Process and Operations

How to Make Planned Shutdowns a Safer Bet

The highest-pressure situation your maintenance department might ever encounter is a planned downtime. A large amount of work is scheduled into a small amount of time but the deadline for resuming production is just around the corner. There can be great gains to be made by increasing reliability or installing new equipment. However, there are risks. New problems can arise, and costs can mount. How do you make shutdowns a safer bet?

By Andrew Levitt and Ben Wurtmann

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The highest-pressure situation your maintenance department might ever encounter is a planned downtime. A large amount of work is scheduled into a small amount of time but the deadline for resuming production is just around the corner. There can be great gains to be made by increasing reliability or installing new equipment. However, there are risks. New problems can arise, and costs can mount. How do you make shutdowns a safer bet?

In project management context, the word risk is simply used as shorthand for “deviation from the project plan.”  Encountering at least some risk is unavoidable. The impact of that risk depends on how a shutdown has been planned.  Uncertainty about the magnitude of repairs needed, over-aggressive estimates, lack of experience, and a number of other issues can contribute to delays, cost overruns, and lost productivity. Some of these factors can be eliminated, but most risks can only be managed. 

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