Prepping for a Plant Shutdown

It’s that time of year—auto, manufacturing, and industrial plants all over the country are getting ready for the traditional summer shutdown, also known as a plant turnaround.

In many ways, plant shutdowns are a bit of a drag. They’re usually expensive, both in terms of the labor needed to get the work done quickly and in terms of lost production, despite all your efforts to keep downtime to a minimum. Overtime, third party contractors, maintenance supplies, new equipment or parts…costs add up fast.

But when done properly, a shutdown is a crucial investment in your operation and can set you up for greater growth and success in the future. It’s a necessary evil, but one that you can prepare for to maximize benefits and minimize cost and inconvenience.

Why are plant shutdowns necessary?

The most important reason to execute regular shutdowns is that they give you the opportunity to fix issues before they become bigger (and more costly) problems that could turn into unplanned outages or accidents. They also allow you to perform maintenance and repairs that will improve your plant’s efficiency.

The most common reasons plants plan a shutdown are to:

  • ensure they’re meeting operational and environmental regulations
  • identify any issues with equipment that’s not usually accessible
  • perform preventative maintenance
  • repair equipment or replace components
  • meet operational and warranty requirements for equipment
  • avoid unexpected equipment failure
  • resolve issues that could cause accidents or injuries to their workers

The bottom line? Plant shutdowns keep your plant running smoothly.

How can you ensure a successful shutdown?

When it comes to getting ready for your shutdown, plan early and plan well. The more work you put in upfront to define the processes, responsibilities, and timelines, the less chance you have of something going wrong—and the sooner you can get back up and running.

Here are some steps to take:

1) Choose the best time

For plants that have an off season or regularly scheduled off hours, finding a time to shutdown is easy. But if your plant runs 24/7, you’ll have to choose the time of year when stopping production will cause the least amount of damage to your bottom line.

2) Create a detailed shutdown plan

Identify what needs to be done and in what order, with a checklist to be used during execution. Assign deadlines and responsibilities to ensure each member of the team knows exactly what they should be doing and when.

3) Choose the right contractors

Be sure to obtain competitive bids on contract work, and choose partners that have experience completing shutdowns efficiently, quickly, and successfully. Brehob has a long history of helping our clients with shutdown service and repair for a wide range of equipment, including air compressors, cranes & hoists, and electric motors. We can step in to provide the expertise and know-how to get it done fast and right.

4) Check in during execution

Be sure to schedule regular, brief meetings with your team during the shutdown to ensure all planned tasks are getting done on schedule—and that nothing has popped up that could impact timelines.

5) Document, analyze, and adjust processes as needed

Be sure to document your processes and any issues that came up during the shutdown. This will help you refine the process for the next time, and it could also provide insight into changes you should make to your regular inspection process to avoid problems in the future.

With some preparation and planning, your plant shutdown will result in a more efficient, safer, and better fine-tuned operation that’s ready to go for the rest of the year.

 

Need some help planning your shutdown? Brehob is here. Give us a call at (317) 231-8080 or send us a message today.