It may be hard to believe, but the success or failure of your shutdown (outage, turnaround) is determined long before you shutdown the equipment and begin the event.  While many treat the shutdown as a marathon event that must be survived, the insightful amongst us know that it is the actions that occur in the t-12 month, t-6 month, t-2 weeks, and even t+2 weeks time frames that really determine the success or failure of our efforts.

Successful shutdown management requires a well-established process that pulls the entire organization together in preparation for the event; working together as a team to meet clearly defined goals and objectives.  To reach these goals, each team member must clearly understand:

  • The process we will follow to get there
  • The milestones and deadlines we must meet
  • Their individual contribution – both in activity and decision-making
  • The organizational structure as it applies to the shutdown itself
  • Specifically how we will measure success

As a quick test, use these bullet points as a checklist and perform an informal poll of your organization.  The quality of the answers you get from those team members outside of the core maintenance organization are a good indicator of your potential for success.

I like to test people’s knowledge of this information, informally and on the spot to determine how well they are informed.   If they can not provide clear and accurate answers to these questions, it means that I have done a good enough job at communicating and preparing the organization to participate in our process, and that I have much more work to do to in order to make this a reality.   If people cannot produce a passable answer off the top of their heads, then they are unlikely to be influenced by the process as they make their day-to-day decisions.

Building the type of coalition necessary to ensure success represents a social science and not a physical science, and as such there can never be a single formula for success.   Each organization must look at what has worked for others, and adapt these lessons learned into their own way of thinking, communicating, and interacting towards the common goal.

Here are some ideas to consider when establishing your own process that will fit your needs.  I am only going to give you 10 to start with, but your actual list will likely be a bit longer:

  1.  How do we measure the success or failure of our future shutdown (budget, time, safety, % work completed)?
  2. Are our measures of success clearly understood by everyone affected by the shutdown?
  3. When will we stop allowing new work to be added to our shutdown plan?  What is our cutoff date?
  4. How doe we ensure that the ideas of all parties are integrated into one single plan that drives the organization forward?  How will we communicate this plan to everyone affected by the shutdown?
  5. If an emergency arises after the cutoff data and we absolutely must add work, who will approve this and what is the formal process for justifying this addition?
  6. How do we pick that small handful of jobs that will occur during that shutdown that pose the greatest risk to our success, and how to we prepare ourselves for those factors that are likely to go wrong?
  7. When must all of our procurement activities be completed?
  8. How will materials be stored and delivered during the shutdown?
  9. How will we prepare the contractors prior to the start of the shutdown so that they can engage the moment the shutdown begins without delay?
  10. How will we perform a final check just prior to the shutdown, and are there any conditions, should we find ourselves in that situation, which would cause us to wave off or delay the start of our shutdown?
  11. How will we ensure that we measure and communicate our success after the fact, and as equally important, integrate the lessons we learn into our next shutdown preparation?

So I have probably given you more questions than answers in this posting, but in the end, when moving an organization forward, your ability to answer these questions for yourself is more important than blindly following someone else’s path.

Seek to find ways to answer these questions yourself, but more importantly, to make them an integral part of your organization. Use the spot-check method I described above as a test of your efforts to engrain these elements into your way of doing business.

Please post your comments or ideas in the comment section below.

Best of Luck

Mike Gehloff




One Response to Your Shutdown Success is Pre-Determined

  1. Shehzad Khan says:

    Your analysis is absolutely correct and on the spot, having experience in executing and managing refinery turnaround our organization follow turnaround model of excellence and strictly ahere to this model for each element of shutdown.  Usually our model of excellence is divided into seven element which are Organization, Core Planning, Contract, Cost, Logistics, Execution and Termination. Each of above element is supported by Safe System of Work, Management Overview, Total Quality Approach, Communication,  Assessment, Improvement (Best Practicise from Lesson Learned or Leave Bad Practices).
    If I will try to write it become very length but I would like to answer for few question as per your number;
    1) We measured the success for all the parameter like ontime, onbudget, NO LTI and 100 % work completed.
    2) Measure of Success is cascaded to all the Stake holder from General Director to Technician.
    3) Cuttoff date- 6 month of actual date.
    4) Through Steering Comittee (Compromising of  Engg, Production, Maintenance, Procurement, Warehouse, Logistics Projects etc) 
    5) We have Shutdown Change Impact Procedure or Challenge Work Filter for addition of any job which is vetted against Plant Reliability, Cost, Safety and Impact is greater not doing this and it has to be signed by Field Manager.
    We have very comprehensve Material and Logistic Tracking Procedure for which we called ” Bookies Board” through all the material is tracked through WO, PR, PO, Logistics date etc. Before going for actual execution we do SPEC Review which is called “Shutdown, Preparation, Execution, Check with all the above element and produce the web spide diagram to see where organization is standing.

    Shehzad Khan

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