Every industrial process must be periodically “turned off” so that the process equipment can be cleaned, maintained and upgraded for increased output, and to enhance safety and environmental efforts. This business process is called a “Turnaround“. Some industries may call the Turnaround a “Shutdown” or “Outage“.
Large Turnarounds and Shutdowns happen in many industries: oil refineries, pulp and paper mills, and every type of plant environment such as chemical, pharmaceutical, steel, aluminum, energy, nuclear, automotive, LNG and desalination. Other industries that perform this type of maintenance regularly include all types of shipping (from aircraft carriers to cruise lines commonly known as ‘drydock’), food processing, rail, manufacturing of all types, water/sewage treatment plants, and construction on all scales.
Turnarounds, and Emergency Turnarounds, can also be made mandatory by external forces such as fire, extreme weather or lack of materials. At one plant, a raccoon caused a power outage by climbing into the electrical panel, which exploded, necessitating a Turnaround!
As part of a Turnaround, resources (trades, maintenance equipment, space and time) must be planned and scheduled to do a) preparation work, b) the shutting down of the equipment, c) the actual maintenance and capital work (new construction/upgrades) d) the startup of the equipment, and e) post-shutdown cleanup.
It is a highly stressful time for the entire organization as Turnarounds can take anywhere from days to months, and will cost thousands to hundreds of millions of dollars in specialized resource, contractor and equipment costs. There are also, of course, numerous days of lost production and therefore lost revenues. A Turnaround significantly impacts costs, resource and personnel involved for any organization.
Limiting the resources, contractors and required maintenance equipment scales back not just costs but liability as less resources on-site generally mean less possibility of a catastrophic event. Also limiting these items removes some of the infrastructure that must be put into place before the Turnaround begins.