eTaskMaker Versus Templates

We frequently receive inquiries from companies that are looking for software to satisfy the following business requirements:

  • establish best practices in planning and estimating for their STOs (turnarounds, I&Ts (inspection & testing), shutdowns, emergency outages, debottlenecking projects, revamps, catalyst regeneration, etc.); and
  • standardize implementation of the best practice norms for planning and estimating across the enterprise

The choice boils down to implementing eTaskMaker® or some database driven (static) template manager. eTaskMaker® is a dynamic, responsive tool that generates plans and estimates customized to instant requirements. Template managers store static plans (meaning that the time durations and manhours are fixed for each task in the template).

So which system is better? Let’s consider the three basic categories for the types of work in STOs and how effective each system is in achieving the desired business requirement.

First category of work: Routine, Steady

Routine, steady work encompasses work that is repeated periodically and for which the time duration and manhour estimates do not vary. Examples would include:

  • Installing blinds
  • Opening manways
  • Inspecting
  • Hydrotesting
  • Closing manways
  • Removing blinds

Routine, steady work has little variance from one project to the next. We can set a fixed estimating norm for this work with high confidence. Both eTaskMaker® and static templates can satisfy the business requirements for this type of work.

Second category of work: Routine, Variable

Routine, variable work encompasses work that is repeated periodically and for which the time duration and manhour estimates generally do vary, and sometimes by orders of magnitude pending differences in the operation run since the last STO. Examples would include:

  • Cleaning/Hydroblasting - pending degree of fouling
  • Retubing Bundles
  • Replacing Insulation
  • Replacing Refractory
  • Replacing/Repairing Tower Trays
  • Replacing/Regenerating Catalyst
  • Machining/Refacing Flanges
  • Repair work (in general)- pending inspection; many potential variables could contribute

Routine, variable work may have significant variance from one project to the next. Most of the work in this category can not be estimated with any confidence until inspections are conducted to identify the extent (surface areas, or quantities) of the required repairs. This work requires a dynamic (scalable) estimating norm that a planner can apply to the requirements per the inspection report. eTaskMaker® is well suited to satisfying the business requirements for this type of work. Static templates are not.

Third category of work: Non-Routine

Non-routine work encompasses work that is not repeated periodically. This type of work could be associated with capital project work. Examples would include:

  • Piping Demolition
  • New Piping Fabrication
  • New Piping Field Erection
  • Foundation Construction or Repair
  • Hot Taps

Non-routine work must be custom estimated to the instant scope requirements. This work requires both dynamic (scalable) estimating norms (for example, welding norms that can be applied to the specific metallurgy and piping diameters required) and dynamic planning/scoping (best practice task definition for the plans). eTaskMaker® is well suited to satisfying the business requirements for this type of work. Static templates are not.

Confidence in Estimates

With eTaskMaker®, we can have high confidence in our STO plans and estimates because the entire scope was developed in accordance with established best practices in task definition and estimating norms.

With (static) templates, we can only have high confidence in the plans and estimates for the routine, steady portion of the scope. Routine, variable work and non-routine work both require manual development (or customization) which can promote wide variances and runs counter to the objectives of the business requirement.

Generally, the upper limit for routine, steady work is around 60% of the total manhours in a typical STO. This percentage, of course, can drop significantly pending operational factors (time between runs, quality of the input material, operational characterists during the run) and associated capital projects (piping tie-ins). If static templates are a solution that cannot adequately address 40-60% of the STO manhour estimate, then does it really satisfy the desired business requirements?

The choice is clear. eTaskMaker® is the only solution that fulfills the business requirements for establishing best practices in planning and standardization in estimating norms.

Check out eTaskMaker®

Authored by Bernard Ertl, Partner, InterPlan Systems

Bernard Ertl has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and extensive field experience planning and managing turnarounds in the oil refining and petrochemical process industries.