Complex Industrial Assets such as refineries, chemical plants and power generation facilities have many moving parts and must operate in a rigorous HSE environment. Effective and efficient maintenance programs are a critical component of a safe and profitable plant. During major maintenance events it is common to see 10,000 or more maintenance activities being conducted by as many as 2,000 contract craftspeople visiting the site over a 30-day turnaround/outage period.
Managing the required equipment, tools, parts, and materials is a significant challenge but effective management of the human resource can be a game-changer in turnaround performance. Complex tasks performed by interdependent teams across large sites are a challenge to manage.
Turnaround management starts with a robust plan and credible schedule, but actual outcomes are dependent on the ability to make the best decisions minute-by-minute to keep the work moving and the critical path activities on schedule. Good decisions rely on having timely and accurate status information readily available. Reliance on inefficient communication processes and paper-based reports means that shift-handover meetings typically consume too much time discussing what happened leaving less time available to make the best decisions possible about what needs to be done.
When the schedule starts slipping, senior management demand more reports, adding to the problem by taking supervisors out of the field, with the knock-on effect of reduced craft productivity due to poor supervision.
In this white paper, we will discuss the benefits of applying digital tools and techniques to addressing the problem of turnaround progress management. A case study illustrates the levels of hard and soft financial benefits that can be achieved.
With digitalization rapidly becoming better understood and businesses looking to identify valuable applications, Industrial Workforce Management has emerged as a critical component of “field-worker” centric business applications. Focus on the three areas of Connected Worker, Connected ManagerTM, and Digital Transformation allows full business applications to be delivered incorporating optimized field access to information, real-time management information to support better decisions in dynamic environments, and an analytics capability to support digital transformation initiatives.
Shutdowns, Turnarounds and Outages represent an environment where effective coordination of resources and the ability to make the best decisions hour-by-hour make the difference between a successful event and one where the unplanned production loss can be measured in millions of dollars per day. The key characteristics are:
The typical existing manual processes centered around paper based information and verbal communication have the following inherent problems:
Following the 7-day overrun of a previous turnaround, primarily attributed to problems with piping installation, the decision was made to leverage fully digital processes to manage the activity of two welding contractors and the associated inspection and commissioning tasks. The turnaround innovation group allocated budget and set out to support the turnaround with the following objectives:
Over a 30-day period approximately 750 welds totaling more than 30,000 linear inches would be performed by 2 contractors as part of a 500,000-man-hour maintenance turnaround and project tie-in. The following welding and commissioning process was fully digitalized and 80 foremen, QA/QC and TA coordinators were equipped with a mix of iPads and tablets with rugged cases.
Based on lessons learned from the previous TA the decision was made to divide the inspection group across 6 work zones to eliminate as much travelling time as possible. A downside of this approach is the potential for one zone to be overloaded when others have available resources.
Digital technology allowed the relative workloads to be tracked in real-time and resources reallocated as necessary.
The turnaround was completed on schedule, with three of the seven days improvement attributed to digitalization of the weld tracking process. This represented $6 Million in production savings. In addition, the following benefits were realized:
A Framework for Digital Assessment
Identify digitalization opportunities and the quantifiable benefits of implementing digital technology.
The Connected Worker
First consider the individual workers and their relationship to information. Create a log of all the efficiency saving opportunities. Even 30 minutes savings can become a big number when multiplied by 200 days a year and across 100 workers.
What information do they need to do their work and what information do they gather during their efforts? What is the impact of this information being difficult to access? What are the efficiency losses and HSE impacts? What existing systems of record do they consume data from or update with field information? What “keyboard time” does the average worker have? What administrative functions delay work?
Keeping people in the field and on tools is a key driver for digitization.
The Connected Manager™
Managers need timely and accurate information to make the best decisions possible related to priorities and resource utilization. Manual processes rely on paper, shift meetings and often unreliable status updates from coordinators and contractor foremen. Imagine a world where status updates are in real-time and accurate. What is the impact of making better decisions hours, shifts or days earlier than previously possible? What is the benefit of keeping a real-time check on critical path activities, keeping contractors executing to the plan and being able to manage change quickly and with the best data?
It’s about data! Objective facts support in-depth lessons learned sessions for data-driven analysis. Process improvement initiatives are easier when you know what you do today. Planning is more sophisticated when you understand how long activities really take. Contractor performance is measured and managed with actual data.
For those of us interested in improving our businesses, reducing costs and risk, and improving visibility, the always connected, real-time and friction free movement of information to the place it’s needed is a game changer in turnaround performance. Think in terms of percentage savings on contractors, equipment, and schedule. As we saw in the case-study above, a few hundred thousand dollars hard savings in cost reduction can easily leverage millions of dollars in lost production avoidance.
Digital transformation is a process, and connecting workers in the field and managers with the information they need, when they need it is an STO game changer.