Turnaround Project Planning Primer

Work Order Organization

Work orders must be organized in such a way as to make them easy to find and use as required. Otherwise, handling hundreds of work orders during a turnaround could become a nightmare.

Every work order must have a unique identifying label assigned to it. This could be a number, or some alpha-numeric code. Try to keep this label as short and meaningful as possible. It is very difficult to remember a long code made up of numbers and letters.

In addition, every work order should also include an equipment tag (unique identifier) to associate it with the process equipment, piping iso, valve or instrument involved. For instance: "E-100 A", "CW-18-2011", "PSV-101", etc.

Work orders should also have an "Equipment Class or Category" so they can be sorted/grouped logically. The plant equipment list can be used for this purpose:

  • Towers
  • Vessels
  • Drums
  • Tanks
  • Reactors
  • Heaters & Boilers
  • Heat Exchangers
  • Cooling Towers
  • Filters
  • Compressors
  • Rotating Equipment
  • Piping
  • Electrical
  • Instruments

In addition, work orders should also contain an Area or System code, to help in scheduling and reporting.

Work orders should also display the responsible supervisor assigned to the work.

Keep the number of codes to a reasonable size. Over two dozen codes will waste time and paper without adding any benefit when printing reports. Remember that codes are supposed to be used to organize and summarize.

Keep It Simple!

Keep in mind that as you simplify work order numbering, coding and classifying, you will make it easier for everyone to find what they need, improving communication and acceptance of the planning package. One way to approach work order organization is to examine everything we do with a critical eye: Is the numbering and coding scheme going to simplify and speed up the handling of work orders? If the numbering scheme is complicated, it will slow down the handling of the information.

Anyone can complicate even the simplest thing, but it takes talent to make something complex simple to use. Remember the "KISS" principle!


Before you start planning work orders, you should make a list of all resources expected to be involved in the turnaround. There are two kinds of resources: Manpower (labor) and Equipment.

Use a code or abbreviation for every resource, not to exceed four letters. For example:

Manpower Codes
Equipment Codes
  • BM - Boilermakers
  • CA - Carpenters
  • CO - Crane Operators
  • EL - Electricians
  • EO - Equipment Operators
  • HY - Hydroblasters
  • IF - Instrument Technicians
  • IN - Insulators
  • IP - Inspectors
  • LA - Laborers
  • ME - Mechanics
  • MW - Millwrights
  • OP - Operations / Production
  • PF - Pipe fitters
  • PFF - Pipe Fabricators
  • REF - Refractory Applicators
  • SR - Stress Relieve Technicians
  • SW - Safety Watch
  • TD - Truck Drivers
  • WE - Welders
  • XR - X-ray Technicians
  • AM - Air Mover
  • BC - Bundle Carrier
  • BE - Bundle Extractor
  • CC - Crawler Crane (Heavy Crane)
  • CP - Cherry Picker
  • CR - Crane
  • FB - Flatbed Truck
  • FL - Forklift
  • HYEQ - Hydroblast Equipment
  • PU - Pick-up Truck
  • SREQ - Stress-relieve Equipment
  • TT - Tractor-Trailer
  • VT - Vacuum Truck

The above lists are not all-inclusive; you will develop additional categories and codes as necessary.

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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.