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Productivity Gains through Digital Turnaround Management

Published: 2020


by Alexander Radach, Principal, DuPont Sustainable Solutions

Turnarounds are regarded as a necessary evil by most of the hydrocarbon processing industry. They are costly, time-consuming and complex, yet unavoidable if the maintenance and reliability of a plant is to be guaranteed. Every day operations are shut down means a loss in revenue. Despite such high stakes, turnarounds regularly overrun both schedules and budgets. While a typical turnaround window ranges from 24 – 36 days, the reality is closer to 40+ days. Tens of millions of dollars or an entire year’s maintenance budget can be eaten up in a matter of weeks.

There are many familiar reasons for poor turnaround outcomes from inadequate preparation to lack of execution oversight, unreliable asset data, delayed inspection reports, missing materials, and extensive contractor involvement. The number of on-site personnel during a turnaround can triple or even quadruple. If turnaround managers do not have a good overview and access to reliable information, it is easy to lose control. Digitizing the turnaround process allows plant operators to keep a tighter grip on the project, facilitates the management of large numbers of people unused to the site and way of operating, and significantly improves performance and therefore productivity. On average, the implementation of digital turnaround management saves 20-40% in cost and 15-25% in schedule reductions .

There are several elements to digital turnarounds that account for these optimizations:

  • Enhanced performance monitoring, e.g. through real-time mobile dashboards, mobile web-based interfaces to report hours, HSE and progress;
  • Predictive modelling using field data to more accurately define scope;
  • More accurate scheduling through Wi-Fi or LTE-linked tracking of people, materials and equipment;
  • Integration of project systems with emergency response plans;
  • Greater asset security through improved monitoring of equipment, contractors and sub-contractors;
  • Foundational data management that hones in on key facts and extracts value from the floods of data generated by smart technology;
  • Improved knowledge retention through gamification, AR/VR and over-the-shoulder coaching via video stream;

In this paper, we discuss the benefits and pitfalls of digital turnarounds that have resulted in optimal turnaround planning and execution.