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Integrated Pianning

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

Andrew Carnegie, Industrialist.

Author: Mahen Das

Location: 2.4.1 Medium-Sized Semi-Complex Petroleum Refinery


Prior to my arrival, the refinery already had a fairly advanced work planning process in place. For major projects and plant shutdowns (called turnarounds in North America), they used Critical Path or Network Planning. Commercially-available software with resource leveling capability was used for this purpose. Once project execution began, however, there was little or no progress monitoring and updating of the plan. The critical path charts remained as decorations on the wall.

Preparation for a shutdown generally meant pulling out the last work- list, adding the current wishes of the operating and inspection departments, estimating the contract work volume, and converting the list into a critical path plan. Operators added the operational tasks of shutting down, gas-freeing, etc., at the front end of the plan and, separately, starting up the plants at the back end. They also added the requirements of Technologists to their plan. Project engineers made their own separate mini-plans for new construction work and appended them parallel to the main plan. There was little coordination in the preparation activities between these departments.

With poor overall coordination and lacking a milestone chart, the time available for proper award of contract work was invariably inadequate. And contract work was definitely required. The lack of time meant that proper competitive bidding was not possible and the price was invariably higher than necessary. Local contractors maintained a skeleton work force of skilled craftsmen. Temporarily, they hired whoever was willing to work during large projects, such as shutdowns, without much regard to skills. Contractors and their personnel were viewed with suspicion by the refinery and always kept at arm's length.

Thus the shutdown "plan" was a collection of at least three diverse plans,

  • 1. Activities of all the maintenance disciplines
  • 2. Operational and technological activities
  • 3. New project activities

These three plans ran in parallel, but were disjointed; their interfaces were managed poorly.

During execution of a shutdown, the maintenance engineer was supposed to be the coordinator. People in the other participating departments did not accept this because top management never announced it formally. As a result, execution looked like one done by a mixture of football teams on one side rather than one united team.


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