picture. This should be showcased in a clear, concise and most importantly accurate way. Comprehensive check list procedures should be intuitive by design, effectively pulling through all appropriate data from the core system and turning it in to trustworthy, useful information which the shutdown manager can make informed decisions as to whether the event is ready to commence. Specifically, the user should be able to evaluate the pre-event information gathering status for all jobs, asking questions such as:

  •  “Do I have all my location sketches?”
  •  “Have all risk assessments been performed and attached to the jobs work pack?”
  •  “Do I have a photograph for each piece of equipment?”
  •  “Do I have material take off completed for all jobs requiring materials?”

For any information that is missing the Shutdown Manager can then generate a report to say: “Go and gather me what’s required for us to be as complete as possible”.

As well as providing the aforementioned checklist procedures a besoke software tool offers a useful forecasting tool which informs shutdown planners of projected completion dates (or ‘readiness’), based on the current rate of job input. If you are not inputting data at a rate quick enough for the size of your event, it will tell you so. In addition a tool like iPlan also calculates the associated budget for this. As well as providing budget status for the current event, it gives Planners insight into future events – they know in advance what the current Shutdown will cost them, which helps forecast available funds for future events.

Cost Control


Aconsistent estimation platform and a transparent work approval system are the key to effective cost control. For example following predefined and prescribed Norms ensures a consistent approach is taken when estimating costs. They offer a solid foundation on which to develop cost estimation exercises, as well as providing a means to standardise estimation.

In tools like iPlan, there is an open book approach to for cost submission, approval and reporting of all direct and indirect costs. When a job has been scoped, it can be sent to the responsible person to be approved, reviewed or declined. This work approval process is accompanied by an audit trail visible to both the Client and the Contractor, eliminating debate on whether work was approved and at what cost.

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