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Work the Plan

The best leaders provide vision and direction, and establish a common strategy with common subordinate goals for ensuring organizational alignment, thereby ensuring pride, enjoyment, and trust throughout.

Ron Moore, Author

Author: Mahen Das

Location: 2.4.1 Medium Sized Semi-Complex Petroleum Refinery


As discussed in Chapter 5, the refinery had lost much of its expertise and appreciation for asset maintenance over the years. The management of maintenance and reliability had the following characteristics:

  • • There was no formally stated philosophy.
  • • Maintenance was perceived as a cost center, a necessary evil.
  • • Maintenance business processes were not defined.
  • • There was a general lack of leadership.

The shutdown (called Turnaround in North America) maintenance process was characterized by:

  • • Lack of formal setting of premise and objectives
  • • Work-scope compiled from past history and inspection and operations wish-lists
  • • Inadequate preparation time
  • • Critical Path Planning (CPP) prepared but not updated; therefore, used only as wall-decorations for the shutdown cabin
  • • Willy-nilly changes to work-scope during the planning phase as well as in the execution phase
  • • Ineffective leadership during all phases of the process
  • • Preparation as well as execution of work of all disciplines carried out within their departmental boundaries, with little inter-disciplinary communication
  • • Gross over-runs in duration and cost

On arrival, I could see that there was a competent team, but one which had had little or no guidance and direction in asset maintenance. For the first few weeks, I focused on this situation. With the support of the General Manager and members of the management team, I initiated some key changes. One of these was to define the shutdown process. This is illustrated in Chapter 17, Figure 17.1. The main aspects of this process are as follows:

  • • Well ahead in time, when the question "Why do we need this shut down?" has been answered, management installs a team leader and identifies future team members in all disciplines, with clearly- defined roles. The premise of the shutdown is clearly established from which the objectives are derived.
  • • Timely compilation of the work-list, including a review of process- related issues e.g., catalyst regeneration.
  • • Business risk-based challenge of all items in the work list carried out by a multidiscipline team. The revised work list is the scope of work, which is then frozen.
  • • Imposition of a tough business hurdle for any new work proposed after the scope of work has been frozen.
  • • Identification of contractors at this stage.
  • • The next step is to do a multidiscipline integrated planning, scheduling, and resource (people, equipment, cost, etc.) optimization of all work in the scope. The result is a single plan for all disciplines optimized for all resources. Contractors participate in this activity.
  • • At this stage, alternative solutions for expensive items of work, e.g.,large scaffoldings, are explored. This is carried out through brain storming to evaluate, e.g., scaffolding rationalization, in a cross-functional team including contractors.
  • • The actual shutdown execution is a seamless and integrated process from the time the feed is cut off until the time finished products start to flow to storage. During this entire period, the Team Leader is solely in charge. The Leader manages daily coordination meetings, daily safety meeting, completion of inspection before the half-way point, daily update of plan, and a tough business challenge to emergent work.
  • • Top management team members, including the GM, frequently visit the site and gather a first hand "feel."
  • • Soon after completion of shutdown, a post-implementation review is carried out. Lessons learnt from this review are used to improve the process for the future.

In Chapter 19, there is a detailed process analysis of a shutdown, including a formal framework and timetable for action. There is also a dis?cussion about the elements which need to be done correctly to bring success. Please refer to that chapter as well for additional information.

At this juncture, we had already scheduled a major shutdown in six month's time. We decided to apply the newly-defined process to this shutdown. We explained to all concerned that a critical success factor for making the plan work would be strict adherence to the key aspects of the whole process as described above.

After the kick-off meeting during which we set the premise, nominated the leader and the team, and derived the objectives, it was time to let the process roll, steered by the team.

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