Efficient and effective plant maintenance is of primary importance in the manufacturing world for two significant reasons. First, it gives plant personnel the opportunity to clean and repair equipment for more efficient operations. Second, it provides economic stability for the business once personnel put the plant back in operation.
Unfortunately, not everyone is on the same page when it comes to plant shutdowns. According to “The Organization of Plant Turnaround Maintenance in Process-Based Industries: Analytical Framework and Generic Processes” research, “… it is not uncommon for senior management of these companies to focus their attention on the engineering, business, and economic aspects of the event. This tendency has left several gaps in the knowledge and understanding of the organizational dimensions …” In other words, management members focus on income loss — rather than safety. Here are a few steps you can take to get everyone on the same page:
For a plant shutdown, representatives from all departments connected to daily plant operation must be involved in the proactive plan. This includes senior management members, accountants, supervisors, employees, and security personnel. All need to have input on shutdown advantages and disadvantages as well as time to mitigate any concerns that may arise so you can move toward a smooth and successful turnaround.
Cheap isn’t always good. In fact, cheap contractors can cause further downtime and income loss due to lack of knowledge or professionalism. Turnarounds on such a large scale require expert mechanics and contractors who know their stuff. Even better, you want a contractor who can provide turnkey solutions to reduce plant downtime.
Create a budget
You can’t do anything without a turnaround budget, and a plan for long-term costs should be a part of an effective shutdown strategy. What you budget depends on the condition of the equipment you’ll utilize for repairs and upgrades. Repair, replacement, and turnkey solutions may cost more at the start but will save you money later because you won’t have to expend as many management and maintenance resources. You should be mindful of budget considerations for problems you identify during the shutdown. Plan to accommodate any issues that could arise with equipment compatibility or structural reconfiguration if you need to take equipment out of production permanently.
The shutdown is prime for a number of inspections, including equipment not accessible during normal operations. It’s an opportunity to check for any damage and see if equipment requires repairs or replacement — something to consider for the budget. You can also inspect the workplace itself. Are facilities up to Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards? Are there structural issues you need to address? You should also consider these during the turnaround.
Make the most of the shutdown
A complete and scheduled turnaround allows for maintenance and upgrades at the same time as well as provides visibility into how the system performs as a whole. It’s an opportunity to offer employees updated training on equipment and procedures as well as a chance to implement efficiency improvements and make changes with a total system refresh, including employee assignments and perspective when the plant returns to normal operations.
The most important and useful part of a scheduled turnaround plan is the ability to perform rigorous quality checks on all equipment. Running the equipment during downtime minimizes failure risk when the plant is back in operation.