The Ten (Actually Twelve) Commandments for Achieving Successful Turnarounds

By Robert J. Motylenski

Since the cost of a turnaround is the single biggest annual maintenance expenditure that a process plant can experience, it is key that it is executed in an efficient and effective manner. This starts months, if not years, before the first blind is installed for the shutdown. The following is a list of the key activities that are needed to achieve a “World Class” turnaround. There is much more to it than just these items, but without these activities, it will not turn out as well as it could have been.

1. Management

Management must provide the underlying guidance and support needed by the organization to ensure a successful turnaround.


2. Milestone Plan

The Milestone Plan provides an overview of strategic activities in the turnaround and is a key document in communicating planning progress. It includes all activities that must be carried out before execution, and includes both execution and post-turnaround activities.


3. Work Scope

Work Scope is the process of identifying mechanical, process, engineering, and project work that must be performed during the turnaround in order to achieve the business objectives.


4. Planning and Scheduling

Effective planning is one of the critical factors that is needed to achieve a successful turnaround, while scheduling is the activity of optimizing the time and resources required to execute the planned work activities.


5. Contracting

Selecting the right contractors for the turnaround is crucial to ensure success, as they have a major impact on safety, cost, schedule, and the ability of the units to achieve the business objectives.


6. Materials

Material procurement refers to the complete process of purchasing, delivery, and storage of supplies needed for the turnaround.


Materials that have long delivery times must be identified and ordered as early as possible so that they are available onsite in time for the turnaround. This may be 12 to 18 months before the turnaround, or earlier in some cases.

7. Inspection

Inspection is a key turnaround activity, as it is a major factor in determining the turnaround work scope, cost, schedule, and execution plan.


8. Process Operations

Process Operations refers to all activities undertaken by plant operations staff as part of the turnaround.


9. Engineering/Project Activities

Projects are the one area that, if not integrated into the overall plan and schedule, can cause major downtime extensions.


10. Safety

Turnarounds add significant risks to personnel safety and health. Both the Owner and contractors must pay special attention to these areas.


11. Organization

Since turnarounds involve a large number of people from different organizations, they must be organized so that there is effective interaction and efficient transfer of information among the groups.


12. Execution

Execution is the process of performing turnaround work as described in the detailed work plans and schedule. The turnaround could be a failure if the execution is not performed effectively.


Successful process plant turnarounds don’t just happen by themselves. Ensuring that these twelve activities are included in your turnaround plan will help your plant become a “World Class” performer. To ensure consistent performance, each plant should have a Turnaround Manual that documents procedures and practices. The Turnaround Manual should be updated after each turnaround as part of a continued improvement process.

CEI can help your organization prepare a Turnaround Manual and implement the Twelve Commandments for a Successful Turnaround.