Turnaround Project Planning Primer

Defining Activities

Activities must be clearly defined, and should be measurable. This means anyone should be able to determine if a particular activity (as defined) is in progress, or completed.

Activities must be defined every time there is a break or change in work content, and/or by changes in the work crew. Activities that are overly broad in scope are difficult to estimate, schedule and measure/report progress against.

If you have a good degree of detail, your activities become easy to estimate, schedule and control. Your entire planning effort will be credible and usable. ATC Professional was designed to handle large, detailed schedules quickly and easily. Estimating, scheduling and tracking a turnaround project with little detail is more difficult than with a great amount of detail. Summary level schedules are useless for managing turnarounds.

Also, watch the resources needed for any given activity. If you require five or more crafts to execute an activity then it is in all likelihood ill-defined. In that case, break it up into better-defined tasks. This will save you many headaches when it comes to scheduling and manpower staffing.

Types of Activities

There are four general categories or types of activities:

  • Safety (Permits, Testing, Gas Freeing, Neutralizing, Fire and Hole Watch, etc.)
  • Inspection (Preliminary and after repairs are made)
  • Repairs (on-site and off-site, or outside shops)
  • Support (Scaffolding, Lighting, Hauling, Painting, Clean-up, etc.)

All can have an impact on budget and schedule, so be sure not to overlook any of them!

Defining Activities

Project planning is based on an analytical process, a process that investigates, verifies and organizes relevant information about the work scope. The process can be illustrated as follows:

Let’s assume we have to develop a work order to replace a valve. The steps involved require the planner to ask all relevant questions:

  • What valve is to be replaced? (tag or I.D. #)
  • Where is the valve located? (at grade, at elevation requiring scaffolding?)
  • Is the valve safe? (is blinding and/or decontamination required?)
  • Is the valve insulated?
  • How is the valve to be replaced? (it is screwed or welded?)
  • Who will replace it (owner or contractor?)

The answers to what, where, how and who will give us the necessary information to prepare an adequate estimate.

Knowing the type of valve to be replaced is important, since there are many types: block, control, safety, slide, motor operated, etc.

How the valve is to be replaced also plays an important role. If it is large, a crane my be needed. If it is welded, then the line may have to be purged and/or blinded, unless it is a utility line (air, steam, water). Testing procedures may call for x-ray, hydrostatic or both. The new valve may have to be shop tested before transporting it to the site and installing it. The line may have to be touched up with paint or re-insulated. If there is steam tracing it may have to be repaired or reconnected before re-insulating.

Where the valve is located will dictate whether to erect a scaffold, use a ladder, a crane with man basket or a hydraulic personnel hoisting platform; whether the area needs to be decontaminated or the workers are to wear protective equipment.

Who will replace it may have an impact on your labor costs.

Keep every valve work scope on a separate work order. There is no such thing as unimportant work. A single valve that is missing can prevent the unit from starting up.

Heat exchangers require more definition. These are some of the considerations:

  • What kind of heat exchanger? (u-tube, floating head, reboiler, fin tube, air cooler?)
  • What service is the heat exchanger in? (heavy crude, light product, etc.)
  • Where is the exchanger located? (at ground level, in a structure, etc.)
  • Is this a vertical or horizontal exchanger?
  • Is the exchanger insulated?
  • Must remove any piping in order to unhead?
  • Is scaffolding required?
  • Is the exchanger to be acidized?
  • Is the exchanger to be neutralized?
  • Blinding required? (If in a bank, perhaps the first and last ones are blinded only)
  • How many tubes are there in the bundle?
  • Clean the bundle in place?
  • Pull bundle and clean at site?
  • Remove bundle to slab for cleaning?
  • Tube bundle to be scrapped and new one inserted?
  • Tube bundle to be cleaned and returned to site?
  • Tube bundle to be retubed? (If yes, retubing and testing at shop?)
  • Shell to be cleaned and repaired?
  • Heads to be cleaned and repaired?
  • Baffle plate to be repaired?
  • Sacrificial anodes to be replaced?
  • Entire exchanger to be replaced with a new one?
  • Gasket surfaces to be machined?

You may find additional questions as you start developing the scopes for the heat exchangers. If you cannot answer these questions then seek out someone familiar and experienced to get his input. He will be glad that you respect his experience and will be more receptive towards accepting your estimates and schedules.

Remember to include steps to transport equipment, materials and scrap on and off the site. This also requires manpower and equipment (and time). Any electrical equipment must always be locked out and tagged out. There is no need to include an activity to remove the tags and locks, because this is done during start-up.

Also remember that, generally, when something goes up, it also has to come down (scaffolding); if something is installed, it has to be removed (blinds, air movers, temporary lighting, runoff and dust containment barriers, etc.). Also remember that you should schedule a hole watch for every crew or individual(s) entering a vessel, for the entire time these are inside the vessel. Also, hot work (welding) in the unit must have a "hole" watch (or fire watch if you prefer, but they are usually the same person). Every repair should be followed by an inspection. Sometimes more than one group must inspect. Sometimes the Government inspector and/or the Insurance inspector need to witness the repairs and/or tests.

A good way to prepare a work order is to review the safety and maintenance/repair procedures. These will usually dictate how the work orders should be prepared. You must also review inspection and testing procedures, as these are equally as important. If no written procedures exist, then you will have to turn to the respective departments and interview those in charge of determining how all of the activities are to be carried out. DO NOT ASSUME TO KNOW - consult those in charge - that way you will avoid surprises. Keep in mind that procedures can change as well.

Remember that there are two kinds of procedures: general and specific. Some work orders are affected by general procedures, others by procedures specific to a piece of equipment. For instance, general procedures call for installing unit battery limit blinds, but a specific piece of equipment may require to be fully blinded before opening and entering (due to hazardous conditions), and at the same time another piece of equipment may not require any blinds (for instance, steam drums, utilities, etc.).

When contractors prepare to make major repairs, they should furnish a highly detailed plan showing all the steps involved in the execution of the work. A work order should be developed from the contractor’s plan, and included in the overall turnaround scope.

eTaskMaker® lets you create work scopes rapidly and consistently. Consistent activity descriptions facilitate the correct interpretation and give your work orders a more professional look.

Activity Duplication

Sometimes an activity becomes redefined (duplicated) inadvertently. For instance, one work order calls for scaffold erection to install blinds. Another work order may require a scaffold at the same place for some piping work. Or, on a bank of identical heat exchangers, every one of the individual work orders repeats the steps for scaffolding, blinding and testing, instead of scaffolding, blinding the inlet and outlet of the entire bank of exchangers at one time, and testing all together at the same time.

This duplication not only results in inflated estimates and manpower requirements, but in a very confusing schedule which will cause a loss of credibility and confidence in the planning effort.

Be sure to cross-reference work orders to indicate activities common to both. This will also facilitate scheduling, by indicating where a logic tie or relationship is to be defined between work orders. For instance: "BLINDING ON W.O. # 17045" with no durations or crafts, will direct the attention to work order 17045 which does have the time and manpower to install the blinds. Or: "ERECT SCAFFOLD - SEE W.O. # 45315", etc.

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The Turnaround Project Planning Primer is an abridged version of the STO Planning Handbook.

For further reading, we also recommend Joel Levitt’s Managing Maintenance Shutdowns and Outages.