Webinar: Optimize Turnaround Scope and Planning

Petchem Update hosted a turnaround planning webinar alongside Cory Sutherland, Regional Manager Integrity Americas for Wood, and Frank Engli, Project Maintenance and Turnaround Manager for Shell Canada.

The webinar was held in conjunction with the 2nd Annual Downstream Canada (19-20 Nov, Calgary, AB) conference and can be replayed here

Engli is stationed at Shell's Sarnia Manufacturing Centre (SMC), also referred to as Shell's Corunna Refinery. This team recently completed a major turnaround at the 85,000 bbl/day site, and has begun planning for the next major event in 2022.

Sutherland runs the Integrity Management Program in the Americas for the Wood Group. His team is responsible for developing and executing comprehensive integrity management systems and activities through iindependent engineering analysis of facilities.

Both have a tremendous experience in all kinds of turnarounds and spoke about the top critical success factors when approaching a turnaround.

More than 70% of projects are not completed within 10% of budgeted cost and schedule, according to The Construction Industry Institute (CII). For the megaprojects,  98% will experience overruns of 80% over budget and 20 months late, according to Bechtel. As capital projects become a more important part of turnaround work than ever before, it is important for maintenance and operations teams to have successful turnaround strategies in place. 

Top Down, Bottom Up Culture

Really understanding who owns the turnaround is a key success factor and one the experts said they have seen this done wrong in the industry too many times.

“A successful turnaround is owned by the site and the site takes leadership an all the key aspects of it,” Engli said. “When you have that discipline starting with the management down to workers on the case, it clearly impacts the success of the site.”

Many times, instead, a turnaround group is expected to organize, lead, and control the event; but their direct ownership is only to show up when the unit is shut down, Engli said.

“In a long turnaround, you have the ability for everyone to deliver their part as you prepare for the event at the right time,” Engli said. “You can jointly hold everyone accountable in the delivery, quality and success – and make difficult decisions at the right time instead of just sort of pass the buck.”

In order to have that type of culture, a facility’s team must define some key issues including who has responsibility for various tasks as well as decision making responsibilities. 

Too often, instead the events play out as the operations folks vs the turnaround folks and it is a constant battle against the budgets, tasks and schedules.

“It really comes down to defining the situation. What does the site want, need, and what are the risks?” Engli said.

Operations will focus primarily on justifying costs and tasks, while the turnaround group is looking at how to execute the tasks in the best possible means considering cost and impact to the site.

“When you look at it this way, the maintenance people are not there to fix equipment. They are there to make the unit available for the operators to run,” Engli said.

Building the relationships and team culture will help facilitate smooth turnarounds. A dynamic culture of openness and honesty, alongside good communication is needed, Sutherland advises teams to focus on soft coaching to get their teams to this point.

“Turnarounds are large, stressful events, and you must have that culture and commitment for excellence and improvement,” Sutherland said. “This has to start with leadership and management and make its way down to the subs and vendors.”

“Everyone has to be open and honest," he added. "We are here to execute a turnaround and get operations back safely and quickly,” Sutherland said. “In order to do that you have to have good communication skills - teams who will listen and be able to hear what the problems are as they come at you."

Optimize Planning

Front-end planning must have clear definitions. Teams should define the reason for the turnaround, the driving force for the event, implications, run length between outages, capital changes - and then make sure the entire team understands each of these factors, Engli said.

“At that point, it is really defining the event and defining a milestone plan to get you there and then be disciplined in following that,” Engli said. “Milestone plans are not necessarily achievements of target dates. It is making sure that those deliverables are in place are at the right times.”

Events must happen at the right times; everyone must know their role and plan for a successful integration, he added.

A team should also take note of and understand its strengths and the site capabilities before going into the outage, Engli said.

If a facility traditionally executes 5,000 hours a day and that is the history of the site, and then they go in and try to execute at 10,000 hours to meet unrealistic goals, they may not have the bench strength or site capability to make this happen.

Capability of the site could be anything from logistics and moving contractors, parking, housing, how many permits that can be issued issue in one day, how many inspections can be done, and what the contractors and the workforce can truly execute.

Optimize People

“The bigger the project, the more that you have to get ready for it and the more you can pre-plan and get everything on paper and get the right people involved,” Sutherland said. "Along with that, comes the importance of ownership. You need to have a single manager with a fully integrated team and then you really follow the 80/20 rule around the highest impacts.”

It is important to recognize the actual performers, Sutherland said.

“We actually need to be monitoring and giving credit for aid. We need to be looking at what is and is not working,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland also advises groups to build in a cushion and have contingencies in place.

“Priorities may change based on discovery work. You might have to do some repairs, or you might have to modify a vessel. Be ready for that even when looking at staffing,” Sutherland said.

Interview sub contractors and vendors and teams in-depth and bring in the A-teams, he said.

Another critical success factor depending on location and timing could be a craft worker shortage.

“You always have to make sure that when you time these turnarounds, you will have the availability of resources to execute this and if not, what is the plant to handle that?” Sutherland said.

80% of construction firms say they are having a hard time filling hourly and craft positions – which represent the bulk of the industry’s workforce, according to a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and Autodesk.

“Workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry,” Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s CEO, said in a statement.

Optimize Scope

Clearly defining the purpose of the event is mentioned again as a key factor in successful turnaround management, especially as the scope is developed. Crystal clear cut off dates and criteria will prevent scope creep.

Scope creep (also called requirement creep, or kitchen sink syndrome) refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project ’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.

“The most important factor in scope management is truly understanding the basis of why you are shutting down the unit, what your run length has been for, what the reliability is that you are trying to run and what most important things need to be done during the outage,” Engli said.

There are many philosophies out there but if teams don’t define what they are going to include and instead do tasks on the run and are willing to accept doing it on the run, that will impact production.

“What is surprising in many places is you have the capability to do a task on the run, and everybody is just throwing in extra work because they don’t see any other capability of doing it,” Engli said. “Groups must set those criteria and then really understand what the risk is of not doing that scope and the cost and impacts rather they be legal, safety or otherwise.”

Engli advises turnaround teams to set up a hurdle process that clearly defines how a team will handle adding additional scope, what  work processes and what those hurdles have to be to add the work.

"Many times we don’t assess the benefit of another small item, but there is a cumulative effect of adding items," Engli said. "And then we need to provide leaders the soak time to absorb the scope, understand truly how to plan and execute for it, and complete all those items that are needed for successful development."