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Shutdown Aims

Why do we have shutdowns? Ideally we would like a facility to operate for 20-30 years without interruption. We would like to design it, build it, run it, make product, sell product, and take the money to the bank. That is the sort of business model your bank manager can understand and love.

The reality is unfortunately quite different. Many factors reduce possible plant run lengths, among them:

  • • Loss of plant integrity or reliability
  • • Loss of production efficiency due to fouling, catalyst degradation etc.
  • • Need for modification to meet changing market demands

We do need to have shutdowns, but it would obviously be sensible to avoid unnecessary ones. Clearly our shutdown aims should be business driven. I suggest that, stated simply, the aims should be as follows:

  • • Maintain production performance into the future
  • • Promote high plant availability
  • • Reduce the probability of breakdowns between shutdowns
  • • Do the needed tie-ins for plant modifications

I like to consider the plant as a money machine. In that mental model, what we are trying to do, in financial terms, is to improve the profit stream now and into the future. So what brings success? I suggest:

  • • An entire series of effective business-driven decisions
  • • Each decision backed up by a solid business case
  • • A business-driven partnership among the facility's core departments (e.g., Production, Technology, Maintenance, Inspection)

Let us have a look at the relative performances of some different sites so we can get a feel for what is good performance.

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